June 2022 Web User Group: Premium Plus Update + Marketplace rebuild

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, June 1st, 2022.

These meetings are generally held in-world on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. They are usually chaired by Reed Linden, who is the Lab’s Product Manager for the Second Life front-end web properties (Marketplace, secondlife.com, the sign-up pages, the Lab’s corporate pages, etc.).

A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and subject timestamps to the relevant points in the video are provided. Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.

Premium Plus

[Video: 2:17-8:30]

  • Premium Plus will officially launch during SL19B (Thursday, June 16th through to Sunday, June 26th, 2022).
  • Grumpity Linden (VP of Operations) and Patch Linden (VP) of Product Operations will be discussing Premium Plus – price, benefits, etc.), during interviews at SL19B (dates TBC)).
  • The price will (obviously) be “more” than Premium, but there will be an initial “discount” for those signing-up following release.
  • Indicated initial benefits include:
    • More: free tier than Premium’s 1024 sq m; stipend; group slots.
    • Lower fees for uploads (excluding mesh initially, as the upload fees for this are calculated differently, so the hope is to offer discounted mesh loads after Premium Plus has been deployed).
  • “Future benefits” being considered for “the future”:  new region types; new Linden Home types; potentially discounts for options such as Name Changes, mobile applications (not defined), “priority access to some areas” (again not defined).

Search Update

[Video: 8:40-10:36]

  • As noted in past WUG summaries, the Lab is working to improve Search results relevance. This work is now progress.
  • The SL Search engine uses an Elasticsearch instance, and the third-party contracted-in to work with LL has Elasticsearch expertise.
  • In particular, work has been focused on building “search relevance engine” machine learning tool, designed to observe how Search performs and gradually improving the relevancy of results.
  •  Additionally, a number of fixes are being developed for common issues (e.g. search for an item by its name, but it doesn’t top the results list).
  • It is hoped this work should start surfacing in July(ish).

Marketplace Overhaul

[Video: 12:30-57:29]

  • The development of the listing Styles – formerly called listing variance,  the ability to have a single listing for an item that has multiple individual colour options that would otherwise have to be individually listed) -has been on-going for some time.
  • All of the backend infrastructure and database updates are now in place.
  • HOWEVER – in order to implement the capability, the front-end of the Marketplace effectively has to be re-built. Because of this, LL is considering a complete rebuild of the Marketplace “from the ground up”.
  • To this end, a portion of the meeting was spent discussing what form the MP might take to meet the needs of both merchants and shoppers, e.g.
    • What should it look like?
    • What features / capabilities are important to merchants or shoppers (either within the existing MP or that they would like to see added)?
    • What features / capabilities within the existing MP require improvement / replacing and how / why?
  • A further recognition of the need for a complete rebuild is that the MP is often the “front page” of Second Life for the user community, in that it is the web property that is most often used by residents (It also has a reasonably high visibility on the web in general), and thus needs to reflect this.
  • The plan is to discuss these points (and others raised by the Lab / meeting attendees) over the next few meetings.
  • Feedback from this meetings included:
    • Look and accessibility: more in the way of an Amazon style of look / feel (including the “Users who bought this also bought” type of section); better integration with tools like screen readers / magnifiers; better recognition of screen resolution / size and scales the UI to suit; an ability to produce short links to listings.
    • Search: more relevancy when searching for items (which will hopefully come out of the Search overhaul); ability to filter-out specific stores from search results; ability to have store names listed as a search result option; ability to add an item to the shopping cart directly from a Search results list (rather than having to open the product listing page and add from there).
    • Refunds / Redeliveries: the ability to allow refunds and prevent the redelivery of an item for which a refund has been given (BUG-226218); the ability to redeliver directly from the listing page.
    • Social Media integration: improved capabilities to offer You Tube links and links to Instagram accounts (e.g. for product preview images), etc. Seen as possible, with the caveat that apps like Instagram use tracking pixels, etc., so linking would be depending on negotiations around this (LL do not as a rule allow user data tracking).
    • Improved co-ordination between MP and in-world stores:  an ability for merchants to update their in-world store location globally, rather than by editing all listings; the ability to have an MP store better reflect the in-world store (e.g. if a creator had a store that has multiple “departments” or “mini stores” within it, these can be reflected as “sub-brands” or “sub-stores” within the MP, and if one of these “sub-stores” is renamed (either on the MP or in-world), the change is reflected on the other).
    • Tools for merchants: improved analytics / metrics on store performance / listing performance; options for applying discounts / promotional codes on selected items.

There were also a number of non-specific recommendations “make it better”; “better tools to deal with negative / inaccurate reviews”, etc., that will require more clarity / granularity as to what is desired.

Suggestions have been (and will be at upcoming meetings) recorded by LL, and will form the basis for both internal discussions and more idea generation at the next WUG meeting.

Timeframe and Approach

Assuming this goes ahead:

  • In rebuilding the new Marketplace, the ability to migrate existing listings from the current MP to the new MP would be factored in; precisely what form this would take has yet to be fully determined..
  • In reality, it is unlikely any form of initial “new MP” will be available until some time in 2023; the focus at the moment is purely trying to road map capabilities, features, design, with user input.

“Land Journey” Refresh

[Video: 57:30-58:33]

  • The next major web project will be a refresh of all aspects of land sales – the Land Store, how Linden Homes are offered / selected; how land for sale is located, how it can be rented (and from whom), etc.
  • This work likely will not include the return of land auctions by users, unless a system can be developed that avoids abuse and can pay for its cost of implementation / management.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, July 6th, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.

April 2022 Web User Group summary – Premium Plus

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, April 6th, 2022.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and subject timestamps to the relevant points in the video are provided. Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.

March Progress Summary

[Video: 13:45-17:19]

  • The front-end work on Marketplace Styles (aka variant listings) is close to being finished.
  • [Video: 16:22-17:19] The sales tax on recurring US billing (see Linden Lab announce sales tax on recurring US billings) actually came into force on April 4th, slightly delayed from the planned introduction.
    • Note this is a state requirement, with no money going to LL, and the Lab has tried to structure things so the impact is initially felt by as few in SL as possible.
  • [Video: 53:47-55:20] Search:
    • The Search instance is being upgraded to Python 3 so that it can be hosted by an expert third-party service, who will then manage the update of the instance.
    • Once this is been done, work will commence on building a Relevance Engine to assist in managing search results.

Future Work

  • The overhaul of the Destination Guide is still being planned.
  • The “Land journey” – how to obtain Linden Homes, land via the Land Store through to obtaining an entire private region – is to be overhauled to make it easier for people to understand how to obtain land directly or rent it from others.

Premium Plus

[Video: 2:16-11:54]

  • The release of Premium Plus has been pushed back until the latter part of May. Then main reason for this is to allow additional time for all the teams involved in managing / marketing / supporting Premium Plus to be ready for the launch.
    • When released, there will be a pro-rated amount for those on annual subscriptions with 6 months or more of Premium membership left until their next renewal, and renew at their normal renewal date at the Plus rate.
    • Details to be clarified when Premium Plus is launched.
  • The overall contents of Premium Plus are locked down, but will be made public at the time of launch. However, it may include (and as noted in my January WUG summary):
    • A higher amount of free tier than Premium’s 1024 sq m.
    • A higher stipend.
    • A higher sign-up bonus.
    • More group slots.
    • Lower fees “on certain things” (unspecified).
    • Where “more” is being offered (e.g. free land tier) it is liable to be roughly double that of Premium (so the stipend will be more than double that of Premium, for example.
  • Upgrades to Premium form Grandfathered accounts:
    • Grandfather stipend accounts will receive the “standard” Premium Plus stipend, not a Stipend based on their L$500 Grandfathered status.
    • [Video: 43:59-45:10] It is not clear at present if Grandfathered accounts would recover their Gandfathered L$500 a week stipend on downgrading from Plus to Premium, or revert to the standard L$300 a week. This will be clarified for the next WUG meeting.

Questions / Poll from LL

[Video: 19:38-35:05]

The Lab is looking to gain feedback from users, with a series of questions asked at the meeting, which may well be asked again through the forums as well. These included:

  • How do you to find things to do in SL? – responses included: opening group chat with the message “I’m bored”; using the Destination Guide; asking friends; using travelogues such as in this blog; visit the What’s Hot section of the viewer splash screen; Tweeted from other SL users.
  • How did you get started in SL? – responses included: friend already active in SL; seeing one of the SL video ads; seeing people discussing SL on Twitter.
  • What makes you stay? – responses essentially revolved around creativity of others, ability to explore, opportunities to meet people, a group of close friends, art, building etc.; force of habit.
  • How familiar with the SL client and finding things you’re looking for would you say you are? – most said they felt they are all reasonably familiar.
  • What’s the hardest part about finding friends/activities in SL? – responses varied from simply finding other who are willing to engage in conversation through to the rate at which many social spots can be opened and closed (and the reasons for this, which flowed between tier costs and the sheer amount of work involved in day-to-day running of a venue); timezones.

In Brief

  • [Video 36:06-37:10] BUG-226218 “Ability refund purchases but disallow redelivery on Marketplace” – a feature request that has been accepted for consideration.

March 2022 Web User Group summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, March 9th, 2022.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!). Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.

February Work Summary

[Video: 1:23-4:53]

  • The Marketplace variants project is now officially titled Marketplace Styles:
    • Most of the back-end infrastructure work to support different styles (e.g. different colour variants for an item in a single listing) is now complete.
    • The design of the front-elements (as will be seen by users) has now been approved.
    • It is hoped that prototyping will be available for viewing (e.g. through the Web User Group meetings) in the “next couple of months”.
  • Search Relevance project is now seeing plans being put together, and some of this may be available for viewing at WUG meetings in April / May 2022.
    • [Video: 43:59-45:24] Work currently underway is to track the relevance of a given search result (e.g. “user searched for X and gained these results. User then took option Y in that list of results” – where if Y= the first item in the list, relevance can be considered high; if they take the 100th option, then that suggests the relevance of ordering is not as good as it could be). The idea here being to be able to feed this back into improving the relevance of search results.
  • Premium Plus – an announcement is expected in March 2022.
    • The overall page of benefits has apparently been agreed (no details at present).
    • There are still some elements to be finalised (pricing?).

Marketplace Q&A

  • [Video: 5:00-6:16] Could Marketplace order history be sorted by item cost (e.g. most expensive at the top)? – seen as a reasonable suggestion, and a feature request – BUG-231907 – has been filed.
  • [Video 7:04-8:01] Sales tax: a reminder that as per the official blog post on the introduction of US sales tax, sales tax on applicable US purchases will be applied in accordance with local jurisdictional requirements (e.g. state-level laws, etc.). So if your state / jurisdiction does not charge for the sale of virtual goods and services, then LL will not apply it.
  • [Video: 8:37-9:39] Marketplace Sub-Brands: following the discussions in the February meeting, a project is now being scoped based on the feedback given. However, the development of any project is unlikely to surface in 2022.
  • [Video: 9:55-12:00] The question was asked if LL could provide the means for creators on the Marketplace to run collaborative sales / events – a shared page with links to items the creators participating in the event are including in it. This was referred to as an “interesting idea” and for a feature request Jira to be filed, preferably with some details on how this might work.
  • [Video: 14:26-15:00] A request was made for further community categories on the MP. Again, a feature request as been requested.
  • [Video: 20:52-22:10] A request was made for sellers to be able to disable customer reviews on the grounds it has become “normal” to see negative reviews. Whether or not this is the case, the majority of reviews are left in good faith, and while it can be frustrating to see negative reviews where the purchaser has failed to try a demo / not read supplied instructions, the view is that disabling reviews is not the answer.
    • [Video: 22:44-24:50] The suggestion was made in text later in the meeting to allow up / down voting of comments. However, unless carefully controlled (e.g. only allowing those who have purchased an item to up / down vote), then this is potentially open to abuse as well (e.g. a creator getting all their friends to down vote a negative review – or even one person down vote multiple times). As such, any implementation would require considerable forethought and design.
  • [Video 25:09-26:07] Could MP store owner be allowed to include links between their stores and the social media platforms they use? This has been tried in the past, but has not worded out. While there is no objection to trying for a better mechanism again, there is currently no work planned in their area. Again, specific ideas welcomed via feature request Jiras.

In Brief

  • The wiki has (after all) bee updated to HTTPs, and the syntax highlighting issue for the LSL pages has been addressed.
  • The Destination Guide is on the Web Team’s roadmap to receive and overhaul / face-lift, but no ETA at present. One of the aims of this work is to make it easier to find places that actually have people in them.
  • There was some discussion on the “new” look for Search, with some criticism for the places summary not showing traffic (a location must be clicked and seen in the expanded view to get traffic numbers). However, whilst experienced users find this useful, new users found the traffic reference confusing, and so it was purposefully placed in the expanded view.
  • It was again noted in the meeting that LL are looking at the new user experience from “top to toe” – from sign-up through getting in-world to customising an avatar, to finding things to do and people with whom to interact.

February 2022 Web User Group summary: Marketplace

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!). Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.

January Work Summary

[Video: 2:00-6:15]

  • Destination Guide:
    • A face-lift for the look of the Destination Guide.
    • Back-end infrastructure work on the DG to make it “easier and more effective” for the Lab to maintain, and to lay the foundations to build now functionality going forward (e.g. improved support for TPVs); restructuring of widgets; improvements to place rankings.
    • These updates should be deployed during February.
  • Marketplace variants (e.g. different colour variants for an item in a single listing):
    • Infrastructure work is now in progress.
    • Work has also started on designs for how listings will work.
    • No date / time-frame for when this will be delivered – but possibly Q2 2022.
  • Part of January’s work has been focused on OS and code updates to keep everything up-to-date.

Search Improvements Project Update

  • The third-party team who will be supporting the work to overhaul Search is now on-board with the Lab.
  • This means the project to overhaul Search has now started, and is liable to run for the next 6 months or so.
  • As previously noted, the aim of the work is to make Search functionality / results more meaningful / relevant.

Marketplace Q&A

[Video: 7:27-20:49]

  • The idea for this is to have an Amazon-style Q&A section on Marketplace listings similar to that seen on Amazon, where questions on a product can be asked and answered either by the creator (or their store managers) or by those who have actually purchased the item.
  • Views against this included:
    • Some Content creators have external social media groups or in-world groups to address questions, etc., so a Q&A section just adds to these channels.
    • Some creators feel they are dealing with enough “spam” and “crap” (words used), and a Q&A section just adds to it.
    • Some creators use alt accounts for different brands they run, and don’t keep their alts active beyond creating listings, so they “are not going to see Q&As”.
  • A suggested alternative was to have amore of a “live chat” feature or a link to contact the creator so that people can talk directly to a creator / store manager.
    • This would appear to suffer many of the “cons” noted above: what about stores run by alts that are not logged-in? A “live chat” capability forms yet another channel of communication; it requires always being logged-in to the MP, etc.
    • It could also potentially be an abuse vector.
    • It misses the potential for a Q&A section to double as a form of FAQ – common questions asked are right their in front of customer’s eyes (if they choose to read them).
  • One creator at the meeting did point out it could be very helpful to newer users, in allowing them to ask questions without the need to try and find whatever alternative channel  – in-world group, Discord channel, etc. – that might be available for questions.
  • It was pointed out that the facility could be made optional: if a creator doesn’t want to have a Q&A section included in a listing (or even an entire store) they could opt to do so.
  • Given the number of unfavourable responses voiced at the meeting, the idea is being taken “back to the drawing board”.

Marketplace Sub-Brands

[Video: 21:03-40:52]

  • Rather than having to use alts to manage listings for their different brands, allowing creators on the Marketplace to have additional stores linked to a “primary” brand name, allowing them to manage all their brands from one account.
  • This would be a much larger project to implement, requiring some substantial infrastructure changes (e.g. the MP is built on the assumption there is one one store per MP account). As such, requests for such a capability have previously been turned down.
  • There was some confusion in the meeting as to what the difference would be between “store” and “sub-brand” and how they might be used.
  • There were also what amounted to two different use-cases:
    • Some would like the capability to run multiple individual stores from just the one account, rather than having to run different store through alt accounts (e.g. a store for their horse-related goods, a store for their motorcycle products, etc), with the option to link between stores if they wanted, and with ease-of-access to the stores from one Marketplace account dashboard.
    • Others expressed more of a “department store” style approach with a “flagship” brand, and then sub-brands for products below it (equating to the different departments in a store), allowing them to “break up” their existing store without the risk of losing existing reviews and feedback.
    • A further suggestion what to provide a means for creators to link their alt store accounts to a “main” account, if they so wish – although this does not solve for those wishing to split their existing stores..
  • Both of these approaches were seen as valid, but left the question on how best to approach them. As such, Reed Linden requested time to take the ideas back to the Lab for internal brainstorming + further discussions at future WUG meetings.

In Brief

  • [41:36-42:35] LL are targeting 2022 Q2 (April-June) for the deployment of Premium Plus. Content, cost, etc., will be announced at the time of launch.
  • [48:02-48:50] Despite fees on Event listings, there are still what amounts to adverts appearing within the events listing. Currently, Events are not subject to any work, and so this is still something to be dealt with. However, events are due to be overhauled “in the near future”.
  • It was re-iterated that LL have largely stopped supporting the SL wiki, other than core pages of information relating to things like LSL functions, policy, etc., and there are no plans to move it to HTTPS.

January 2022 Web User Group summary: Premium Plus, Search

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!). Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.

2022 “Roadmap”

In the 2021 year-end review blog post the Lab issued in December 2021, several projects for 2022 were mentioned, some of which fall wholly or in part under the Web team’s responsibility. Reed Linden used this meeting to discuss some of them, as summarised below.

Premium Plus

  • The Lab has a full list of features and options they would like to include in Premium Plus. However, what is actually delivered (and I assume when / how it is delivered) is still subject to a number of factors.
  • Because of the above, Reed could not offer definitive statements on what “will” be included, only hints to what might be present when the option is rolled out, such as:
    • The potential for a higher amount of free tier than Premium’s 1024 sq m.
    • The potential for specific Marketplace options to the available to Premium Plus subscribers.
    • The potential for reduced upload and other fees (Name Changes?) for Premium Plus.
    • The potential for a high-than-the-current Premium weekly stipend.
  • Also, because the final list of what is to be released is potentially still subject to change, final pricing has yet to be agreed, although it will be higher than the current Premium subscription fees.
    • The current plan is to introduce Premium Plus as “single level” offering at a set fee level (presumably monthly, quarterly, and annual, as per the current Premium). However, functionality has been provided to allow the Lab to offer further levels of “Premium” options, should this prove to be wanted.
    • However, Reed also indicated that Premium offerings might and in an unspecified future become à la carte, allowing users to pick and pay for the options they want.
  • The introduction of Premium Plus will not see any “downgrading” of current Premium subscription benefits or any changes to the current Premium subscription fees.
  • A major question still to be answered by the Lab is how are upgrades / down grades handled (e.g. a user goes from Premium with grandfathered stipend (L$500) to Premium Plus then back down to Premium; does their stipend revert to the current L$300 a week, or go back to the grandfathered amount?).

Search Improvements

  • The “next few quarters” will be focused on an overhaul of Second Life Search, with the aim of “making it work “the way we expect it to work, with all the little features we all as good Internet residents have come to expect from a robust and well rounded search engine”. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Making the search filters more universal and offering more options for searching for things (e.g. such as being able to search for a region through Search → Places in addition to via the World Map).
    • Improving both the relevancy and the ranking of Search results.
  • To achieve this, the Lab has hired in specific experts in Search systems to carry out the work.
  • Specifics on precisely how changes will be made and implemented are currently unclear, as a lot is dependent on further metrics gathering on the way Search objectively functions and then working with the incoming expects to recognise where and how things can be improved.

Marketplace Variants and Performance

  • Described as the “big ticket item” for the Marketplace in 2022, is listing variants
    • This will introduce the ability to have variants (e.g. different colours of an article of clothing) within a single listing – perhaps the single longest-running request for Marketplace functionality, reaching back to beyond the days of Pink Linden.
    • The focus for Quarter 1 2022 (January through the end of March) is on putting in place the back-end support for this, including ensuring all of the required infrastructure is in place to support the functionality.
    • Work will then switch to build-out the user-facing aspects of the capability, with the expectations that new features could start surfacing for users in late spring / early summer, with work then continuing.
  • It has been noted that Marketplace performance can be very variable, depending on overall usage at any given time, and it is hoped that time in 2022 can be allotted to making some performance improvements.

In Brief

  • Another aspect of work that will be continuing through 2022 is the revamp of SL web properties to bring them more into line with the flat design seen within the web search pages, splash and log-in pages, etc.
  • Opening grid-wide experience capabilities to users is still under consideration, as is allowing larger script sizes – although technically, neither of these capabilities are the remit of the Web Team.
  • Marketplace:
    • There appears to be some confusion over the current status of commenting on reviews left on the Marketplace after recent changes. It keep things before, at present, only the seller of an item can leave a comment (reply) to a review of their item; all other changes were rolled back.
    • Marketplace Q&A option: as noted in a couple of past meeting summaries, it has been suggested LL provide a facility where questions concerning products on the MP can be asked and responded to by the seller or those who have purchased the item (similar to the “Customer Questions and Answers” section of many Amazon listing pages).  Precisely how this should look and be managed is to be a topic for discussion at the next WUG meeting.
  • Events (including searching events and how they are presented on the Event page) is also something that has been earmarked for possible work during 2022.
  • Date of next meeting: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022, starting at 14:00 SLT.

December 2021 Web User Group summary

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and the following is a summary of key topics / discussions.

Web Properties – Past Month

  • Search: most of November was focus on the Search facelift that launched on November 22nd – those interested can see my own thoughts here.
    • LL are aware of criticism the new look has received, both performance-wise and in the design. The latter drew the comment, “we like it, so we’re keeping it.”
    • Again, as a reminder, this was a cosmetic update, the underpinning Search engine was not touched or altered as a part of the work – see below for notes on functional updates.
  • E-mail preferences changes: part of November was spent preparing for splitting the receipt of Group notices away from general IM receipt via e-mail when off-line. See the official blog post here, and my own notes.
    •  This change comes into effect from Wednesday December 15th.
    • There was a bug within the Change Email Settings page whereby re-enabling the receipt of Group notices would disable the receipt on IMs via e-mail. This is said to now be fixed.

2022 “Roadmap”

Whilst not a roadmap in the strictest sense (as no specific order was assigned to them), the Web team was looking to implement (or start) the following projects in 2022:

  • Search: an attempt to overhaul and refine the way the current web search engine works.
    • The two watch-words for this project are to make Search more useful and to return more relevant results.
    • This work is to be undertaken with a 3rd party SEO specialist company, rather than being handled by LL themselves.
  • Web Properties facelift: a facelift of all of the Lab’s public/user-facing web properties.
    • The two watch-world for this are to make all web properties more user-friendly and mobile friendly for tablets and smartphones.
    • This is seen as a major project to run through 2022.
    • This work will include the Marketplace, which is going to see “a lot of changes”.
    • Presumably  – and this is purely my personal take on this – the facelift work will see more utilisation of the Flat Design approach seen with the Search front-end and in things like the Second Life landing pages.
  • Infrastructure updates: 2022 will include various infrastructure projects aimed at better leveraging the tools and capabilities that are now available to LL via Amazon.
  • Premium Plus: the hope is that Premium Plus will be revisited and launched in 2022. Any questions on what it might look like, fees, etc., will not be answerable until the option is available for deployment.
  • Other projects: there is the potential for other work to be carried out in 2022, some of which may not be user-visible, but the details on other work for 2022 are still in a state of flux, and updates will likely be given at WUG meetings through the year.

Place Pages

Reed Linden asked the question on what would people like to see Place Pages actually do, and what would they like to get out of them.

Second Life Place Pages
  • It has been accepted by the Lab that as they stand, Place Pages are under-utilised and with a genuine raison d’etre for their existence, having been left hanging since their introduction in 2017.
  • There is functionality within Place Pages that might be better leveraged to help people find out more about specific locations within Second Life, but it is acknowledged the capability requires tuning and a more clearly defined purpose.
  • Some of the suggestions that were put forward included:
    • Allowing more than the current 3 screenshots + hero image.
    • Better integration between Place Pages and web Search.
    • Allowing Place Pages to be filtered by Maturity Rating and also selected options such as “private island”, “mainland”, etc.
    • Better promotion, so that people actually understand Place Pages exist and can be used as a promotional / informational tool about locations in Second Life independently of Search.
    • Offering the ability to provide information on events / activities, etc., allowing Place Pages to become more of a general web presence for locations in-world (which was actually part of the original promotion for Place Pages when they first launched).
      • This might be seen as something between a simple listing of events and a blotter-like feed of information and updates, possibly with ability to have it displayed as media in-world, removing some of the the need for script-intensive event boards.
    • Displaying historical  / predictive information on a location – e.g. how many have visited in the past week / month / how many are present at the moment, when the best times are to visit and find people there, etc.
    • Providing the means to include links to other social media / platforms utilised by a venue / business (e.g. Twitter, Discord, etc.).
    • Possibly de-coupling Place Pages from public search – useful for private groups who wish to have a central place for information that can be used purely by Group members, without it necessarily being surfaced through Search, etc.
  • It should be noted that currently, updating Place Pages is not a planned project from the Lab – Reed is simply seeking feedback on directions the capability might be taken should it become a focus for overhaul / update.

In Brief

  • Marketplace Q&A “forum”: Reed is still mulling the idea of where and how to place a means for the Web team to take and address Marketplace-specific questions / feedback.
  • Multi-factor Authentication: the work is focused on rolling the current capability across key web properties – including the Marketplace – and getting it into the viewer. This work will be in advance of any work to allow authentication using verified e-mails, etc.
  • Dashboard Communications option: the suggestion was made that, in addition to the planned mobile app, LL should consider adding a capability to the secondlife.com dashboard that would allow users to communicate with Friends who are currently in-world.
    • This is something LL are apparently in the process of discussing, together with providing the means for users to access things like Group functionality  / options via the web. And even – maybe – providing some level of inventory interaction via the web.

Next Meeting

  • Check the SL public calendar.
  • The core topic will likely be on the use of sub-brands within Marketplace stores vs using alt accounts to manage multiple brands / stores. That is the pros and cons, how it might work, what people expect of it, etc.