Inventory Loss

In Second Life users have an inventory in which they can keep the items they acquire. Inventory items regularly go missing1 2 3 4.

One day an item would be there and the next it would be gone. Whole folders would disappear and never return. Many members of the community contacted Linden Lab about it repeatedly. Well those of us who had premium accounts did. Users with free accounts had no access to Linden Lab at all. But even those of us with premium accounts had no success. Linden Lab’s support was notoriously bad. It did improve slightly once they hired Rod Humble as their new CEO in 2011, but that was after both the communities I was studying had died5. At the time my study communities were alive Linden Lab’s provision of support was a standing joke. I submitted many support requests about missing inventory. I had paid real, actual money for most of the items in my inventory and presumed Linden Lab would take this problem seriously. After all the continuing success of the merchants was vital to Second Life’s success. Prior to the launch of web based digital goods marketplaces for Second Life like OnRez6, SL Exchange, and Xstreet7 merchants had to have shops in the world if they wanted to sell items. Moreover Linden Lab provided absolutely no content beyond the avatars and their default sets of attire, so they relied entirely on resident merchants to supply goods. But I was wrong. Linden Lab appeared not to care. I got no replies to my support requests. I lost a great deal of data because of this problem and was never able to recover it.

If one was ever lucky enough to get a response to one’s support request Linden Labs might suggest that one make a report to the bug tracking system, a particularity troublesome deployment of Atlassian’s8 JIRA software. Such a suggestion sent a shudder though the hearts of any resident as this system was fantastically complex, inscrutable and intolerant of inexactness. The JIRA system originally included a voting system which allowed users to vote on which bugs should be fixed first. Linden Lab were either never paying any attention to this system, or they were ignoring the input of residents, as many of the bugs with the highest votes were never fixed at all. Linden Lab eventually admitted this and removed the voting feature altogether9. This caused a great deal of unhappiness and a barrage of complaints from residents10 11. Linden Lab subsequently made a number of changes to the bug reporting process and the configuration of the JIRA resulting in a system that was much easier to use to submit bugs, but which lacked much of the important functionality of the original system12.

Residents railed against Linden Lab13. For example, In the original implementation it had been possible to search all previously submitted bugs to see if one’s problem had already been reported and then to add one’s own input to that bug. This functionality was removed in the later system. In the new system once a bug was reported it couldn’t be edited to add new information, even by its submitter. Moreover the new system only allowed one to report new bugs, but had no functionality to allow one to see any previous bugs at all, and thus know if the bug had already been reported, a situation which had some residents prophesying the end of Second Life14. This situation was later changed to allow residents to see others’ bugs, but still not be able to add information to them15.

This was my second disappointing interaction with Linden Lab. My perfect bubble of being enchanted by Second Life had been popped… again. I had been slightly disappointed by a misrepresentation on Linden Lab’s part regarding the benefits of a Premium account, which I discuss later. But I had gotten over that. I had settled into a community and gotten on with my Second Life. But now they had pricked the bubble again and resentment had started to simmer. We who had wanted a perfect frontier, a tabula rasa, totally free reign to be and do as we like, had now discovered that we wanted fast tech support on our frontier, and we weren’t getting it. So we looked for other solutions.

We found Second Inventory. Linden Lab offered no facility to make an offline backup of one’s online inventory. Its reason was that this would break the permissions system. If one had purchased an item from a merchant who had set the permissions to ‘no copy’ then how could one make a backup copy? Second Inventory, later renamed to Stored Inventory as a result of Linden Lab’s bizarre crackdown on the use of any of their trademarks in products associated with Second Life, is a third party application which is still marketed by Medialeader S.r.I, an Italian firm, but not supported. In fact the product no longer works, and posts to their support forums remain unanswered. Most of the traffic on the forums now is from users warning others not to purchase the product due to its non functional nature. However in 2009 when I purchased the software it did work. This product allowed one to make a local backup of the items in one’s inventory. Initially it allowed a full backup of the inventory to one’s local computer. But soon Second Life merchants were complaining that Second Inventory was a breach of the permissions system and the product was modified so that one could only backup items for which one had full permissions. The most annoying facet of this change was that the first time one effected a backup with this new, crippled version it deleted all items one had previously backed up that did not have full permissions. This included items one had built one’s self and that were not set to full permissions, which happened rather a lot as the default set of permissions was the most restrictive set of no modify, no copy, no transfer.

  1. Second Life Wiki, Inventory Loss,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  2. Linden, H., (2007), Inventory Loss Reduction Initiative,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  3. Second Life JIRA (SVC-114), Meta-Issue: Inventory Loss: issues, fixes, development,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  4. Nino, T., (2008), Second Life grid closed due to asset problems,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  5. Nino, T., (2010), Rod Humble becomes new CEO of Linden Lab in 2011,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  6. Marshall, S., (NDP), – Spend Your Linden Dollars Here,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  7. Xstreet was acquired by Linden Lab and became the current Second Life Marketplace ↩︎
  8. Atlassian Software, Software Development and Collaboration Tools,, Accessed 10/02/2014. ↩︎
  9. Linden, A., (2011), Improving our Lines of Communication with the Community,, Accessed 31/01/2014. ↩︎
  10. Second Thoughts, The Last Vestiges of Democracy are Deprecated from Second Life,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  11. Second Life Forum, (2011), The Lindens Are Removing Voting from the JIRA,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  12. Linden, A., (2011), Improving our Lines of Communication with the Community,, Accessed 31/01/2014. ↩︎
  13. Souther, T., (2012), LL shoots itself in the ass again: public JIRA is closed,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  14. Gothly, D., (2012), Today Marks The End of Second Life,, Accessed 08/02/2014. ↩︎
  15. Linden Lab, (2012), JIRA Update: Changes to The Bug Reporting Process,, Accessed 02/04/2014. ↩︎

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