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B&B Skins – Rigging the Search Tool @ Skin Oasis

Someone posted an image on Bloghud.com and I had to go see for myself, of course. I ended up with several shots, myself:

Gaming the Search Tool

This is such total BS. Other businesses hustle to promote their brand by paying considerable sums on advertising in SL, in magazines, on blogs and websites — this includes paying models, photographers, set designers, possibly even graphic designers and advertising agencies. They take the time to network with people, sometimes offering their items for review at websites like Linden Lifestyles and Second Style Fashionista or courting modeling/PR agencies. They try to attract customers with all sorts of innovative builds and special events, brainstorming different ways to get people to take note and get involved.

They work damn hard to make their business a success.

So yeah, it pisses me off when I see this kind of cheap stunt pulled because it seems like cheating to me. These people don’t care about the kind of lag they inflict on their visiting customers; all they can see are dollar signs associated with each green dot on the mini-map that isn’t an alt. And I sincerely doubt the avatars you’ll see in the following pictures are legitimate, paid accounts.

Clicking on the images will take you to their respective flickr pages, where you can view larger version. I’ve included the interface and HUD objects in the screenshots, but blurred out my linden balance because I don’t want anyone to see how poor I am. :p

Gaming the Search Tool 01

Gaming the Search Tool 02

Gaming the Search Tool 03

Gaming the Search Tool 04

Gaming the Search Tool 05

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December 31, 2007 - Posted by | Ethics, Rant | , , , , , , ,

33 Comments

  1. That looks disturbing!

    Comment by Gogo | December 31, 2007

  2. I hate when people do that. Bleck. Traffic doesn’t mean jackcrap anymore. :/

    Comment by Ana Boogiewoogie | December 31, 2007

  3. Rigging the search, especially with so many alts, isn’t cool. It sounds like you’re saying basic no payment info accounts aren’t legitimate accounts. That’s not cool either.

    Comment by Basic Account | December 31, 2007

  4. my goodness.. didn’t ever think people are up to these kind of tricks 😦

    Comment by Aphrodite Outlander | December 31, 2007

  5. @ Basic Account: When I state in the post that they are not “legitimate, paid accounts”, I wasn’t attempting to denigrate the status of basic accounts; I was actually making reference to a specific, cut-and-dry rule that is found in the Second Life Terms Of Service (TOS).

    According to the TOS, everyone is allowed one basic, free account. Each account thereafter is supposed to be a paid account.

    I’d be really shocked if the person(s) that’s running this bot network is paying $72USD per year for every single alt that you see in the above images.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding there.

    Comment by melaniekiddofsl | December 31, 2007

  6. I wouldn’t worry about this. The amount of lag the creators/sim owners are making with these bots prevents almost anyone from successfully shopping there.

    Comment by smiletenshi | December 31, 2007

  7. What I wonder about is whether this really works. The new search tool the Lindens have in the preview viewer does not use traffic exclusively as a metric for placement in search results. It uses a different algorithm that has to do with links, picks, landmarks, etc. — you can read on the Lindens’ blog. Therefore raw traffic gamed up as it is can’t prove to be the winner anymore. It may still make a land show up in popular places but not in search.

    I don’t allow camping on my properties because it costs too much and the lag is too great and output too poor. I’m amazed people don’t use these practical reasons to end the practice of camping, but it must still serve as a kind of poor man’s advertising campaign.

    Comment by Prokofy Neva | December 31, 2007

  8. I don’t have payment on file but I buy my money through slexchange, so not all no payment are alts.

    Comment by anonymous | December 31, 2007

  9. Oh, that’s another thing they’re rigging, then. All of those bots had that sim in their picks.

    Does adding the same pick several times to one profile make a difference? One of the bots had that sim listed about a dozen times over.

    Comment by melaniekiddofsl | December 31, 2007

  10. I rent at one of those places that rig serch and I sell eyes and make $400 a month LMAO it works

    Comment by anonymous | December 31, 2007

  11. I saw this a while ago and went to check it out myself. Beyond the gaming of the system, it’s rather creepy.

    Comment by Gillian Waldman | December 31, 2007

  12. this is seriously not funny.

    Comment by EnCore Mayne | January 1, 2008

  13. Looks to me like Search engine Optimization, as it is coyly called on the web, has found a new niche. And I don’t mean the traffic (that is hardly new, and, as has been pointed out, not quite as effective as it used to be with the new search system), but the idea of creating pick-farms of bots… brrr.

    Comment by Rheta Shan | January 1, 2008

  14. Sl is a fucking joke of a game anyway. Who cares.

    Comment by Fl4k | January 1, 2008

  15. I tried to see the pics in larger size on your flicker but somehow it didn’t give me a choice. I saw this a while ago too and it is seriously creepy and very sad.

    Comment by Delilah Karas | January 1, 2008

  16. This really bothers me too. And while there, there’s a stream of announcements that so and so person has won money for just being there, since I did not see anyone there, I can only believe they are awarding Lindens to all their Alts stored underground. Totally terrible.

    Comment by Skate Foss | January 1, 2008

  17. I really don’t think this is serious. It’s *their* sim, they’re paying for it… who the heck wants to sludge through all that added lag anyway?

    Comment by Tenshi Vielle | January 1, 2008

  18. […] subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!The Grid Live has some fascinating screen grabs taken from another blog showing masses of avatars gathered in a small area – allegedly to boost that location significantly […]

    Pingback by Is Second Life’s new search functionality being gamed? : The Metaverse Journal - Australia’s Virtual World News Service | January 2, 2008

  19. Okay, I fixed flickr so that the larger versions can now be viewed by anyone. Sorry about that :p

    Comment by melaniekiddofsl | January 2, 2008

  20. […] Read | Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments […]

    Pingback by Gaming search results - the unwisdom of crowds | Time Traveler | January 4, 2008

  21. I was in B&B several weeks ago and sent report abusse of this, and a lot of people (Linden Mentors included) send report abusse too, but LL let this cheat continues. What is happened in SL?, a lot of problems all days, and a lot of TOS violations. Really thinks LL that when ask us how is our SL experience we said “better” :P?

    Comment by Alanna | January 4, 2008

  22. This is lame, but it also it looks like 90% of all most popular places are using bots or at least major camping areas to boost traffic. How do you make sure that a sim has 70 or more campers at any given time. LL would be the only authority that can end this. They should just extend the TOS to prevent traffic manipulation. I am sure that most sim owners would respond to a friendly letter from LL and re-consider their strategy.

    Frank

    Comment by Frank Mandrake | January 7, 2008

  23. Wah wah wah. Everyone is just too dumb/lazy/jealous to do it themselves.

    Comment by asdf | January 9, 2008

  24. 90% of the most popular places do it, don’t just pick on this one, get pics of everyone that does it and lobby LL, its not an issue with this owner but the fact that LL allow people to have free accounts now.

    To be honest the new search and the old search are completely rubbish anyhow – people cannot find anything anymore and there are too many places out there, selling stuff that isn’t worth selling.

    People should go to Skin Oasis and see that actually the stuff there is really good quality and the sim looks to be created by someone who has a talent. I am sure they only did this to compete with everyone else doing it, not to exclude people that don’t!

    Comment by George | January 10, 2008

  25. @ George, I’m not “picking” on this one out of several; this just happened to be the first place I’ve ever seen this done at.

    From what I understand, the places that *are* the most popular don’t resort to this sort of zombie-alt practice. If you can support that 90% statistic you just threw out with some cold hard data, that’d be great.

    If they are selling “really good quality” items then with the right amount set aside for legitimate advertising they should do more than reasonably well. Last I checked, though, selling “really good quality” products does not mean you are suddenly exempt from the TOS.

    Comment by melaniekiddofsl | January 11, 2008

  26. Melanie, I am sorry I think this is personal.

    I am not going to list everyone else that does this, as I am not someone to expose other people. I get on with my business and focus on making it better, not moaning and trying to single other peoples strategies out.

    Fly around (or up) most of the popular sims traffic is generated by traffic bots. A lot of sims put their bots 600 – 700 metres up in sky boxes.

    Trust me this is regular practice and has nothing to do with TOS. If someone owns their own estate, its not for LL to tell them how to run it. LL never get in disputes involving the estate owners land.

    But as I say this feels personal, and should be taken at the normal practise that it is. Don’t misinterperate my comments as me agreeing with this type of practice as I don’t, but I can understand why places like B&B do it as nearly everyone else does !

    Comment by George | January 11, 2008

  27. @ George — I stated very clearly in my post that I just happened to be browsing the blogs one day, like I do on a regular basis, saw what someone had posted on bloghud, went to go take a look for myself, and then posted my opinion and my snapshots on my blog. Anyone who is capable of reading between the lines should be able to discern that there is nothing personal about it on my part. It does, however, look as if YOU are taking this personally.

    Again, I’ve never actually seen this zombie-alt practice take place in ANY other sim, so your contention that “everybody else is doing it so why can’t they” rings false in my ears. I’ve been in SL for almost a year and I keep my mini-map open everywhere I go. The only other places I’ve seen those little green dots stacked up like that are in sims where there were campers. You know, avatars that are controlled by a whole bunch of different people, as opposed to a bot network? Normal practice, my arse.

    As for the TOS bit, I had to go look back at that. I was told that the number of accounts people are limited to is five, but after reviewing the TOS it looks like that limitation is no longer in place.

    Comment by melaniekiddofsl | January 11, 2008

  28. Mel,

    Of course this is personal – it is wasn’t you would be listing all the other owners and sims that carry out this practice. You have made no attempt to list anyone else and have focussed on one individual, even after people have pointed out that 90% of sim owners do this in SL.

    You may have been in SL for a year, but that doesn’t mean that other people don’t use this traffic bot practice. lol 🙂

    As I said before, focus on everyone that does it, keep this one owner out of the “general” traffic bot issue and then people will believe more that its a valid post highlighting the loop hole that LL have created through allowing multiple free accounts.

    I have nothing personal to prove either way, I don’t carry out this practice nor agree with it, but I don’t like to see witch hunts or individuals singled out like this. Especially in this case where a huge proportion of sim owners do it.

    That iss what makes me feel that you are carrying this out as a personal issue, if its not – then I retract that comment, but please include everyone else here!

    Comment by George | January 11, 2008

  29. Okay, here is the thing. I have been to Skin Oasis and there is no lag. I mean, before you go spewing at the mouth, you should at least go check it out. Second, who cares what a person does on their own sim? I have shopped there. The owner has some really good skins and there are some other shops on the island too. So, if a person has great stuff that he/she is offering, why does it matter how he/she gets people there? I will tell you why…cause someome is envious. Envious you didn’t think of it first, or that you have no clue how to do it yourself. I will shop wherever I find things I like and I couldn’t care less about whether there is camping or bots or anything else there. I think most people feel the same way. WHO REALLY CARES??? I am sick of hearing about this already. Don’t you have better things to do with your life than to try to make someone else look bad? 😦

    Comment by Samantha | January 11, 2008

  30. Mel,

    The gist of the problem you seem to have is that some people have taken their resources and know-how and applied it to maximize their profitability. It is not an *unfair* advantage, however. If it was unfair, you would see something like LL allowing Skin Oasis to do this and disallowing other places to do it. There is nothing stopping you from buying your own sim and populating it with traffic-generating bots or campers. You may not WANT to, feeling you are holding the upper hand in terms of ethics, but you may not get your site listed in Popular Places. In either case, you are given the choice to proceed.

    In fact, I would propose that by singling out Skin Oasis, you and other bloggers have *created* an unfair competition environment by attaching a stigma of sorts to the Skin Oasis sim and its shop-owners, while other sims continue to benefit from traffic bots/campers.

    This smells a lot like an SL version of protectionism, where one complains to LL “they’re not being fair!”, when not TOS are actually being broken.

    The fact is that SL is a rapidly changing economy and social system, and trying to control that will end up like trying to hold water in your hand – the more you squeeze, the more it slips through your fingers.

    Comment by Freeguy | January 11, 2008

  31. I’d like to address the following commentary to the participants on this post’s forum who have defended the use of traffic bots:

    Nowhere in this blogpost or in the comments that followed it did I ever contend that absolutely no one else makes use of traffic bots. I have repeatedly made it clear, however, that this is the first and ONLY instance I have ever personally come across. So in response to the query as to why I’ve “singled” out this business in my post when apparently there are so many others doing this (even though I’ve yet to see this), I pose this rhetorical question: exactly how am I supposed to include others when, to date, I know of no others?

    Again, I believe this “90%” figure was simply pulled out of thin air with no proof to back it up. I am reluctant to call it an estimate because an estimate is an educated guess, which this clearly is not.

    As for the chastisement about how I should “at least go check it out” before “spewing”, I’d like to point out the obvious: I *did* go and check it out prior to posting this blog. It’s not like I just pulled the images accompanying this post out of my avi’s ass, right? And while I visited there, I did in fact experience a considerable amount of lag.

    An interesting question was also posed; someone asked, who really cares? For starters, the owners of the other sims sharing server space with this sim would probably care. Follow this link and you will see who else is on the same server:

    http://www.obijan.com/region/Skin+Oasis

    The sims are Druidia, Gorlanova, SLVEC (the SL Volunteer Education Center), and Stern. Please note, the webpage that the above link leads to makes it quite clear that performance in one sim can affect the others that reside on the same server:

    “In general, a physical server will host more than one region at a time. Although this is normally totally invisible to the users (and even the owner), a high load on other region can impact the performance of the region your are currently in.”

    I’m not doing anything to make them look bad; they’ve done that all on their own. As for asserting that envy was the motivation behind this post — well, that is your own uninformed assumption.

    I’m somewhat surprised that anyone supports the notion that this was simply a matter of “know-how”, that it was not an unfair advantage, and that an unfair competition environment was created by bloggers who opined on what was going on. I think the unfair competition environment was already in existence, from the moment this bot network began operating. When you visit stores like Naughty, Minnu, RaC, D-skins, TaP, LF Chai, Sin Skins, FNKY/Cake, (too many to list, really) you do not see this sort of activity going on. If they do have traffic bots, it’s certainly not of this magnitude.

    As I mentioned earlier, there was a time when operating a large number of alts like this was indeed in violation of the TOS, which is why I brought it up at all. At least a year ago there was a limit in place on the amount of accounts you were allowed; five, to be exact. Apparently this has changed since then, hence my comments at #27. Looks like LL has decided that they like the misleading inflation of their numbers.

    I hardly see my voicing my opinion on my own blog about the glaring underhandedness of this maneuver — an opinion that the majority is in agreement with — as an attempt at controlling/preventing change in SL. o_O Rather, I perceive the whole traffic rigging thing as such.

    In conclusion, it’s obvious that there are two diametrically opposed viewpoints on this matter, and since further discussion is highly unlikely to alter the opinions held by either camp, I’ve decided to close this post to further comments.

    Comment by melaniekiddofsl | January 12, 2008

  32. […] marketing to boost traffic numbers and increase virtual sales. You can find some good coverage on Grid Expectations and New World Notes for the back story. Once you’ve read up why don’t we take a look at […]

    Pingback by » Using bots for Second Life Marketing — Social Ham - Social Network News | January 27, 2008

  33. […] here you go: Scene from the living dead or that Shaun movie […]

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