1,000-plus Second Lifers petition to keep exchanges alive

exchange petitionIn mid-June, Linden Lab announced that third-party exchanges must stop selling Linden dollars, which will effectively put all or most of these exchanges out of business by August 1.

There is an English-language petition with around 300 signatures at SaveTheExchanges.com and a German-language petition at OpenPetition with more than 700 signatures.

There is a small chance that the petitions will have an effect. Back in 2013, when Linden Lab first said that it was shutting down all exchanges, the Lab reversed course after customer outcry.

Currently, these third-party currency exchanges are only allowed to resell Linden Dollars, not buy them back from users. As a result, they do not compete with the official Linden exchange, but instead serve as additional distribution channels for the Lindens, with no additional cost to Second Life.

The exchanges typically attract customers by offering local payment options to international customers, local language support, as well as tax and exchange rate benefits.

Here is a summary of the some the reasons why Second Life customers are upset about their decision.

Payment choices

“I have no other option than to buy Linden dollars on the Eldex and was shocked about what Linden Labs has done,” wrote Pfister Hammer Matthias from Vilshofen. “My preferred payment option is the Paysave card.”

“When Linden decided to cancel the Linden dollar reseller program the first time in 2013, I switched to another 3D world,” wrote Michael Körschgen from Mosbach. “After Linden restarted the reseller program, I went back to Second Life. Now, if they cancel again, I want to really quit and move from Second Life to this world.”

Some Second Life customers prefer to pay by direct bank transfer.

“I pay through my bank,” wrote Günther Kaffrell from Fürth. “Not with plastic.”

“Unfortunately, the majority of the world’s Internet-enabled population still has neither PayPal nor credit cards nor MoneyBookers,” wrote Beate König from Heiligenhaus. “This poses a huge hurdle for new and current Second Life users.”

“When Virwox no longer works, I rent no more sims,” wrote Ralf Attermeyet from Bielefeld.

Exchange rates

“Now I can’t exchange Swiss francs without always having to pay exchange fees for US dollars,” wrote an anonymous user from Freienbach. “Since everything is so expensive I can no longer hold my Sim and my business.”

“I pay with Euros and do not want to have to pay extra money to switch into dollars,” wrote Sabrina Kobert from Bremen.

Lack of trust in Linden Lab

“I don’t want to put payment info on file, there are too many griefer tools in Second Life,” wrote “Havoxx Resident” from Berlin. “If they stop the Reseller Program, I’ll stop buying Lindens.”

“I do not want to make available my account information to Linden Lab,” wrote an anonymous user from Freienbach. “Every day, Linden Lab makes it easier for its customers to abandon Second Life, either because of technical problems, or, as in this case, as a result of arbitrary decisions which obviously lack foresight.”

Better service from third-party exchanges

“I hope at heart that ELDEXchange does not have to close,” wrote “MC Kreindl” from Vienna. “It was a fast and reliable partner and I have recommended it.”

“I use ELDEX since my beginnings in 2008 in Second Life and have always been more than satisfied with the service,” said Jacky Ramirez from Naila. “Everything goes  smoothly and precisely… We know that our money is in safe hands.”

“This is faster for me and I don’t need to own a credit card or send money to my PayPal account,” wrote an anonymous user from Dillingen.

“I have always used Podex which has provided great service for years,” wrote an anonymous user from Dillingen. “I want it to stay.”

“It is easier and faster to buy L$ with VirWoX,” wrote an anonymous user from Mülheim an der Ruhr. “An immediate transfer is possible.”

“Using PayPal, it takes me two weeks to get money into Second Life,” wrote Ralf Secker from Heilbronn.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • Joe Nickence

    I signed the German petition, I think, not knowing there was an English petition. But the point remains that if Linden Lab continues on this course, they will be cutting off their nose to spite their face. The exchanges have become a symbiotic part of Second Life, and to exorcise them is to basically commit a slow suicide.

    • I agree with you.

      And there might be no connection at all, but with the recent news that Sansar will initially “start with Maya as the authoring tool” it seems that there’s an effort under way to … hmm… clean up the platform. Make it shiny and pretty.

      And shiny and pretty works when you’re designing a single piece of content. A game benefits from being pretty. So does a movie, or a website, or a magazine.

      But a platform benefits from being open, and being messy, and having all kinds of weird stuff, and being open to everyone — not just nice, talented, well-behaved people, but all the crazies, too.

      There’s a balance, of course. You don’t want to be ALL lousy content, or ALL griefers. But a balance of good stuff and bad stuff (especially since everyone has a different definition of “good” and “bad”) means that you have a living, breathing, evolving platform.

      To have a platform, you need variety. And you need low barriers to entry.

      I think most of the readers here at Hypergrid Business saw Second Life as a platform, as a starting point for the metaverse, and came over to OpenSim to chase that dream.

      Meanwhile, Second Life itself has been backing away from that early dream, towards becoming just another social video game. After all, with a million users, Second Life is a clear failure as a platform — but a pretty decent success as a video game.

      Second Life used to be a place for people who didn’t just want to play games, but who wanted to create games. Who didn’t just want to visit virtual places, but create environments.

      It was a constrained creativity, especially at first — there’s only so much you can do with prims — but it was creativity with a very low barrier to entry (other than the land prices and texture upload fees).

      I’m sure there will be lots of opportunities for high-quality social chat games, especially those with support for Oculus and other VR devices, and Sansar might do well with people looking for that kind of thing.

      But still. I’m disappointed in the direction Second Life is moving, and have been ever since they shut down their enterprise edition and canceled the education discount back in 2010. (Really, it’s been that long ago? Wow.)

      • Susannah Avonside

        Second Life was always going to be a failure in terms of being a platform, being as it is a ‘walled garden’ with significant barriers, and not just the financial ones. The sheer rip-off cost of virtual land in SL is a significant barrier to creativity, not only for the initial creation, but in terms of sustaining the presence of that creation. The lack of any backup service to preserve creations is another barrier, allowing such would at least provide an opportunity to display creative environments on an as and when basis, i.e. when the creator could afford it, or allow for further creativity on the same piece of exorbitantly expensive land. There are also the performance issues to contend with – has anyone else noticed that the most visually and creatively rich environments in SL are also the most laggy? And that’s not because you happen to be sharing it with hundreds, (well, okay, seeing as it’s SL, up to 40) of avatars, as many of the most spectacular regions are pretty much deserted, due to issues of lag. I worked out that for me to have the 30 regions I often have running on my home server in Second Life for a month would cost me more than my current fibre-optic connection would cost me for over thirteen years! And I still wouldn’t have the options that I do with hosting my own server – no backups of regions, inventory, and I’d have huge amounts of lag to contend with that I don’t have with my own server. Even visitors located in the Antipodes comment on the relatively lag free conditions on my regions hosted on my own regions server machine running on a domestic fibre-optic 80/20 mbps connection – and there is a lot of internet between there and where my regions are hosted.

        I think there is a need for a Second Life like virtual world, but I doubt that Second Life itself has much of a future. The many silly, seemingly self-defeating decisions made by LL, not least the abandonment of HG like teleports from SL to the Metaverse, (I don’t consider walled gardens to be part of a metaverse, precisely because they are closed) and now closure of Third Party resellers, which I have used, albeit prematurely when there was nothing worth spending virtual currency on in OpenSim. Now that there is a viable and seemingly workable economy growing in OpenSim, as witnessed by the Kitely Market, it seems that now the time is ripe for an exchange system based on the Linden Dollar, which for most people is something they understand, and it makes sense that virtual currencies are exchangeable and transferrable, like they were with the VirWox system, so maybe it’s just a case of LL having sour grapes, after all they have to think about maintaining their current customer base until Sansar is a viable platform, and are probably somewhat worried about a potential exodus to OpenSim, which is increasingly seen as a place to migrate to by those aware of it’s existence. For anyone truly creative it seems to me crazy to stay in Second Life with all the technical limitations and the hugs costs.

        • Da Hayward

          Well said I actually agree with your statement. I think also that sl as it is today is only being maintaned until Sansar is viable, then I believe there will be a “forced” migration on LL’s behalf from SL to Sansar, be it through shutting down services on sl or making it more difficult for creators.I can’t speak for others but i believe that people should be now looking for alternatives to SL, Open sim foe example.It really is time for people to “pull their heads out of the sand” and look around
          You have obviously put a lot of thought into this well done.

      • Joe Nickence

        I just came back to this thread to read updates.

        “…a platform benefits from being open, and being messy, and having all kinds of weird stuff, and being open to everyone — not just nice, talented, well-behaved people, but all the crazies, too.

        There’s a balance, of course. You don’t want to be ALL lousy content, or ALL griefers. But a balance of good stuff and bad stuff (especially since everyone has a different definition of “good” and “bad”) means that you have a living, breathing, evolving platform.”

        And THAT concept is called a cosmopolis. Another type of community. Linden Lab as a company will never embrace that concept. As individual Lindens, allowed to interact with the other users, community happens.

  • Shy Robbiani

    As a former user of third-party payment services for Secondlife I understand some of the arguments quite well. However, I stopped using them after I realized that they act as a man in the middle and charge too much for a service I actually don’t need. I didn’t sign the petition because from a users perspective I see no need:

    Payment choices: The arguments are weak. The major credit cards, Paypal and Skrill together offer enough options. Tell me what’s missing and why you need it.

    Exchange rates: Wrong! I’m from Switzerland myself and believe me, in general and if you do it right, it will be much cheaper than through the prominent third party service I used in the past.

    Better service: What kind of service? Personally, as lucky as I was, I never had any issues with SL billing so far. It’s true, it seems that third party payment services have a good reputation and in case help is needed they are much better reachable in local language at local times (incl. evening and weekends).

    Now, don’t take me wrong! I’m not against third-party payment services per se. The reason I’m against the petition is more the kind of “Stop begging – Act now!”. Stop doing business with Linden Lab if you don’t want to play their rules. There are enough alternatives, you don’t need them, they need you!

    • Shy —

      Actually, the reasons you offer are the same reasons that I think the exchanges *should* be allowed to continue.

      They ARE a middle-man. They stay in business by charging an additional fee over what the official Linden exchange charges, since they all have to get their Lindens there.

      Since customers aren’t idiots, those who can use the official exchange are already using the official exchange — like you said, it’s cheaper.

      Plus, its more convenient — it’s right there in the viewer. Second Life really pushes people to use the official exchange. So most users — like yourself — are better off using the Lindex.

      Those who are using the third party exchanges use them because they have to. The thousand people who signed the petitions signed them for a reason. If they thought the exchanges were ripping them off, they’d go right back to the Lindex.

      • Lizzy Gracemount

        I would never use a third party system to buy Lindens. You don’t know where that L is coming from or how they got the L you are buying. You could be buying illegal lindens and not even know it. I know people who have bought L from a third party exchange system and ended up banned from SL because of it. It’s not worth the risk. I buy direct from Linden Labs. But if you and others want to risk it, go for it…

  • gabegw11

    While I think 3rd party exchanges are awesome. “I have used them myself” I do believe Linden Lab is not doing this to screw their own customers but I do believe it is done to minimize risks. With the amount of Lindens circulating around and with them being able to be converted to USD etc I think it is pretty dangerous. Not to mention many of the 3rd party exchanges do not even have SSL on their sites and most do not even take many precautions when it comes to fraud or checking out the customer. For example someone goes and purchases from a third party exchange then goes and cashes out with Linden Lab then decides to reverse the transaction after the Lindens are cashed out really what recourse does Linden Lab have here? I do understand where this can be frustrating for those that do not trust and or can not find a way to buy from Linden Lab direct but at the end of the day they do have to minimize their own risks and obviously this 3rd party exchange program just didn’t work out. I certainly felt this was going to happen eventually especially with the labs given history on decisions etc. Also have you ever thought maybe there are reasons why certain places the lab does not have local support for currency maybe legalities etc?

    At the end of the day Second Life is a business and they will do what they feel fit for themselves and to cover their behinds whether it is good for the customer or not after all looking at the amount of signatures is not really a lot compared to how many users they have.

    • Gabe —

      I’m not following you.

      Say I buy $1,000 worth of Lindens on the ABC Exchange.

      Then I go to the Lindex and withdraw the $1,000 (minus all the fees and commissions).

      Then I call my credit card company and dispute the $1,000 charge.

      The credit card company will refund me my money — by taking it away from ABC Exchange. (Plus fines and penalties.)

      Linden Lab is free and clear.

      If ABC Exchange gets too many chargebacks, they go out of business, so they are extra careful about who they sell currency to.

      • gabegw11

        For example let’s say you buy coins from abc1 third party exchange, 500 used worth.. You paid with PayPal using a credit card. You get the coins then cash out with the lab and get the money. You then go and reverse the original transaction at PayPal level let’s say you used PayPal and credit card, once you reverse that credit card transaction PayPal does seize the funds from the seller. I have had this happen to me with things I have sold and PayPal states that when you are a seller you are responsible for any reversals.
        Unfortunately this is even the same when using credit card terminal services e.g stripe and others you the merchant are responsible for charge backs. I’ve done quite a bit of business in terms of credit cards and sadly fraudsters are so good that they can do this all so fast to where by the time you get things filed they have vanished and disappeared leaving you the merchant screwed.

        • But, again, it’s the third party exchange that gets screwed, not Linden Lab.

          • gabegw11

            As far as I look at it who knows what linden lab just funded doing that unverified cash out that was a target of fraud at the third party exchange level. I believe in my eyes both parties have been hurt. That’s just my opinion.

          • hack13

            I see with both get hurt, the Linden Exchange is a currency that has value based on supply and demand, much like our own real life currency. If too much this happens, a shift in the currencies value could shift, because then the buy rate would cheapen if people get on the fraud train, shifting the economics of the entire currency.

            Not let us not also forget the entire legal part of Linden Labs reporting this to the government on how much value of their currency is in circulation.

          • gabegw11

            This is also true! Good point I didn’t think of this one.

        • It is symptomatic that many of the exchanges are non-US catering to a market where the US based credit card offerings are not sufficient for the needs of the Europeans (which is very far from a unified market, so there are big variations).

          In that light LL might throw the baby out with the bath water in some of the markets by giving the exchanges the chop. For OpenSim to develop meaningful economies, the exchanges play a vital role.

          I can imagine keeping the exchanges could impose stricter regulatory requirements, so there is a trade-off.

  • Rob N Oregon

    heck I been using anshex since I was new 4 years ago. I never ever use any bank card attatched to my rl bank account.t I load money on a green dot type disposable card and that’s it if someone gets that info they are getting squat from me, last time I looked linden labs didn’t accept those and if they shut down anshex then I will stop buying lindens all together!