Friday, June 22, 2012

One does not simply walk into Marketplace

Things have gotten a bit heated up my way, as in the mid- to upper 90's. According to the Murphy's Law principle that dictates the inner workings of bookmobiles, this is also when the air conditioning gives out. Usually on the first day of summer, just in case we might miss the point.

So yesterday, after roasting like a peanut for the better part of an afternoon, I finally settled down in the computer chair at home with no plans whatsoever. I'd just finished adding to the clothing line, the new poster wasn't due yet, and I hadn't heard back from the one person wanting a custom job. I figured it would be a night to just chill and hang out for a change.

This pleasant fantasy carried me through all of the time it took me to boot up and check my email.

Therein I saw not one, but two complaints from two different people in regard to our affiliate vendors. We give them away for free on Marketplace, and whoever sets them up gets a 20% cut of sales. We have dozens of WIN affiliate vendors out there, and they make up a good chunk of the gym's income. So if there's a problem, in these days of monolithic tier fees, there's a problem.

The problem, in this case, was that every affiliate vendor being direct-delivered from Marketplace was vending the exact same set of products. Whether one ordered the MMA gloves, boxing trunks, boots, bikinis, whatever, the vendors were only dispensing women's boxing robes. A nice product, to be sure, and one I think I can be justly proud of. But when it's not what the customer is expecting, quality control becomes a moot issue.

So yeah, a problem.

And, as it turned out, just the beginning.

The first step in troubleshooting is to recreate the problem. So I logged into SL and bought a couple of vendors off of Marketplace to see what they'd do. At the same time I was talking to the customers who had complained, assuring them that I was on the case and all would be sorted out eventually.

And just then, a friend IMed me.

And not just any friend, but a friend whom I adore and have not heard from literally in years until just that very night.

SL has made me a happy multitasker. At the top of my game, I can hold three conversations at the same time (if one is in voice) and still build up a quick little something for a photo shoot if need be.

But I had so much to do. A problem unresolved is a hair in my mouth. I can't rest or think about anything else until it's solved. And I couldn't stay logged in under the Abel Undercity account to solve it.

I wanted to stay and stay, and catch up, and have a laugh with my friend.

I had to go.

As if I didn't already feel like enough of a heel while making my excuses, another friend, one all too used to my "hello, I must be going" schtick, said "hi" just then too.

And I was leaving both of them in the lurch in order to go play with Satan's Little Beta Test, the Second Life Marketplace. So, not only am I a heel, I'm an idiot as well. Choosing fiddling with Marketplace over quality time with friends is like choosing thumbscrews over a nice slice of chocolate cake.

I could forgive the interface for being ugly if it wasn't also slow. Then there's the matter of bulk delete, which doesn't work at all. This was especially problematic during the transition from magic boxes to direct delivery, because switching over from a boxed item to a direct delivery folder unlisted the former. Very soon, anyone with a large number of items ran up against a limit of only 100 unlisted items, with no more being allowed until some were cleared off. Without bulk delete, this means clearing items off one at a time.

Did I mention that it was slow? Perhaps "glacial" is the better term. The combination of lack of bulk delete and slow response time is what turns Marketplace, for a vendor, from a necessary evil into a massive, grinding time-suck.

Not to mention the almost-random error message (I say "almost" because it comes up 100% of the time if you're a hopeful soul attempting a bulk delete despite all past history) that kicks you back to the front page instead of the one you had come from.

As the night drug on,  the annoyances became so commonplace as to become mere irritations.  But at the back of my mind I kept thinking about everything I was missing out on, for the sake of getting the damn thing to work properly.

It's times like these that really have me reconsidering the notion that Second Life is something I do for fun.