Nov 212014

Finding Marketplace settings in viewer

Linden Lab have blogged that the new Viewer-Managed Marketplace is available on Aditi, better known as The Beta Grid. The blog post informs us that :

The new Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM), now available* on Aditi, allows you to easily manage your inventory on the Second Life Marketplace using the Second Life Viewer. Items no longer need to be loaded into the Merchant Outbox or a Magic Box, and are instead sold directly from your inventory.

VMM will allow all Merchants to get off of Magic Boxes in addition to supporting modification of listing inventory directly from the Viewer. While Merchants will still need to go to the Marketplace web site in order to edit listings, they will be able to create listings and list or unlist them from the Viewer.

The blog post is accompanied by a Wiki article and a Knowledgebase Article which both have extra information and instructions on how to use the coming new feature. The Viewer-Managed Marketplace (AKA VMM) addresses some outstanding issues from Direct Delivery. The first is a biggie, VMM allows you to list no copy items. Currently, Direct Delivery does not support no copy items and merchants selling no copy items have had to continue to use magic boxes.

Another issue is that there have been intermittent issues with the Merchant Outbox and VMM addresses those issues too because once this is fully rolled out there will be no need to move items to the Marketplace because they will be being sold directly from your inventory. At this point can I just add, I remain unconvinced that this will end well, but we’ll see!

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Dec 192013

Linden Lab have issued a call to arms with a recent blog post about plans to improve SL Marketplace search. There’s a survey link in the blog post.

Search has been done and redone and done again in Second Life. There’s only so much you can do with search relevancy because people are gits when it comes to trying to manipulate search results. In Second Life we’ve seen the use of bots to increase traffic and therefore relevancy. We’ve seen the age old classic of using search terms that have no bearing on what the parcel or marketplace listing offers.

I can recall in the 0ld days, possibly whilst it was still XStreetSL, people using white text on a white background to hide keywords that were not remotely related to the listing. People abusing the system, unsettles any search engine and unfortunately, people will abuse the system.

Then there are issues that are pretty unique to the SL Marketplace which are caused by the system itself. The free listing forever policy means search results are cluttered with lots of old content that has been created by people who are no longer active in Second Life. There’s an argument for keeping content around, old content doesn’t mean bad content but content should ideally be tied to an active avatar.

Then there are issues such as demos and colours. Demos are an important tool for customers. Different colours offer different options for customers. However they should not be individual listings. Different colours and the demo should be available via one item display. This would make browsing stores on the SL Marketplace easier for a start.

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Nov 212013

Over the last few weeks Linden Lab have announced some changes for account holders. The first, back on November 11th was that new marketplace merchants would be required to put payment info on file before being able to open a store.

The second was more recently, on November 19th Linden Lab blogged about required tax documentation. These issues aren’t linked but I feel they should be and in doing so, Linden Lab would be killing two birds with one stone.

Wait wait wait, the tax documentation is only for those who have gross income of USD$20,000 and make 200 transactions in a calendar year, right? Well not quite, the tax documentation is certainly required if people meet that threshold, but at that point Linden Lab will file a 1099-K with the IRS, the documentation is required for Linden Lab to be able to file a 1099-K, but Linden Lab can ask for this information anyway.

Amazon do this with Kindle Direct Publishing. I haven’t yet published my international best seller and award winning novel, but if I wanted to do that via KDP, I have to fill out a W8-BEN for Amazon to file. The W8-BEN is the non US Citizen equivalent of a W9 form. When I logged into KDP today I saw this:

An Image Should Be Here

Tax Information Incomplete

The missing account information was soon revealed to me after I clicked Update Now:

An Image Should Be Here

Update tax Information

You may need to squint to read that so I’ll type it:

Amazon is required by US tax regulations to request information regarding your tax status under US law. Required US tax identification and information has not yet been submitted. Complete your tax information to begin selling on Amazon.

Let’s just bold that last sentence to emphasise the point: “Complete your tax information to begin selling on Amazon.” So that’s before I’ve sold a single book, before I’m anywhere near 200 transactions, indeed it prevents me from making 1 transaction.

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Nov 122013

Thanks to Lelani Carver, I have more information on CasperTech’s PrimBay. Lelani has updated her blog post to include a link to the PrimBay Wiki, which has a lot more information than I was originally able to relay.

I said in my previous post that the site looked a bit sparse, the Wiki informs me that this is by intent:

The front page of PrimBay is simple. Just a search box. Find what you need, quickly and easily.

I’m afraid I have to give that a thumbs down, largely because it doesn’t draw curious users in. However other features are certainly worth a thumbs up and they include:

  • A demo button will be available on listings, no need for a separate listing!
  • Ability to share listings in social media.
  • Full purchase support, by L$, Credit Card, or PayPal, including an (optional) device which can make payments automatically, similar to the marketplace.

However where PrimBay really gets interesting is with regards to the future (the current roll out is still officially in the beta phase). Some of the proposed future features:

  • A special edition of caspervend designed for primbay-only merchants.
  • Auctions – PrimBay has been designed with auctions in mind, and we will implement these in the coming time.
  • Multiple store fronts – Multiple brands, one avatar.

There’s more to read on the wiki but PrimBay seems to be throwing down the gauntlet to the SL Marketplace team by introducing features that SL Marketplace merchants have long wanted to see. Multiple store fronts and a demo on the listing being two large feature requests that the SL Marketplace has not yet implemented but which would prove extremely popular for merchants and shoppers alike.

Another feature that SL Marketplace merchants may welcome is via the listing process. As I said in my previous post, you need to be a merchant using CasperVend to list your items on PrimBay, but in order for your items to appear on PrimBay all you need to do is have your account set to enabled and the items will, after a period of up to one hour, appear on the PrimBay website. No need to create a new listing on the site and inworld, one listing will make your item appear inworld and on the site.

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Nov 112013

Linden Lab have announced that those who want to open new stores on the Second Life Marketplace will be required to provide payment info on file (PIOF). The move has been warmly received by merchants, many of whom who seem to view it as a beefing up of security.

This will, once one or two teething issues and quirks are ironed out, undoubtedly reduce the amount of throwaway alts used to practice questionable behaviour on the marketplace. Obviously it won’t cut down on all questionable behaviour but it will greatly reduce it and we should see less of the most brazen scams taking place … one would hope!

The blog post states:

Only newly created accounts will be required to meet this requirement at this time, and existing Merchant accounts will not be affected. However, we strongly recommend that all merchants complete the steps necessary to meet this new requirement.

If they ever do get around to requiring PIOF for exisitng merchants, I think we’ll see a few more complaints, but as it currently doesn’t seem to have any implications for exisiting merchants, the news has been well received.

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Jun 192013

A rather bizarre blog post appeared yesterday: Marketplace to Move to Second Life Billing Engine. I say the post is rather bizarre because I’m bemused as to what other billing engine The Marketplace was previously using. This is probably because I’ve only ever purchased items from The Marketplace using Linden Dollars from my account balance, which were merged with Marketplace accounts quite some time ago.

I can only assume that when people purchased Linden Dollars for use on The Marketplace, they made the purchase via some sort of legacy system, if that was the case it certainly makes sense to update the system to use the same system the rest of Second Life uses. I guess we’ll see if there are any issues in the future, but off the top off my head I can’t think why there would be.

In other, and rather less bizarre news, The Materials Viewer Has Been Released! I haven’t yet looked at this, although I hope to shortly but the blurb tells us:

This Viewer will allow content creators to build objects using normal and specular maps and will allow users to view the effects of this new feature set. The end result is photorealistic textured objects inworld, such as the SL10B Bear Avatar, which will look even better with this Viewer.

There’s a video, which I will embed in traditional style at the bottom of this post … well it’s traditional for me to do that! There are some important things to note regarding materials, one is that you need to be using a viewer that supports Materials, which obviously the Linden Lab Materials Viewer will do and secondly, you need to have a system that can handle advanced lighting, unfortunately not all systems will support this option.

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Apr 062013

Last night, whilst reading the Second Life forums I noticed an advert for Stella Artois appear on the adsense adverts. This was quite a surreal moment as at the time I was drinking a can of Stella Artois! Now as it wasn’t my first, the mind goes into the realms of fantasy and imagines a Google Adsense solution based on my eating and drinking habits that Google detect upon a person … one day maybe, horrid thought but I’m sure they’d love to do that.

However far from the Stella Artois advert appearing because I was drinking it, the more likely explanation is that the Stella Artois advert appeared because there are a few miffed and bemused merchants having their items unlisted from the General rating category on The SL Marketplace because they promote cigarettes and alcohol.

There are a few threads on the forums that discuss this issue:

Alcohol & Tobacco Police On The Prowl?

Marking Everything Mature

SL’s Maturity Rating System

The thing to bear in mind is that alcohol and tobacco are not supposed to be listed in the general category and this is not a new rule. The listing guidelines cite as examples of moderate content:

Depictions of or references to alcohol or tobacco use.

So if your item has been moved to moderate when it used to be in General, then it’s a fair cop guv’nor, but that brings us to the next question, who is instigating the crackdown?

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Apr 032013

With the clock ticking on Direct Delivery, one area where merchants may have been taken by surprise is in the category of demos, which will have been unlisted today if you haven’t migrated. Linden Lab did warn merchants about the need to migrate, so why would demos have caught merchants by surprise? Well it’s more than likely to do with how some busy merchants think.

Demos are not an item merchants consider they are selling, they are there to demonstrate an item, so when a merchant gets an email telling them items they sell that are priced lower than ten linden dollars need to be migrated, quite a few merchants would be thinking that they don’t sell any items in that range, as they don’t consider a demo an item that they sell.

This issue harks back to the days when The SL Marketplace was first acquired by Linden Lab and people were asking for demos to be included in the item listing, something that still hasn’t been achieved.

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Apr 022013

The end of magic boxes is nigh, sort of, as the clock ticks on deadlines for people who haven’t yet migrated unlimited items. Today is the end of the road for listing new items in magic boxes for items priced at ten Linden Dollars or lower, which would not be a smart move anyway as the item would be unlisted tomorrow!

Commerce Team Linden has updated a forum post with the latest information:

April 2, 2013 has arrived, and we have begun the first phase of Magic Box Shutdown. As of today, Merchants are no longer able to list unlimited-quantity items for L$10 or less using Magic Boxes. By noon PT tomorrow,

April 3, 2013, any active, unlimited-quantity listings for L$10 or less using Magic Boxes will be unlisted. Note that the following will still be allowed:

 Magic Box listings priced at L$11 or higher.

All Magic Box listings with limited quantity items, regardless of price.

 Note that the second deadline is fast approaching. On April 16th, 2013:

 Merchants will no longer be able to list unlimited-quantity items using Magic Boxes, regardless of price.

Any remaining active, unlimited-quantity listings using Magic Boxes will be unlisted, regardless of price.

 For the time being, limited-quantity items can continue to use Magic Boxes and will not be affected. “Limited-quantity” refers to items that the Merchant does not have rights to copy (such as breedable animals that are “no copy” for the seller).

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Mar 282013

I recently posted on issues with breedables food being moved to a category outside of breedables: Common Sense Required Regarding Incorrect Category Decisions. When I wrote that post there were examples of breedables food in the breedables category, whilst other breedable food had been moved to another category or unlisted from the marketplace.

Since then, things have changed. More breedables food has been moved out of the breedables category and planted under the Animals category. This goes some way to addressing the issue of fairness but does absolutely sod all in the common sense stakes.

There is some logic to the moves, there is no category for breedables food and accessories. The marketplace team don’t like people listing items in the top level of a category, that’s what sub-categories are for but the answer here is to create a category under breedables for items that are related directly to breedables, rather than moving items out of the breedables category altogether.

Food is often directly related to breedables, if you don’t feed them they don’t prosper, you can’t usually use food substitutes, it has to be the right food and it’s food that is directly related to breedables, not other animals, so it should be in the breedables category.

The same goes, albeit to a lesser extent, for interactive items. Where an item only works with a certain breedable, it should be in the breedables category. However there are areas where breedable related items do not need to be in the breedables category.

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