Almost everyone agrees that using Bots to manipulate traffic (and therefore Search rankings) is unfair. Not only with respect to Search itself but also due to the load on Mainland Region resources and how that can impact other Residents in the area.
Therefore we are setting policy that attempting to gain an unfair Search advantage, by the use of Bots to inflate the Traffic for a parcel, will be considered a violation. This policy applies to both Mainland and Private Estates as both are represented in Search. (Conclusion to the Blog Post on Bots)
And few would argue with that. (Although the few, pretty much exclusively those selling bots and using bots, do sometimes seem to be attempting to make up for their fewness by repetition.) I would say that this was an extremely Welcome Move; I am having great difficulty in constructing credible arguments opposing my "Trafficbots Are A Bad Thing" position that I might address in the form of Dialogue. Traffic is meant to be an indication of popularity. Populating an area by artificial means makes this statistic, one of the few we have access to, meaningless.
In general I certainly approve of the attitude - previously displayed in the context of Advertisement Farms - that it is the behaviour that matters, not some breach of arbitrary technical rules. Are you attempting to distort traffic statistics by the use of automated facilities? Then you should be prevented from doing so. No, there will not (one would hope) be a series of technical Rules, the Letter of which will be obeyed and which can thus be ingeniously bypassed - Motivation is the key.
I can, though, see that this particular Announcement is not really complete. Certainly it should eliminate those dismal boxes of twenty or thirty homonculi, locked up in a cube at four thousand metres in height. However, the continued presence of Traffic as a statistic will lead to other methods of Gaming becoming more popular, if unchallenged.
Camping, for instance: offering camping chairs, which are then occupied by bots belonging to somebody else, is a symbiotic relationship between landowner and bot operator. In fact, if said chairs are occupied by residents, said residents are effectively becoming trafficbot subcontractors - "crowdsourcing traffic distortion" if you will. Whether or not bots are being used is fairly unimportant, and a campsite owner could certainly claim that they were not using bots, in the knowledge that by putting out large numbers of chairs and paying money to those sitting on them, some bot operator would shortly be along.
Still, there are other hopeful signs:
Going forward we are going to look at ways to allow you to voluntarily identify to us that an account is a Bot, so that we can remove it from Traffic completely.
We will continue to strive toward providing more statistical data to land owners, including the number of visitors they receive.
Excellent! And extremely overdue! "Yesterday" would be a good time for this to happen, I would say.
However, the way these statistics relate to Search ranking will be changing. In the next few months, we will be making both technical and policy changes to the way relevance and ranking works in Search. The "traffic" score will be only one aspect of the ranking logic, and it will be scrubbed and weighted to account for gaming vectors.
Potentially a Good Show depending on the details! Although I thought that this was supposed to already have happened.
In any case, now I believe I shall return to the company of my new-found friends Ngr, Eops and Sfdjk. There is after all the chance of winning a Linden Dollar every four minutes, you know.