2018 SL project updates 3/3: Web User Group

Grumpity and Alexa Linden host the Web User Group meetings on alternate Fridays at Alexa’s barn.

The following notes are taken from the Web User Group meeting held on Friday, December 19th, 2017. These meetings are generally held on alternate Fridays, and chaired by Alexa and Grumpity Linden at Alexa’s barn. The focus is the Lab’s web properties, which include the Second Life website (including the blogs, Destination Guide, Maps, Search, the Knowledge base, etc.), Place Pages, Landing Pages (and join flow for sign-ups), the Marketplace, and so on and the Lab’s own website at lindenlab.com.

Not all of these topics will be discussed at every meeting, however, the intention within the group is to gain feedback on the web properties, pain points, etc., and as such is very much led by comments and input from those attending. Along with this are two points of note:

  • Specific bugs within any web property  – be it Marketplace, forums, Place Pages or anything else), or any specific feature request for a web property should be made via the Second Life JIRA.
  • Alex Linden provides routine updates on the Lab’s SL-facing web properties as and when appropriate, which can be found in the Second Life Web thread.
  • Note that the SL forums are not covered by the Web User Group, as the management of functionality of the forums falls under the remit of the Support Team.

Lindens in the Web Team

A number of Lindens attend the Web User Group meetings in addition to Grumpity and Alexa (who are part of the Second Life Product team). While they may not be present at every meeting, Lindens staff directly involved in supporting the SL web services include:

  • Spidey Linden: QA Lead for SL Web and Marketplace.
  • Shrike Linden:  a QA tester on the Second Life web team.
  • Nazz Linden: a web developer who has thus far primarily worked on secondlife.com and the Place Pages.
  • Natty Linden: a web developer with a focus on the Marketplace.
  • Sherbert Linden: a web developer working on various SL web properties.

Support Portal Migration

Some people have reported that their support ticket histories are no longer intact. This may be a result of the ongoing migration of data from the old support system to the new system (see here and here for more).  If there are specific tickets raised prior to the start of 2017 people need to view, a new support ticket, including details of the ticket which needs to be viewed, should be raised, and the support team should be able to access the old ticket and provide any information on it.

360-Snapshot Viewer

Currently a project viewer (version 5.1.0.506743 at the time of writing), this is still in the process of being updated to offer higher resolution 360-degree images taken in Second Life, and for the uploading of 360 images to Place Pages (as well as the other viewer snapshot upload options).

Feature Requests

Feature requests are suggestions forwarded to the Lab on ideas and improvements which might be added / made to Second Life. They are raised via the Second Life JIRA:

  • Go to the SL JIRA – you may have to log-in.
  • Once logged-in to your Dashboard, click ob Create Issue (top right of the window).
  • A pop-up Create Issue form is displayed.
  • Click on the right of the Issue Type box on the form to display a drop-down, and select New Feature Request.
  • When filing a feature request, give as much information as clearly and concisely as possible: what the feature request is, what it is for, why it should be considered beneficial, what it might help improve, how it might work, etc., – as these things apply.
  • If you are requesting a UI change to the viewer, and can include images of proposed changes or new floaters / panels the feature would require, be sure to attach them.
Filing a Feature Request via JIRA – click for full size, if required

In 2017, 383 feature requests were filed via JIRA. Of these, 167 (roughly 43%) were accepted by Linden Lab for transfer into their internal JIRA system. It’s not clear how many of the accepted items were eventually actioned, but the figures nevertheless show that feature requests are triaged and some are taken for current or future consideration and possible implementation at a later date.

 

 

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2018 SL project updates 1/3: Web User Group and viewer

Grumpity and Alexa Linden host the Web User Group meetings on alternate Fridays at Alexa’s barn.

The majority of these notes are taken from the Web User Group meeting held on Friday, December 8th, 2017. These meetings are generally held on alternate Fridays, and chaired by Alexa and Grumpity Linden at Alexa’s barn. The focus is the Lab’s web properties, which include the Second Life website (including the blogs, Destination Guide, Maps, Search, the Knowledge base, etc.), Place Pages, Landing Pages (and join flow for sign-ups), the Marketplace, and so on and the Lab’s own website at lindenlab.com.

Not all of these topics will be discussed at every meeting, however, the intention within the group is to gain feedback on the web properties, pain points, etc., and as such is very much led by comments and input from those attending. Along with this are two points of note:

  • Specific bugs within any web property  – be it Marketplace, forums, Place Pages or anything else), or any specific feature request for a web property should be made via the Second Life JIRA.
  • Alex Linden provides routine updates on the Lab’s SL-facing web properties as and when appropriate, which can be found in the Second Life Web thread.
  • Note that the SL forums are not covered by the Web User Group, as the management of functionality of the forums falls under the remit of the Support Team.

Web Single Sign-On

Single sign-on (SSO) should have been implemented for most of the Lab’s web properties (e.g. sign on to your account dashboard and then visit the Marketplace using the same browser, and you should be automatically logged in there) – although there are some properties (such as the JIRA and the land auctions domain) which are not currently part of the SSO process. However, there seem to be inconsistencies in how it is working, with some reporting that:

  • If the log into their dashboard, they can access the Marketplace via the Shopping link OK, but if they attempt to use the Marketplace via a separate tab, they sometimes have to log-in again, or
  • They also have to sign-in to different properties when opening them in new tabs, even if already signed-in elsewhere.

Having very restrictive cookie settings could cause problems with SSO. There may be a specific order of log-in that is required for it to work, which the Lab will check. Otherwise those experiencing such problems are asked to write-up a details JIRA on the problems they are experiencing, and the domains where SSO appears to be failing.

Governance, Legal, Finance and Technical

Often at user-group meetings questions are asked around matters of governance or which may be related to legal / financial issues (e.g. fraud or alleged cases of fraud). All of these matters are overseen by teams outside of the technical personnel who attend the in-world meetings, and so  – while it may be frustrating for those raising the questions – cannot comment on or address such issues.

Marketplace

  • Blank folder names in listings: see BUG-9984 – this is still occurring, and the JIRA has been re-opened for comment, with a request that specific recent instances of the problem are reported (you may need to send an email to LetMeIn@lindenlab.com & request access to comment.
  • Variants in listings: this is a long-standing request – to allow things like colour variants of an item in a single Marketplace listing, rather than having to list the variants individually. This is something the Lab wants to address, although it is not on the short-term list of work they will be tackling, nor is it necessarily an easy thing to implement, but it is climbing slowing up the list.

  • Marketplace Demos: demos are a pain point for some users of the MP, in that they cannot be easily filtered out of searches, even when using boolean parameters. various ideas have been put forward over the years for better handling of searches / excluding demo items. However, most are difficult to implement successfully, simply because of the way the system can be gamed (e.g., boolean exclusion of “demo” can be currently gamed by people listing items as “d_emo” or similar). The Lab is aware of the pain points with demos and free item listings, but again, this are things which have yet to rise to the top of the list of improvements they would like to make to the Marketplace.

Feature Requests

Feature requests – raised via the Second Life JIRA – are the best way of bringing ideas to the Lab’s attention. These are reviewed an assessed (triaged) on a weekly basis. When raising a feature request, remember to state a clear user case: what the issue being addressed is, why it matters, how your idea improves things, an indication (the more detailed the batter) of how the idea can be implemented, and so on. If you’re proposing a UI improvement, then consider including mock-up images of whatever you are proposing; if it is possible to illustrate the idea clearly some other way, do that, and provide an explanation. Try to be as clear and direct as possible.

Place Pages

The Lab continues to tweak and improve Second Life Place Pages, the most recent addition being to the seach option, which now titles thumbnail images and descriptions of places matching the search criteria.

Place Pages search now titles results with thumbnails and descriptions

Other Items

  • The wiki search is currently broken: this is a known issue at the Lab and is being actively investigated.
  • Inventory & load times: The Lab hopes to do further work on inventory, looking to improve things like load times and overall inventory robustness. This work will initially focus on fixing some bugs and deprecating various old UDP messaging, mostly likely sooner in the year than later, before moving on to hopefully making it more performant.
  • Aditi inventory syncing: there is still an issue with synchronising Aditi (the beta grid) inventories with main grid inventories. The latest issues occurred just before Christmas and are still being investigated.
  • Re-activating old accounts: if yo have a Basic account you have not used in a number of years and wish to activate it, it is possible that its associated inventory has been place in what the Lab call “cold storage”, and could subsequently exhibit continued slow response times. If the account is to be regularly use, a request can be made to support to have the associated inventory for the account moved – although this must be done at a time when you are not using the account.
  • Keeping abreast of web property updates: Alexa Linden routinely posts updates on various SL web properties on the forums, where they can be seen and commented on.

SL  Viewer

On Thursday, January 4th, the Nalewka Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.0.10.330148. On Wednesday, January 3rd, the follow two viewers were updated:

The rest of the viewer pipeline remains as:

SL Project Updates 49/2: Web User Group

Grumpity and Alexa Linden host the Web User Group meetings on alternate Fridays at Alexa’s barn

The majority of these notes are taken from the Web User Group meeting held on Friday, December 8th, 2017. These meetings are generally held on alternate Fridays, and chaired by Alexa and Grumpity Linden at Alexa’s barn. The focus is the Lab’s web properties, which include the Second Life website (including the blogs, Destination Guide, Maps, Search, the Knowledge base, etc.), Place Pages, Landing Pages (and join flow for sign-ups), the Marketplace, and so on and the Lab’s own website at lindenlab.com.

Not all of these topics will be discussed at every meeting, however, the intention within the group is to gain feedback on the web properties, pain points, etc., and as such is very much led by comments and input from those attending. Along with this are three points of note:

  • Specific bugs within any web property  – be it Marketplace, forums, Place Pages or anything else), or any specific feature request for a web property should be made via the Second Life JIRA.
  • Alex Linden provides routine updates on the Lab’s SL-facing web properties as and when appropriate, which can be found in the Second Life Web thread.
  • Note that the SL forums are not covered by the Web User Group, as the management of functionality of the forums falls under the remit of the Support Team.

General

  • Work continues on improving Place Pages. One forthcoming update is support for 360 snapshots captured with the 360 viewer (still at project status at the time of writing), including support for 360 images as the hero (top) image on Place Pages, and gallery views support.
    • The 360 snapshot viewer is in the process of being updated to support higher resolution images, fix issues with level of detail loading for objects behind you, etc. It will include support for direct upload to Flickr as well as to Facebook. This update should be appearing “in the next couple of weeks”.
  • Web properties as a whole are also being examined as a part of the overall project to move Second Life to the cloud for delivery. Some services are already managed via the cloud (at least in part), but there is still considerable work to be done and significant infrastructure changes to be made to SL’s web properties, so this is going to be some long-term work.
  • Some are reporting that some Mainland Welcome Area now have Voice chat disabled – some of which might be intentional, due to people abuse Voice within these areas. However, if it is believed Voice has been disabled in error, the advice is to raise a bug report, using the LPDW (Linden Department of Public Works) reporting category, and indicate the affected region and the lack of Voice capabilities.

No Copy Exploits / Illegal Sales of No Copy Items

As I’ve previously reported, one area of concern / upset for content creators has been the use of server exploits to generate copies of No-Copy items, which are then placed for sale, generally through the Marketplace. A long-standing problem, this is now hitting some gacha creators. While the Lab is working to technically address such exploits, some of those experiencing frustration for what they perceive as a lack of action on the Lab’s part procedurally to remove content from the Marketplace / responding to reports of the illicit sale of goods.

These frustrations have most visibly been brought forward at in-world technical meetings – such as recent Simulator User Group meetings and the Web User Group meetings. While the Lindens chairing these meeting are prepared to discuss some options for dealing with such issues  on a technical level (with obvious caveats around discussing the specifics of exploits, fixes, etc.), they cannot speak to issue of Governance, or on matters which may cross into legal areas. This means they cannot respond to questions about specific abuse reports, associated actions / investigations relating to them, or even how governance issues are managed.

While it does not provide an easement for the frustrations that are being felt, it does mean that such forums as the Simulator User Group, Server Beta User Group, Open-Source Dev Group, and the Web Group are not suitable venues in which to seek feedback on governance matters.

DMCA Update

Somewhat related to the above is the informal announcement that the Lab will be changing how people can file infringement notices (DMCA take-down notices) in the near future.

Currently, the Lab’s Infringement Notification Policy requires that such notices are filed with Linden Lab via mail or fax. Once this update has been implemented – possibly around January / February 2018, it will be possible to file notification with the Lab via an on-line form. I’ll hopefully have a full report on this when the forum has been deployed for general use.

Marketplace

  • It is believed that the underlying cause of items being de-listed from the Marketplace has been fixed, and there have been no further reports of new cases where de-listing has occurred. The Lab is continuing to work with those creators who have been affected to ensure all of their affected listing are recovered.
  • Blocking purchasers: some creators would like a means to block people they see as troublesome from purchasing their creations via the Marketplace (just as they can block people from their in-world stores). This is something the Lab is looking at – but again, it is difficult to implement / enforce because of the ease with which alt accounts can be created and used.
  • Marketplace facts: a couple of Marketplace-related facts:
    • There are around 40,000 unique monthly sellers using the Marketplace per month.
    • There are around 150,000 unique buyers using the Marketplace per month.

Seller Verification

: the idea of “verifying” or of at least having some means to control listings on the Marketplace (particularly scam listings / those trying to sell illicit items) was initiated at the inaugural WUG meeting as part of a wider discussion on Marketplace management.

The Lab is looking at various options which might be implemented to help with this, although nothing has been decided as yet. One idea put forward – and again, has not been adopted as something that will happen – is that of applying a listing fee,  potentially tied to a benefit for Premium members (e.g. no fees, or X number of free listings). Given changes to fees for cashing-out will be made in January 2018, and LindeX fees were recently changed, this did not go over well with some at that meeting, although others seemed in favour, although it does potentially represent a higher barrier to entry into selling content.

A resident-voiced proposal is for those using the Marketplace to supply some aspect of their physical world information as a means of verifying who they are (already required for those cashing-out L$ balances to fiat money)  – something which may discourage content copiers and MP spammers, but which might again discourage other who sell on the MP, but who don’t necessarily cash-out (they use the L$ income to support their in-world activities) from continuing to participate in the MP.

This approach might also allow those merchants who have verified their accounts with the Lab to have some form of “verified” / “trusted” icon displayed within their listings, although the legal ramifications for the Lab in doing this would likely have to be investigated (for example, how vulnerable might the Lab be to legal action should a so-called merchant “verified” as “safe” by them start selling illicit goods at another’s expense?).

In terms of stolen / copybotted goods on the Marketplace and scam accounts, Grumpity Linden stated the Lab’s broader aims:

Meeting Contents

It has been noted that Marketplace-related items are dominating the two WUG meetings held thus far, leads to some concerns that other web-related topics may get pushed out of meetings. Of all the Lab’s main user-facing web properties, the Marketplace is probably the most visible, and carries the largest potential impact with people, therefore a focus on it is to be expected (particularly given the Commernce Team abdicated their own in-world meetings around 5-6 years ago and have shown no willingness since to re-engage in them). However, Grumpity and Alexa acknowledged the wider purview of the WUG meetings, and suggested that a portion of future meetings might be set aside to discuss non-Marketplace web topics.

Date of next meeting: Friday, January 5th, 2018.

SL Project Updates 45/3: Web User Group, SL viewer

Grumpity and Alexa Linden host the Web User Group meetings on alternate Fridays at Alexa’s barn

The majority of these notes are taken from the Web User Group meeting held on Friday, November 10th, 2017. These meetings are generally held on alternate Fridays, and chaired by Alexa and Grumpity Linden at Alexa’s barn. The focus is the Lab’s web properties, which include the Second Life website (including the blogs, Destination Guide, Maps, Search, the Knowledge base, etc.), Place Pages, Landing Pages (and join flow for sign-ups), the Marketplace, and so on and the Lab’s own website at lindenlab.com.

Not all of these topics will be discussed at every meeting, however, the intention within the group is to gain feedback on the web properties, pain points, etc., and as such is very much led by comments and input from those attending. Along with this are two points of note:

  • Specific bugs within any web property  – be it Marketplace, forums Place Pages or anything else), or any specific feature request for a web property should be made via the Second Life JIRA.
  • Alex Linden provides routine updates on the Lab’s SL-facing web properties as and when appropriate, which can be found in the Second Life Web thread.

Marketplace Related

Marketplace Search

  • Search can be too broad (even with the boolean functions). for example, attempting to search by store name can bring up avatar names, many of whom do not have an active store. Addition of more refined filtering mechanisms (check boxes?) could help eliminate some of these problems. This was noted at “useful feedback”.
  • Boolean search, whilst useful, can also be limited in impact when trying to eliminate things like demos from results, although this seems to be down to the creative use of demo item descriptions to foil the use of booleans like “XXX NOT demo”, and is thus harder to overcome.

Marketplace Listings

  • Default order for listings on the Manage Listing page is date ascending (oldest to newest).  It would make more sense – particularly when creating new listings – to have the default as date descending (newest to oldest), so that the newest listings – and the ones most likely to need editing – appear at the top  / on the first page of a listing – or have the merchants preferred listing order saved. This has been a JIRA issue since 2014 – see BUG-4705. It’s now regarded as something that “should be” fixable, and has been added to internal tracking by Alexa.
  • Grouping Colour variants for items has often been requested – for example, see BUG-6424 and feature request BUG-10853. This is seen as a much harder capability to add to the MP.

Marketplace Gifting

  • Some people apparently get confused over the gifting work flow: this should be: find the item > click Add to Cart as a Gift > enter recipient’s name & a message > click Finished > go to the shopping cart icon (top right of the window) to purchase / send. However, after entering the recipient’s information, some people at clicking on the Buy Now button in error, thus purchasing the item for themselves. See also WEB-3020 and feature request WEB-3531.
  • Gifting requires recipient’s full user account name not Display Name – as the latter can default to sending a gifted item to a recipient with an account name matching the display name. Note that “Resident” should be automatically appended to any single name account entered.

Marketplace Clean-up

Another long-standing request in for some form of Marketplace clean-up. For example, there are good for say that may contravene more recent SL policy changes; there are goods for sale and unsupported because the creators have long since left Second Life; there are goods listed on the marketplace that have not sold in years, and the creators (if still active have not removed), and so on.

The problem here is how should any removal be policed? Even if a creator has departed SL, it doesn’t mean their goods are no longer being purchased? How should a time limit for force removal of non-selling goods be enforced? One year without a sale? Two? Three? More?

Clean-up is something the Lab has been struggling with and considering different approaches. There may also be possible alternatives to removal – such as more refined weightings on search capabilities, or the ability to see when an item was last updated. At the moment, Alexa and Grumpity are on a feedback mission concerning this issue, so except this subject to droll forward in future meetings.

Listing fees: once suggestion for handling the proliferation of various listing types was for listing fees to be added, potentially tied to a benefit for Premium members. This understandably caused heated debate (particularly given the January 3rd 2018 increase in fees for processing credit transactions) – with creators at the meeting divided on the matter. However, it’s important to note this was just a suggestion; it is not something the Lab is planning on introducing.

Second Life Maps

Two specific requests were made:

  • Update the map generation to properly display mesh in map tiles.
  • Fix region surrounds causing a region’s map tile to be displayed as a blank green tile.

Commenting collectively on these, Grumpity Linden said:

Maps… yeah, we’d like to do that and have several ideas for how, but none of them are easy fixes. Map tile generation is different from displaying them… and none of the ideas for fixing the generation are easy or fast.

A Note on JIRA Acceptance

This routinely comes up at Content Creation meetings and came up at the Web meeting, so is worth repeating.

Following initial triage by Linden Lab (roughly daily for bug reports, usually weekly for feature requests), the status of a JIRA may be updated to “Accepted”. However, this does not mean it will be actioned in the near future.

Depending on the nature of the JIRA, “Accepted” may result in it being prioritised and actioned in the short-term; however it may also mean it has been imported and tracked by the Lab, but held for action pending the clearance of more urgent items / ideas that necessarily need to be actioned ahead of it or it may be tracked until such time as it (or something like it) fits into a tranche of work / updates the Lab is planning to implement.

SL Viewer Updates

The SL viewer is not specifically discussed at the Web User Group, however, in keeping with my summary of recent viewer updates which generally forms a part of my SL project updates, here’s an end-of-week summary of changes.

  • The current Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.0.9.329795 on Wednesday, November 8th.
  • The Animesh project viewer updated to version 5.0.9.329815 on Thursday, November 9th – see here for more.

Otherwise, the SL viewer release pipelines remain as:

  • Current Release version 5.0.8.329115, dated September 22, promoted October 13 – formerly the “Moonshine” Maintenance RC.
  • Release channel cohort:
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.510354, November 2 (still dated Sept 5 on the wiki page).
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, October 20 (still dated Sept 1 on the wiki page).
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.