Second Life Scams

A basic idea in the free market and civilization in general is theft and misrepresentation are bad things. I suppose that is why we love politicians.  So, when we find a place where theft and lying are harming people many of us will step up and say something. So, Strawberry Singh has spoken in Full Perm Marketplace Scams. Yay, girl!

Marketplace Scams

Marketplace Scams

Check her article to get the full story.

I think we need better tools to help us in our battles against the ethically and morally challenged of Second Life™. There is also the problem of how much time can we ask the Lab to spend on devising those tools when we have much more fun stuff that they need to be working on? 

My idea was to add a field to the Marketplace listings that gives the date an item is first uploaded to the marketplace. It doesn’t solve all the problems and it certainly isn’t fool proof. But, it is more than we have now.

If you think the date would help, click over to the JIRA: BUG-37644Better research of originality of items in MP. Click WATCH to support the idea.

Lucia Nightfire added a comment with some points for why it wouldn’t work well.

Kyle Linden as added the note that the Lab doesn’t think they will add the feature. That is a combination of priorities and belief in how effective the feature might or might not be.

So, why click? It gives the Lindens some idea of how many of us are interested in the problem.

What ideas do you have for making it more difficult for merchants to rip things off and misrepresent what they are selling?

Discussion

In Strawberry’s comments the idea the Lab profits by the scams is given voice by zzpearlbottom, She is right and wrong. On the surface it is true that the Lab earns a commission on every scammed item sold. The idea that they ‘profit’ from that is more complex and it is that idea I think is wrong.

The primary source of income for the Lab from Second Life’s marketplace is sales. The more the better for the Lab and everyone. So, anything that decreases sales is a ‘cost’ to the Lab or perhaps more accurately said as a loss of income, whichever it is money the Lab doesn’t get.

Zz’s idea is that because the Lab makes money from sales of scammed items, they don’t have any incentive to stop the thefts and scams. But, we have a long history of how theft and misrepresentation in RL markets kills sales reducing volume. The entire world wide system of weights and measures was devised and maintained to provide a meaningful level of buyer protection and push merchants toward honest trade. Merchants pay for the system and its maintenance. They do that because it is a proven way to increase sales.

The Lab is in the same position. They also have the same challenge we all do, who is honest and who is ripping off who? Plus they have to deal with the merchants that try to take out honest vendors and creators by filing false charges… even false DMCA take down requests. (Reference) So, I’m not surprised they are slow to process general reports of theft. Innocent until proven guilty… proven requires effort and time.

The whole DMCA process (proposed by a Republican signed into law by Clinton (D)) circumvented the ‘until proven’ concept to make it cheaper for the large corporate interests to pursue rip-offs by moving the cost off them. Now one must prove their innocence in DMCA cases and hope to recover their costs later. Many consider the DMCA process a violation of Constitutional rights. The result has been sever abuse of DMCA. The Lab is caught in the middle of that mess. So, speedy and informed action is difficult.

The Lab is safer to wait for the formal DMCA take down notice. The financial incentive for the Lab is to keep the marketplace honest and legitimate. It often doesn’t appear that way because we can only see one side of what is happening.

Strawberry’s 5 Rules are about the most effective tools we have. The problem with them is people have to follow them, do something. While community action is the most effective, people are lazy and seldom want to take responsibility. So, blame the Lab, have them do it and smear them when they don’t, which requires no thought or empathy. Slander is easy. Proving guilt difficult. Being informed is difficult.

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