I recently joined an in-world, Linden directed group called "Second Life Commerce Merchants." The purpose of the group is described as thus:
A place for merchants in second life and on XStreet SL to talk business.
There hasn't been a great deal of activity in the group since I joined a few weeks ago, partly because I don't think merchants have a clear idea as to how much we can or should utilize the group for discussing business... I'm not sure the Lindens running the group -- which includes Pink and Colossus -- are certain of its purpose either.
In the last two weeks there have been two notices sent out, both by Colossus Linden -- the first, encouraging us to put all of our Valentine's Day related merchandise into the recently expanded Valentine's Day category.
Sounds good, but I already did that a few weeks ago when I saw the notice in the blogorums.
But then there was this additional tidbit:
But, don't stop at finding what you like... share your favorite items with your friends. We've just added share links to Xstreet SL. Log in, go to the detail page of an item you like and try it out. The share link is in the box on the right side of the detail page beneath the purchase options.
Okay... I'm sure this is a good idea, but in the larger scope of things, this is what the Commerce Team has made a priority?
Today's notecard missive was more promising. The Commerce Team has launched a trial program to assist shoppers in finding merchants on XStreet, by using tags. To wit:
We presented an idea awhile back of adding some common tags to item descriptions in order to make it easier for shoppers to see the subset of items they are most interested in. We'd like to give this a shot with an initial set of tags and if things go well, we'll expand and refine our official tag set.
Okay, this is interesting, do go on...
Merchants, if you have goods that fit into the following communities, please add the respective tag(s) to the end of your item description:
*the Victorian seamstress waits*
Okay, maybe they cut off the end of the list... I'm not seeing a "tagVictorian"... or even a "tagWestern." Nope, no "tag:Historical."
*the Victorian seamstress reads on*
We're also providing a few which are a bit more purpose related than community related:
Merchants, this system will only be useful if these tags provide shoppers items in the area of their interest, so please do not spam these tags in unrelated listings.
*the Victorian seamstress realizes she's holding her breath and is starting to turn blue*
The immediate issue I see is that my business does not necessarily fit into any of those categories -- yes, I have a few items that might be useful to vampires, goths and possibly pirates, and even one or two that are vaguely "steampunk." (Perhaps it's time to put that steampowered corset back on the drawing table...)
Will that mean we get dinged for keyword spamming if we put my items in those categories? Because without a Victorian or Western or Historical tag, our potential customers will not be seeing work by merchants in those categories. We'll be lumped in with the whorewear and BIABs.... which makes for an interesting dichotomy.
Addressing consumers, LL has this to say:
Shoppers, we don't yet have a true tagging system, but we're making use of the search system. You can click on the tags above to search on that tag, or you can type a tag in with your search query when searching on Xstreet SL. Remember that if you're using multiple words in a search query, adding a '+' before a keyword makes it required within all results.
So, once again we have an example of Linden Lab's reverse engineering strategy. They claim they presented this idea awhile back. If they did, I never heard of it, and I try to skim the blogorums on a regular basis, to keep up with announcements.
Nor is it likely many of my fellow Victorian merchants did either. LL has implemented yet another program in a half-assed manner before it's been properly researched. If you've been following the Avatars United debacle, or the XStreet revamping, you know exactly what I mean.
We will look to expose these tags/communities from the homepage and if this system increases sales and shopper satisfaction, then we will look to expand on the tags we are promoting.
That's all nice and well, but historically, LL's movement on fixing any of their hastily thought out plans is like watching moss grow. So we have a few months to wait. Wonderful.
--The Commerce Team
Good luck, indeed... *sighs*