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Bogas Delicioso

Marketplace flagging system is being abuse to remove competition

64 posts in this topic

PROBLEM

The flagging system in Xstreet is being abused and this is a MAJOR ISSUE as people can be removed from the market.

People are intentionally taking advantage of the flagging system using AUTOMATED FLAGGING SYSTEMS with items being flagged for all sorts of fake reasons. This is killing creators incomes.

Examples 
A. Items flagged as being in the wrong place.
B. Items flagged as not being the same as described in the photo that have no sales yet!

SOLUTION

1. Only permit an item to be flagged once. If it passes a review it cant be flagged again unless the item or advertising is altered.

2. Only permit people who have purchased the item to flag it.

3. Block people from flagging an unreasonable number of items at once. (block flagging bots)

4. Error on the side of the seller. If you don't have time to properly investigate the complaint, don't delist the item!

5. Train the staff to be on the lookout for people "gaming" the system to remove competition.

Many creators are having the same issue. If you have any input or comments please feel free to add.

Please watch the issue as LL only look at the watching list not votes or we will never get this one solve

https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-3772

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Just left my opinion and voted on this Jira.  If this loophole is factual, it is frankly ludicrous that Linden Labs would allow this to be perpetuated.  This is open to abuse by every nut with time to spare and for the competition to take out others listings.  The loss of revenue is of course a two way street, as LL don't profit from removed listings.  Further, the longer this goes on, the more work LL will have to make restitution and review all those flagged listings.  I do hope they look at this situation sooner rather than later!!!

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I can assure you this is factual and its hitting a lot of creators pockets and trade over all and we appreciate your voting and considered thoughts.

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I start my post like I've started others: When the hell are they going to fix the cookies on this stupid forum?

Second, I think Brooke said they were going to be dealing with all this one day, like blacklisting abusers. But...has it happened? I'm guessing no.

Ha ha, remember when they implemented the new ratings? And didn't tell anyone except via a thread in the old forum that few people saw? And then turned around and allowed ratings to be flagged soon afterwards, even though very few merchants even knew this change was happening and had been able to go in and fix their listings? It's like they're toying with us, like we're their playthings...

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Well, according to Linden Lab, this sort of thing isn't happening. Sure, us merchants SEE it happening, COMPLAIN about it, but Linden Lab covers their ears and goes LALALALA DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.

 

 


Porky Gorky wrote:

 

My previous post is based on what Dakota Linden told us last month in this thread here

http://blogs.secondlife.com/thread/54992?start=15&tstart=0

Dakota stated the following in a response to a post from Mickey Vandeverre. Mickey, like myself doesn't think it's our job to flag listings. Here is what Dakota Linden Said

"Hello Mickey,

Why shouldn't you be allowed to flag a listing for the Product Listing Review Team to look at?

And yes, if you are willing to accept other breaking the rules, then you are part of the problem.

It isn't necessary for the person flagging the item to know what the correct category should be.  That is why resident do not have the power to unlist any item from the Marketplace.  They only have the power to flag a listing for review.

If they flag a listing, they must choose from the options why they are flagging it.

If the Product Lisitng Review team doesn't agree, then nothing happens to the listing. But if any resident is viewing a category on the Marketplace and sees that an item isn't flagged as Adult Content but has nudity in it, then they should flag the listing so that it can be addressed.

Same with Category Selection.  If you see something in the main Home & Garden category and it is bed, and you now that there is a furniture category, and a bedoorm sub-category to the furniture category, and you do nothing, then yes, you are contibuting to the problem by not flagging it." (sic)

 



 

So apparently they have a mythical "Product Listing Review" team that is pulling your items. Thus, according to LL, abuse of the flagging system DOES NOT EXIST LALALALALA CAN'T HEAR YOU LALALALA. (:

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Having read the messages in this thread, including the Dakota Linden quote, it strikes me that there isn't a problem. From what I understand, flagging an item is merely pointing out to LL that you think there's a problem with the item, but it doesn't change the item's listing or anything like that. It's like saying to LL, "Please have a look at this item because I think it's in the wrong place." or something like that. If that's all it is, it seems like a very good system to me.

 

ETA:

I've just read a post in another thread and, if I've understood corerectly, flagging an item causes it to be removed, at least until it's been reviewed. If that's the case, then it's as bad a system as I've ever heard of, especially since LL is known for huge delays in dealing with things. But, in the quote above, Dakota Linden says that an item isn't removed when it's flagged, so I'm confused.

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The most important thing is just to stand up to the flaggers.

One thing that has worked in my case has been to remove all keywords and put a message in the item description daring my competitors to flag it again for keywords, knowing both that there are no keywords and that the spurious flag will be immediately reported to LL.

People who compete by flagging are not, by nature, industrious. If you make it extra mental effort for them to figure out how to keep getting away with it, they'll either start leaving you alone, or they'll be invited to do so by LL later on.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

Having read the messages in this thread, including the Dakota Linden quote, it strikes me that there isn't a problem. From what I understand, flagging an item is merely pointing out to LL that you think there's a problem with the item, but it doesn't change the item's listing or anything like that. It's like saying to LL, "
Please have a look at this item because I think it's in the wrong place
." or something like that. If that's all it is, it seems like a very good system to me.

 

You are correct. Various LL staffers have stated this a number of times. When an item is flagged it is not automatically delisted. It goes to a queue for an LL staff member to check and either delist or ignore the flag if it was an incorrect flag. More to the point, Brodesky Linden once stated that if a person continually flags items incorrectly, their flags will get a lower prioirty and eventually get ignored completely. So, assuming that is true, their is no way to abuse the flagging system.

Of course, some may claim the Lab are lying about this. I'll chose to believe them though as they have no reason to make such a thing up and I've personally yet to see evidence to the contrary, or evidence of widespread 'greifer flgging'. I'm not saying some people don't attempt to 'griefer flag' because I'm sure they do! I've yet to see any real evidence of it personally though.  Which either means I'm lucky and no-one is deliberatly making false flags against my items (and the items of a few close friends whose word I trust and have not had any problems either) or it means if my items are being flagged, the above is true and LL are checking them, seeing they are ok and ignoring the flag.

One big one to check if you get an item delisted is the category it's listed in. Be very careful of listing items in top-level categories as they tend to get delisted if there is a more relevant sub category they should be in. This was commented on a few times a while ago and I think it was Dakota who confirmed that we should avoid listing in top-level categories wherever possible. 

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@Suella - There is an excellent way that all controversy could be eliminated. When an item is delisted, the "Flagging Review Team" member that delists it could send an email to the Merchant with a canned reason for the action and more canned text stating how to remedy the most common errors that cause that type of delisting. Not only would it prove that a human did it but it would let the merchant KNOW FOR A FACT why their product was delisted and how to fix it.

(And btw .. this isn't aimed AT you per se .. but your post did give me an excellent hook to hang this all too oft-repeated suggestion .. yet again.)

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I am inclined to agree with the previous comment on this issue. It is lack of communication that is the biggest issue here. Merchants have a right to know why an item has been removed and thus, given an opportunity to correct the listing or to comment further if there is an accusation of infringement. It seems counter-productive to just remove an item without explanation. I still wish to know for sure if it is LL themselves that remove the item or if the situation is triggered by a number of flags. It seems to me, that LL might consider employing staff in sufficient numbers with knowledge of the regulations, rather than relying on their customer base to do their vetting work for them!! CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP!!!!!!!

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Suella Ember wrote:

 You are correct. Various LL staffers have stated this a number of times. When an item is flagged it is
not
automatically delisted. It goes to a queue for an LL staff member to check and either delist or ignore the flag if it was an incorrect flag. More to the point, Brodesky Linden once stated that if a person continually flags items incorrectly, their flags will get a lower prioirty and eventually get ignored completely. So, assuming that is true, their is no way to abuse the flagging system.

[...]

One big one to check if you get an item delisted is the category it's listed in. Be very careful of listing items in top-level categories as they tend to get delisted if there is a more relevant sub category they should be in. This was commented on a few times a while ago and I think it was Dakota who confirmed that we should avoid listing in top-level categories wherever possible. 

In that case, if an item is not automatically unlisted when flagged, then I really don't see a problem. Quite the opposite, in fact. - it sounds like a very good system.

On your last paragraph: If the marketplace is organised like a typical directory, with a category hierarchy, then it was good for you to mention not listing an item in a higher level category than it really belongs in. It's very natural to want to have a listing higher up the category tree, and some people will place items higher up, but, if an item gets flagged for being in a higher category level than it should be in, then there can be no complaint if it gets delisted. Imo, LL staff cannot be expected to go finding the correct category for items. What can be expected of the LL staff, because there's a payment to list an item, is notification that an item has been delisted and why it's been delisted. Apparently they don't provide that - it is LL, after all, and you can't expect even a basic type of customer service from them.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

... 
 LL staff cannot be expected to go finding the correct category for items ...

I'm gonna gently disagree with this statement. For them to recognize that it is in the wrong category, they must know that the right category exists. If they know it exists, they must know what it is. Therefore they could just push it over there and notify the Merchant.

 

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

 

Phil Deakins wrote:

... 
 LL staff cannot be expected to go finding the correct category for items ...

I'm gonna gently disagree with this statement. For them to recognize that it is in the wrong category, they must know that the right category exists. If they know it exists, they must know what it is. Therefore they could just push it over there and
notify the Merchant
.

 

Perhaps they could if the system is designed to make moving it extremely quick and easy, but it can't be expected of them.

I have some experience of running directories - I have two of them - and I was a DMOZ editor (if DMOZ means anything to you). It is much too common for people who submit to directories (same as listing an item) to try to get the listing in too high a category level when it's obvious that it doesn't belong there. The thing is, why should directory staff use their time to correct things when the submitter (lister) could have done it right in the first place but, instead, chose to try and pull a fast one?

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i completely agree with all the replys, some more some less, but i guess that LL has the last word on it as always, just letting u know as well that my wife got 2 items permanentely removed for intelectual property infringement, and guess what, on one of them she bought templates created from a 3rd person, legal ones that alows her to sell her creations with those templates and another that was entirely her creation, starting from zero, and yet was removed and i dunno why, she reported that to LL and yet no reply from them, i guess they just removed cuz of some fake report, cuz they ddnt took some time to get proofs that she has stolen the items and was reseling it, she has all the creations on her inventory as well in the hard drive of her laptop, cuz its what creators do when create something in order to have proofs that its theyr creation.

i would like to see what LL has to tell bout this, but till now no reply from them

Best regards, Bogas Delicioso

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Bogas Delicioso wrote:

i would like to see what LL has to tell bout this, but till now no reply from them

 

Possibly not likely to get one either unless they happen to see and read this thread. If people wan't further clarification on how the process works though, it's worth raising it on the next Marketplace User Group aganda.

@the conversation between Darrius and Phil - I agree that a canned email from LL when an item is delisted would help, even if just to make the merchant aware as prompty as possible. It would also be good to have some general advice on that email with a link to the listing guidelines. (which does specify not to put things in root categories unless there is absolutely nowhere else to put it).

In an ideal world even some exact advice (i.e. "you should put it in category xyz"). However, I also agree with Phil that LL shouldn't really be expected to do all the work for the merchant. At the very least though, an automated email with the actual violation would help. If someone has to look at the listing and make a decision, I would hope that they could program something that can fire off an email based on the reason they select for delisting. If that violation were wrong category, the email could advise to check the available categories and choose a more suitable one. 

Also I should mention that, when this debate cropped up before on the old forums, Dakota chimed in to say that if anyone is completely unsure about why an item was delisted and what to do as a result, they should raise a ticket under the Marketplace category and she would respond as soon as possible. I'm assuming that advice still stands (although I'd respectfully suggest people only use it if they really are unsure and not just because they want a rant about the fact their item was delisted. Yes, support response times can be painfully slow, but if people are sending tickets all the time for a rant rather than an actual support problem, it only makes the backlog worse and messes up response times for us all.)

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Bogas Delicioso wrote:

i completely agree with all the replys, some more some less, but i guess that LL has the last word on it as always, just letting u know as well that my wife got 2 items permanentely removed for intelectual property infringement, and guess what, on one of them she bought templates created from a 3rd person, legal ones that alows her to sell her creations with those templates and another that was entirely her creation, starting from zero, and yet was removed and i dunno why, she reported that to LL and yet no reply from them, i guess they just removed cuz of some fake report, cuz they ddnt took some time to get proofs that she has stolen the items and was reseling it, she has all the creations on her inventory as well in the hard drive of her laptop, cuz its what creators do when create something in order to have proofs that its theyr creation.

 

Without knowing the exact details of what the items were, it's hard to say what may have happened there.

However, it's possible that they are not talking about the items being stolen from another creator in SL, but the creation your wife made from them used images that she did not own the IP for and LL recieved an IP complaint from the owner. For example, if LL were to recieve a complaint from Disney for someone using an image of one of their characters on a shirt, it would get delisted for IP infringement.

Not saying that's what your wife did, but its possible even if she did it unwittingly. You need to be very careful when using textures etc on otherwise legitimate creations, becuase if you don't have the rights to use that texture it could be IP infringement (and that even includes random textures souced from Google depending on what rights the image has).

ETA: With templates bought from another merchant, you also need to be careful to check and abide by any licence on the listing or from a notecard with the item. They almost certainly won't let you sell them on 'as is' without making your own texturing etc, or with full perms for example (again - not saying this is what your wife did, but it's another possibility to consider).

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Phil Deakins wrote:

Perhaps they could if the system is designed to make moving it extremely quick and easy, but it can't be
expected
of them.

I have some experience of running directories - I have two of them - and I was a DMOZ editor (if DMOZ means anything to you). It is much too common for people who submit to directories (same as listing an item) to try to get the listing in too high a category level when it's obvious that it doesn't belong there. The thing is, why should directory staff use their time to correct things when the submitter (lister) could have done it right in the first place but, instead, chose to try and pull a fast one?

 

(Yup @ DMOZ)

I understand the perspective, which is why I only gently disagreed. Some people do seem to have a penchant for doing things the wrong way 'round then kvetching when they are reminded to do it the right way. (An ex-business partner was famous for taking cartfulls of groceries to the Express line or loudly demanding immediate service while clearly many others were there first.) There's very little one can do to fix those sorts of personality quirks.

But a good design will not only anticipate such behaviors (and anyone with DMOZ-like experience will have had that in spades) but will provide other similar features such as automatic notification and on-screen warnings when items are initially listed in upper level categories.

I see it more as the failing of the Marketplace system that it lacks the management features that would make the LL side easier and also communicate properly to the Merchants. Instead of recognizing that these tools would greatly benefit both parties, it has instead become another in the long line of "Us vs. Them" battles that all too often characterizes issues in the LL systems or software. Because the LL Team has the upper hand, their reaction is to do very little (simply delisting the item) and then shoving the responsibility for fixing it onto the Merchant with no real guidance as to how or why.

The fact that Dakota has stated she will reply to Tickets with as much information as she can, while admirable, is a band-aid on the wrong place. She should not have to divert from her more important tasks to handle out-of-stream requests (and rants) when the full information could and should be provided at the start of the incident.

From the DG School of Software Design - Software should be written to ease routine chores. Since this is very obviously a routine issue, it behooves the developers to change the software to ease the chore.

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

 But a good design will  [...]

and that says everything ;)

 


From the DG School of Software Design
- Software should be written to ease routine chores.

In this case, the software has been written to ease routine chores. What could be easier than just clicking a "delist" button? Anything more than that makes the chore less easy.

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Phil Deakins wrote:


Darrius Gothly wrote:

 But a good design will  [...]

and that says everything
;)

 

From the DG School of Software Design
- Software should be written to ease routine chores.

In this case, the software
has
been written to ease routine chores. What could be easier than just clicking a "delist" button? Anything more than that makes the chore less easy.

Touche! LOL

 

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Greetings!!!

 

1. Flagging a product does not automatically unlist if from the Marketplace.

 

2. A Linden employee, with a Linden last name reviews all Listing Flags

 

3. All merchants are advised when a product is unlisted. There is a bright yellow text box that appears on the Marketplace with the Item Name and the reason why it was unlisted.

 

4. A Jira has been created asking for an email notification, along with the website notification when a product is unlisted. https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-3482

 

5. The Thursday release on the Marketplace corrected an issue with incorrect information being displayed on blocked product listings.http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Merchants/Marketplace-Release-Notes-March-24-2011/td-p/773817

 

6. If a product listing is placed into a Top Level/Root category it will be unlisted when it is found.

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/listing_guidelines"Do not post items in the "Root" categories such as Apparel, Home & Garden, etc. unless you absolutely cannot find an applicable sub-category that applies.
 "

Any category on the Marketplace that has a sub-category is considered a Top Level / Root category.

 

7. It the sellers responsibility to ensure that they and their products are in compliance with the rules. If a product is in the wrong category, it is not up to Linden Lab to correct the issue. We will point out the issue so that the seller can correct it themselves.

If the seller refuses to correct the issue then the product will be blocked/removed from the Marketplace and the seller will have to contact Customer Support and ask for the item to be unblocked so that they can correct the issue. The seller will also be informed as to why their product was unlisted.

 

8. If a seller has a question regarding why their content was unlisted, submit a Support Case through the Support Portal with the exact name of the product as it appears on the Manage Inventory list, or with a direct link to the product listing and I or one of the other Marketplace CSR's will be happy to assist with understanding why the product was unlisted.

Regards,

Dakota Linden

--

Linden LabSL Marketplace Customer Support

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/

http://www.secondlife.com

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Dakota Linden wrote:

8. If a seller has a question regarding why their content was unlisted, submit a Support Case through the Support Portal with the exact name of the product as it appears on the Manage Inventory list, or with a direct link to the product listing and I or one of the other Marketplace CSR's will be happy to assist with understanding why the product was unlisted.

Regards,

Dakota Linden

--

Linden Lab SL Marketplace Customer Support


Dakota? Can you please provide the exact selections to use when submitting a ticket? Graphics or a Wiki page link would be even better. Thank you.

 

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Greetings Darrius!

For anyone asking about a Product Listing, including why a product was unlisted, Featured Enhancements, etc use the following options:

https://support.secondlife.com/create-case/

Type of problem:  Marketplace

Marketplace: Marketplace Item Listing Issue

The above selections can be used by any type of account, including basic/free accounts.

Please include the Manage Inventory Item Name or direct link to the listing to make it easier for Customer Support to locate the product.  :)

Regards,

Dakota Linden
--
Linden Lab
SL Marketplace Customer Support
https://marketplace.secondlife.com/
http://www.secondlife.com

 

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Dakota Linden wrote:

Greetings Darrius!

For anyone asking about a Product Listing, including why a product was unlisted, Featured Enhancements, etc use the following options:

Type of problem:  Marketplace

Marketplace: Marketplace Item Listing Issue

The above selections can be used by any type of account, including basic/free accounts.

Please include the Manage Inventory Item Name or direct link to the listing to make it easier for Customer Support to locate the product. 
:)

Regards,


Dakota Linden

--

Linden Lab

SL Marketplace Customer Support


 

Thank you!

 

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Greetings Dakota, that explains alot and ty for ut time replying to this, buw what about the items my wife got removed for intelectual property infringement? she has already submited a report to LL about that and no reply yet, she has all the proofs needed to show u that she used legal templates and created her own templates, but so faar those 2 items are still permanentely removed from slx with no reason. does that aplys to the part on number 7 where u sayd that "If the seller refuses to correct the issue then the product will be blocked/removed from the Marketplace and the seller will have to contact Customer Support and ask for the item to be unblocked so that they can correct the issue. The seller will also be informed as to why their product was unlisted." ?, because when se gets flagged she corrects it on the moment she gets the notification.

 

Best Regards, Bogas Delicioso

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The issue isnt ONLY individual products as you seem to be making out the issue is the flagging system being abused.

Now that we have raised this as a legitimate major issue you have deigned to take a look and respond that you will be more vigilant with thousands of objects than you are in answering people with recurring issues.

Some creators are having their objects flagged saying they arent the same as description when the object hasnt even been bought so this is about your flagging system not  only our individual objects please address that side of the issue too ie the random flagging issue.

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