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Fornicola Butuzova

My Beefs With SLM...

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Don't get me wrong, things are awesome, sales are booming, SLM is bringing customers in, all is well on that front, BUT...

I have 4 big beefs with SLM these days.  I sent a email off to the appropriate linden, and got no response.  Went to the last office hours and realized that is a waste of time, too many topics, typing is too slow and the entire first half of the meager 60 min is spent delivering information that could be blogged or wiki'd.

They seem to be using the surveys as the only insight into what is going on with merchants so im writing this to raise awareness for teh next round, 2 months from now. 

Just gonna address the biggest and the most wide reaching one in this post.

RELEVANCE:

Anyone has a right to sell anything of any quality at any price they see fit, lets get hat out of the way.  God Bless ya, good luck, thats not my beef.  The 3rd most relevant home on SLM now is a 10l house.  How can this be the 3rd most relevant home in SL. 

Lets start by figuring out what Relevant means,  how "relevant" is 35 cents?

For 35 cents you cant get a small cup of coffee at McDonald's, even with the senior discount.  For 35 cents you cant get a pack of watermelon Hubba Bubba at 7/11. You cant even buy a USA today.

The very act of spending 35 cents is too little to bother considering.  It is by definition, to most people, "Irrelevant"!

A premium home however will cost you 16 bucks or more. That is more than the price going to a movie.  More than a month of playing WoW.  More than  decent meal.  It has consequences, it has risk, if the products sucks, you are out 16 REAL bucks.  Spending 16 bucks has real meaning, it is relevant! 

A search by "Best selling" will bring up us, and Tiki tattoo and dolphin and Pamela Galli, and all those great home builders doing great work,  but by "relevance", the default,  we are all buried  pages behind a 10l home. 

So then,  by this logic is a luxury motor yacht more relevant than a meal at McDonald's then, because a Yacht cost 50 million dollars and a McDonald's cheeseburger costs 65 cents (more than the cost of the 3rd most relevant home on SLM, BTW)? NO, of course not. 

Because while the yacht might represent a few hundred million in revenue given to it by a  handful of customers, everyone in America buys McDonald's and they give McDonalds Billions every year.  So why shouldn't a 10l house be more relevant than a premium house, you might ask? Because for the 10l house to match the revenue of a premium house, it has to sell not 10x, not 50x, but 400 TIMES what a premium homes sell in units.  For even an untested  new launch that represents over 130,000 units sales.  It is very hard to believe that any 10l home is a staple item that is owned and used by nearly every player in SL.

My suspicion is that because it has most likely sold more sheer units, has more ratings in numbers alone, despite those ratings being lower, THAT is what makes relevance.

The worst part is that it is self perpetuating. It can never stop.  The conditions that put it on page one do not ever allow it to fall lower.  It is on page one and gets the most exposure of any product, and it is almost free.  So each meaningless, riskand consequence free tick of 35 cents racks the tally even higher.  An army of people doing something that to them has no meaning, that they do  without consideration is no more relevant than a single person doing the same thing.

Spending 35 cents is simply  irrelevant.  This is proven by the fact that people still buy it, after reading the mediocre reviews, and then go on to leave yet another mediocre review.  Why would they do this, because for 35 cents WHO CARES!  That is the definition of irrelevant!

You cant make a 3995L$, or 7995L$ or even a 15,000L$ home and have people buy it on a whim.  That decision comes with  weight, it has real risk, it has  consequences.  It matters.  It is relevant!

That decision has relevance to all you merchants is every segment as well.  The person who decides to spend 16 or more real dollars on this kind of entertainment is committed.  The homes of the top builders typically require 4096 sm parcels.  So every 16 homes we sell is a full region in use by a committed player.  A player who will visit your store to buy waves, trees, security systems, furniture, clothes, hair, etc  A player who has committed in a meaningful, or if you will "rel;relevant" way, with his pocketbook to being here.  Being your customers.  That home buyer himself is relevant to the success of SL, land rental agencies  and anyone who sells anything in SL.

A player who spends 35 cents has not committed to anything.  

This example may not apply as clearly to say, hair, where crap hair is free, decent hair is 100-150L$, and great hair is 300L$, but in homes relevancy is more clearly demonstrated.  A crap home is free, a decent home is 1000$ and a great home is 4000 to 50,0000L$ even. (yes you can get a great home for 99l and spend 20k on a crap house, but generally as they say,the rule is and the market bears that  you get what you pay for)

It seems that sheer numbers of ratings is a huge component as well, as the first 3 pages of our listings are filled with budget home builders who PAY YOU TO RATE THEM!

It is called the "rWarder" system. You rate their product and get money for doing it.

Merchants with this "rWarder" system just bribe their customers with a few lindens and move right to page 1, and page 2 and page 3.  How is this RELEVANT!  Bribed ratings?  This is allowed to be a component of what is RELEVANT?

RELEVANCY should remain the default search criteria but it should be entirely determined by total revenue for the product..  That is the one true "rating".  The end result of measured risk, of consideration of the dynamic range of consequence, and the overall determination by the consumers of SL what the real value of any product is.  It is the most fair, and hardest to game.  Here is an example.

Product A.   10l            1200 Sales   12,000 Revenue

Product B.   100L        120 Sales      12,000 Revenue

Product C.   1000L      12 Sales        12,000 Revenue

Product D.   4000L       3 Sales         12,000  Revenue

In this example each product is equally relevant.  Quality issues do not matter, Opinions do not matter.  Individual sales do not matter.  All that matter is what the overall consumer confidence in each product is. only here is  risk is and consumer relevance adjusted for.

To become more relevant. as a cheaper product you have to earn a greater portion of consumer confidence, not just sell a handful more units than other products or get more ratings, which are easily bought now with the r Warder system.  Just as McDonald's has to sell billions of hamburgers for it to be more relevant to American's than the luxury yacht company, as it of course is.  To Become more relevant in as a more expensive product  in this example you have to overcome up to 400x the consumer doubts and fears.  Neither is easy but, but at least by this means the challenge is equal.

I'll end my vent/rant/rallying cry by asking...

What is harder to do.  Launch a new 15,000L product, overcome consumer doubt of spending 65 real USD, sell 100 units in the first month and earn 5 rating of 5 stars...

OR

Sell 101 units of ANYTHING, at 5L, even copybotted items, and BUY, via the new and  amazing "r Warder" system, just SIX ratings of 3 stars.

Yet the second item here is, by our current scheme, more "relevant"

 

If we are raising money to save whatever, seals or trees or something and a rock star donates a million dollars, THAT is relevant.  It means something, to our cause, and to the rock star.  A million bucks is still a lot even to a rock star.

But so does 1,000,000 people donating 1 dollar, that is just a s relevant to our goals.  It means the very same in terms of what the support for thecuase is and what we can do to reach our objective.

But what about 1,000,000 people donating just  a nickle?  Is that as relevant, does it mean a much to our goals, 1,000,000 people, 1,000,000 donations is more than just one rock star, surely a million of anything is more relevant than just one.  Not if the revenue they generate is 1/20th of what the lone rock star donates.  A nickle is irrelevant to anyone, and a million irrelevant decisons does not add up to one meaningful one.

If LL were running our fundraising, a person who makes 2 seperate donations of .1 cent each, is more relevant to the cause than a rock star who made just one doation of $1,000,000, becuase they simply made more donations!

See my point?

When that next survey comes around, tell them to fix relevancy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My houses don't come up with a search by either Relevance or Best Selling.  The one with the most sales is the least expensive one, and it is on p. 3 or 4. 

Your houses and mine (and others) are for the discriminating, the ones who want real quality -- and will take some time to find it. They are not going to buy a 200-300L house from the first few pages of the MP. They just aren't. It would be nice to make it easier for people to find top quality, but LL seems intent on promoting something else. 

Those who are selling their houses for about a buck probably do well with that pricing model -- as long as not too many others do the same. The thing is, more and more are doing exactly that, so the prices of average houses are being driven down. Prices of top quality houses are not -- at least so far. If they are driven down, then they will just stop being made. I am certainly not going to spend the time I do on my houses and sell them for a dollar apiece, and I don't care how many I could sell. I won't do it. And if the prices of top quality items are driven down, then average quality items will be worth even less than they are now.

 

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I say make what you want, sell it for what ever you want.  Sell 5, sell 10,000, what I am getting at is that what is relevant to SL users is measured by how they actually vote with their dollars.

A lower price is easier to sell, it has less resistance.  At 10l there is almost none, but each sale carries the same weight as a decision to spend 10x, 20x or even 1600x that price.  

That doesn't measure relevance at all. 

If I asked anyone what the most relevant expenses in your household are, most would say Rent/Mortgage, Food, Utilities, Transportation, etc.  We pay more for these than anything else because they are the most relevant.  They are essential to surviving. 

If you ran your household expenses through the SLM "Relevance" filter,  they would say Starbucks coffee is most relevant because you go there every day before work and get a Vente Carmel Mocciato.   They see it as though Starbucks is 30x more relevant to you  because you pay them 30x as often as you pay your mortgage.

I will never sell as many Odette Mansions at 15k as a 10l house.  But the decision to buy it is VERY relevant.  It is 65 bucks, REAL MONEY.  You don't buy it on whim, without consideration.  You think good and hard, and luckily it has been a huge success.  But for all that effort, all those sales, all that revenue earned against extreme consumer scrutiny, all those full regions in operation to utilize the house, all those who have voted with their pocketbooks and made it a winning product,  it somehow is less relevant than the decision to spend 35 cents 1000 times.

A sale of a 100l product is more relevant than a 10l product.  The decision means more.  It has more risk, and the risk goes up and up as you raise the price, but they don't account for this.  At the end of the day, all the value, all the ratings, all the prices, all the risk, all these factors add up to only one stat that accounts for everything.

Revenue.

It is the only metric that takes everything into account.  It is the only metric that is determined by the massive community of SL residents actually voting, with full disclosure of all factors, in the most meaningful way possible, with their money.

Whether you are are selling for 99l or 9999l, whether you sell 100 or 10,000, whether you sell to a narrow market niche or sell a mainstream product,  what ever product brings in the most actual revenue at the end of the day is simply what SL users have decided they are most likely and willing to spend their money on.  It is most relevant.

If you base relevance largely on number of sales and number of ratings you are ranking products on entirely subjective parameters.  Parameters that scale with price, that vary by user, that mean many different things to many different people.  But a dollar is a dollar to everyone!  

Sure some more dollars than others, but everyone knows what a dollar should buy you, what value it represents. 

If you sell 1000 units at 100L, or 10 units at 10,000L, that is more relevant than selling 1500 units at 10l. 

100,000L spent,however you get there, for whatever reasons, is more relevant that 15,000, even if you sold 15,000 units for 1L.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nicely put Fornicola and i agree that "relevance" algorithms needs to be revised.

 

Price Dumping at its worst and another thing that I had predicted would happen over 2 years ago...with Merchants killing or driving down their own economy in order to make a fast buck.

I guess we have "sweat shops" in RL...why not in Second Life too. :smileysad:

 

.

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Fornicola Butuzova wrote:

Don't get me wrong, things are awesome, sales are booming, SLM is bringing customers in, all is well on that front, BUT...

 

Your beefs are my beef. We are "beef brothers" if you will.;

Nice post.

 

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Fornicola Butuzova wrote:

It seems that sheer numbers of ratings is a huge component as well, as the first 3 pages of our listings are filled with budget home builders who PAY YOU TO RATE THEM!

It is called the "rWarder" system. You rate their product and get money for doing it.

Merchants with this "rWarder" system just bribe their customers with a few lindens and move right to page 1, and page 2 and page 3.  How is this RELEVANT!  Bribed ratings?  This is allowed to be a component of what is RELEVANT?

Very nice post Fornicola, thank you.

This is what scares me. I think this is worse then gambling in Secondlife. Systems like "rWarder" should not be allowed in SL! And yes, try sell a 50K house. It takes some skills both in building and marketing;-)

Ami

 

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I agree that the current relevancy search is terrible, but relevancy just based on revenue won't really work either - old products would always do better this way and new products would be buried easily due to obvious lack of revenue.

I don't know what magic formula was used back on Xstreet, but relevancy was so much more relevant back then. They must have used a mix of number of sales, total revenue, ratings..., and the outcome was rather good in most cases. Plus freebies / cheapies were automatically put in a separate category, now there's freebies everywhere.

My own sales are absolutely awful right now, they haven't been that low for a very long time. My prices are fair and already lower than they should be - and I simply refuse to play the "sell for close to nothing promo" game. This practice has been worrying me for quite some time and it only seems to be getting worse. Unfortunately merchants don't realize that they will kill the economy in the end this way, and it's already hurting. I'd rather make sure there's a stable future for SL than take part in the  "grab whatever I can within a month mentality ". Sadly there are more than enough merchants who fail to look at the bigger picture and the future of SL's economy.

The change in customer behavior is also obvious - this week alone I had two people begging for free items and one who asked for a discount - for items that aren't even 2 U$ and that took me about a week to finish. All these close to nothing items on the Marketplace really seem to blur customers understanding of the time, effort and expenses it takes to keep running a business, creating quality content and providing support.

The marketplace is only strengthening that kind of behavior, with all the cheap items taking up the top spots so easily.

A new relevancy filter is absolutely needed, I just think it has to consist of more than just revenue.

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You are mistaken as to what relevance is. If you do a search on "houses", for instance, then all houses are equally relevant to the searchterm, regardless of the price, quality, popularity, or anything else, and there can be no justified complaint about the order in which the houses are listed.

Search engines have to list results in some order or other, even if it's merely the order in which they were found in the index. Whichever way the results are ordered is down to the engine and, as long as each result is a house, all the results are relevant - none more relevant than others, and none less relevant than others - and there can be no justified complaint. Price, popularity, whatever does not add to a house's relevancy for the searchterm.

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Clever Ghost wrote:

I agree that the current relevancy search is terrible, but relevancy just based on revenue won't really work either - old products would always do better this way and new products would be buried easily due to obvious lack of revenue.

I don't know what magic formula was used back on Xstreet, but relevancy was so much more relevant back then. They must have used a mix of number of sales, total revenue, ratings..., and the outcome was rather good in most cases. Plus freebies / cheapies were automatically put in a separate category, now there's freebies everywhere.

My own sales are absolutely awful right now, they haven't been that low for a very long time. My prices are fair and already lower than they should be - and I simply refuse to play the "sell for close to nothing promo" game. This practice has been worrying me for quite some time and it only seems to be getting worse. Unfortunately merchants don't realize that they will kill the economy in the end this way, and it's already hurting. I'd rather make sure there's a stable future for SL than take part in the  "grab whatever I can within a month mentality ". Sadly there are more than enough merchants who fail to look at the bigger picture and the future of SL's economy.

The change in customer behavior is also obvious - this week alone I had two people begging for free items and one who asked for a discount - for items that aren't even 2 U$ and that took me about a week to finish. All these close to nothing items on the Marketplace really seem to blur customers understanding of the time, effort and expenses it takes to keep running a business, creating quality content and providing support.

The marketplace is only strengthening that kind of behavior, with all the cheap items taking up the top spots so easily.

A new relevancy filter is absolutely needed, I just think it has to consist of more than just revenue.

 

I certainly agree about Xstreet relevance -- I guess LL lost the recipe for that. Too bad.

 

They have fiddled with it a bit because it used to be exactly the same as Best Selling. I suspect Forni is right and stars + sales = relevancy.

 

 

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Clever Ghost wrote:

This practice has been worrying me for quite some time and it only seems to be getting worse. Unfortunately merchants don't realize that they will kill the economy in the end this way, and it's already hurting. I'd rather make sure there's a stable future for SL than take part in the  "grab whatever I can within a month mentality ". Sadly there are more than enough merchants who fail to look at the bigger picture and the future of SL's economy.

The change in customer behavior is also obvious - this week alone I had two people begging for free items and one who asked for a discount - for items that aren't even 2 U$ and that took me about a week to finish. All these close to nothing items on the Marketplace really seem to blur customers understanding of the time, effort and expenses it takes to keep running a business, creating quality content and providing support.

 

Good post Clever

Yes, it's very worrrying trend indeed as it's driving base prices down and down.

At this rate, within a year or so....you're be able to buy an A1 premium skin for around 100 L,  even though it still takes the same 100+ Photoshop hours to create.......likewise with prefabs being sold at around 500 + L or so. The grid will lose out as less and less will want to spend tons of hours in creating quality items ...in order to earn a nickle!

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Rene Erlanger wrote:

Good post Clever

Yes, it's very worrrying trend indeed as it's driving base prices down and down.

At this rate, within a year or so....you're be able to buy an A1 premium skin for around 100 L,  even though it still takes the same 100+ Photoshop hours to create.......likewise with prefabs being sold at around 500 + L or so. The grid will lose out as less and less will want to spend tons of hours in creating quality items ...in order to earn a nickle!

 

I think Mesh will change the playing field in a lot of markets in a very short amount of time. We are going to see a drastic improvement both in quality and prim count, and the best and more creative 3D modelers will be able to start driving prices back up again, simply because there will be less competition. I know allot of people think Mesh is overrated blah blah blah, but they are wrong. People are going to be producing work the likes of which has never been seen in SL before and that will equal big bucks for those with the ability to capatilise. 

I strongly believe that Mesh will breath new life into SL commerce.

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The freebie mentality is pervasive  and growing every day.  While I believe that some freebies are good for promotions I think the whole hunt, freebie, lucky chair, 60L bargains etc have gotten way over used as marketing tools.

I personally wont go down that road myself.  I will offer a preview sale to my loyal customers but will not have the pervasive sale everytime my revenue drops a bit .  I feel to put an older item on sale after my loyal customers have paid full price for it is just a slap in their face so I dont do that.  I get irritated when I pay full price for something only to see it on sale a few weeks later.  When that happens I just dont buy full price from that merchant anymore. I just wait for it to go on sale.

It is my opinion that when you offer discounts, sales etc too often the customer begins to expect it and will in fact just wait until the item they want is on sale or free which actually undermines the merchant in the long run.

hunts have never really been any benefit to my sales.  They mainly attract people who will rarely buy items.  I have tracked all those that have gotten gifts I have given in hunts, or free items and less than .01% have ever bought anything.

The only value I see in those is the potential that someone else might see them wearing it and ask where they got it, come to the shop and purchase something.  That of course is impossible to track. lol

Most customers have no clue as to the amount of work that goes into creating goods here and even some of those that do dont really care ......they just want it....for free or dirt cheap.  That leaves a small portion that do actually understand and care.  I have a hunch that most of those are either models who need top items or creators themselves.

Between the copybotters and freeloaders my guess is that the actual full price paying consumer base is a relatively small percentage of the overall SL users.

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I agree that any use of purchases/revenue for an item is unfair as you stated it creates a perpetual windfall for that item.  Once it is on the top page it stays there because it is seen it will get more exposure and by nature more sales.  that method practically cripples the exposure possiblities for newer items or smaller businesses.

 

If I type in dining room table I dont think getting a list of everything from gor to pool tables in the search it returns is a good thing

to type in dining room table and ONLY get a list of dining room table listings is what I would consider to be a relevant search

unfortunately the way search works now I get room, rooms, table, dining, and even things that dont even have those as keywords in the results.

From a shoppers perspective I have gotten better results if I type in the search word in quotes, but even that doesnt return with as much relevance as I would like.

I have also found if you drill down in the categories on the left first before typing in the search word it helps but I am not really sure just how many others use these techniques when searching so that doesnt help much from a sellers point of view if your customers dont know that for instance using quotes yields better search results.

In summary if I type in redwood dining room table then a listing that matches that search word exactly is most relevant with dining room tables that are not redwood listed after that, anything that is not actually a dining room table that is listed would be irrelevant imo lol.

I dont see that the number of units sold or price of it has anything to do with relevance.  If I want to search by price that is a different type of search imo

There should be ways to search by criteria such as relevance (keywords) then second criteria like price

While you can tweek around to get there it is not obvious in how to do so on the marketplace.

.

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Excellent post, Yanni -- and coming from a customer maybe the team will listen to how important it is to have a search mechanism that returns relevant results in exactly the way you describe. We were all excited a year ago when the Xstreet search was fixed like this -- but that was all swept way with the MP.

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1. Nope sorry.  They explain that while the exact weights will be changed periodically, and not disclosed to prevent gaming, the search is ordered by some distributed weighting of key word matches, sales rank and ratings.

That is the official policy.

One look at the listings will confirm this. Those with a ton of "purchased" ratings dominate.  It is clear as the noon sky.

Stop now and do a search on  " House ", and count how many of the listings on page one are using the rWarder system.

I will right now as well... BRB

 

OK im back, 

of the 12 listings that came up under a search for "House", 1 is for waves, 1 is for shoes, lol, issue for another thread.

Of the 10 actual houses,

1 is of course the amazing "10L house"

SEVEN are using the rWarder system.

The others are doing what I call Price Gaming, where you intend to sell a product at a much higher price, but sell it for a week or so at 99l, gather up a ton a ratings and reviews, then bump your price up to 10x 20x 50x the cost.  You take all your ratings with you.  This the creates misleading impression that say, 50 people payed 1995 for a house and LOVED it, when they all actually only payed just 99l. This gives that product a HUGE boost in sales rank as well as they do not account for revenue, so selling 50 at 99L counts as 50 sales, even after you raises your price to 1995.   SO, without selling even ONE unit at 1995, you now have the "Best selling" house at the 1995L price point.

This was not allowed under Xstreet, if you changed your price by 50% you dumped all your ratings and had to start over. 

They had this policy in place for this very reason.

They do this because they know what relevancy is based on and are gaming it.

The search engine in the marketplace  is not a generalized network crawler,  it is not a simple key word parser, it searches a known, pre-determined and organized data base, with programed algo's to deliver specific targeted results.

So my complaint is very justified.

If you allow weighting to any other parameter than revenue, you are basing results determining factors, not defining ones. Rather than preventing gaming, you invite and encourage it as it takes just a couple experiments to reasonably estimate the weighting.

Hence the birth of rWarder.  Ratings are HEAVILY weighted. They figured it our and have bought their way to OWNING the top pages of the listings. 

There is one builder who was lost in the crowd 6 months ago, then they got the rWarder system about 3 months ago and now have several items on page one.

 

 

2.  As to the comment about older products dominating new ones.  Well, if they have sold a ton, they should. They are more "Relevant"   A product being new, again does not make it more relevant.  Only successful older products would get placed ahead.  An older product that didnt sell well would lose quickly to a hot new product.  Most products do not sell like hotcakes forever, they eventual fade is sales, but if they don't, if they stay red hot, month after month, could there be anything more relevant?

For example, I release new products from time to time and it takes a lot to get up front.  You start on page 42, and you slowly but steadily work your way up if the product meets with success. 

Tiki Tattoo and Dolphin Designs have all but owned the beach house market for years.  I never really got into the core beach house market because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say in that space.  There is a lot there, and a lot of noise and it was a really big nut to try and crack, especially if you don't know what you want to build.

Once I thought i knew what would make sense in that segment, I made Boonturabi, and The Lanai beach House.  Two brand new items that nobody had ever heard of.  It took a long time but gradually they creeped up to the top, sharing the neighborhood with great products that have been selling for a year or more.  So you can do it, it is not unfair and it is not impossible, its just hard, and by all rights it should be!

"SURE, YOU ARE ESTABLISHED, YOU HAVE THE ADVANTAGE OF A BIG CUSTOMER BASE, OF COURSE YOU CAN GET AHEAD, YOU HAVE ALL THE CARDS STACKED IN YOUR FAVOR"... ya might say?

WELL, my Big Stone Store, a shiny new product from a well established merchant, with a significant, installed user base,  and who created some of the most prolific retail store buildings in SL, was met with ... well...  lets just say that product is an acquired taste for a very few discriminating customers.  VERY few, lol 

That product never made it past page 20, and it shouldn't have, it didnt sell well.  After all considerations and factors, even though it was brand new, it ended up being, " Irrelevant"

So new products, even from very established merchants can either succeed or fail by their own merits.  Being new is not an impossible burden to overcome, nor does it make a product more relevant.

 

So what is the problem then? 

The problem is that we are all still behind the 10l house and the houses that pay for reviews.

The ToS mandates that you must be "Clear, Honest and Accurate"

How is paying somebody to rate your product either honest or accurate.

If the relevance was based on revenue alone, all these products would be in their properly  self-adjusted position.  As it is now they can just buy their way to the top, all of the top, page after page after page.

Here is why this is such an horrible idea.  For the most part a successful premium merchant has become succeeful becuse he has played by the rules.  You can't meet with great and sustained success by selling junk for high prices and not taking care of your customers. But what if all big merchants just 0decided to operate like the scammy ones?

Hmmmmm....

 

SO... If the gamers pay you a few lindens to rate a 199l house...

WELL, My houses and the homes by most of t1he top designers sell for much more...

SO, why dont I just PAY you you the  FULL 199L to rate me, I can afford it, hell I could pay you 499L and not really feel it too much, and if it gets ALL my homes on PAGE ONE, the very first thing EVERYBODY sees!  Money well spent!  Best advertising ever!

Hell I pay 400L in commission alone on a Boonturabi sale, whats another 199, or even 499 on a 8k house!

How many people would click a few buttons and write 3 words for 499l, I'm betting EVERYONE.  Especially if I had a nicely designed Kiosk that automates it, and makes effortless, like rWarder does!   This is too Easy!

YEAH... that's an awesome idea!  I would be unstoppable!

The only thing stopping me is....well .. Integrity and sense of fairness.

Bigger merchants, if they were as scummy as some other merchants could literally just OWN the whole marketplace if they wanted.  They could pummel these rWarder gooballs to bits, we could just outspend them without feeling any hurt!  That simple, little guys cant afford to pay 199 for a rating, the big guys wouldn't blink at that! 

Do you see how this is not right now?  Do you see how they are working it in reverse, how scummy it is!

Bigger merchants do not do this because we take pride in out work.  It means something to us.  When we get a great rating or a glowing review it makes you smile.  It lifts your spirits.  It keeps you going and makes you try even harder to do a better job.  It is one of the best perks of creation.  Paying for that would completely ruin that joy.  Make it meaningless to me.

Furthermore, we want our reviews to mean something to our customers. We want our customers to read them and see thoughtful expression of the enjoyment and value our work has provided for those who buy them.  That is what we really sell, not prims.  If we payed out a few lindens to buy  475 one word reviews that say "Nice house", would that help us as a brand, it would probably hurt us!  I'll take any one of of our reviews over 1000 "Nice house" reviews any day!

These gamers do it just to make a buck, to get ahead in the ratings.  They dont get the same joy from a great review becuase they dont care about what they are selling, they just want to sell it.  And that is all fine, what ever your motivation is sholdnt matter, it really doesn't, BUT you should not be able to pay money to get ahead in what is supposed to be a fair marketplace.  If you want you can advertise all you like, there is a place and a process for that, but it is expensive and up front.  Ratings are not designed or intended to be advertisements, they can not be allowed to be bought.  The worst part is that rWarder is incredibly cheap and "pay as you go".  You never have to pay for this advertising til AFTER the sale, LOL

If this is not wrong, well then, good luck, as a new merchant getting any traction if the big players decide to be scummy as well.  When they decide to mobilize amounts of capital that you cant think of to just buy the marketplace listings.

But they wont.  The concepts that have made them a big players is the sense that they are succeeding on the merit of their work.  They don't want to succeed by manipulation or market gaming.  They want their products to mean something to themselves and their customers. 

Winning by gaming to them isn't really winning at all.  It is admitting that your ideas, your skills, how you express yourself in your work is not good enough, not strong enough.  That you are not able to reach people, that the only way you can win is by circumventing the fair process.  It is losing, and admitting to your self that you are a loser.  

 

Definition of RELEVANCE

1
a : relation to the matter at hand  b : practical and especially social applicability : pertinence <giving relevance to college courses>
2
: the ability (as of an information retrieval system) to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user

The "matter at hand" on an e commerce site is spending money.  You go there to SPEND MONEY. Researching items, comparing ratings, features, prices, are all part of the process by which you ultimately  decide to SPEND MONEY

If SL Marketplace were "SL Comsumer Reports" where nothing is sold, then sure, all these parameters are more relevant beacuse you are still deciding how ro SPEND MONEY. 

But is is not, it is AMAZON.COM.  It is where the results of all these factors are measured.

If you want information, to help you decide, great, search by, newest, items, search by best rated items, search by lowest price, or what ever, the consumer information parameters are all there.  

But they all add up to ONE decision, what you actually spent your money on!  Whatever combination of features, permissions, information of all kinds boiled down to a decision, and that product was most RELEVANT to you.  Actually spending your money is your own personal relevance filter.

CONSUMER:

"I'd buy this product for 199l, but for 499L ill pass"

Revenue is this very decision but made by the entire spending community of SL.

ENTIRE SL ECONOMY:

"Well will buy this product for 3,475,000 lindens, but for 4,800,00, well pass"

It is even more accurate because it takes into account and averages everyone preferences, baises, budgets and filters in whatever amount the exist or influence that determination.

With revenue you don't need "balance" or "weight" search parameters, that number has already been weighted in the most fair an accurate way possible, by free thinking people, making decisions based on risk and reward, in a massive, diverse and all inclusive sample pool.

It is pure, and honest, and self correcting.  If you try to somehow "Correct" that, what you are doing is opening a door to manipulation of that correction.

Sorry about another phatty post, but please just remember when they offer that survey again to tell them to fix relevancy. 

 

 

 

 

 

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It really is not unfair to use revenue, to the contrary there is no better method for a new product.  All any product has to do to move up is sell more.  Every item starts out at zero no matter what basis you use to rate it.  In an ungamed system a good product will always rise to the top if the creator works hard to help it as best they can.  No product sells like hotcakes forever, they all have a natural curve.

Under the old xstreet system I had the good fortune of many #1 and #2 products, not just in my segment, but overall.

But it never lasted forever.  Eventually you reach diminishing returns on penetration, and sales fall off, and some hot new thingy comes along and bumps you.  

My Soho Skybox in 07 is a great example.  It was right in front for a good long time, #1 or #2, overall, week after week.  But then out of nowhere, the "New York Skybox", from an unknown builder, well we were all kinda unknown in 07, lol,  popped on the scene.  Top shelf quality, lower price, and becuase nobody had gamed the system, it ran right to the top.  And it deserved it.  It earned it!

My box had played itself out, it had its run, and it was a great run, but when there was something new and fresh to buy, people did, and it was rewarded.  It didnt take a goliath to win, just a great product that was positioned right in the market.

That process clearly stated what was relevant at that time to those spending money. 

You cant do that today, not in this market system.

You couldnt buy reveiws back then, you coulnt lower your price and collect hundreds of ratings at 49L and then take them with you up to 3995.  You couldnt use illegal advertising copy like "Last Day Sale" when  you have been running the sale for months.

What you describe here, where the top spots are just owned forever is what we have now.  They never change.  They BUY an unrealistic and insurmountabhle amount of one of the weighted factors, in this case ratings, and buy so very much of it that it outweighs all the other factors, and nobody that plays fair can ever surpass it. 

They never change becauuse what they thought was making the system more fair, by weighting several different factors, just pointed the gamers where to put their effort.  And if one of your determining  factors can be PURCHASED, for pennies, there will be those who will just buy it!  And that is where we are now. 

If they went to revenue, gamers would have to buy thousands of items on alts, thousands of alts to get in the position they are now.   If they tried to be clever, jack up prices for a week to 200x the cost, and buy their own product on alts, geuss what,  on Xstreet you would lose all your ratings and rank just for the price change, and have to start over, and THAT would send a clear red flag of gaming.

I know what your might think.  S0 I can make one item, and if I can sell one for 30k, even illegally to my self or a friend, BANG, I'm top spot instantly.  But the reality is that a good product, no matter what pirce point will always beat out a crappy one on revenue.  If your products meets a need, does it better than any other, is pricwed right, you will always win in teh marathon, i9f not teh sprint.

if you have a killer product, real home run kinda item, priced right at 1000L, do you think you could sell more than 30over a few weeks or months, i do.  If it were just 100L, would you sell more than 300? If it is a great product you bet you would.

If a big merchant, with a huge install base, selling thousands expensive products a year cant get ahead of this game, how can a smaller one ever hope to?  They cant.

This system hurts the lil guy more than anyone.

To be honest, i really dont have a dog in this fight anymore, we are well estblished on the grid, and our word of mouth and market penetration is our best marketing.  But a big part of how we got established in the first place was the more fair policies on Xstreet then these new ones on SLM.  It helped us succeed, without a doubt. 

Back in the day you could make something newer and better and have a shot at getting it seen.  That was huge in helping us grow.  But today you cant, unless you are willing to cheat.  And this creates a culture not of innovation and service but of scamming and gaming.

And it bugs teh crap out of me!

Everyone should compete on teh merits of their work, not how much they are willing to bribe customers for ratings.

If they want to keep this up, if they want to allow rartings to be bought, and then influence your listing placement, well then it can get really ugly because at 199l a house they cant afford to even come close buying as amany ratings as the big guys!

Is that what SL Marketplace should be about?

 

 

 

 

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Yanni Hinterland wrote:

The freebie mentality is pervasive  and growing every day.  While I believe that some freebies are good for promotions I think the whole hunt, freebie, lucky chair, 60L bargains etc have gotten way over used as marketing tools.

I personally wont go down that road myself.  I will offer a preview sale to my loyal customers but will not have the pervasive sale everytime my revenue drops a bit .  I feel to put an older item on sale after my loyal customers have paid full price for it is just a slap in their face so I dont do that.  I get irritated when I pay full price for something only to see it on sale a few weeks later.  When that happens I just dont buy full price from that merchant anymore. I just wait for it to go on sale.

It is my opinion that when you offer discounts, sales etc too often the customer begins to expect it and will in fact just wait until the item they want is on sale or free which actually undermines the merchant in the long run.

hunts have never really been any benefit to my sales.  They mainly attract people who will rarely buy items.  I have tracked all those that have gotten gifts I have given in hunts, or free items and less than .01% have ever bought anything.

The only value I see in those is the potential that someone else might see them wearing it and ask where they got it, come to the shop and purchase something.  That of course is impossible to track. lol

Most customers have no clue as to the amount of work that goes into creating goods here and even some of those that do dont really care ......they just want it....for free or dirt cheap.  That leaves a small portion that do actually understand and care.  I have a hunch that most of those are either models who need top items or creators themselves.

Between the copybotters and freeloaders my guess is that the actual full price paying consumer base is a relatively small percentage of the overall SL users.

Yep, that's my take on the current state of the SL economy. The value of products are gradually being eroded...some sectors worst than others.....or quicker at arriving at a basement level.

 

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Well, first of all I’d say its time for the LL to take action on these rewarder cheaters. Just to show us goodwill.

But I wouldn’t shift the blame on other merchants. You can always talk about prices or price gaming, competition or unfair competition, economy and stuff. Its discussable for years but that will come to nothing. Since its not illegal to offer a product for a low price or a promotion price its pretty pointless to discuss it.. The main problem is the way the new marketplace handles it! Specially the relevance filtering and the rating. That’s the point! (Ok there are thousand other points as well but that’s another story)

Look at good old Xstreet. Just for instance, what happened with a low priced promotion sale ? Yeah, I guess the merchant was very happy about the short time profit, the traffic and the best advertising for his other (more expensive) products at the same time and probably for the star ratings. Good! (As seen above, Forni’s post) once he cut the promo and increased the price for more than 50% , the star ratings were gone (hidden) again. So no advantage in ratings. Plus the important thing, the item didn’t reach the top ranks of the relevance search so easily. So I guess everybody was happy with that way because it was pretty much fair! So I would say the question is: what was the reason of xstreet’s closure ? Would be interesting to me. Replacing a well working, fraud-proof system with a ridiculous beta version of “e-commerce”. Yes 6 months later its still a beta version because we are still talking about real major bugs!

As Ive said many times before, the marketplace is not an improvement so far, it’s a major step backwards. Alone the fact that everybody is able to create 100 alts to rate their own items while ratings are obviously very important for the relevance ranking makes me laugh.

But not because its funny…… Because its stupid!

My suggestions are as usual the same ones. Please LL learn  from your old xstreet to improve this problem child finally. Do not learn from ebay. Real life commerce is completely different!

And please do not wait too long!

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Yanni, I did not know there was anyone else but me who does what you describe -- I have an introductory sale announced to customer group, and never put anything else on sale for the very reason you say -- it is a slap in the face of your loyal customers who buy your stuff regularly (and yes it irritates me when it happens to me).  And I do agree that it is a good marketing strategy -- customers come to understand that the prices are stable and not hyped (like they are in RL). They don't feel like they are getting gyped if they buy full price, if the full price is a fair price.

I never participate in hunts or anything like that, either. My gifts go to my customer base; they are not advertised to anyone but my group. They are a reward for loyalty.

All these things are exactly the opposite of the usual advice ppl hear -- join hunts, have sales, lower your prices, get blogged, etc. 



Yanni Hinterland wrote:

The freebie mentality is pervasive  and growing every day.  While I believe that some freebies are good for promotions I think the whole hunt, freebie, lucky chair, 60L bargains etc have gotten way over used as marketing tools.

I personally wont go down that road myself.  I will offer a preview sale to my loyal customers but will not have the pervasive sale everytime my revenue drops a bit .  I feel to put an older item on sale after my loyal customers have paid full price for it is just a slap in their face so I dont do that.  I get irritated when I pay full price for something only to see it on sale a few weeks later.  When that happens I just dont buy full price from that merchant anymore. I just wait for it to go on sale.

It is my opinion that when you offer discounts, sales etc too often the customer begins to expect it and will in fact just wait until the item they want is on sale or free which actually undermines the merchant in the long run.

hunts have never really been any benefit to my sales.  They mainly attract people who will rarely buy items.  I have tracked all those that have gotten gifts I have given in hunts, or free items and less than .01% have ever bought anything.

The only value I see in those is the potential that someone else might see them wearing it and ask where they got it, come to the shop and purchase something.  That of course is impossible to track. lol

Most customers have no clue as to the amount of work that goes into creating goods here and even some of those that do dont really care ......they just want it....for free or dirt cheap.  That leaves a small portion that do actually understand and care.  I have a hunch that most of those are either models who need top items or creators themselves.

Between the copybotters and freeloaders my guess is that the actual full price paying consumer base is a relatively small percentage of the overall SL users.

 

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