second life mp

Second Life Marketplace Search Tricks, Pt. I

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While Ever the Avie toils at the Learning Island portal, I thought I’d hop right in with some tips I’ve picked up over the years through my own trial-and-error and a considerable amount of Googling my way through SL forums and blogs. I love knowing how to Do Stuff Better, and with a venue as massive in scope as Second Life, there’s always a lot to learn and discover. While first and foremost on a new member’s to-do list should be learning to use their SL viewer of choice and the in-world controls, I’d say that mastering the Second Life Marketplace would be a helpful next step. With only a dozen or so default avatars to choose from when one starts a brand new account, it’s all too easy to run into someone (or several someones) struttin’ around with your exact likeness. What’s the fun in that?

Kat wrote an interesting post the other day about her experience with helping a friend start a new Second Life account, and remarked about how frustrating the endeavor can be. She asked if anyone knew of some Second Life Marketplace search tips that could help her narrow down inexpensive options to help outfit a new account, and the question was right up my alley. Ever since I discovered the MP, I’ve been looking for ways to hack the search results to be more specific and targeted, and while its interface and capabilities leave a lot to be desired, there are a few ways to make Marketplace searches more fruitful:

NOT / AND Search Parameters

One of the biggest frustrations in searching for Second Life Marketplace freebies and cheapies is that you’ll virtually always end up with search results peppered with demos. And this is understandable, since the majority of SL merchants offer demo versions of their products free of charge (asking even L$1 for a demo grinds my gears, but that’s a topic for another day!) Still, it’s commonplace for sellers to occasionally offer gifts, brand promos, and incentives on the MP for little-to-no cost, so what’s the best way to find these gems and keep the demo listings from cluttering your results?

Use “NOT demo” in your searches! Here’s an example: let’s say you’re looking for completely free, non-demo hairstyles. You would visit and do the following:

1. Type hair NOT demo into the search box. The word “NOT” needs to be capitalized for the search limiter to work properly. Then click Search.

2. Because “hair” is a pretty broad search term, we want to narrow down the field a bit. The MP categorizes hair under Avatar Accessories / Hair so that’s the category we want to refine our search to.

3. Now we’re seeing lots of non-demo hair, but the prices are all over the place. So to only view truly free hairstyles, enter two zeros into the empty boxes under Price in the left column, and click Refine Search.

4. From 98,000+ results to just over 300, hell yeah! If all went properly, here’s what the end result will look like. I’ve gone the extra step to set the Items Per Page count to 96 (the highest value), and the Sort By field to Best Selling. Other good options are Age: Newest and Rating: High to Low.

Second Life Marketplace Search
Second Life Marketplace Search. (Please click for a full-size image.)

If you’re willing to spend a certain number of Lindens on the items you’re searching, you can always expand the Price limiter by typing different values in the boxes, or by using one of the preset ranges like L$0 – L$10. However I do want to point out that unfortunately you cannot run a “NOT demo” search without an initial keyword. Meaning, it’s presently not possible to navigate to the Hair section and just search “NOT demo” and find all of the non-demo hairs; the Marketplace will instead return “No matching items found”. A bummer, I know! I’ve tried different wildcards in the search string, but thus far I’ve only found that the MP will recognize limited boolean operators. (Kindly excuse the geek-speak.) If anyone has been able to get a wildcard-based search to work, I would love to know about it!

One more thing to note: some savvy (read: shady) Marketplace merchants have figured a way around the “NOT demo” search parameter by putting varietals like D*E*M*O in their listing titles. It’s obnoxious, but thankfully somewhat rare. Until/if Linden Labs lets us completely bypass listings marked as demos, it’s an annoyance we have to deal with. Just do those folks a favor and don’t buy their products. That will send the message loud and clear!

The “AND” expression is another way to curate specific results. Let’s say you’re looking for a pair of jeans, but you only want to see mesh options – no system layers, no appliers. You can search for “jeans AND mesh” and the Marketplace will narrow the search to only show you listings with both of those words in the title. You can combine this trick with quotes as well; “leather pants” AND mesh will return only products with the phrase “leather pants” and the word “mesh” in the listings.

Sometimes you’ll get outliers in your search results with these tricks, and I believe it may have to do with the search function using the listing’s description in addition to the title to parse results. But ultimately you’ll still get more targeted results with NOT or AND than you would without them.

I hope this is helpful! I’ll post more fancy tricks soon; for now I’ve got a shopping cart full of freebies and a newbie in desperate need of a makeover. Stay tuned to see if I ever get off this dang island! :)