Yesterday a new post appeared on the Second Life™ Blog: New Merchant Requirement. The Lab is making Payment Information a requirement to sell on the Market Place (MP).
Making this requirement should stop some of the churn of accounts made by griefers and copyboters.
This will be hard on some international users of SL. Getting verified and having a means to move funds in and out of SL is easy for those of us in the USA. It’s more difficult in many countries.
For now this is only a requirement for new MP accounts. I already have PIOF (Payment Information On File). So, whether they move to require it of existing merchants make no difference to me. Some think they will. Others are not so sure. Put me in the second group.
They are unclear on what having payment information on file means. They seem to have confused PIOF with having a payment method for the MP, which only requires yuor avatar get some L$ and buy something on the MP. So, they think transferring L$1 to an Alt and having them buy a L$1 demo in the MP places payment information on file, it doesn’t. But, the site behaves as if it did… and for practical purposes of opening a MP store that means it sort of did.
As the blog post indicates, check your Mesh Upload Status page. If you have an Alt, give it some L$ and buy a demo. I have an Alt that has purchased a number of things with L$ I’ve transferred to it, both in world and via the MP. It has no PIOF, at least according to ‘Avatar Data’ that can be obtained in world.
If you try to sort out what is and is not triggering PIOF and allowing you to open a MP account/store, you may get a bit confused. That is because the requirement does not work as advertised.
By buying something on the MP it will change your account’s Billing Info as reported in your Dash Board’s Mesh Status to green PIOF enabled. I am pretty sure my Alt has bought things through the MP before and it’s status stayed red, no PIOF. But, when I started experimenting today it was easy to change to PIOF without entering payment information.
I’m not sure what has and hasn’t changed in the web site. But, the Billing sections Payment Info is certainly not clear. The distinction between adding a payment ‘method’ and payment ‘information’ is never made clear.
However, if you use an in-world script to check whether your avatar has PIOF or not, the green PIOF and empty PIOF details page register as No PIOF in world.
According to the post, your old avatar will be able to open a new MP store without having PIOF. It is a new avatar that is not SUPPOSED to be able to open a MP store.
Sassy Romano created a new avatar and provided it L$ and made a MP purchase. Sassy was then able to open a new MP store. So, the its-a-new-avatar limit does not seem to be working except in a very limited special case of being a new avatar that has not made a purchase via the MP.
There the limit that an avatar has to be more than 5 days old to open an account/store. That is still in place. Sassy ran into it. But, expects to have a new store up in 5 days.
While I think the requirement for PIOF to open a MP store is a good idea, it has been very poorly implemented. The work-around is far too simple. It is a short trip one walks to get around the requirement. That knowledge will quickly work its way through the underground of SL and into griefer/copyboter channels
Even if the change worked as purported, with the large number of old accounts available, it may be some time before griefers burn through them. So, I have some doubts as to how quickly this change would have started to have affect. With this easy work around, I can’t see it having much effect at all.
This could have forced copyboters to sell their goods only in-world. This would add cost to their process as they would have to rent a shop to sell from. I think it would also require a bit more effort, organizing a shop. I think it would cut sales as in-world shops are hard to find without an MP listing. The more investment and labor that is required, the harder it is to be a fly-by-night operator.
So, while this may be a small change, it could have a significant impact, if it worked. It might take some time to make a visible change, but it could be something if the Lab fixes the easy walk-around.
I’m not a big fan of the Lindens working on the web side of things. There is no way to contact them, that works. Nor do they stick their heads up, which is probably wise. So, I have little hope this walk-around will get fixed any time soon. Until it is, this is an ineffective change.