Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A Sorry State of Affairs

Over the last 4 months, I have it has to be said, been very concerned over the downturn Second Life has been taking. While I am a creator and I love what I do, I also run a business, and you see trends forming as you watch sales and how much money you are earning. Its fair to say my sales haven't been very good.

And as it seems, Linden Lab is the root of the reason why Second Life is declining.

Its has long been known Linden Lab has a serious problem.
They don't tell people things, they are awful at support and they are known to make awful decisions that affect the whole grid, and while often these decision are valid, they never explain them.

I will give you an example of their poor communications.
Back in 2009 Linden Lab announced that they were reorganising the rules over adult material on the grid with the creation of a new rating system for sims.
This caused an uproar amongst users and creators.
Linden Lab's response was their usual. Nothing.
Some time later, they imposed the new rules, which included verification of users ages. This was done via a strict and quite frankly overkill method that either you registered a valid credit card, or gave them a copy of a current drivers licence or passport to verify your age.

As a sim owner, I complied with their requests and I understood the rules.

Earlier this year, I was grumbling about the usual SL policing issues on one of my sims to a friend. Someone was coming to my sims on zero day old avatars and causing trouble, and I questioned "How on earth is this person getting past the passport / drivers licence rules" as they had no payment info on file.
She has been on the grid for a few years, and turned round really confused and said "what are you on about?" I explained what I have said above about the "Rules".
Her response was simple. "I didnt have to do that. I just ticked a box"

I was both confused and skeptical about this, and to just check this for myself, I registered a new account, logged in on it, and went over to my sims and went straight over to the one adult sim I have.
As I tried to cross the sim border, a box flashes up which said something to the effect:
"You are trying to access Adult Land. If you want to see explicit adult material, click okay"
Clicked okay and I am on the sim.

At some point, no clue when, Linden Lab relaxed the rules and went from a cavity search approach to accessing adult materials to simply asking a question.
Outside of the fact they put the grid through hell with this "Adult" switchover 5 years ago, it is massively annoying that they sneaked this through the back door, didn't say anything that I saw to explain they were relaxing the rules and merchants and sim owners were kept in the dark.

Anyhow. The point of my soapbox today does revolve around this lack of communication and something I found out by chance yesterday that has left me spitting blood.
As you may remember, some months back I created the Caldera Project above the main sims.
Caldera was designed to comply with the rules for Adult on sims, and I ensured that there were no explicit materials in order to maintain the Sims Moderate ratings. This included not including any related furniture which can often red flag a sim.
Yesterday I was going over to the sims to do some clean up work, adjusting the parcel keyword searches to include new features many of my products have.
I started with the Demon Studio. Did a quick search to see how well things were doing.
I got a bit of a surprise... I wasnt even in the top 200 listings.
My initial reaction was "good job I came over to fix this"
Then I did a little more indepth searching to see what other keywords would come up...
Then a horrible thought crossed my mind. I did a specific search to find what was going on and it was then I nearly fell off my chair.
It wasnt a bad search result. The Demon Studio wasnt on the search at all.

You know that horrible sinking feeling you get when you find out something serious. That was me, as I realised that the Demon Studio had been excluded from the Search.
And what was worse, the only major thing to have changed, was the introduction of Caldera. Which meant... well. Caldera opened in April this year and it was most likely that the Demon Studio hasnt been listed on the SL search since April. 4 Months ago.
I am still fuming over this. The only thing that could have caused the parcel to be black listed was a cave I installed that had adult animations on it. However... I was sensible. I deleted the adult animations from it making it PG and nothing more than a pretty feature.
Odder is the same cave is on the Pheadra sim too.. and the parcel that is on is, yes, still listed on the search.

Needless to say I was in a state of shock for a few hours, and the only thing I could do was to move the whole sim to adult. And lo and behold... the Demon Studio reappeared back on the search.
I still dont know what caused this though, hence the extreme measure.

Why I am angry though is simple.
For 4 months, a parcel I was paying for, every week, to be on the SL search, was not being listed. I never got a heads up from Linden Lab about this. They just blocked it out and left me wondering why my sales were in decline.
It was a matter of me checking my search results that alerted me to the fact.

What angers me more about this exclusion is it was probably based around the sims filtering system picking up a "Adult" feature (incorrectly I may add).
All I will say here is this.
There is a Moderate sim out there - its a big one, well known with massive footfall.
Its listed as Moderate. And it has a sex strip club on the sim, with naked women dancing in the window. It also has an explicit shop open in its mall area dealing with adult products and its no hold barred. Yet, this sim is getting away with murder, while I am struggling to understand why my parcel got blocked off the search.

Linden Lab - please, for the love of god. Sort yourselves out. Tell people if something doesnt sit right with you and why it doesnt. You could even make this an automated system.
Don't randomly block people off the search and give zero explanation for why you did it, yet still take their money.

I am now however reconsidering move both my primary sims to adult considering how much of a pitiful joke it is to access adult land. I could in theory now turn caldera in to a full on adult playground...
I will have a good think about this and I will be monitoring the Deaths Head sim to see exactly how moving to adult affects it. That said, with the epidemic situation over the how the grid is behaving of late (constant outages, database, asset server, and teleport issues), not sure it could be a fair comparison.

A rather pee'ed off Hemi

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