Sunday, July 8, 2012

of all these pieces of broken dreams, this one that scares and confuses me

Continuing on from the last mention of the state of the Marketplace JIRA, comes this (which is very relevant to me) from Angus Mesmer:
A comment from the other end here... I have been trying to use the Marketplace to find items. Using its already extremely limited search function. And the results are apallingly bad.
Searching for "sculpt", in Building Components, 96 items a page, sorted by Lower Price first, the first HALF of the page is made of broken results, images having nothing to do with the names. In that configuration, we're talking about more than 40 items.
Now, I've mentioned how borked search on the Marketplace is a few times; the most recent was back on my birthday, which is now nineteen days past. The time isn't important, because this has been an ongoing problem. What's happening is, but again--CommerceTeam's commerce team doesn't seem to care.

If you haven't seen this end of the catastrophe, it's pretty easy to reproduce, but even getting that to work is tricky:

  1. Pick a search term. (Literally. ANYTHING will work; you'll end up hitting this about 40% of the time with most search terms.)
  2. Put in your search term; hit search.
  3. When the results come in, set your Items per page to 96 and your sort to Price: Low to High.
  4. Count how many missing items you have.

Just to ensure that they haven't fixed this yet, I did a quick search for "tank" just to see what would turn up. I'm rated for G/M/A access; if you're not rated for all three, you might see something different when you click that link.

(from the bizarre album; screen cap on search from the Marketplace on July 6, 2012)

By my count, forty-one inaccessible items turned up. Including one of my personal favorites, the lower-right "shirt and gloves" listing featuring the very intense cleavage of the lady in the sombrero.

Similar images to that one were attached to the Marketplace JIRA on March 31st, by the way. So it's been at least that long since that particular listing was wrecked.

There's another down side to all of this. What if I decide I really like one of the photos attached to a corrupted entry? Like this one, f'rinstance:

(from the bizarre album; screen cap of one of the corrupted entries on the Marketplace on July 6, 2012)

So...what information can I go on? I certainly can't search for Phoney Malaprop; that won't lead to anything that actually features this listing. I can't search the business name, either, because that will also trace back to Phoney.

Clicking on the listing, of course, brings me directly to the main Marketplace page, so that's no help, obviously.

Searching stores and merchants under "fashion by Marlene", the name listed at the bottom of the picture, turns up nothing; and searches for "Dark Lady" under all products turns up way too many listings to go through.

Searching simply under "Marlene" for stores and makers, how'ver, turned up six names, and going through each of those led me finally to Marlene Gabe's store, which--over one hundred and fifty-six items in--led me to the listing in question.

So let's talk about that. I had a reason to run this down, because I wanted to prove how difficult it was to do so. I was willing to take the time to use various search terms, refine the search with new ideas, go back to the original image to look for additional clues, and check out blind names on the Marketplace. I'm fairly good with searching, so all of this took me maybe ten minutes, because I knew when to discard inaccurate entries and move on. Plus, I still type insanely fast, so that also shortens the time I spend searching.

But in a sense, this was a very targeted search. I knew the first name of the maker; the look of her vending pictures; a general concept of fonts she uses (which, as it proves out, is not used in all of her product pictures anyway); and a general style of items.

What if we have an image that doesn't have a product name on it? Or worse, doesn't have a maker name on it? What if we're not willing to search through over one hundred and fifty items just to get to things that might be what we're looking for? How many potential customers are not optimizing their searches by correct sorting and number of images? (My guess: a lot.)

Ultimately, how many customers have gotten so frustrated with trying to find the things they want, they give up? While that's not money that can be claimed as existing--because the purchases were never made--it is money lost, which tends to have the habit of making otherwise talented, interesting designers fold up and leave.

How many businesses have we lost in the TWO YEARS the problems with the Marketplace code has been escalating? Everyone's seen it, right? At this point, there's not a single week that goes by without six businesses closing down, and that's assuming the makers even bother to hold a closeout sale, or announce to their groups. Some of them just quietly close and leave SL--sometimes for good.

Yet again, we have Linden Lab playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun. How many times are they going to spin the cartridge and get shot?

And this is a brilliant, single-page, typographic analysis of why Marvel NOW! seems a hackneyed, outdated relaunch--I mean, extension of the line.

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