Saturday, February 18, 2012

Marketplace - Ban List - Yes or No?

This blog post refers to that JIRA entry:

Discussed there is the option to extend bans that one has put on an avatar inworld, also to the marketplace. I have read that Jira entry and it kept me thinking for some days now. My opinion is: No.

The motivations why creators of content would want such a ban are different ones. But they all have two things in common:

  1. Content creators are frustrated about the behavior of some (a minority) of shoppers, because these rate content unfairly. Either because they are not understanding what the item they are buying is for, or because they are alts of competitors that then buy an item and trash it with the rating down, or they want to put on a cheap rating in the hope that the content creator then refunds the buyer and the rating gets removed.
  2. None of the above phenomenons can be really prevented with a banlist. Because, it is really simple to just set up the next alt and repeat the "trick".
Also, closing down the marketplace is not an option really. Those who say "lets focus on the inworld shops, Marketplace does us no good" forget one thing: Clients decide where they buy. And they want it easy and simple. In a world where one has always everything at ones fingertip (or mouseclick) people often want to buy an item because they are just right now, in this moment, in the mood for it. And they just want to have it. Now. At the location where they are. Effortless.
Closing down marketplace would of course drag more people into shops. But, in my opinion, an equally large group of people would then rather not buy at all. All "impulse buyers" would not be around anymore. That would weaken the SL economy. And in the end it could lead to a lot more closing down, than just the marketplace website.

In fact the marketplace has everything that a merchant needs. Easy listing procedures, easy to set up shops, fair pricing. And the rating system that is in place, is great. 
And here is a big but!
The operators of the system fail in keeping an eye of the fair use of the resources and of the rating system. While Linden Lab has published even a guide "How to write a good review" they fail to follow this guide when it comes to check the reviews.
Everyone has seen ratings about that primskirt that gets only 1 star because of one of the following reasons:
  • it was not delivered
  • it is too small (but has modifiy permissions)
  • it is too big (but has modifiy permissions)
  • it attaches at the wrong point
  • it is not really what the buyer imagined (but is exactly what is shown on the picture and described in the product description)
And no, i do not make primskirts. But i had buyers who rated me poorly because my item did not do something.. which i never said it would do... or because my item behaved *exactly* as described. I offer free demo objects for one of my products, and get an IM "I want a refund, the HUD is not what i imagined" and to my response "why did you not try out the free demo?" i get "money back or you get 1 star". Yes. no kidding.

What is missing, is a review-operating team that removes each and every single rating which is less than 5 stars, as long as it is not reasoned out exactly why that rating has been given. On valid grounds. Like "Product picture showed a primskirt but the prims were not texture properly, which only showed when looking from a different angle than the product picture suggests" or something like that.
Yes that is work. But pushed through consequently, it would dry out pretty fast unfair competition.

For now, as long as that is not in place, i publish screenshots with the names of the 1-star culprits, in my blog, so they are known as deliberate freeloaders and report them then to LL. In most cases, the reviews are removed then. But yes, it is work. Fortunately, this does not occur so very often. But it is annoying each time. A more pro active action, rather than a reaction, of the marketplace team would bring a lot of peace.

As for pushing up inworld stores, the solution can also be simple:
All of you have seen the issue that one searches for example a primskirt with a certain keyword and then gets 10 pages of listings of the same creator with a primskirt that has the keywords, in 180 different colors, each skirt, one marketplace entry. How about installing a guideline or a rule, that is like "place only 1 item and a fat pack with all variations for sale ,the other variations can be bought inworld" ?
That is just a rough drat, and needs a better wording, certainly.
But it would drag more traffic to the shops - if i know, someone has it in their store, then i am more willing to TP there, rather than using the inworld search and walk through 50 shops till i find what i want.
LL has then more land rented out to merchants and merchants have more customers in their inworld malls and all are happy.

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