December 2022 Second Life 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 7th, 2022.

These meetings:

  • Are held in-world, generally on the first Wednesday of the month – see the SL public calendar.
  • 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.

Marketplace

Marketplace Elastic Search Overhaul

[Video: 4:29-7:00]

  • The drive to get the MP search updates release is continuing.
    • It had been hoped that this would be completed by US Thanksgiving, but last minutes issues resulting from the sheer size / volume of the MP (which cannot be replicated in test environments) prevented this from being achieved.
    • The aim is now as soon as everything is working as anticipated.
    • Those using the Marketplace recently may have noticed some glitches with search – this has been due to the Search team banging on things under the hood in order to get the updates deployed.
  • This work is essentially the same kind of back-end update as carried out with Web search a few months ago, with the emphasis on faster, more robust performance, together with new search options, including:
    • Merchant and store names will no long be searched in product searches.
    • Wildcard (e.g. using *) will be possible.
    • Better exact matching against search terms
    • The back-end supports fuzzy matching to better handle typos when inputting searches.
    • There should be a noticeable increase in speed of search results being returned.
  • Once running, these updates will allow LL to add-in the relevance engine AI to the Marketplace search (as a separate API entity to the relevance engine already running on the web search).

Marketplace Styles

[Video: 7:15-7:54]

  • Work will resume on Marketplace Styles (allowing multiple colours, etc., for an item to appear within a single listing rather than each requiring its own listing) as soon as the MP Search updates are officially enabled. As such, Styles will not be deployed in 2022, but will be the first MP update for deployment in 2023.
  • It will obviously be up to merchants as to whether they use it to group variances in a product within a single listing or continue to list them separately – single listings for multiple versions of an item will not be mandatory.

Marketplace Refresh / Rebuild

  • This is still being looked at as a primary project for development and possible initial deployment in 2023, and as such will likely form a focal point for discussions and feedback through Web User Group meetings in 2023.
  • The work will at least comprise a refresh of the Marketplace appearance and the addition of further desired functionality; because of this, there is a push within LL to completely rebuild the Marketplace from the ground-up.
  • [Video 13:54-14:05] Any rebuild of the Marketplace would not require merchants to re-upload there items: a migration of listings from the current MP to any new MP would be provided.

New “Plus” Subscription Level and Beyond

[Video: 8:00-10:34]

  • The Plus subscription level was launched on November 18th, 2022 – for details please refer to the official blog post and my own reporting on the release.
  • Work is continuing to bed this in alongside of the other subscription options.
  • The Lab is generally pleased that the majority of users appeared to understand what they were trying to achieve within the introduction of Plus.
  • Plus is the last of the currently-planned subscription options the Lab has on the boards, and there are currently no plans to make further offerings available.
  • However, consideration is still being given to providing future possible options, such as:
    • A “Premium A-la Carte” level whereby your subscription fees are based on the options you select from a list.
    • Subscriptions based on specific interests (such as a “creator subscription”.
    • BUT these are only in the “Soon™” phase, indicating they are a feature or capability Linden Lab would like to implement, but which is not far enough along in development to determine if or when it might / could / will be implemented.
  • [Video 21:19-22:42] Will subscriptions ever support payment in Linden Dollars?
    • This is being considered, although the overall implications, etc., have yet to be fully understood.
    • In particular, it could have ramifications on the status of the Linden Dollar (which is not at present regarded as a virtual currency, but could be if it were to become a recognised payment system for benefits.
    • As such this is an idea that is not even in the “Soon™” criteria of thinking; however, there is an internal goal to make it possible to pay for “all things” SL-related in L$ – the questions are really what will this do to the Linden Dollar in making it a virtual currency; how will that effect how the LindeX will function / be regulated, how Tilia can support such a move, etc.

In Brief & Q&A

Video, 17:00 onwards, unless indicated.

  • [Video: 12:10-12:54] Real-time population stats:
    • The Lab is working on improving the ability for the Destination Guide to provide a real-time reflection of the number of avatars within a specific in-world location.
    • Should this be achievable, the capability will be extended into Search so that Places searches will return the number of avatars within the location at the time of the search.
    • This work might be completed by 2022 year-end.
    • [Video: 14:20-14:54] Concerns were raised over the use of unregistered bots (i.e. avatars not correctly flagged as Scripted Agents) to game the numbers. LL is aware of the unregistered bot issue across Second Life, but outside of users reporting them on finding them, there is no easy solution to this issue.
  • [Video: 19:00-19:36] With the acquisition of CasperTech, will Caspertech Drop Boxes and vendors be integrated into the Marketplace?  Yes. However, what form this will take and when it might be undertaken has yet to be determined internally at the Lab / with Casper Warden.
  • [Video: 23:22-29:42 + via text earlier in the meeting] The suggestion was made to make OpenSpace regions (aka Void or Water regions – not to be confused with the 2008 OpenSpace offering which morphed into Homesteads in 2009) as a part of a “Super Premium” offering (+ a nominal tier fee on to of the subscription fee) purely for use as private homes.
    • These regions have a Land Capacity of 1000, and are limited to 10 concurrent avatars, and are regarded as being for light use and a special purchase via support with the requirement that the purchaser must hold at least one Full private region.
    • While the idea was taken under advisement, such a offer could still impact the existing private estate market, and so would have to be considered carefully.
  • The OpenSpace discussion further raised the idea of having these regions potentially on an on-demand basis (e.g. only spun-up when avatars are present within the regions. H
    • However, it was pointed out that regions, whether “up” or “down” require grid slots, and the infrastructure configurations means that grid slots have underpinning hardware, so there is still a potential hardware cost, regardless of whether a region is spun up for use or not.
    • As such, this cost impact would have to be resolved in order for regions (or a specific region type) to be made available through an on-demand system.
  • [Video; 30:11-30:35] Land ownership Overhaul:
    • As noted in previous WUG summaries, this is a complete re-write of every route by which users can obtain and hold land, from Premium (+Plus) Linden Homes, obtaining Mainland (incl. Abandoned Land), and private island regions, and renting from private estates.
    • A focus at the moment is on defining what “land” and the associated terms around it actually means (e.g. what is “renting land”? Where can land be rented? How is it rented?, etc.) .
    • The first element that will be surfaced is a new Land Portal, a central hub from which to get to all aspects of land “ownership”.
  • For all other discussion points,  please refer to the video below.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, January 4th, 2023. Venue and time per top of this summary.

 

 

November 2022 Web User Group: new “Plus” subscription level

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

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

These meetings:

  • Are held in-world, generally on the first Wednesday of the month – see the SL public calendar.
  • 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.

Marketplace

Marketplace Search Overhaul

[Video: 1:08-4:30]

  • All of the currently planned updates are complete and are awaiting the opportunity to “turn them all on”. This will likely happen (with an announcement) ahead of US Thanksgiving, 2022.
  • Some of the noted updates include:
    • Merchant and store names will no long be searched in product searches.
    • Searches for exact matches (using quotation marks around search descriptors) has been added.
    • Wildcard (e.g. using *) will be possible.
    • The back-end supports fuzzy matching to better handle typos when inputting searches.
    • There should be a noticeable increase in speed of search results being returned.
  • Once running, these updates will allow LL to add-in the relevance engine AI to the Marketplace search (as a separate API entity to the relevance engine already running on the web search).

Marketplace Styles

[Video: 12:15-14:00]

  • Work will resume on Marketplace Styles (allowing multiple colours, etc., for an item to appear within a single listing rather than each requiring its own listing) as soon as the MP Search updates are officially enabled.
  • It is hoped this capability will be available towards year-end.
  • It will obviously be up to merchants as to whether they use it to group variances in a product within a single listing or continue to list them separately – single listings for multiple versions of an item will not be mandatory.

Land Ownership “Journey”

[Video; 8:14-12:12]

  • A complete re-write of every route by which users can obtain and hold land, from Premium (+Plus) Linden Homes, obtaining Mainland (incl. Abandoned Land), and private island regions, and renting from private estates.
  • The first element of the land work to be user-facing will be the new Land Portal, a central hub from which to get to all aspects of land “ownership”.
  • Overall, this work is not liable to be surfaced much before the end of 2022.
  • When it does, it should be looked upon as a template / proof of concept for overhauling the rest of the Second Life web properties to give them a coherent appearance; make it easier to maintain existing web portals and pages and to add new ones; make SL’s web presence more performant overall and ensure it works on mobile devices as well as desktops / laptops.

New “Plus” Subscription Level

[Video: 4:1-35-8:05]

  • The new subscription option is to be called simply (if possibly confusingly) “Plus”.
  • This is designed to sit between Basic and Premium.
  • Its core intent is to unlock the ability to hold land on the Mainland, although it will have a modest stipend associated with it + a small bump in the number of allowed Groups.
  • Pricing is subject to the formal announcement that Plus is available, which is anticipated as being by the end of November.
  • It is hoped that once available and given time to determine how it performs / users respond to Plus, that further subscription levels – which may possibly include an “a-la carte” option – can be defined and added to the selection.

Premium Plus (and Premium) to be Renamed in the future?

  • It was suggested that the new subscription level would be better named “Basic Plus” – something that was not dismissed by Reed as an informal means of referencing it.
  • However, the Lab is apparently considering single-word names for all current and future subscription offerings, and Reed indicated that if this is the case, then Premium Plus is likely to be renamed at some point in the future, and this renaming might extend to Premium as well.

In Brief

  • It is hoped that a future Marketplace update will allow store owners to have access to search metrics for their items (e.g. which items are being popularly searched / purchased, etc.). However, this is not part of the Search updates described above.
  • The web properties updates will likely include improvements to the web version of the World Map. However, what these changes may be & which they might be implemented is very much still TBD.
  • Web profiles will not be entirely shut down for as long as the profile Feed remains popular with users – this is the one element of Web Profiles that has not been moved back into the viewer (and appears unlikely to do so).
  • It has been noted that if a user has the Profile Feed set to Private, the new Legacy Profile viewer code shows a broken version of their web profile in the Web tab.
  • For all other discussion points,  please refer to the video below.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, December 7th, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.

October 2022 Web User Group: NUX, New Premium level

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, October 5th, 2022.

These meetings:

  • Are held in-world, generally on the first Wednesday of the month – see the SL public calendar.
  • 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.

Updates for the Last Month

[Video: 4:30-8:04]

Marketplace Search Overhaul

  • This will hopefully be deployed in week #42 (commencing Monday, October 10th, 2022), depending on how it clears its QA pass.
  • The initial deployment includes:
    • Updates to the Elasticsearch infrastructure.
    • Functionality improvements (e.g. better sorting, exact matches, etc).
  • From this is it hoped that improved filtering, etc., can be built-out, and the work on Styles (listing variants) can move closer to deployment.

 Land Ownership “Journey”

  • A complete re-write of every route by which users can obtain and hold land, from Premium (+Plus) Linden Homes, obtaining Mainland (incl. Abandoned Land), and private island regions, and renting from private estates.
  • The first element of the land work to be user-facing will be the new Land Portal, a central hub from which to get to all aspects of land “ownership”.
    • The Land Portal is still a development, and in the process of creating it, the team has embarked on building a design system so that the redevelopment of web properties can be undertaken with greater ease in the future.
    • Once available to the public, the Land Portal will thus provide insight into how the rest of secondlife.com will look at the web properties revamp continues.
  • [12:11-13:08] While incorporating private estates / rentals within the new “Land Journey”, the intent is not to manage private rentals, the idea is to make it more obvious to users that they can rent from private estates, how they might do so, and (potentially) provide a means for people to highlight their own available rentals.

Why Overhaul the Web Properties?

Effort is being put into the web properties as many relay on core designs and structures built well over a decade ago, and are thus dated in their look compared to modern websites and are difficult to maintain. The re-vamp is therefor intended to both update SL’s appearance on the web (and make it more attractive to the curious) and provide the means for more functionality and easier maintenance.

Premium Subscriptions – Beyond Premium Plus

[Video: 8:13-12:02]

  • The introduction of Premium Plus has opened the door to potentially having multiple subscription levels, and possibly an “a-la carte” capability (pick which benefit options you’d like, and pay on the basis of that selection).
  • As Premium Plus has been so successful in its take-up, the Lab is looking to deploy what might be the first of further Premium levels by the end of 2022.
    • A formal announcement of what this new level is is be called and what it includes is expected “pretty soon”, possibly late  October  / early November 2022, depending on how the final naming and marketing, etc., decisions go,
    • This is not a level to sit “between” Premium and Premium Plus, but is regarded by the Lab as more of a “side” version,  so levels are not necessary identified by price point but by options.
  • Reed’s view on additional Premium levels is that is the Lab develops ideas and takes feedback, so they will be able to offer choices (including a future a-la carte) that more fully reflect the hopes / wants / needs of users.

New User Experience

[Video 17:29-]

  • The New User eXperience (NUX) has been identified by the Lab’s Executive Team as a major area of focus for the at least next 12 months.
  • Some of the Lab’s work in this are has been previewed in terms of the upcoming “all mesh” New Starter Avatars (see here and here), but LL recognises more work needs to be done within the NUX as a while.
  • incoming suggestions for improving the NUX / user retention at this meeting were:
    • Inclusion of a “Getting Started” option in the viewer (or as an additional to the toolbar button?) to provide access to “approved” Second life You Tube tutorials (perhaps linking to the official Second Life University You Tube playlist?).
    • Introducing an actual “character creator” rather than just sets of starter avatars – this is actually already something the Lab is actually investigating at the moment.
    • Providing an over-the-shoulder camera view within the viewer, rather than / in addition to the current default camera placement.
      • Many already do this via the Camera Presets built-in to the viewer, and using “recognised” offsets such as those long provided by Penny Patton, and some TPVs provide an over-the-should view by default.
      • Doing so has many beneficial aspects to SL (such as the ability to properly scale building interiors) well beyond purely the NUX.
    • Making sure any gateway access points for incoming users have daytime EEP settings.
      • This is perhaps questionable where Community Gateways for specific role-play types (vampire / horror / space) are supposed to be dark – and having even a small area set to daytime might come across as counter-intuitive to incoming new players.
    • Improving the Inventory interface and ease the process of changing outfits, etc.
      • Some work on Inventory is being considered, which may include updates to things like available object icons, etc.. Alexa Linden has also been seeking broader feedback on inventory pain-points existing users experience.
    • Re-engineering the viewer so capabilities are only unlocked as new users visit in-world tutorial areas.
      • A problem here is that people come to SL for different reasons – so how do you ensure that their needs are meet both in terms of allowing them access to any functionality they require that may otherwise be “locked” &  ensure they can get to require required tutorial location(s) with ease?
      • Some also come in as a result of friends, and get hands-on support from said friends – so may not require “formal” tutoring  through dedicated locations – which then become regarded as a PITA in forcing people through them.
    • Providing structured hand-holding at the gateways where questions can be asked and answered – again something LL has re-experimented with, and many community gateways provide.

In Brief

  • [Video: 14:23-15:33] Marketplace Rebuild:
    • Still planned for a 2023 project.
    • No definitive take on what it might look like, etc.
    • Lab still interested in obtaining feedback from store holders and customers on what they’d like to see incorporated in a new MP / approaches they believe should be taken (e.g. Amazon-like; Daz3D-like, etc.), and where specific pain point lie within the current MP & its presentation.
  • General chat towards the end of the meeting on user retention, content creation, strategies for user acquisition, etc. Please refer to the video for details.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.

September 2022 Web User Group summary: NUX, Premium, and MP

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, September 7th, 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.

Updates for the Last Month

[Video: 2:47-10:20]

Land Ownership “Journey”

  • A complete re-write of every route by which users can obtain and hold land, from Premium (+Plus) Linden Homes, obtaining Mainland (incl. Abandoned Land), and private island regions, and renting from private estates.
    • This involves not only a re-write of existing land-related web pages (again, as examples, the Premium Linden Homes selection page, the Mainland auction page, the region purchase pages (which date from 2005!), etc.), and the development of completely new pages related to land “ownership”.
    • The work is being carried out using technology that is “new to Linden Lab”.
    • Initially, this work will not involve any changes to Land tools within the viewer UI. However as the project progresses, it will see changes being made to the viewer’s land management tools, etc., as well.
  • The first element of the land work to be user-facing will be the new Land Portal, which is expected to be made available in the next few weeks.
    • This will provide access to land.secondlife.com and offer a “preview” of what form the new “land journey” will take.
  • [Video: 15:36-17:15] Following the work on the Land Portal, the focus will likely either be on updating the Linden Homes pages OR the price region purchase pages.
    • Once the Portal is up and running, the Lab will be monitoring where people go on accessing it, which may influence the order in which the land-related web properties are updated.

Secondlife.com Beyond Land

  • The “land journey” work is the first phase in a larger project to completely update all of the secondlife.com web pages and portals, and which will also eventually encompass Marketplace as well.
  • Some of the thematic elements of this work can already be seen in places such as join.secondlife.com.
  • The overall aim of this work is to offer a modern look and feel to the Second Life web presence which is both easier to maintain / update and allows for new capabilities / functionality to be more easily added.

Marketplace – Search and Styles

  • This work is to leverage all of the recent work put into “regular” such (e.g. the relevance engine, etc.) for Marketplace Search.
    • The current focus is on importing all the infrastructure work carried out for Search into the Marketplace search capability, including the framework for the relevance engine.
    • However, rather than using the current relevance engine, a version specific to Marketplace searches will be built for better optimisation.
    • The updated Search will likely include additional search options.
  • The overhaul of the search tools is seen as a further step that will better enable the use of Styles (i.e. single listings with multiple variances (e.g. colours) of the same product), although the first element of this work is liable to be the “next” significant release for the MP.
  • All of this work is being seen as a lead-in to the potential complete ground-up build and phased implementation of a completely new Marketplace, with 2023 being designated “the year of Marketplace”.

New User Experience

[Video 18:04-24:00]

  • The New User eXperience (NUX) has been identified by the lab’s Executive Team as a major area of focus for the at least next 12 months.
  • Some of the Lab’s work in this are has been previewed in terms of the upcoming “all mesh” New Starter Avatars (see here and here), but LL recognises more work needs to be done within the NUX as a while.
  • Questions asked at the meeting (from a Web Team perspective)  were:
    • Are there “silver bullets” existing users think might improve the overall NUX from sign-up to engagement?
    •  Is there something that could be implemented that would immediately change the NUX to improve retention?
    • What specifically could be done on the web side of things to present a more engaging NUX to incoming users?
    • Have people specific feedback from recent new users (e.g. those whom they may have asked to come try out SL) which might feed into thinking about improving the NUX (e.g. worries users have expressed in having to download and install the viewer as an “unknown” piece of software, issues of people being pressured into believing they are using the “wrong” viewer in favour of another, etc?
  • This is liable to be a major topic of conversation at the next WUG, so those with constructive ideas, particularly (but not exclusively) on the web side of NUX, are invited to attend.

Premium Subscriptions – Looking Beyond Premium Plus

[Video: 24:09-26:30]

  • Premium Plus take-up is still viewed as being “very successful” to the point the Lab is now considering ideas for other possible Premium subscription options, which may include things like:
    • “Premium Lite” – which might offer some of the options available in Premium, but not all of them, and at a lower price.
    • “Premium a-la Carte” – which might offer users the ability to pick and chose at least some of the options available to the current Premium / Plus offerings, each with its own fee, and thus pay a subscription based on the options selected.
  • No timeline on if / when any new subscription options might arise, what they might comprise or the pricing involved, as this is only in the “discussion” phase within the Lab, but feedback is being taken through the WUG meetings.

In Brief

  • Multi-factor authentication: moving beyond just the use of a third-party authentication tool (Google Authenticator / Microsoft Authenticator) to offer additional means to complete the MFA process is unlikely to come before 2023.
  • A further request was made to de-couple Homestead “ownership” from having to hold at least one Full region. While not entirely ruled out for future consideration, there are some very practical considerations around this idea that need to be considered:
    • One of these is the heavy use of Homesteads by private estates and the potential of severely damaging the market if Homesteads were to be de-coupled from Full region holding at the same price.
    • Another is the question of whether, if offered at a higher tier than when coupled to Full region holdings ($109 a month), what that tier would be in order to avoid too severe a disruption to the current land market.
  • Lower mesh upload fees for Premium Plus: this has been indicated as a future Premium Plus benefit. However, it is proving difficult to implement because unlike the other fees for uploads, etc., mesh does not have a “one fee fits all” structure – the cost varies in accordance with things like model complexity, LODs, etc., and injecting a fee reduction based on a percentage calculation into the process is proving to be a more complex task than imagined.
  • Eliminating store names appearing in Marketplace searches using item names: this is a fix currently being worked on as a part of weighting changes to search (e.g. store names and user names will not carry as much weight as item names).
    • Conversely, when searching for store names, these should have a higher weighting as the initial MP search updates are deployed.
  • SL Wiki: it was restated that, outside of various “official” pages, the SL wiki is no longer “officially” supported or subject to updated for a number of reasons.
  • Feature requests:
    • BUG-232355 “Group Name Change” given the desire to reduce the proliferation of Groups in SL and the load they can place on various back-end services, this has been a long-running request, now accepted by the Lab.
    • BUG230941 “Add a store blocklist to the Marketplace” – will possibly be amongst the “Soon ™” Marketplace updates.
    • BUG-231257 “Incorporate 360 Snapshots in to the Destination Guide” – is viewed as a more nuanced request requiring interaction across different services which may make implementation difficult, but the request has not been ruled out.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, October 5th, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.

August 2022 Web User Group summary: 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, August 3rd, 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.

Forum Policy Changes

[Video: 1:48-17:12]

Note: Forum governance (and governance & policy topics in general do not fall under the remit of the web team, and so are usually not a part of discussions at the Web User Group. However, an exception was made at this meeting, to allow Keira Linden to discuss the recent policy and moderation changes made to the SL forums.

As her comments and the feedback from some attending the meeting have no bearing on the Lab’s Web properties per se, I have separated them into a separate article, Forum changes: Keira Linden speaks, and I refer those interested to that summary (video included). This article will focus pure on the discussions concerned the Lab’s web projects.

Premium Plus and Name Changes

[Video: 17:38-23:15]

  • Features continue to be added, and tweaks made to the service.
  • Most recently, Name Changes were added to Premium Plus for a fee of US $14.99, with the Premium price lowered, and the service extended to Basic accounts as well – see: SL Name Change fees updated & service extended to Basic accounts for more.
  • In addition, the one-time price reduction for those joining Premium Plus on the monthly payment plan (so $24.99 for the first month instead of $29.99) has been extended through to Monday, August 8th, 2022 – see Premium Plus sale last chance (via linden Lab) for more.
  • [Video 51:40-51:53] An upcoming feature for Premium Plus is “VIP Regions”.
    • The grid infrastructure to support these is now in place.
    • Exactly how these will be used was not specified.

Search Relevance

[Video: 23:34-31:15]

Note: the following refers the web Search and the in-viewer Search, it does not currently apply to the Marketplace.

  • As a part of (continuing) work to improve web Search, LL implemented a “search relevance engine” machine learning tool, designed to observe how Search performs and gradually improving the relevancy of results.
  • This tool has now been in use for a couple of months or so, and LL is now has some meaningful results from it.
  • Prior to the tool being implemented, it was possible:
    • To search for the same term using different case sensitivities (e.g. “apple” and “APPLE”) and get completely different search results.
    • To search for a precise brand name (e.g. “Maitreya”), but have to scroll through multiple result before finding the brand store itself.
  • With the new tool, issues such as these are gradually being identified and corrected (based on searches users are making) by the tool itself, without the need for human intervention.
  • As more searches are made and recorded by the tool, so it is anticipated that more users should start seeing the relevance of their search results improve.
  • In addition:
    • More data is being gathered on users’ search behaviours (e.g. how often do people click on items on the first page of a set of search results as opposed to scrolling down the list), so this information can also be fed back into the search relevance engine.
    • The Search team is starting to work on fuzzy matching, which it is hoped will assist those who have typing issues, or form whom English is a second language, so so may mis-spell terms / names.
  • TPV developers repeated a request for an API to be provided, so the updated search capabilities can be leveraged by legacy search capabilities used by TPVs.

Marketplace

[Video: 31:20]

  • Work on Marketplace variances – now called Styles – is progressing, with al the required infrastructure now in place.
  • The remaining work for this is front-end related, and is targeted for completion later in the year.
  • The Marketplace rebuild (see my June 2022 and July 2022 summaries) is targeted as a 2023 project.

In Brief

  • There are a “lot of struggles” going on around a mobile / web client, and is “not a straightforward product”.
    • Some of these “struggles” revolve around whether the Lab should being its own solution or partner with a third-party (perhaps one already providing a solution for mobile / browser access to SL) to develop a solution.
    • In this, LL has been working with the Speedlight team, but there is nothing that should be currently perceived as a formal partnership between the two.
  • TPVs representatives also requested:
    • LL give serious thought to a long-promised Events API to allow TPVs to pull events from the web events lists and promote them through the viewer (e.g. via the Splash screen).
    • BUG-231714 “[WEB] Please make Linden Lab splash screen data public in documented XML or JSON files” be given greater consideration.
  • Access to real-time traffic data (avatars within a region / parcel) was again been requested in relation to search results (so when you search for a place you can see how many are there).
    • This is described as difficult to provide, as simulators would have to be polled every single time a location on them is searched – which could be multiple times, with search having to be frequently re-indexed to reflect the updated traffic figures.
    • Search indexing rates are being increased, but they are not at a point where that indexing is frequent enough to support real-time traffic data.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication: no further progress since extending it to the viewer. However, the Lab still hopes to move away from a wholly third-party app based approach, although there are no time frames for when this might be achieved.
  • There is a (non-Web) discussion on the “secret sauce” of SL, the complexities of the viewer, questions around splitting the viewer into two modes (as seen with the Basic and Full viewer, circa 2010-11), none of which is particularly relevant to this summary, but can be video in the video.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, September 7th, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.

July 2022 Web User Group: Premium Plus, MP and more

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, July 6th, 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 – Quarterly Membership

[Video: 2:55-6:42]

  • There has been what LL regard as a “positive” response to the Premium Plus launch on June 23rd, with take-up being “ahead of the curve”.
  • Quarterly accounts:
    • These were Grandfathered for Premium in 2018 (so those on Quarterly could continue, but those upgrading after the grandfathering could only opt for Monthly or Annual). As such, Quarterly was not listed as part of the original Premium Plus offering.
    • I raised the question through the Meet the Moles session at SL18B (via Saffia as host).
    • Quarterly has now bee added to Premium Plus – but only for those upgrading from Quarterly Premium. If you are not already on Quarterly Premium billing, you will only see the Monthly / Annual prices.
  • Coming soon: the ability to directly pick a Linden Home parcel (one that is available but not part of the allocation system as per my Premium Plus notes) that is currently offered via filing a support ticket will be moving to a web-based ability.
  • Still under discussion / in development for Premium Plus:
    • Reduced mesh upload fees.
    • Premium Plus linden Homes.
    • Premium Plus “VIP areas”.
  • The Premium offering will also continue to be updated.

Future Subscription Levels

[Video: 42:29-end]

  • Are their plans to offer more Premium subscription levels? Plans, no. There is nothing definitive being planned or in the works for further levels of Premium at this time.
  • Are the discussions about / interest in possible permutations of subscription options? Yes.
  • It is certainly true that the system is now set-up to support different subscription offerings if more levels were to be added.
    • This latter point sparked a discussion of what people saw as “ala carte”, which largely came down to people wanting only pay for something specific – such as Linden Home or free tier – rather than picking a range of options – please refer to the video for details.

Name Changes – Pricing Updates

[Video: 4:25-4:45]

Currently being worked on but not implemented at the time of writing:

  • The promised lower cost for Name Changes for Premium Plus.
  • A reduction (unspecified at this time) cost to Premium members, to be introduced alongside the new Premium Plus pricing.

“Land Journey” Refresh

[Video: 7:15-8:20]

  • Work is now in progress for this.
  • Will involve a complete overhaul of obtaining land – from private islands through Mainland to rentals.
  • Intended to be a tool for all who are seeking or selling land.
  • The Lab is open to suggestions as to how the overhaul of the “Land Journey” can better serve land rental businesses across SL – those with ideas should file a Feature Request Jira.

Marketplace

[Video: 8:20-16:36]

  • Work on Marketplace variances (e.g. multiple colour options for an item available from a single listing) was placed on hold as a result of the work on Search and Premium Plus, and so is now Unlikely to be deployed until the autumn / fall period.
  • Currently for the MP, the focus is on taking the work for Search relevance that has been carried out and implementing it within Marketplace search, plus updated capabilities including Boolean searches, exact matching, fuzzy matching, etc., plus better relevance ranking, better filtering, better sorting, support for special characters.

Marketplace Rebuild

  • This was mentioned at the June 2022 meeting as a potential project – rebuilding the Marketplace from the ground up.
  • The project is still in the discussion stage, and feedback is being sought – again please refer to the June meeting notes to see what was discussed and forward ideas to LL via Feature Request Jira.
  • This is a long-term project that will not be ready for ant form of surfacing until some time in 2023 at the earliest.
  • It is possible that as and when roll-out does commence, it will be in stages until such time as parity is reached with the current MP / sufficient store owners have move across, it makes sense to complete a migration and shut down the current MP.
  • Equally, an iterative approach allows any work to be halt and reconsidered if things do not go well / do not meet with a positive response from users.
  • The new MP will be built to support mobile device access.

In Brief

  • No major news on SL Mobile, other than “avenues are being investigated”. Also see Mojo Linden’s comments from SL19B.
  • There have also been discussions on “how to engage” with the core SL product (outside of the Marketplace) via the web. Things under consideration include:
    • Group chat.
    • Inventory access / management – although this is noted as being problematic (e.g. reflecting updates on the web whilst also logged-in).
  • Also in the works are more landing pages to help promote Second Life to potential users / groups who might be interested in using the platform.
  • The future of Place Pages is uncertain. They need attention, but it is not clear how valuable they might be.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.