• strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_comment::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_comment.inc on line 49.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_node_status::operator_form() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::operator_form(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/modules/node/views_handler_filter_node_status.inc on line 13.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/ordinal/ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.

Ordinal Malaprop's blog

Idiocy regarding names

I am actually broadly in favour of the Names of Residents in Second Life being a bit easier to deal with. Poor souls who signed up with "luckiboiii238" as their first name, and who then discovered that the Grid was really not quite the same as a Yahoo chatroom, should really be given some way to compensate for their previous mistakes.

Creating a new, supposedly unique username, and having a "Display Name", though, is Not Good. For almost all intents and purposes, the arbitrary "Display Name" will appear whenever speaking to someone, for instance in Group Chat (whenever that happens to work). Certainly there will be facilities to obtain the username of whomever you are talking to, but that makes almost no difference - seeing the name "Ordinal Malaprop" appear in chat results in the instant assumption that it is one single Ordinal Malaprop who is speaking. Only experienced residents will think to look for usernames, and they will still be annoyed, if not, hopefully, fooled.

Furthermore, this takes away the main advantage of the current surname system - to whit, surnames changed in availability over time, and nobody could now register as "Ordinal Malaprop", since the "Malaprop" surname expired some years ago. Oh, nobody can register with their username as "ordinal.malaprop", but they can come in as "ordinalmalaprop" or "ordinal_malaprop" etc etc, which again may perhaps not fool the experienced but in general is just going to cause confusion. (Correction: Apparently, such cheap trickery will be disallowed: see the comments on this entry.)

If a "username" is to be created - and there is already a unique identifier for every avatar, their key - it should be displayed at all times. Names are supposed to be identifiers. Allowing unrestricted arbitrary changes of names eliminates that value - no matter if hovering over the name in group chat might hint that the name is a fake (an irrelevancy). If one wishes to only see fake names, one should have to deliberately opt to do so.

Still, it is nice to hear that the Laboratory is concentrating on real issues of import.

An Initial Reaction to the Departure of Mr "M" and the (Interim) Return of the Rosedale in the Context of Recent Shenanigans

frowning

which is to say, frowning suspiciously over the top of my glasses. I am suspicious that Something Is Going On (something apart from the Obvious, obviously).

I can understand why the news has been greeted with some significant degree of Pleasure by many Residents - Mr. Philip is after all a metaphor for the Creative, Pioneering Spirit of Second Life. He started the whole thing up with the aim of Making Everything Terrific! He Played Musical Instruments With Residents!

On the other hand one has to remember that actually quite a lot of the things that residents dislike about SL - poor chat performance, imaginary property price fluctuations, peculiar and insufficient business policies, censorship in SL(x)B and Burning Life, the death of the Proper Forums, lack of response to any JIRA or any other Form of Complaint, and so on - came about during Mr Philip's reign. If this has been done to restore general Confidence then it will, in my opinion, be a short-lived thing; we may be flighty beings, we residents, but what Creates or Destroys Confidence is in the end based on Actions. An Interim Ruler might provide an quick Boost to Confidence but such a thing needs to be backed up with Immediate Action on a broader scale - and I am wondering quite what such Action might be. Re-hire Discarded Lindens? Likely not. A new "CEO"? There will be one, and who knows who that might be?

I shall be interested to see which if any new policies emerge from the Interim Return of our Lord And Master, but I am only occasionally given to Wild Functional Expressions of Emotion, and this is not one of those occasions.

Culling For The Future

I assume that most readers will be at least familiar with recent news regarding the Not-At-All-Cost-Cutting Measures taken to sack a third of the workforce at Linden Laboratories.

While I do not know the exact job descriptions of all of the hundred-odd Lindens who will be receiving their final Laboratory Paycheque soon, it strikes me that a large proportion of them were those involved in infrastructure development - whether it be projects such as Mono or script limits, or simply Fixing The Grid. (This is not at all to say that those remaining are incompetent by the way, just that I can see that resource has been greatly diminished.)

These were not things that were exactly racing forwards at top speed when everybody was employed. After this cull, I would not expect any sort of technical improvements to the server side of Second Life at all. Forever. Even fixes for the obvious ongoing problems are unlikely. Bear in mind here that existing technical Lindens, whilst not necessarily the same people who developed the original systems, at least had some period of "handover" from those who did - those coming in now will not have even that. This is not something that can be conveniently outsourced.

So: all problems remain, and nothing new arrives. Selfishly, I had been hoping that scripting improvements would appear which would tempt me back, but not only will those not happen, there will not even be things which more normal folk would be interested in, such as perhaps having group chat work.

At the same time as this, we have the statement that "The restructuring enables us to focus and put more emphasis on the consumer business". But surely "consumers" (whoever they might be - surely everyone is a consumer? I assume this means the group that used to be called "residents") need server-side improvements? Not if this "focussing" means cutting down what systems are available to "consumers", and assuming that they are people to have virtual goods sold to them by "creators". Simplified systems to allow one to buy frocks and sofas and show them off in a web browser. Because, of course, that is all that Second Life is - and that is why it has continued when other worlds that basically just allowed this have without exception disappeared. There could not possibly be more to it than that.

You know, I really did want to be drawn back to SL, to look at it again and think "oh for goodness' sake, Ordinal, what an utterly dramatic idiot you have been, say your apologies and make more nonsense widgetry". I still do; I miss the Grid achingly, the unprecedented possibilities and freedoms that it allowed me. But the things which made me leave appear to be just increasing in volume.


P.S. A sad wave goodbye to the already-neglected Teen Grid.

Introducing a New and Exciting Era

I am very excited to announce some very exciting news - or two pieces of news, each as exciting as each other!

Firstly, as part of ongoing efforts to focus on improving your Ordinal experience, I am pleased to announce that I have taken up the position of Community Engagement Operative with Linden Laboratory. Please look out for me under my new name, Ordinal Linden, and I would love to see any of my readers at my office hours, which are scheduled for five hours before you wake up on any given Wednesday.

To set a good example, the Laboratory and I have agreed that I shall be entirely going back on what I have previously said and offering all of my items (apart from the free ones of course!) for sale on Xstreet only. Obviously it would be unethical for any Linden to make any money from inworld businesses, and I would certainly not want to be the first to do so - all profits from Ordinal Enterprises sales on Xstreet will be donated to a fund for Second Life entrepeneurs, maintained by my brother Cardinal Linden (now in the Finance department).


Secondly, I am thrilled about the new initiatives that I will be involved with as part of Linden Laboratory, and I would love to share one of them with you here!

One of the things we have been working hard on here at Linden Laboratory is the group experience in Second Life. Today, we're proud to announce an important step forward as we continue to improve the group experience for Residents; it's simpler, linearer and integrateder with Viewer 2, and provides us with a robust and flexible platform to build on.

The new Second Life Groups 2.0 system is based on a robust and flexible system that will allow even more goodness in 2010 and beyond. Here are some of the key highlights.

  • Improved group management tools. With Groups 2.0 you can manage groups and membership of them entirely from the web, without having to log in to Second Life at all - and confusing functions like land, attachments and build permissions have been cut out, so that anyone can start a group. You and your group members will have a streamlined interface to view announcements, and you can now send pictures and video as well!

  • Improved group chat. In Groups 2.0 you can have 100% reliable individual chat whether you are in SL or not. Open a browser window either inside or outside SL, and talk to your friends! Group messaging in general is far more speedy and reliable.

  • Updated currency options. You will now be able to buy Linden Dollars with Farmville credits. A full amalgamation of your L$ and Farmbook accounts should be taking place by Q3 this year. It might be advisable to start a farm now if you do not already have one.

  • You won't have to wait. Linden Laboratory is already trialing the new Groups 2.0 system, with events such as the Valentine's Day 2010 hunt. Migration of all existing groups into the new format is taking place as we speak and will be complete by the 31st of April. After this date, all of the Second Life 1.0 Groups will be removed, so you'll never accidentally carry out an old group operation.


I am sure that you are all as excited as I am by Groups 2.0, and can't wait to try the system out - you'll be happy to hear that you can set up profiles and groups right now by logging in at the Groups 2.0 homepage. (You may have to set up another account at the moment, but rest assured that we will be making sure there's a single sign-on for all these services as soon as possible.)

An explanation

I felt that I should write a final entry here to clarify recent events and the current situation.

What have you done?

I have removed every building and item of mine from the Grid, most notably, Caledon and New Babbage. (At least, I think I have; there may be a few bits and pieces left scattered about.) Ordinal Enterprises is no longer a functioning operation. I have not abandoned my land - for the moment I will hold onto it. It just won’t contain anything of significance.

I also do not plan to write any more in this Journal for a considerable time, though I may change my mind there.

Does this mean you’ve left Second Life?

In practice, I can't think that I will be around much in the immediate future - though I expect I will pop back occasionally, either in relation to work, or to feed the parcel meters.

My intention in doing these things was not to leave Second Life, but Ordinal Enterprises is (or was) such a significant part of my existence and day-to-day behaviour that without it, I find it hard to imagine what I would do now.

Why on earth would you do that?

This is quite a difficult question, and may not have a coherent answer at all, but I will do my best to produce one. It will, I expect, be very self-indulgent.

The purpose of Ordinal Enterprises

Originally, Ordinal Enterprises was a framework and context for the silly things that I built, providing me with a well-understood means of distribution (i.e. a “shop”) and a Victorianesque mercantile narrative within which the products could exist - which in itself then generated inspiration for further creations. The challenge of competing in the general marketplace, too, was stimulating; the narrative was always the most important part though, a framework in a world that, as is often pointed out, is otherwise a blank slate.

The Increasing Problem

For a while now I have found myself increasingly less productive in terms of producing items and scripts, and this is not for lack of ideas - I have been generating notebooks full of ridiculous concepts which I would then plan out as systems or items, enter onto my Lists of Tasks to begin, not do, avoid looking at for a while and then mark “someday/maybe”.

This is a painful process and I hate it. It makes me feel completely impractical and without any willpower whatsoever, particularly when I looked at the series of items that I had already created, back when the Grid was younger, which sat there as a constant reminder on the ground below my skybox, which I visited less and less frequently.

On the occasions when I entered Second Life at all, I found something to irritate me, and I would become bitter and argumentative and also fail to achieve anything. Quite often this would be a technical issue - rarely a severe one (grid and regions used to be far less stable and reliable, believe it or not) more often one that was just stupid. Alternatively, and increasingly more so recently, it would be a political or social issue arising from dictat or commentary or mistake or some such event. The list of recent topics in this Journal provides examples of the sort of thing.

I am not saying here, by the way, that this is all the fault of Lindens, or anything like that: I have, though, increasingly felt “this world is not for me”, particularly with issues such as the increasing split between “consumer” and “creator”, which I have written about previously.

The actual Removal

I decided yesterday to try once again, this time to clear out those projects which had been hanging around and making me miserable, sometimes for years. Just release the ones which were even vaguely saleable, perhaps for free, and then cross them off my list, mark them “done”. (I even came up with some more ideas for items while I was planning this - I had no intention of coming in to stop.)

Two things happened. Firstly there was the ridiculous business with the Avatars United site - by the way, I don’t blame the site itself for anything, it is quite clear about how it works and I’m sure does a great job in other contexts, what I am criticising is its immediate promotion as being for use in SL, without a thought to identity verification. Anyway, that business. Secondly, later on that evening, I had just finished the release steps for one of the products I had planned, boxing it, adding textures, final checks, even having made a video, and at the last stage I tested it with a friend and it began to show script permission errors.

I’m afraid that something broke at that point. First of all I decided not to release the item after all. Then I decided not to release any of them, and just delete them. And then I looked at the lighthouse and my little shop, and it just seemed to me that all this time I had just been fooling myself, that instead of it being an inspiration it was now a parody of something that I used to deeply enjoy; that I was using it to pretend that I was still enjoying it and that nothing had changed over the years, either in myself or in the wider world. So, I deleted it all.

Are you sure about all this?

No. Not at all. I’m afraid that I just couldn’t come up with any better solution.

Avatars Unite! As many times as is desired!

The purchase of a site known as "Avatars United" was recently announced by Linden Lab as... well, I am not precisely sure quite what the point was but it was a Great Thing nonetheless. Apparently the aim was to make sure that people with existing identities on the Grid, and therefore on Grid-Related Websites such as the Linden Blogthing, could also be represented on another random site for no apparent reason.

With that in mind I have registered all of my current Second Life identities. I warn anybody who does not wish to know my current "alts" to look away now.

Who I am in Second Life

Well, I did not wish to say so explicitly, but any "Desmond Shang" that you might be dealing with who says that it is not obligatory to buy everything from Ordinal Enterprises in order to enter Caledon is a fraud and not in my existing group of friends - but that fake identity will isolate itself.

Q: I have several avatars on several games. Can I register them all?
A: Yes. Currently Avatars United has no limit on avatars to any given account.
Q: Can I register avatars from games I am not currently playing?
A: Yes, as a matter of fact we hope you will. Do register avatars from games you previously have played and you will allow old friends you previously played with to find you.
Q: Are you verifying that all the posted avatar information is accurate?
A: No. Avatars United is mainly a community for existing groups of friends and as such we believe fake identities will isolate themselves. (Frequently Asked Questions)

The fact that one might apparently register not only a name that has nothing to do with one's actual name, but in fact, a name that has already been registered, I'm sure is just a feature.

(Yes, by the way, it would be trivial to have an inworld check on identity, whereby an avatar confirmed that the "Avatars United" account was indeed theirs by touching a box or some such - and that would just be for residents, anyone connected with LL would no doubt have even more tools available.)

Is the concept of "identity" even thought about, let alone appreciated? Signs point to no.

A Useful Script - "Mass Distribution by List of Names in a Notecard"

I recently had cause to distribute a number of items to a large number of people, whose names I was in possession of a list of, but not, of course, their keys.

The appalling lack of a useful llName2Key function unfortunately makes it a little challenging to send things out, but this is a problem that I have encountered before, and the obvious course of action is to

  1. put all of the items to be sent out into a prim;
  2. add a notecard containing the list of names to which these items are to be sent;
  3. add a script which simply goes through these names, queries one of the several "name2key" databases in existence, and, should it find an appropriate key, sends the items out.

For general use I include such a script herein.

In this I included features which tell one how many lines of the names notecard remain, and an estimate of the how much time remains, as well, though this may or may not be terribly accurate.

I am aware that it could be made considerably faster by the use of subscripts to send the inventory items, but that would make for a rather poor example script; I would prefer to keep the whole affair as simple as possible, in other words, in one script that is put into one prim. The introduction of inventory-giving subscripts is left as an exercise for the keen student.

~*~

As a further note, a future script using this sort of system to be published here will be a vendor that optionally sends the item to another person - in other words, a gift-giver that allows people to purchase copy/no-trans goods for others, which will allow those who had been forced to rely upon Xstreet for this the opportunity to abandon the dratted site.

A piece of Christmas Arboreal Scripting

Seeing as how it is the Season Of Trees And Such, I thought that I would post a piece of Code, as an example of Particle Scripting.

Ordinal Christmas Particle Tree

This script illustrates two main points:

  1. Particles can last for quite a long time. In this case, the "branches" last for thirty seconds.

  2. The position of particles depends on the prim that is generating them, and one should never be afraid to move this prim as is necessary. You will notice that the "pot" here moves upwards and tilts itself to produce branches at different positions, then moves back to its source when finished. When generating complex particle effects it is often desirable to move the source prim around, or, commonly, to rez other prims which generate particles in different positions and then die.

The script is present in a pot in my Caledon shop, full-permissions and for No Monetary Cost. (It is not, obviously, present on Xstreet.)

A few words on Linden Homes

I thought that I might offer a few thoughts regarding Mr Jack Linden's announcement of the latest fabulous Laboratory Movement - that of "Linden Homes".

Once upon a time we offered affordable parcels of land to Premium members — a program we called 'First Land'. The First Land program made land available to first-time land owners at a reduced price. First Land buyers learned about land ownership and often moved onto larger parcels.

True enough at the time, and owning a Linden Home now will also give experience of land ownership. Nobody, these days, moves onto buying larger mainland parcels, though; they rent from landowners on islands. They are also I propose even less likely to do it from a Linden Home, a matter I will deal with at a later point.

But the program was flawed in several ways. For example, not everyone can build well enough to craft their dream home and when you're new, even placing a pre-made home is tricky at best.

Yes and no (and mostly yes). Many people clearly had no idea what to put on their first land, and would assume that they would have to build something, put up a big plywood box and then leave, never to return. The plot would then sit there with a big plywood box on it indefinitely. However, nobody who wanted to had any trouble placing prefabs; it is not that hard. They might not have been aware of the existence of prefabs, beyond poor-quality free ones, of course.

Those First Land areas quickly became chaotic and the parcels were often bought by land dealers instead of genuine first-time buyers.

The two issues are not I would say related. First land areas quickly became chaotic, certainly, and some were sold to land barons and parcel spammers as people left, but in many cases they were sold to those with neighbouring plots as well (this was how I managed to expand my First Land parcel in Theretra). The mass purchase by land dealers came when the land market reached a level where it was profitable to start a new account, pay the premium fees and then sell one's First Land.

This new addition to the Premium membership will be called a 'Linden Home'. This is not the same as First Land, not least because it is about providing a home rather than just land, but it does share the same goals.

Yes, it is not the same as First Land - dealt with at more length below. It is not, though, to my mind, about providing a home rather than just land - it is about providing a home rather than land. As to whether the goals are the same, well, I cannot speak for other people's goals, but if they are the same this is not a very good way of achieving them.

During beta, a limited number of randomly selected existing Premium subscribers will be offered the chance to apply for a Linden Home...

This is the part that baffles me the most. What is the point of offering Linden Homes to existing Premiums? The number of people who have signed up for Premium but who have no idea where to live is zero to the nearest significant figure. Who would do that? Why on earth would somebody pay money for a premium account now without already knowing, at least vaguely, what they want to do in Second Life?

A far better idea would be to offer it to a randomly selected number of new residents who were not Premium.

Therefore these parcels will be unlike normal land in that they will be restricted in various ways; the house cannot be removed and the parcels cannot be sold, joined, terraformed or divided. Events and classifieds cannot be created for these parcels; only Premium Members can own them, and only one per account.

Here we reach the major difference between this proposal and the old First Land system, and it is at this point that any old folk who might have been saying "ah, First Land gave me the start that I needed, young people today need that sort of thing" should really be quiet.

First Land as was was basically the same as any other land, only cheaper and connected to having a new account. One could run a shop from First Land, and certainly I did; sell it to a neighbour so that they could expand their holdings (and, yes, to a land spammer also, but the problem there was never the sale, but the spam). One certainly had an entirely free choice as to what ended up on the plot.

A Linden Home cannot be moved. A Linden Home cannot be sold. A Linden Home cannot be advertised. Publicised events cannot be held on a Linden Home. Do not taunt Linden Home.

In fact the word "Home" is somewhat deceptive to my mind - it implies a certain level of permanence and flexibility, but there is no hope of modifying one's Linden Home (beyond filling the prefab with consumer goods), or expanding it, or changing its purpose. A Linden Home is a hotel room: a comfortable and inexpensive place to stay for a bit when visiting a foreign land, but if one plans to remain there and do anything worth doing, one moves on.

And to where would one move on? If one's experience of living upon the Grid was in a heavily managed area such as that in which Linden Homes appear, one will no doubt wish to move on to another heavily managed area, which means renting on an island, in practice. Certainly it does not mean purchasing mainland. Only strange old people purchase mainland these days.

Linden Homes are not First Land, and they are I would say almost the opposite. First Land provided an empty space upon which one could build and do anything that any other landowner could, with many people being confused by this and not building anything at all apart from a ten-metre plywood box, which then sat there until Doomsday. A Linden Home provides an area upon which one cannot build or do anything apart from rez furniture. (Technically I think one could sell items from a Linden Home, but without classifieds that is not likely to be very handy.)

First Land provided a starting point for land ownership and building something for oneself. A Linden Home provides a starting point for renting another prefab.

~*~

Now, it must be said that an awful lot of people have no interest in doing anything much with land apart from changing their clothes on it and inviting their assorted friends over to partake of a glass of champagne and some stimulating intellectual conversation. And why should they? Assuming a high quality of Linden Home prefabs and environments, I am sure that they will be quite happy with the situation, at least until they chafe at the limits and move on to a paid rental on an island.

And everyone will be happy, apart of course from anyone selling or renting mainland, but then they are not happy generally, and they are not meant to be. Also, those currently renting plots to new residents either on islands or mainland will I assume be up in arms, or at least they should be, because this directly attacks their business; there is very little that they could do to compete with a free plot and a free house.

It is not First Land though. Those days are behind us. Now, residents are Content Creators or Content Consumers, and the assumption is that they are Content Consumers from Day One and will not move from that position.

Mercantile Insanity, a Longer Version

I have found it a little challenging to marshall all of the points I would like to make regarding the recent Xstreet Outrage in time to make a Journal Entry that remains relevant, but that is one of the challenges of Journalism really, that and coping with acute liver complaints and the strain of having to associate with other journalists.

Luckily, since I am a Vanity Published Journalist, I am able to simply present bulleted lists, and not have to worry about an editor rushing into my office, swatting me with a fedora and saying "Ordinal! This is a load of lazy tripe! I'm hiding the whisky bottle until you do me some better damn copy!"

The Linden measures, summarised:

  • Free items to cost L$99/month each to list.

  • Paid items to cost L$10/month each to list, and have a minimum commission of L$3 each. (The commission on items of items costing over L$60 will remain 5%.)

Obviously intended results:

  • A reduction of the number of items through people removing them rather than pay extra fees.

  • A disproportionate reduction in the listing of cheap and free items (particularly free ones - it costs almost ten times as much to list a free item as a paid one) and to encourage the listing of higher-priced items. The flat fee per listing and minimum commission are a proportionately lower percentage of profit the more expensive the item - in other words this is a regressive sales tax.

  • A raising of prices to cover new charges, and the corresponding rise in commission.

Results which may or may not have been consciously intended but which should have been obvious:

  • Less competition means that merchants who remain no longer have to compete with free and low-priced goods in terms of quality; there is no longer a baseline. I would not expect the general quality of items to go down due to this, but it will be less likely to go up.

  • A reduction in the diversity of goods, not only their number. If there is an incentive not to list something which you are not sure will sell, you are less likely to do so. This discourages merchants from taking risks. Even quite simple strategies such as selling five copies of a dress in different colours may be uneconomic if one has a large range of dresses. Ordering an item with options such as colour could of course be implemented in Xstreet, but is very unlikely to be, as that would involve some sort of software development.

  • The distribution of the message that Xstreet is for a certain sort of person to make money. It is not a general method of distribution for educators or philanthropists. I also say "a certain sort of person" because the economic engineering here encourages certain business models over others. There is no economy of scale and no attempt to allow for one; you should be making small numbers of high-priced items that all sell well, not even small numbers of high-priced specialist items (see above).

  • A corollary to that is the message that Linden Lab is not interested in you making things better for other residents by means of its services. In fact, Linden Lab would rather that you didn't, and will charge you more if you intend to. You are not conforming to the vision of seller and customer. The fact that this announcement comes at the same time as eliminating mentors I am sure is coincidental in terms of timing, but not, I believe, in terms of motivation.

Statements which are not convincing:

  • That free items on Xstreet are simply advertising. This is such a stupid assertion that I will simply sneer and move on.

  • That this is to "reduce clutter" and make it easier for customers to find quality items.

    Firstly, as an observation, it is quite telling that low-priced and free items are simply termed "clutter" - I assume that all the high-priced rubbish in Xstreet is somehow not cluttering the place up.

    Secondly, Xstreet really is not all that cluttered if you know what you are looking for; just search for "shoes" and yes, you will get rather a large number of results. My problem when using the site has always been (a) how to properly get to the subset of products that I am interested in - the search and metadata filtering is generally poor, and should be greatly improved - and (b) how to tell which of the - frequently rather expensive - products I find are any good. Price is absolutely no guarantee of quality or authenticity on Xstreet.

Things that I have done or will do:

  • Remove all of my items from Xstreet until such time as these policies are amended. Even if I had no moral objections to the broader effects of the changes themselves, I really do not see why I should pay more money for a worse service.

    Realistically a change or reversal is very unlikely to occur, and once I have deleted the listings (as opposed to simply taking back my Xstreet boxes) I am very unlikely to fight Xstreet's appalling excuse for a merchant UI in order to put them back, so in effect I will no longer be selling silly guns or providing Slurlbloggers, Twitterboxes, Snowball Systems or any of the other free items via Xstreet.

    (Edited to add: actually it seems I am able to simply make items Inactive, which I had not previously had cause to do, so in theory I could put things back quite easily should the situation change. Which I very much doubt it will.)

  • Make it clear in my inworld establishments why this is.

  • Not buy anything as a purchaser from Xstreet. This will not be a huge trial for me as I only rarely did anyway.

  • As the one useful thing about Xstreet for me was that it gave people the ability to send Copy/No-Transfer products of mine to others, I shall attempt to script a system which allows this, and once I have done so, I shall make it publicly available. Though not of course on Xstreet. I would also like to have some sort of mechanism to allow people to send items to themselves or others via the Web, which is often convenient for Educational Things.

    The production of such a system does of course rest on my continuing interest in selling items at all, which is not guaranteed and most certainly waxes and wanes; thus I make no promises on this score.

A few final points:

  • I am not particularly incensed by price rises and the motive of profit in themselves - by now I am used to such concepts - but I am somewhat miffed to see both crude attempts at socio-economic engineering and also the facile arguments being used to justify them, as if everything was All For Our Own Good. The "Free Items Are Just Advertising" part, particularly, feels like a child giving you an earnest ethical justification for why it has stolen a biscuit. If we are to have autocracy or even a strict commercial provider/customer relationship with the Laboratory, we should at least have them in an adult way.

  • I am also miffed at the suggestion that Residents Asked For This And Lindens Just Replied. The "consultation process" in this instance was simply laughable. Three poorly-advertised office hours sessions, each attended by a handful of people (the most miniscule fraction of the constituency imaginable), during which the proposals originated from Lindens in any case; then a blog post announcing it as fait accompli. Not exactly Athenian. I would actually have had more faith in a hand-picked focus group assembled to ponder a Linden suggestion, since at least that would imply an interest in what some residents had to say, rather than using them as an excuse.

    There is a broader point here regarding the growing trend towards Officeocracy, but I think that is best left to a future entry, given that this one is already of considerable length.

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