In your Second Life profile there's a tab called Picks. That's where you put in the places you like the most, or the people you like best, if you care to list any at all.
With a limited number of places for Picks, you could be pretty sure that when you browsed someone's profile you'd find a mix of interesting places. Sometimes places that were visually attractive, spectacular or intriguing, or sometimes just because they held emotional or sentimental value to a person.
Not for much longer, it seems. Those spots can now be monetized.
Used to be that Linden Lab's Second Life search system was ruled by traffic. Traffic was an arcane calculation that yielded a number based on what visitors to your site in Second Life did with their time when they weren't actually at your site.
Yes, it is a trifle difficult to explain. Nevertheless, getting people to stand around looking like a crowd, while an inefficient way of boosting your traffic (and thus your search rankings) was an effective one.
By setting up 'Camping Chairs' (though sometimes they were devices that made avatars dance or go through the motions of painting, cleaning windows or other, less wholesome family-friendly activities) people told lies about the true value of their site, and didn't really even cover the costs of network and electricity to the easily gulled who flocked in to make a pittance while doing - well, nothing.
In absolute terms, the camper lost money while apparently earning it and the site owner misrepresented their popularity as an engaging venue, and drew visitors and business because of it. Essentially it established a simple Plutocratic system - those with more money got more business than people with businesses of similar quality who had less money to spend on such gimcrackery.
With rankings-by-traffic rendered functionally useless as a measure of actual interestingness and popularity, Linden Lab sought to employ other methods. A Google search appliance tied into the database, and ranking methods other than traffic to provide ordering. One of the major ranking systems selected was determining popularity by what someone had in their Picks.
Dedric Mauriac has spotted a site in Second Life that now exploits the new ranking system (and there's apparently more than one) in order to game rankings in the new search system. Their solution? Pay people to put the location in their Picks. With the new web-accessible search system, it is relatively trivial to check people's profiles (with a simple script most any high-schooler could write) to see if your
greedy shills loyal consumers are really listing you. You then pay them some paltry pittance generous gratuity or other periodically for the listing.
It's so easy, a child could do it - Although, to be fair, the search algorithm seems to score a place down rather than up if it seems to be alone on someone's Picks. We think that's likely the Google appliance's internal algorithm for dealing with spam-blogs on the Web.
See it; understand it; exploit it for your own gain, and at the expense of others.
Is that just good business or is it a shame?