I saw another frustrated resident complaining about Second Life Search. The responses on the topic when I was reading it shows most residents have no idea what is going on inside Linden Lab. One person thought no one oversees Search Development. I guess they missed Rosedale at SLCC 2010. I took the time to write a long reply and decided to use it as a post here too. So, if you are one of those wondering about what is up with SL Search, read on.
If you don’t know, the Second Life Search Development Team is a 5 man team plus outside consulting resources. The team leader is Sea Linden. Some think it is Liana Linden, but I think she may have been in charge up until the layoffs shakeout. It is Sea that posts the update information on the SL Blogrum.
UPDATE: 2010-11-18 – Linden Lab has upgraded search, again. See: Recent Improvements to SL Search
The Search Development Team is NOT part of the new open door movement at LL or if it is it is well hidden, which defeats the open purpose. The team is effectively invisible. The closest you will come to finding office ours for the team is Jack Linden’s Office Hours. One should probably take their search issues and questions there.
Much of the work is highly proprietary and kept confidential to reduce gaming the system. Google explains a lot about their search algorithms, but never tells people enough to easily game the Google system nor do they give out all the details. The LL team has to try and communicate and not reveal how search works. The team is part of the new team structure and scrum process. But, that process is not published as the open source teams do.
One cannot easily find the team because ‘search’ is part of the Web Development process. In the Wiki there is no ‘Search’ category nor a Web Development category. Unless one really digs, they can’t find the team even exists. I have yet to find a listing of all team members or official contact points.
JIRA bug reports and feature requests usually get filed in the wrong place; MISC and that slows the process down. That ‘Search’ is part of Web Dev may seem odd if one does not understand how SL search works.
To learn about SL Search, your regions web page, how to optimize your regions web page for good search placement, and other handy tips read the DGP4SL Blog. Darrius Gothly writes the blog and is communicative on a level that the SL team isn’t. He is not overly supportive of LL but you will learn a lot. Plus he has an in-world analytical tool to help with search placement for sale. I found his site in August and blogged about it: Second Life Seach. Until then I did not know regions had web pages.
There is no doubt SL Search is not serving the residents and especially the merchants. It is the Lab’s biggest problem and it gets the most Lab attention. The fix is overly complex because it is dependent on several factors outside the team’s control. They have to coordinate with the server and viewer development teams to get changes made to support search. So, changes are slow. Plus, they are learning how to handle virtual world search. It is something that has never been done. While many think it worked before, those people have missed what is possible and what was not working. Few have any clue to the reasons search is being changed.
The biggest change that is coming to SL is mesh. This will bring the possibility of marketing SL items to people in other virtual worlds. Also, virtual worlds are looked at by many as Web 3.0. For that to ever work search is going to have to work for virtual worlds. Google is involved in what is happening in SL search as are others. The problem is going to be resolved, but not today. Since LL is not putting a lot of information out, one might believe they are trying to get their virtual world search working and into the mainstream before others realize the possibilities and importance.
Another aspect of search is money. Google is fabulously wealthy from having made a successful search engine that sells placement. You can bet that some form of paid advertising, beyond classifieds, is coming to Second Life Search.
SL Blog Search Info – (this link should automatically update to show new blog posts)
Update: (March 2, 2011) – Darrius Gothly has blogged about more search problems. See: Support Hose … And I don’t mean Socks