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08/09/2006

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Sardonic Undertone

I notice that some of the arguments put forth are conflating a couple of issues, like here:

"Clubside Granville: My problem is best illustrated through a simple example: a freebie shotgun, L$0, taken and resold to the uneducated user for L$600 by the likes of Jamie Bergman"

This is an awful illustration. If someone's taking the stance that freebie selling is wrong in principle because it's going against the creator's wishes the price shouldn't matter at all.

The problem with Clubside's example is that there's also the implication of fraudulent misrepresentation going on (I don't know that there was by Bergman, but it reads like it from Clubside's statement). Now *that* is a real issue, but whether the item was a freebie or not is irrelevant. It would be just as bad if I bought a L$200 gown, claimed I spent L$1000 for it and gave some "uneducated user" a great deal to take it off my hands for a mere L$800.

Any place with an unregulated marketplace is going to have a ton of unethical scamming going on...eBay and Craigslist are profoundly notorious for it. For a more RL example, think used car salesmen sans lemon law protections.

The problem's not that freebies are being sold--and hell, if there's legitimate value added (and sorting through freebie collections to weed out broken and fugly items qualifies) it's more than fine--the problem is that the massive amount of freebies with full perms gives actual scammers bottomless inventories to work from at no cost.

SL doesn't need more DRM-like controls for creators; if anything, it needs better resources for consumers. User ratings and review systems like at Slexchange are just about the closest thing there is, but they're far too easy to game.

Prokofy Neva

Sardonic, I stand by Jamie Bergman's right to sell a freebie gun for as much as she can get for it -- $1 or $600. Good for her. She's not a scammer, and the screamers on the forums need to direct their fire at makers of guns who refuse to either sell them normally, or put "no transfer" on. They can't be spread virally and then back up and say, wait a minute, we're not going to let those who help brand us and spread our wares.

She has not scammed anybody, she has put something out in the marketplace, on land that she has to pay tier for, and made it available through her marketing "just in time" to someone who values it.

A free market is where a willing buyer meets a willing seller over a price.

Any creator feeling huffy and ripped off needs to put prices on things, or really give them away, or put no transer, not moralize, posture and bully.

Worried about newbies feeling they've been ripped off by paying $600 for something they could have gotten in some FIC loss leader's store? Then do some consumer education, put out notecards, tell people you meet who are new, that they need to shop around more.

Obviously, the close, hothouse, closeted world of the FIC, where some stores aren't even *known* about as I've just reported, is not one where these newbies pouring in are going to know that a store or place exists where this is free. How could they? Everyone can get all indignant and righteous about this, but it's stupid. Nobody can find out, and they find out there are such guns by seeing them displayed in stores that value them more than their creators. Great! Be happy!

So they VALUE a gun, they pay for it. As its maker should have VALUED it.

This isn't like selling a used car as a lemon. A Frans Charming freebie or whatever it is, isn't a lemon. It's just free because its maker had some hang-up about putting a price on it, and imagined himself saving mankind with his freebies. He was all generous and utopian and imagine himself in a tekkie wiki forever, with other tekkie wikis. Those days are gone. The new people don't belong to the culture of freebie making and giving. They sell stuff. God bless 'em. They are the hope of SL for the future.

If he really wanted to help a newbie, he'd let them sell it. If it was a gift, it was a free, then he needs to get his paws off it once it sells.

Upset that this could happen? Turn off transfer. We've been over this.

But moralizing about it is pouring from the empty into the void. There's no information channel on which you can moralize effectively -- .007 percent of the registered population read forums. What, Lindens are supposed to fly around clucking like chickens over "stolen freebies" (they aren't stolen if given freely). Lindens won't do this any more, no.

You folks who are so hell-bent on moralizing about what freebies should do or not do and newbies with them need to get off your high horse and either put prices on stuff, even lower than usual, or no transfer. I do hope the Lindens won't be messing with this any time soon under your pressure and hysteria, because it harms creativity, newbies economies and the free market.

Nyx asks whether there is supposed to be "newbies exploiting forever on the backs of oldbies."

Oh, is that how you see it if something sold is inevitably sold because IT IS VALUED MORE THAN YOU VALUE IT? THEN TAKE OFF TRANSFER. Don't like people on your backs? Then don't give it away. This is the reality.

That's what it comes down to. Oldbies were cavalier about valuing their work, sandboxing around, and also cynical or ideological about capitalism and business. They didn't want to bother.

Now other people coming along are bothering. So let them.

What I find competely incredible about your post, Sardonic, is that on the one hand, you can say that people moralizing about $10 or $1000 are wrong, because the price isn't the issue, but at the end, you can that if a freebie-seller "adds value" (one of the Lindens' beloved concepts) then it's "ok".

That act of creation always sanitizes and cleanses, eh? In the world of the creator fascist. Except...who is determining what the value is?

A recoloured couch isn't good enough. Nothing short of an entirely rescripted and reconstructed kickass "mash-up" will do.

"-the problem is that the massive amount of freebies with full perms gives actual scammers bottomless inventories to work from at no cost."

Why are they scammers? If they added value FOR YOU they wouldn't be. They add value FOR THE BUYERS and all of a sudden, you don't find it of value? Well, too bad!

Let them go on selling this junk til the cows home. Let there be less freebies, and more good work to drive o ut the bad. it's the only way.

I agree that creating more controls for creators isn't the answer -- transfer will be "scammed" with side payments -- but I don't get why the consumer's right to rate anything is related to the issue of selling freebies at all.

Sardonic Undertone

Like I said, I don't know that there *was* misrepresentation by Bergman. If she just put the gun in a box with a picture and a price tag there wouldn't have been.

That said, I have encountered people selling freebie weapons (among other things) who I do feel fine labelling scammers. They pitch a freebie rocket launcher for say, $L800, explicitly saying that it normallly sells for twice that, along with making other outlandish claims.

Most of the freebie weapons are *crap*. They're not loss leaders, they're somebody's first try. Some still floating around were made long ago and are broken due to SL updates so now just give a broken script warning when you try to fire them off. Their fair market value would be more than zero, but they're not worth what these scammers are misrepresenting them as either.

"What I find competely incredible about your post, Sardonic, is that on the one hand, you can say that people moralizing about $10 or $1000 are wrong, because the price isn't the issue, but at the end, you can that if a freebie-seller "adds value" (one of the Lindens' beloved concepts) then it's "ok"."

My point was that as long as the seller isn't making false claims then it's okay. I'm basically indifferent to it--as I wrote, I don't see it as a problem. Value added, I wrote, is even *better* than okay, and I specifically didn't limit that to any kind of creative mash-up...just testing a gun out to make sure it works counts. Sell an untried freebie for L$50, I don't care...but if you test it out and sell it for L$100 if it works and delete it from your inventory if it doesn't (or sell it for L$10 as a display piece or something) then I think you're onto something really good.

If I walk into a RL store I don't ask what the wholesale price was of the mattress I'm looking to buy. I try it out and see if I like it. When the salesman walks over I expect him to upsell it, so I take whatever he says with a grain of salt. No problem there. If he claims it's actually made by the Sealy Posturepedic company under a different label and is 100% identical to it--and it's not--then there's a problem. In RL, while there is the principle of caveat emptor, false advertising *is* in fact a crime in the US.

IRL, the fact that there aren't a ton of freebies that stores can stock up on and resell is a positive thing. The fact that they have to invest their limited capital wisely to pick and choose their merchandise from manufacturers is a very good thing--they generally don't want to have defective crap on their hands any more than I do, so it adds an extra layer of assurance.

SL could use more of this...there's some--like Aubretec (a weapons store) has a reseller partner thing where you can get his vendor machine for free and get a 10% commission on what you sell. Even better, Timeless Prototype sells his multigadgets in bulk quantities at substantially reduced prices and then they're yours to resell for whatever you think you can get. If this were more widely done it would be a win for creators who hate marketing and just want to live in a sandbox, a win for resellers who just want to run a good business and a win for consumers who just want to buy crap that works.

"I don't get why the consumer's right to rate anything is related to the issue of selling freebies at all"

It's not. Rating systems in particular are just a cheap, gimmicky crowdsourcing (yay buzzword) fix to the problem of quality assurance, but one that has huge flaws.

My main point is that the issues of scammers and freebie resellers ARE separate, though not entirely unrelated: not all freebie sellers are scammers, but many scammers are selling freebies. The perception that they're always one and the same is muddying the arguments.

Prokofy Neva

I still don't get how you expect any change of tools or permissions to matter. People make shoddy crap in SL. A robust consumer rights movement should get going, to educate and even boycott. I've done a bit of this and have a group, Consumer Advocacy, but it's inactive as it's WORK.

"f this were more widely done it would be a win for creators who hate marketing and just want to live in a sandbox, a win for resellers who just want to run a good business and a win for consumers who just want to buy crap that works."

Yes, Timeless and Bill Stirling and others have simply matured to figure out that you get distributors to market for you and they get a percentage. Very simply achieved in SL. Hard to go wrong, sales happen even in low-traffic venues and you don't have to be a creator. They get their item marketed and can stay in the sandbox. It's up to THEM to make these vendors and connections and sell their items that way tho, and not bang on end users with harsh permission.

All the vendor with commissions is, is a mechanical way for them to do what I was saying could be done manually with handshake reseller's licenses (which might have to still rely on manual relationships and settings at first for trust). But if instead of setting out free poseballs and screaming at those who resell them, sellers put out vendors where you could sell with commissions or not sell them at all then that would really change the picture. But it's up to them to do that, and not bang on Lindens and buyers.

Sardonic Undertone

"I still don't get how you expect any change of tools or permissions to matter."

I don't know that I do. I'd like to see resources for consumers made available, but I don't mean tools in the technical sense.

Maybe the best thing would be if some entrepreneurial spirit took the initiative to market an independent Consumer Reports style information service with unbiased buying guides and reviews.

Juno888

It may buying guides could by comsumer as long as they have.,

Steven Wilberg

I play in the teen grid of SL, and have had many people come to me on the topic of selling freebies, which I do at my store. If they don't want it resold, then set it to no transfer!!!! There is nothing about selling freebies in the TOS, and it is not TECHNICALLY illegal, altho it MAY be unethical. But what the heck, its a virture world, w/ virtual money. So don't worry about it.

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