Flickr Furor

FlickrCameraIt seems that Flickr is once again embroiled in a kerfuffle with SL users.

Many SL bloggers and stores use Flickr to post their photos and promote photos.  The TOS of Flickr states (and has for a while) that only Pro users (paid users) are allowed to promote ‘commercial activity.’  (See here for Flickr’s policy.)

The kerfuffle seems to have occurred because Flickr has started to enforce its policy.  Flickr has been suspending the accounts of SL’ers who have posted Marketplace and store links.  There has been some confusion about what is allowed and what isn’t, and, of course, as with any change, people are frustrated and upset.  There’s a good post over at New World Notes about the issue.

Flickr has been struggling to attract more Pro users and many see this as a way to force people to go Pro.  This issue doesn’t really affect me, so I am perhaps less invested in it.

I think Flickr is a terrific platform and I use it almost daily.  However, when they announced last year that free accounts would now be limited in the amount of photos they could post, I had to decide whether I wanted to go Pro or remove many of my photos so I was under the required limit.

I decided to remain with a free account and I deleted a bunch of photos from Flickr.  I keep my own copies of every photo I post, so I didn’t lose anything by deleting them from Flickr.  I doubt that is true for everyone.

For the last year or so, I generally only blog about destinations, not products, so the restriction on links doesn’t apply to my photos.  (Linking SLURL’s, as long as they are not links to a store, are fine.)  And while the 1000 photo limit on a free account sounded like a huge cut when it was previously unlimited, I have plenty of slots left until I reach that limit.

For people who are creators and bloggers, that 1000 limit may be way too small.  I don’t post every day on Flickr, so it doesn’t bother me.  However, I also understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Flickr could have chosen to do away completely with their free account option.  It seems like most things these days are based on the subscription model anyway.

If they want to limit the free account, whether that limit is amount of photos, or limitations on commercial activity, it’s their prerogative.  The free accounts still incur a cost for Flickr – hosting the photos, maintaining the site, making improvements, etc.  None of the people who work for Flickr are doing it for free, and they shouldn’t be expected to.

So for me, I will continue on with my free account, and respect the Flickr TOS.  If at some point, how I use the service changes, I will have to decide whether I want to pay to go Pro or find another free service.  And really, for what you get, $5 a month for a Pro account doesn’t seem that onerous.

Paying Invisible Avatars?

Okay, this is a new one for me.  On my Reader feed, I saw a post about someone getting scammed at a store.  When they paid for a product, it brought up a name they didn’t recognize.  After waiting a few moments, they realized the product had not been delivered.

They went to the redelivery kiosk and tried to have the item redelivered.  The item did not show as a purchase.  So now the person is trying to figure out what happened, where her L$ went, and where the item was.

I thought nothing of it, and went about my day.  Later, I was looking through Flickr and noticed a post with this same name mentioned.  The post stated that somehow, someone was able to rez an invisible prim in front of a store vendor, and then people would mistakenly pay the scammer rather than the actual vendor.

I wondered how that was possible, since I would assume stores would only allow certain people to have rez rights to avoid this very situation.  Reading through the comments, it appears the guess is that the scammer made themselves invisible (by wearing alpha layers?) and then stood in front of the vendor and collected payments.

Criminals are creative, I’ll give them that.  This would never have occurred to me, but then, I’m not a criminal.  Also, how do the buyers not notice that they are paying an avatar rather than a vendor?  I can’t remember for sure, but wouldn’t the pie menu have some different options when you click on an avatar (like add friend or something) than a vendor?  Are people just so busy spending L$ they don’t notice?

If you have names turned on, wouldn’t you see the name of the invisible avatar, even though they’re invisible?  Maybe that’s different depending on your viewer.

As thieves get more creative, I guess we all need to start paying more attention to the details.  Know what you’re buying and who you are paying before hitting that pay/buy button.

Different Strokes

Busy Bee
Me this week!
Image Source: http://www.clipartpanda.com

One of the things I love is going to different places in SL, exploring and taking photos of all the amazing sims I find.  I follow blogs of fellow explorers and and lots of people on Flickr so I can find cool places to photograph.

It’s always interesting to me when I see how differently each photographer experiences the same place.  As new sims pop up, people will go explore and photograph, and their photographs will inspire me to go to the same place and explore.

Sometimes, though, even though I find other people’s photos beautiful and amazing, when I visit the same sim, I’m hard pressed to find anything I want to photograph myself.

Nothing wrong with that, of course – different strokes for different folks and all that.  But it is often frustrating, because I have limited time to explore these days, so visiting some place without taking any photos is an aggravation I don’t need.

For instance, yesterday I had some free time to explore, so I did.  I visited probably 12 different sims.  Of those 12, 5 were a bust – I could tell immediately upon landing they just weren’t for me.  Again – this is not to say that there was anything wrong with these sims, just that they weren’t something I was interested in photographing.

Of the 7 left, I wandered around 2 of them, hunting for something to shoot.  Nothing caught my eye, so I left without taking any photos.  So, down to 5.  I took a few photos at 2 of them, but once I had time to sit down and look at the photos, I didn’t really like any of them.

That left 3 sims that I actually took photos of.  The first sim I visited was amazing and I took a load of photographs.  Maybe that’s why some of the next ones were disappointing.  However, I persevered and ended up with some good shots I will be sharing here and on Flickr.

If you’ve visited any fabulous sims lately, please share!

Increased Marketplace Fees

Image Source: marketplace.secondlife.com

At the beginning of every month, I print out a report from my small Marketplace store.  I have small items for sale – rugs, particles I’ve made for a routine, etc.  Most of the items I have run between $5L-$15L.  I’m not looking to make a living, just make back a few $L here and there to help defray some of the costs of SL.

A few months ago, LL announced that they would be raising the fees charged by Marketplace.  The commission they charge was raised from 5% to 10%.  At the time, there was some outcry by creators, because of course this will affect their bottom lines  – which for some is already pretty marginal.

I just shrugged my shoulders, because what can you do?  If I want to sell on the Marketplace, I have to abide by their rules.  If I don’t like them, I don’t have to use the Marketplace.  I could sell in-world only, or just not sell at all.  Since my MP income is just extra for me (and pretty small), I decided to just wait and see.

Honestly, I’d forgotten all about it until I logged in to download my sales reports.  I noticed as I was working that my $5L items had a $1L commission – which is unusual, because for the last however many years, if I sold a $5L item, I got the whole $5L.  The commission was rounded down, I think, so I only had commission taken out if the item was $10L or more.

This month, however (well, December), pretty much every item I sold had commission taken out.  Which, again, I understand – their MP, their rules.  However, it made a pretty significant difference in my own income, which I hadn’t expected.

For most of 2019, my store averaged $850L in sales income.  The commission fees for most months averaged $50L.  For December, my sales income was only $642L, which is a low month.  Lower than usual, but not alarmingly so.  However, when I looked at the commissions, there was a significant difference.  The commission fees I paid in December were $103L.  On the surface, that tracks.  If I normally pay around $50L in fees, $100L in fees with the doubling of the commission fee accounts for that.

The kicker is that I actually made less in sales than I usually do – so if I had made my average $850L in sales income, my commission fees would have been even more than the $100L.  Which means that while LL may have only doubled the commission fee from 5% to 10%, in effect they will likely collect more than that.

I still plan to sell on MP, and I don’t plan to change my current prices.  However, I will be keeping a closer eye on the fees in the coming months.  I don’t pay for any extra advertising on MP, so my only fees are the commissions.

As I said, I don’t plan to make changes, but for large stores and/or people who make their living from SL, this seemingly small change may have a ripple effect as people discover exactly what impact it has on their income.  Some creators have already stated that they will raise MP prices, close their MP store, or leave SL altogether.  2020 may be interesting. 😛

Flickr in Trouble?

FlickrCameraI was browsing through the blogs I follow and saw a post about trouble in Flickr land.  So I hopped on over to Flickr to find out what’s going on.

I have a love/hate relationship with Flickr.  I’ve always hated Yahoo, and when they owned Flickr, I was very hesitant to sign up, especially since they required a phone number.  I finally bit the bullet and signed up.

Then a year or so ago, SmugMug bought Flickr.  Yay! Because then I wouldn’t have to deal with Yahoo.  Or so I thought.  I missed the window to migrate off of my Yahoo account and I still haven’t gotten around to changing it.

Now, it appears that the old saying is true – There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

I wish my kids understood this.  They are GenZ’ers – or the iGen as they are sometimes called.  They think there’s an app for everything – a FREE app.  And if there isn’t, there should be.  I’ve explained about the costs of running a business and the perils of handing over your personal data just to get a free app, but most of the time it falls on deaf ears.

Anyway, it appears SmugMug has discovered that, while people love Flickr, lots of people don’t want to pay for it.  Which, understandably, makes it difficult to keep Flickr afloat.  When SmugMug initially bought Flickr, they made some changes, which included that free account holders would be limited in the number of photos they could upload.

Fine with me – I just deleted a bunch of old photos to put myself under the limit.  I keep all my photos saved on my own external hard drive anyway, so it wasn’t like I was losing anything.  Since I’ve not been in-world as much, I haven’t had as many photos to upload anyway.

I do understand SmugMug’s dilemma.  They want to keep Flickr going, but it takes time and effort and money to do that.  I’m just not sure I use Flickr enough to justify paying for the service.  I am naturally resistant to subscription services – I don’t use Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Adobe CC, or anything like that.  If I want something, I want to purchase it, own it, hold it in my hot little hands.  Which is why I’m still using my Photoshop CS6 – the last version you could purchase.

It remains to be seen whether Flickr manages to convince enough people to purchase Pro subscriptions to keep it afloat.

Furillen

Furillen is a sim I’ve visited before, but it is constantly being reinvented.  One constant, however, is that it’s always an amazing place to take photographs, and this iteration is no exception.

It is a wintery, bleak landscape, but it is easy to lose yourself in the grandeur of the scenery.  These trees seem to touch the sky as you stand underneath.

There are a lot of places to sit and reflect in Furillen, including this eclectic collection of chairs near the edge of the water.  I can almost smell the salt on the air and feel the spray on my face.

This seemingly abandoned caravan looks so lonely underneath the bare branches of the tree, yet somehow also welcoming.

I’m always fascinated by which pieces of ‘real life’ make it into sim design.  These utility poles are a great example of things that add realism to the sim – things we see every day, but don’t even think about anymore.

Judging by the multitude of pics I’ve seen on Flickr, many other SL’ers find Furillen as fascinating as I did.

When taking photos, I often spend quite a bit of time playing around with windlights.  Not so here.  The region windlight seemed perfect for the sim, and I couldn’t find anything I thought looked better.

So if you’re ready to spend a bit of time wandering in the cold and snow, make sure to add Furillen to your travel list.

 

The Last Dove

After seeing lots of pictures of this sim on Flickr, I added the Last Dove to my list of sims to visit.  As a resident of a very rural town, and a very rural state, in many ways, this sim feels like home.

You can almost smell the wood smoke and feel the dust coating your face as you travel across the bridge into the town proper.  I love how the building on the left has a large board propping up the signage/facade of the building – like you’re walking onto the set of an old spaghetti western.

I think this house/shack is one I pass on my way to work every day – including the chickens in the road I have to dodge.  -.-

We don’t have longhorns where I live, but we do have plenty of cows and bulls.  A long ago piece of advice I received:  If you find yourself in a field with a cow or a bull, and you don’t know the difference – run.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but thankfully I’ve never had to worry about it.

There’s a lot to see at the Last Dove, so hit that tp button and go see for yourself.