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OFFLINE IMs Improvement Needed for Merchants


Toysoldier Thor
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So I will start this thread here to express my desire for LL to improve upon an existing SL feature that is critical for myself and many of my fellow Merchants. 

I know that with LL so backlogged with developing their own pet project list of SL functions and with Marketplace missing features over a year old and still not being looked at by LL and with Jira of broken inworld functions that go untouched for 3 years and counting, this request I am posting here is just to make me feel better but it sure would be nice if on the rare chance a bored LL Developer might want to run with this enhancement.

What would be really awesome is if there was an easy convenient way for anyone (including us Merchants) to be able to initiate an IM to any SL Resident as an email.  For example, I should be able to send an email with the TO: address of Toysoldier.Thor@secondlife.com and it would send this email message into SL and convert it into an IM to that user.

Currently, while I am at my RL work at my desk I can open up my web based email service and I will often receive emails from my customers as OFFLINE IMs.  The good news is that I can reply to that originating email address and the customer will get it as an IM back from me.  But this email address that is generated is a hashed time-sensitive address.  You cant keep it for later use to that customer as it expires in about 2 days.  Also, all I can do is respond to an IM originated by that user.  I cannot originate the IM to any resident in SL.

There might already be some 3rd party app that can be run to allow me to IM to any inworld resident BUT..... many large RL corporations have highly restrictive firewalls and most non-standard ports are blocked that would let these apps work.  Using an offline IM service from the www.secondlife.com site is a possible option but a lot of RL corporations block access to sites that are deemed Gaming sites and often secondlife.com is in that category.


It would be nice if this advanced service were on Android or iphone devices as an app.  But if this app were created, it would also be nice to have the ability to not only originate an IM to any resident, it would be nice to transfer $L money to this account (often my customers need a refund or rebate transaction executed by me).

BUT... lets start with the basics....

LL please develop an SL Grid email system to IM generation service so that anyone in RL can send an email to the resident's official name @ secondlife.com.

 

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Although its obscure, I would think there is a way of getting to an Avi's web profile and leaving a PM or a message on their profile like a facebook message.  But not many users even know of thier web based profile and these PMs or messages would be completely missed. Heck, I dont even know what the url is to go to the web based profiles of all the SL avatars.

If you go to the main logged in www.secondlife.com front status page where you can see all your friends online / offline - there is no way to click it and say "IM this user from the web".  Even if you could, its only a list of your friends and not ALL users.  And if a RL business blocks www.secondlife.com as a gaming site, this solution is useless anyway.

So I am not exactly sure what solution you are suggesting where a person offline can send an IM message to an Avatar in SL.  Provide a little more detail please.

The most effect and simple solution is to have LL create an email system for RL where easch unique resident's name can be used   Firstname.Resident@secondlife.com as a TO address by any email system in the world.

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I found this one Avatar's MY.SECONDLIFE.COM profile and while logged into the site there are options like "offer TP" "call" "Pay"  which is a start .... IF THEY WORKED from the website.

For example when I clicked PAY this resident from the website i got a bogus URL which doesnt work in RL

secondlife:///app/agent/e04b68c0-29a7-xd84-bccd-b4d9f64eb978/pay

 

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Ann Otoole wrote:

toysoldierthor.com is available. For 5 bucks a month you can have your own email address domain which will not be blocked at companies like secondlife.com is. btw your store name still has the word sculpty in it. I predict you will change your store name in 2012.
:P

I was actually thinking of buying the domain for my main website / blogsite.  but even if I did have my own domain, how does that solve the problem of getting to the www.secondlife.com site as the best I could do is have a tricked URL redirect that most firewalls would easily catch and block.  It still doesnt solve the problem that I cannot initiate an IM to any avatar on the grid (online or offline) from an external RL location or system.

As for my store name... well sooner or later I really need to overhaul my store in general.  I would like to rebrand it and create a new all encompassing logo (to reflect my Landscape sculpties, future possible mesh packs, and my growing art sales as well as my old legacy products that still sell to this day.

right now the name "sculpty" in my store still aids in my store being found easier on MP and inworld - to a certain extent.   BUT I digress.

 

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Such a system can have advantage for you as sender who wants to reach a large group. But how will it work for you as a reciever?

When I see how often I get messages from people who want me as a renter, or who did put me in a product update group without asking, or who got me in on their customerlist just because I happen to walk into their shop, and so on, I think such a system will mainly improve the spam.

So I'm afraid this will end in having a mailbox  where you have to go through 10 spam messages before you find the one customer that has a question or needs support.

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Made, there is always that risk for any convenient effective forms of communications like EMAIL.

But if you are afraid of this, then the same should hold true about you have a phone number.  Do you not want to have a phone service with a phone number because you are afraid that you will get attacked by phone spammers and scammers?

And you just said that you are already being attacked by unwanted IMs from spammers inworld.  There are many of these tools inworld that can spam you much more effectively than via an email system.

So... here is an added feature to the emailing method, the SL email SMTP gateway would watch for spam attacks.  i.e. if the SL SMTP gateway receives the same message to more than 5 users on the @secondlife.com domain from the same user, the sender would be blacklisted and blocked.  This is not rocket science for most commercial email SMTP gateway systems and email spam filters.

I would not want to reject a solution because of its potential ability to be illegally / unethically abused - specially if there are off the shelf solutions to control that.

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Good idea and I agree.  In fact, there needs to be a lot more cross referencing between their systems.  As an example, if you look up a sale it shows the buyers name and appears to be a link but when you click it, nothing happens. It should open their profile and let you send an IM without having to log in.

You should open a Jira on this and I will vote for it.

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Chelsea Malibu wrote:

Those don't go to IM, they go into a mailbox that is off world on this website and not inworld.  The problem with that Thinkerer is that few go to the website and check messages.

Exactly what Chelsea said.  I could go into my.secondlife.com/Avatar.name and leave a PM  but most avatars dont even know they have a web profile and a PM.  Low chance of them seeing an urgent message I have for them.

I want a simple and universal RL access to any SL Avatar.   The easiest  way is for me to be able to SMTP Email the avatar @ secondlife.com

As for creating a JIRA... I have seen how LL treated my other JIRAs.  I believe my last one went to Acknowledge and placed into the LL Black Hole Suggestion Box.  i.e. they will consider it for a future feature.  That mean "we are not interested since we have our own LL backlog of shiny new features we think our customers need - we dont need your suggestions".

But maybe when I get a bored moment I will post it.

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Another idea to get this solution into SL and not have to beg LL to deliver it...

Maybe one of you SMART SCRIPTERS can develop a system with an external SMTP Email service to SL Avatar IM delivery service....

 

  1. Create a new domain....  SLAVATAR-EMAIL.com
  2. All SL Avatars would have a corresponding email  toysoldier.thor@SLAVATAR-EMIL.com
  3. Alternatively a generic email ID like  AVATARIM@SLAVATAR-EMAIL.com then the inworld avatar's name in the subject line. (the external code can parse the destination name from the subject)
  4. deploy an SMTP email gateway (one with email spam filtering would be awesome)
  5. Write an external code that can extract out the destination Avatar's name that needs to be IMed and packages up the details of the message into a transaction (like an xml record or 1 line CSV).  The transaction would include the SENDING AVATAR's name, the DESTINATION AVATAR's name, the IM Message, other option details like urgency status, etc.
  6. The external code would send the transaction into the SL Grid where a receiving inworld app would parse the message package and create / send an IM to the destination avatar inworld.

    It might look like this to the receiver:
    SLAVATAR-EMAIL RESIDENT:  <External IM On behalf of Toysoldier Thor> Hi there John Doe, I need to confirm that you received your order for the product you bought from me an hour ago as the Marketplace was having serious delivery errors.  Please IM me with your answer
  7. Finally, upon the IM being successfully sent to the recipient, the sender would be charged a $2L fee for executing the transaction.  This payment process could be handled different ways like an already established account with the Service customer where a pre-paid credit exists and it is removed.  Or more simple, the customer pays a nominal monthly fee like $50L/month for 10 IMs, $100L/month for 50 IMs....

 

The receiver knows the message came from a 3rd party IM delivery proxy.  He/she knows who the real Avatar was that sent them the message.

The code would also confirm that the Send and the Receiver are valid accounts prior to sending it.  If its not, then an error message would be sent back up the pipe to the sender via email.

 

There is a solution...   Come on Darrius or Sassy.  This would be a service either of you could develop between lunch and dinner.  Just give me 5% royalty for all revenue from monthly fees

 

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I've always hated this feature, well, the lack of this feature I mean. It's rather annoying not being able to address issues when you're not able to get inworld.

I've tried using the profiles and reaching people that way, still no better than what we've got now. I know it sounds nice and dandy and a perfect solution, but it's not, and anyone who has had to use it, would know that. I was away not too long ago for a few weeks on a trip and had to reach someone while I was away. Net access wasn't an issue, but sl access was. Kind of annoying when there is an issue and you can't even address it. Thankfully the person with the issue was finally able to be reached and the issue solved. But it was still a headache and a half for both the customer and myself, required a lot of back and forthing, missed messages, and just plain out frustration. Annoying doesn't even begin to describe it to be honest.

Now the sort of issue we were dealing with, wasn't typical for anything I make or sell, or any of my customers for that matter. But I don't think it should have to be, to warrant a change in the way things are handled. Spam exists and will always exist, no matter what. The risk of getting spammed exists the moment you create an email account. Providing more ways to get a hold of each other is not going to increase the risk of spam anymore than, well, tons of other stuff on the 'net. For me, it's worth it, even if it only helps me once in a blue moon, more options are worth that "risk of over spammage". So they could always make it an opt in thing. You can opt in, or out, of this "feature" at any given time. Seems a reasonable solution to me. I may not be smart enough to figure out exactly how they can do it, but I'm quite certain they've got people working for them who could(or other merchants here who can better explain how it would be possible, even).

This is something people have been asking about for a long time. I'm not too keen on companies that ignore requests for extended periods of time with no rhyme or reason for it. LL has a real bad habit of doing exactly that. Personally, I think if they want growth, they need to knock it off and really up their game. Even if it's just minor things people are asking for, it's worthy of at least being addressed.(and since most are kinda minor, compared to the huge issues we have to deal with anyway, there's no reason why they can't be implemented quickly and even painlessly, *while they work on the bigger issues). But I guess that's a whole different rant for a different day, lol.

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Sadly that is what is so frustrating being a Customer of LL.  It is just sooooooo annoying.

Past sr management and now even Rod Humble keep harping how they will do a better job listening to their customers and to improve the value of being in SL and adding the functions and features that their customers need.

But instead of spending even a little time making several smaller improvements to the existing service that ALL residents would use and notice and make them happy, they spend all their efforts on the next big major deployed shiny killer feature to SL... Mesh, Direct Delivery, some whole new SL Realms, etc.

They dont fix the countless bugs listed in JIRA that sit for years not being fixed (like the JIRA the has been asking LL to fixed the texture repeat bug on animated textures).  They dont deploy several of the small simple to deploy missing features in MP that xstreet had.  They dont work on enhancements to features that are weak, old, limited, outdated like what this thread is all about.

As is normal for LL.... they completely ignore any ideas and suggestion from their customers and keep coming up with their own list of ideas and priorities.

Even if we saw 3 or 4 of our ideas ever see the light of day... it would at least give us false hopes that LL sometimes listens to us.

But I know this idea will not go anywhere... like all the rest.  (I will create a JIRA anyway just so there is proof 2 years from now that I was right and LL didnt do anything about this idea).

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When I get a MySL message to my inbox, I get an inworld notification that I got a message.  Much the same as when I get an inworld IM, when I am not online.  Since I have IMs sent to my e-mail, I also get an e-mail notice.  

I agree that the MySL message is more easily overlooked than an IM. And people are much less familiar with using MySL.  On the other hand, my IMs get capped or somehow lost.  About 10% or more I would not get at all if I did not have them sent to my e-mail.

Anyway, MySL is a system anyone can use now.  WIthout waiting for Godot--I mean Linden lab. So my suggestion is what you can do while waiting.

TKR 

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It is trivial to write a script that will receive emails, including avatar name, and re-send the message as an IM.  The only difficulties with this are i) translating name to key (a perenial scripting problem), ii) having to have the object the script is in permanently rezzed in-world (but that could be anything, even your magic box), iii) no 'friendly' name for your in-world email address (it's the object's UUID).  That last isn't so bad as you can just copy-paste the UUID and it's not going to change as long as the object stays rezzed.

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Well it surely is far from perfect as MySL requires that the external user needs to go to the SL.com website and most users dont know about their own profile, what it is, how its used.  BUT, since chances are LL (SL's Virtual God) will likely never act upon this... its a clunky solution that might get the message noticed by the avatar.

 

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Give them the benefit of the doubt - maybe they don't want to because it would be a spammers paradise.  Imagine the s&^$%t we'd all suffer if anyone could bombard SL and our avatars with all the emails they wanted.

[However, having said that, it's still not too hard to set up using a free web-hosting service]

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PeterCanessa Oh wrote:

Give them the benefit of the doubt - maybe
they don't want to because it would be a spammers paradise
.  Imagine the s&^$%t we'd all suffer if anyone could bombard SL and our avatars with all the emails they wanted.

[However, having said that, it's still not too hard to set up using a free web-hosting service]

Again.... as I already mentioned above.... even the dumbest of SMTP email / spam filtering tools can be configured to block most of this spam you refer to.  And if LL really was not deploying this solution because of fears of email Spammers... maybe they should take away the IM function inworld so that spamming of an account is not technically possible there.

As Tara said, to be afraid of a solution because of the potential abuse of the solution is just wrong - specially when a little bit more solution thinking could mitigate the problem.

But to be honest - I cannot give LL the benefit of the doubt on this one as I am 99% sure that LL didnt do this because they just couldnt be bothered.  They want to use their development resources to develop new fun exciting functions like Mesh.

So what benefit of the doubt should I give LL for this JIRA that has been an un-worked problem in the grid since 2008?

https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-4018

This Jira was created December 24, 2007 (before I even joined SL 4 years ago).  Other than Torley Linden quickly looking at it once at the beginning, it was never looked at or touched by a Linden until I publicly embarassed Rod and Oz Linden on Twitter to even look at this JIRA on May of 2011.  Oz asked a couple questions and when we all came to answer his questions and help him... that was the last we saw of Oz Linden.

This is an extremely annoying bug and over 4 years later... still not resolved.  So what is the benefit of the doubt for this one?

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Right.  And it would be even easer for LL to run  posts to MySL directly into the IM system (and the reverse for reply) .  I suspect LL is slow on doing that because the architecture that hadles IMs has been crude.  They are making some changes and perhaps will actually make the pass-thu  before Godot gets here.      

I find the current MySL message system works well for people who actively use MySL.  I get notices in Gmail, so I can immediately read the message, without  waiting till I am ready to start the viewer.  But I agree, this only works for people who are actively using MySL.  

TKR

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There are clients in the TPV Directory for iPhone and Android devices.  Maybe I'm missing something, but it appears to me that either staying logged on or logging on periodically with one of them would solve your problem.  You would get your IMs promptly, and there would be no problem with bloclked access, since you would be using your own wireless device. Your need would be met, and we wouldn't have a spammer's paradise.

Another solution might be accessing SL via a proxy server, probably with a text-only client like Metabolt.  I have not used it in a long time, but it worked well when I used it in the past.

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PeterCanessa Oh wrote:

Give them the benefit of the doubt - maybe
they don't want to because it would be a spammers paradise
.  Imagine the s&^$%t we'd all suffer if anyone could bombard SL and our avatars with all the emails they wanted.

[However, having said that, it's still not too hard to set up using a free web-hosting service]

That ability already exists. If you allow messages to be sent to email, people can(and people do, those who choose to do so) spam you all they want from inworld as it is. All they have to do is send repeated messages to you. Offline IMs sent to email don't have a limit like the message cap inworld does.

I get crap spam from creators and stores I've visited all the time when I'm not online. Because their messages go to my email-since I have it set to send them to me so I don't lose them. It's really not a big deal to ignore spam, some of which is pretty glaringly obvious. I don't get anymore spam from SL folks than I do anywhere else on the web. It's just something you deal with. I've been dealing with it since, well at least '97 on one particular account. Spam ain't going anywhere, and despite the fact that the net has grown, tremendously, it's not really getting a ton worse anymore. It has it's spurts, but, it's really not that dang bad.(not to mention you can set up a specific email for sl only too).

I just don't get the whole spam line of thinking here. It doesn't make much sense to me, so I must be misunderstanding. The ability for people to spam you already exists. As a matter of fact, the ability could have been INCREASED(by the logic I see here) when the web profiles became what they are. Yet no one is complaining about that, and are in fact telling people to use that option. So what's the real difference here? I think this "zomg no moar spammage" line of thinking is more of a "sky is falling" approach. It hasn't happened yet, doubt it will with this feature included, either.

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