Just when I was about to post that in fact the abandoned land situation was improving and the Lindens were starting to get the slack picked up, along comes Tyche Shepherd with the facts.
I had Twittered to her some weeks ago a question about whether abandoned land was up or down -- it seemed to me to be improving because the abandoned land around my sims was either being offered to me to buy by Lindens, or I was seeing it go up on the auction. But I was fully aware that I was merely suffering the usual SL geek keyhole situation, imagining that what I saw on or near my sim was what was the case all over SL. I fly around to about 55 different sims where I have land or rent land in malls, so I get a good snapshot -- I try to keep land on every continent. But SL is so huge you cannot possibly fly all over it these days, and lots happens that you simply can't know or keep track of.
Tyche has scripts following this and has been tracking it for years. She replied that she thought it was steady, but would be updating soon.
Now today she writes that she has finally completed another mainland Census and abandoned land is up by about 18% since September from a minumun of 6.8% to a maximum of 7.7% - more than she was expecting.
As for my impression that Lindens are selling off smaller parcels to those who ask for them and getting more on the auction, she says, "LL are certainly clearing the backlog but there is still more being added. Also Linden Home uptake seems to have finally peaked," she says. Good news for mainland landlords!
The full details are on SLU here.
Guy Linden, of course one of the unsung heroes of the Noosphere, works hard clearing tickets and getting backlog, and it's not easy, because even with access to account information, a Linden can't always tell what's up. There are still such a percentage of billing problems and unanswered tickets that land can appear abandoned or unpaid when in fact there is a willing customer with a viable payment form who is having problems. But those aren't a big percentage of cases, I bet, and most are just outright abandoned.
I have to marvel at people who abandon land on a sim and don't even IM their neighbours to see if they want it and would pay at least a dollar or two per meter. But maybe they're in a hurry.
The land business, despite the Atlas program, still seems to be suffering. I see a lot of yellow on the islands. And that's because sign-ups are still flat. Here's a funny parody that even mentions me -- like I'm a sock-puppet of Lindens?!
The backlash to Jack and the happiness at his departure is still sour grapes over the open spaces debacle. I happened to take the Lindens' side on that, not being a sock puppet but simply a sharp observer of what was happening. As I've noted before, various unscrupulous landlords grabbed dozens -- hundreds -- of these low-priced products not meant for heavy use, and put 16 rentals a piece on them, or flipped them with estate perms to single renters -- and left those estate owners then with privileges to call Concierge -- dumping their customer service on the Lindens as well. Then the things began groaning with all the sex beds, poses, boats, pets, etc. and the tenants began screaming. The Lindens got tired of it all -- losing the money that they could be getting directly. For example, that "Mood" who is featured in the post below charges $139 a month for her opensims, which is $14 profit per sim (or even more if she happens to have a $95 tier grandfathered sim) for basically doing nothing but flipping it. I'm all for people making a buck any way they can in SL, but I can also understand when the Lindens say to themselves, hey, how come all these flippers are making a buck and we aren't?
I've pondered the whole abandoned land thing, and I can't really think of a good answer. I've thought of having the Lindens open it up for "homesteading" in the sense that anyone who puts in a ticket proposing a good use for it, or any use, gets it free. Or perhaps this Linden Endowment of the Arts, which unfortunately is still in existence, could perhaps open this up for artists. But of course, that could lead to ugly junk being parked next to you on your sim.
The simplest thing for the Lindens to do would be to open up a ticket category called "reclaim abandoned land" and simply sell it for $1 to whomever wants it. That way people on the sim could claim it. They could even set it up so people on a sim could get first dibs. But this is work, coding, change -- they won't be doing this.
In a sense, it works that way already, but not for larger lots. They may have an informal limit of 1024 or 512 or something, not sure. I've gotten some parcels of 1024 sold to me after I submitted a ticket. But I saw 2048 and higher go on the auction.
But...18 percent more abandoned! That's awful.
One thing Jack used to talk about was installing a resident-to-resident auction on the website to make it easier to find land and sell to other residents.
The land-for-sale list inworld is impossible to use. It is set up to freeze if you refresh it too many times to stop bots -- but all it does it stop shopping humans. It's actually easier to fly around with the "land for sale" box on the map menu ticked off to see the brown coloured land inworld or yellow on the map and thus see your environs -- you might see a bargain on the auction, but you have to TP in world and really look over the 4 sims around you to see if there are eyesores or lag bombs.
There are some bargains on the auctions, but you can see some don't even have bids. You can also be surprised by snipers on the auction who are sometimes merely land dealers trying to drive up the prices especially if they see you want land on your own sim -- they will make you buy it from them. Such is the market. Of course, it's not like a real free market, this entirely artificial concoction, because there are no names shown for who bids and who wins -- as there used to be. Transparency on the auction would help fix that problem of certain unscrupulous types repeatedly coming on and launching high bids on bunches of parcels to drive up the price, but then not buying on them, knowing that some desperate soul will pay more to buy on his sim or buy the view on the next sim.
Still and all, part of preserving the geographic metaphor that I think SL needs to keep, and Dusan Writer agrees in his latest post, is having land for sale visibly in world, openly, like this. Once the Lindens put it all in the viewer -- and take a commission on the sales as they do for the SL Marketplace content -- we have lost yet another free portion of the virtual goods market to them.
BTW, this global virtual goods market is estimated at $7.3 billion dollars -- enough to give a dollar to everyone on the planet. However, TechCrunch didn't see fit to mention Second Life, which is real money for real people, unlike the rest of them, which, if it isn't game gold from illegal gold-farming, is money only for the platform owners, and a sink for the rest of us having to buy the Farmville or Cityville stuff.
I have 34 invitations to do stuff in Cityville now, including from Robin Harper who is now part of PlayDom which runs it (along with Raph Koster). I went on for about five mintues, and backed out. My chickens are enough for me. I felt bad for all my friends, including some people I would never have thought would be on one of these dumb games, desperately sending me messages to give them ribbons and energy and work in their police department or emergency crew. I just can't add another time suck now but I look forward to adding it at some point to study it, to see if it is any better than the others. It didn't look to be -- same coercive structure to gull your friends into playing and helping you out, the same mindless clicking with really obvious instructions to do stuff, the same levels and acquisitions of this and that.
Write when you get work.