Friday, October 29, 2010

IMVU Pulse

IMVU has a new feature called "Pulse". I think a lot of what they do is just "let's throw this on the wall and see if it sticks", without putting much thought into WHY people might want it or HOW people might use it. This works great sometimes, but even when it works great you end up with features that aren't that well thought out of scalable.

At first I thought the feature was pretty cool, but I soon noticed some things that really bug me about it.

The first problem I have with it is that I don't see pulses from very many of my friends. Now, my case may be somewhat unusual because I have over 70,000 friends but it seems I can only get pulses from maybe the first 500 or 1000 of my friends...so I get Pulses from Brett and Matt and Dusty, who are all IMVU employees and have all been on my friend list for years, and from Kittenkat, who has also been on my list for about six years, and I have gotten a pulse from ONE other friend, who has been a member since 2006, but any of my newer friends, the Pulses simply don't show up, and most of the people on my friends list that are still active are in the 69,000 friends that came AFTER 2006. Very frustrating. I probably look like the Jinx, Jinx and Jinx show because I never post on any of these other Pulses (because I can't see them.)

I expect, and I think most people do, whether consciously or not, for Pulses to behave the way your feed behaves on Facebook. In fact, Pulse IS pretty much your IMVU version of a FB feed. And it mostly does, except that on Facebook it would show the Pulses from ALL my friends, not just the ones I've had for at least four years. :/

One other small thing that bugs me a lot is that if you've posted in response to someone else's Pulse, and then someone else posts, you will get an email stating that someone has responded to YOUR Pulse. Now, you can turn off notifications of Pulses, but you cannot differentiate between your pulses and those of others. I'd rather get emailed when someone responds on MY Pulse, but it's been four weeks of getting responses to Matt's Pulse about Create Mode that are disguised as responses to MY Pulse. I really think IMVU has to tweak this a little so if my email notifications are going to be all or nothing like that, at least the email itself could say "Someone has posted a response on Matt's Pulse".

I also think they are somewhat unwieldy. I can view the last three comments on a Pulse, but if I've missed the last FOUR comments, I may have to click to view all 100 comments or whatever. Maybe it could show the last four comments and clicking could show you the four comments prior to THOSE instead of the whole thing. I'm pretty wordy and I haven't hit a limit to how much I can write in there, so loading in 100 comments can be a bit much. If you DO want to view all comments, it should take you to a separate page with only that Pulse on it.

And finally, I feel Pulse takes away somewhat from other features. Homepages are starting to become less important (maybe they have for a while, but even more so if you can just talk to people in a pulse.) And they get in the way of my Inbox. If I sign in to IMVU, I end up on the page that shows my Pulses first, and I have to let that load in before I can go to the inbox. Perhaps Pulse should be moved to peoples homepages.

I see a lot of potential in Pulses. I do like the fact that I can let people know if I have a new product or ask their opinion about stuff or even just say "hi", but I hope that IMVU will put some more thought into it and do a little tweaking.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

IMVU VIP

Wow, IMVU VIP has changed a lot since it started. I had signed up for it when they first started the program and ended up canceling because the program sucked so much. The stuff they offered you was just lame, lame, lame! Well, okay, the Brittany Barber Chair is kind of funny...

Now it seems like you get a really nice bundle each month, and I figured with the discount you get on catalog purchases and the small amount of credits you get it might be worth it so I decided to sign up.

For some reason though, my card was declined. It sent me into a bit of a panic actually, checking my bank account to make sure everything was okay! Everything seemed okay so I tried making my purchase a few more times and it didn't work. Now I'm wondering if it might be related to the ban I had my bank account put on anything related to PayPal after There announced their closing and immediately banned me and then PayPal froze my account - well, froze ME from doing anything with my account, while still accepting payments to it and taking bogus charge-backs out of it. Since I couldn't unlink my bank account from PayPal THROUGH PayPal, I had my bank change my account number and disallow anything coming from them. I'm not sure how that would affect a credit card payment from IMVU, but maybe it affects all virtual goods or something?

I guess it saved me a little money for now.

Speaking of PayPal, it's been about long enough maybe I can talk about my There/PayPal fiasco in an upcoming entry.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There is closing so whatcha gonna do with all those Therebucks?

Yup, you've probably heard already that There is going to be closing. In fact, I think they moderated my account and closed my tbux clubs at pretty much exactly the same time they were announcing the whole thing. That's right, don't look to me for selling off all those useless Therebucks.
But wait...I do have ONE option for you. I was contacted today by the people at Utherverse, and they suggested to me that There members might like their site. I had never heard of it before, so I looked it up and ummm...it's definitely not for all There members, first of all it's 18+, and it's rather adult oriented, so I have to wonder if you wouldn't just go play in Second Life instead but the thing is, they say they will buy your Therebucks, so I figure that might allow you to have some fun trying something new with your tbucks in a world that as far as I know has no plans of closing.

Utherverse will buy up to 130,000 Therebucks from you at a rate of 130 tbux to one Utherworld "Ray". You can also use your Therebucks to upgrade to VIP membership (basically that's for all the most adult content.)

Here's a video I found of one of the clubs there:



So if you want to try it, these are the steps to take (but I should warn you that There might decide what you are doing looks like reseller activity and try and punish you for it - although what sort of punishment I don't know...ban you? Ha.):

1. Click on this banner to go to the site and sign up. (Yes, it's my affiliate link. C'mon, help a girl out here!)


2. Sign up for an account

Okay, that's it if you don't have any Therebucks to sell or if you're reading this after March 9th, 2010, OTHERWISE on to step 3...

3. Transfer your Therebucks to either There member Sgt_Croissant or Lily_Vanilli

4. Once you have transferred the Therebucks to one of the sponsored There.com accounts, the next step is to send an email to Exchange@Utherverse.com with the following information:
1- Your username on There.com that gave us the Therebucks
2- Which of our two Users that you transferred your Therebucks to
3- The number of Therebucks you transferred
4- Your Utherverse username (So we can apply everything to the correct account)

Alrighty, so that's it. Sorry I don't have anything more helpful for you. If you're a developer I guess you can still try the Therebucks buyback program. Oh and before you ask, no I don't think Utherverse has a dev program. Also, I think their original world "Amsterdam" is VERY adult in orientation, but they have a few other attached worlds like "Vancouver" that are a bit less so.

Hmmm, really the more I think about it the more I think what a poor substitute this is for There.com. I mean, it's not really a place to call "home". You can't really "nest" there. Well really, has there EVER been a good substitute for There? It could be a fun place to make an avie and go dance with it in a club or something though. Especially if a bunch of people from There all sign up and agree to meet somewhere.

Oh well, what are you going to do? If you have other suggestions of places to go or uses for Therebucks, I'd love to hear about it in the comments...

(This is about where I'd say "see you in There" but ummmm...I guess maybe not...)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Want discounted Therebucks? Well, too bad!

Unless you've been a little out of it lately (like I often am) you have probably heard about There.com's Therebucks buyback program for developers. What a surprise, eh? Isn't that something they said they'd NEVER EVER do? I thought it was...

Yeah so, There is buying Therebucks back from developers in a brand new program that pays them $1 for 1800 Therebucks which is a fantastic rate, since that is the actual face value of Therebucks. When it was first announced, it sounded like there might be a limit of $100 developers could sell to them at a time, once a week, as well as a transaction fee and a cap on the amount of Therebucks There would purchase each week, however SO FAR it seems as if they have purchased ALL of the Therebucks people have sold to them.

My reactions to this are...complex to say the least. I had someone in the There.com forums tell me "you know you will be in line to sell your Therebucks just like everyone else", but the truth is, since I am a developer but I am ALSO a reseller, I am always selling my Therebucks, usually as fast as they come into my account, so I'm not sure if I see myself EVER selling Therebucks back to There. Not because I don't want to, or because they could decide not to allow me to, but simply because I'm trying to sell them through http://jinx.tv and they aren't going to sit in my account long enough to ever go through There's buyback system. The only reason I could really see for selling to There is if I specifically set aside some Therebucks to sell to them just to try out the system, or if I was no longer able to sell Therebucks to There members looking to get more for their money. Yeah, right...I think discounted Therebucks are going to be more in demand than ever! And this doesn't kill the reseller market because there are always people who make Therebucks through garage sales or selling off rare items they collect or other non-dev activities.

So does this ruin my business or my livelihood? Well, not really. At least not yet as far as I can tell. I mean, if I'm in stock I'm in stock, and you can find out through following me on twitter when I'm in stock so even if I were only selling once a week or only selling a few hundred dollars worth a week, http://jinx.tv will still be there. Perhaps I will try creating some new content for There to increase the amount of Therebucks I earn myself to sell - although I've gotten into farming/gardening quite a bit lately so I may not have tons of time to do this. I'm probably better off making content for http://imvu.com, since I make more money selling IMVU credits than I do Therebucks and have for a long time, and it's easier to make money off content made for IMVU. Still, I did make a little list of things I'd like to make for There whether it's the best choice financially or not - just because I LIKE making stuff for There and I must admit I feel more of an affinity for There than IMVU.

In the short term this has actually been great for me...I was able to pay my February rent with no problem, where lately there has been such a glut of Therebucks I've been putting all my money into buying them from people and falling a few days behind in paying for them. Now I'm back to paying for Therebucks right away AND paying my rent on time, which is nice. I've sometimes wondered why I put SO MUCH effort into buying and selling Therebucks when it really is not very financially rewarding for me and IMVU is less effort for more money. One of the reasons is to not put all my eggs in one basket, if you know what I mean, but also There is just so much part of my life at this point, I can't imagine NOT buying/selling Therebucks. Probably a funny thing to hear from someone who VERY rarely logs into the There client.

Okay, so enough about me, how will this affect other people? Developers should be happy. One developer, after the announcement, said they were "so happy I could cry". For realz? I don't see this as THAT exciting for devs. It's not like they couldn't cash in their Therebucks before...they are just getting a slightly better rate, and that rate is at the expense of people who are used to buying Therebucks at a discount. I estimate that about $10,000usd of TBs go through the reseller market a week. I guesstimate that about $6000 of that (at least) is from developers. Let's say they sell $5000 of that to There for $1 per 1800tb. That is $5000 less of TBs for people to buy at a discount. At the least.

Geez...is There really going to buy $5000 worth of Therebucks a week from devs? If they don't, the backlog could add up quite quickly and frustrate people selling to them, and if they do...where are they getting the budget to buy $5000 worth of TBs? Perhaps this is the result of There being owned by a capricious multi-millionaire? I suppose after their initial seed money for this project, they figure that their Therebucks sales will increase, and they can use the increase to pay for the next lot of Tbux that they buy? That's how I imagine it working, so There isn't really losing $5000 a week, but a smaller amount, especially if paying it out is assigned to an employee they already have who simply has an increased workload, so There has no additional labor costs from this. It still equals a net loss for them, albiet a small one.

Okay so, let's say you are a member of There who frequently buys discounted Therebucks. I have people who regularly buy certain amounts from me. Like, say, $100 worth a week. I haven't done a survey about this or anything, but I'm guessing $100 is their budget for the week, and not that 200,000 Therebucks is their budget. They don't magically have more money to spend on Therebucks just because  they aren't getting them at a discount, so if they have to buy from There, they will now get 180,000 Therebucks for their money (and There will get $100, which they will spend to pay developers for their Therebucks in the buyback program). Okay, so now you have 20,000 less Therebucks to spend a week. Let's say you normally pay 100,000 to There a week for rent or neighborhoods or other non-flexible things. You now have 80,000 instead of 100,000 or 20% less to spend buying developer stuff. Hmmm...okay so, that means developers will now make less than they would have otherwise. Because they'd rather sell to There at "full face value" and have their Therebucks go into the ether than sell their Therebucks to members at a slightly discounted price.

So, let's see....resellers lose money, members have less Therebucks to spend, There loses money, and even the developers who feel they are getting more for their Therebucks are probably losing money.

Nope, this buyback program doesn't make any sense to me at all. It doesn't even cut down on chinese gold farmer scammers - it will probably make their sites even more tempting to members!

I used to date this guy who would always say to me "don't poke the bear!", which basically meant "don't bother me when I'm in a foul mood", but it may be somewhat appropriate here as well. I kind of feel like by making this post I am poking the capricious multimillionaire owner of There bear, who I am starting to feel has some kind of beef with me. Oh well...what can you do?

If you have anything to say about this, I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Therebucks BuyBack (whoopie?)

Okay, so for those who don't know, MW (aka Mike Wilson, multi-millionaire owner/CEO of There aka Skippy) recently made a post in the There.com forums about a new Therebucks buyback program for There developers.
You can read it here, if you haven't already.

Naturally, there has been some discussion about this since the announcement came out, although as far as I know it has been a somewhat lackluster response limited to the developers section of the There forums, I suppose because this seems to be mainly of interest to developers (although in reality this could affect quite a few more There member than that.)

At first I wasn't sure what to think of the program, and to some degree I still don't, since a vague announcement and an actual working program are not really the same thing and it remains to see how this will actually be implemented, however, so far these are my thoughts (which I did post in the There forums but thought it would be appropriate to repost here):

(I'm happy to have anyone else add their thoughts here as well, feel free to leave a comment!)

This seems like bad news for people who enjoy buying Therebucks at an 11% discount (or more, depending on who you are buying from). So, good news for developers, assuming the queues aren't long, but bad for Therebucks buyers. Meanwhile, it does nothing to stop the resale scammers, in fact it may make those sites look MORE attractive to those who don't know better since reseller Therebucks are likely to become harder to find. (and so if people are getting less Therebucks for their money, it may come to pass that they simply have less Therebucks to spend and therefore the slight increase in value Devs get for their Therebucks may be offset by slightly lowered sales, not to mention the fee they will pay to There and the money some will lose if There does not use MassPay.)
Meanwhile, I think it gives an artificial sense of the strength of the There economy. In 2009, although my sales ended up being SLIGHTLY higher than in 2008, there seemed to be more people trying to sell Therebucks than ever. So whereas in the past it has always been normal for resellers to sell out and not have any Therebucks in stock, then be back in stock, then sell out again ad nauseum, and to oftentimes be out of stock more than in stock, for the second half of 2009 in particular, I have found myself almost NEVER out of stock...in fact I don't think I've run out of Therebucks for a few months straight now, and meanwhile my average Therebucks balance creeps ever higher.
This says to me that the amount of Therebucks going into the There economy is becoming more than the amount going out - a surplus that has never before occurred in There history (except for some temporary situations caused by Black Friday and the Coke Studios Therebucks conversion.) So it seems bizarre and unnatural for There to buy Therebucks from developers AT FACE VALUE, when obviously that is not at this time the actual value of Therebucks.
It doesn't stop scammers, people who like to buy discounted Therebucks will lose out (and there are more of them than there are devs) and they are being bought at an artificially high price from devs who have to wait in a queue to sell a limited amount at unknown intervals with a future promise that someday they'll be able to do exciting things like trade them for other currency (virtual?) Whoopie!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do you want to date my avatar?

I am about the 7 millionth person to see this but I just had to post it here. The whole The Guild series avail on YouTube or WatchTheGuild.com is very awesome and funny...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Be very careful with MassPay!

About once a week I have someone spell their avatar name wrong or put in the wrong email address for PayPal.

This isn't much of a problem if it's a wrong avatar name - I just need the person purchasing Therebucks from me to 1.) figure out that that's what they did and 2.) email me clearly about what they did, what the wrong name was and what the right one should be. Assuming I'm there at the computer when I'm emailed about this, I can correct the avatar name spelling right away and payment will be very prompt after that - well of course also assuming that the avatar name they put in doesn't belong to someone else, in which case the person who made the order will need to contact the person with the avatar name they put in and maybe also contact there.com, but usually the misspelling doesn't result in the wrong person getting paid - that has maybe happened twice in six years, once being fixed by the avatar who received the payment and once being fixed with a little intervention from There.

It's slightly more of a hassle but still not too bad if someone put in the wrong email address, especially if they realize it right away and I'm there at the computer so it's easy for me to go in to PayPal and find the transaction and cancel it (assuming someone else doesn't have that wrong email address AND has it registered with PayPal, but I don't think that has EVER happened in six years.)

When it is a real problem is when people are using MassPay. MassPay is great if you have a larger transaction because it could save you $30 or more in fees that you would normally pay, however IF YOU SPELL YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WRONG I have no way to go into PayPal and cancel this transaction. I've called them on the phone about this, and they have also refused to cancel the pending transaction manually. What happens if you put in the incorrect email address is that the transaction hangs there for 30 days and then cancels automatically. THEN I can go in and resend it. So it's not that you will never receive the money, but if you were counting on receiving in less than 30 days you may experience some distress/disappointment.

The reason I am mentioning this now is that recently I have had this happen with two rather large transactions, and apparently it is MY fault (I have even been accused of I guess going in to my own database and purposely changing the email to be incorrect) and I am a scrooge and a mean and cruel person for not magically canceling these transactions. People seem to think it's not that I CAN'T cancel them but that I WON'T, presumably because I like to watch people suffer and ruin the Christmases of their children and grandchildren and don't place as much value on money as other people do. (I'm just paraphrasing a few choice emails I have received blaming me for these situations.)

I can't stress enough that while it is great to save all that money on PayPal fees, it is VERY important to double and triple check the spelling of your email address when using MassPay! I swear to you I am not out to ruin anyone's holiday gift giving plans or whatever, and I am certainly not changing email addresses before sending payments.

Friday, November 20, 2009

There Town hall audio download

Oh boy, the Nov 19th town hall meeting audio recording is up already! I was going to attend one of the listening parties, but I didn't make it, so I'm happy to see the audio up so fast. I heard there is a LOT of talk about Therebucks resellers and scammers in it, so it's sure to be very interesting! I haven't even listened to it yet myself...I wonder if I can get my bf to let me listen to it while we're in the car in about an hour :)

There fun times page with link

Actual direct audio link

Update on There reseller policy

I'd like to be making a video right now, but no time! Plus I want to give you some links, and that's a bit hard with video.

Soooo anyway...first I'd like to mention I had a laugh today when someone emailed me asking "where is my PayPal payment?" Why would I be laughing about someone not receiving their PayPal payment? Because this person was using an exploit in the catalog to get Therebucks from There and then they turned around and tried to sell a bunch of those ill-gotten Therebucks to me. As soon as There found out, they yanked the Therebucks out of my account, banned that avatar and banned some other avatars that were found to be doing the same thing as well. This could have ended very badly for me, if I had actually sent payment to this person before There yanked out the Therebucks from my account, I would have been out a lot of money. So, not only were they screwing There, they were trying to screw me as well. Or maybe I'm giving them too much credit, perhaps they had no idea this could end up adversely affecting me, but it can, especially with There's new reseller policy...

****

Okay, go now if you haven't and read these two things on the There site...

Official There announcement of Therebucks Reseller Policy Update

Fuze/Help Answer/Article with actual Therebucks Reseller Policy Update

****

I guess this is There's answer to the chinese gold farmer scammers. There has always had a policy of not supporting third party Therebucks sales, without actually prohibiting it though, as they recognize it as an important part of a healthy economy. Now, however, they are simply making it clearer that you're on your own and There isn't going to protect buyers or sellers AND if you end up buying fraudulently obtained Therebucks, There will yank them out of your account and if it happens multiple times they will ban you, maybe even permanently.

Some people may argue this is harsh punishment for "victims" of chinese gold farmer/scammers, but hey, what is There supposed to do? The way the scammers get the Therebucks is by buying them from There with stolen credit cards so that in the end the transactions get reversed and There is out the money. If you buy let's say $50 worth of Therebucks for $25 from one of these sites, the gold farmers are actually creating a $50 transaction with There and getting $50 worth of Therebucks, so for every $25 you give to the chinese gold farmers, There is out $50 in the end. I'd be upset, too! As far as I know, the gold farmers haven't hit any resellers yet, but if There finds a way to prevent their transactions (they might look to IMVU for advice on that one) then I am sure they will eventually. And for the gold farmers, even just a FEW transactions are a profit for them. Even if the Therebucks get taken away from the buyer eventually, it's still a profit for the gold farmers.

So how do you make sure you don't buy from an illegitimate reseller? Well first off, their prices are ridiculously low. Some place in China that really has no legitimate source of Therebucks and is selling them at FAR below market value...why would you think it's legit? I really don't see how anyone can think this is a valid source of Therebucks, so IMO, until they come up with websites and prices that are more in-line with the real market, the only way someone is going to buy from one of these places is if 1.) they are 100% noob or 2.) they think they can get away with it. So it's really like There is saying "don't be stupid, you can't get away with it."

Meanwhile, I don't think anything has really changed with "regular" resellers. There never had a policy that officially supported them or protected either the buyer or the seller, and that is why some people simply buy only from There and others buy only from the resellers they trust the most or are recommended by their friends. I don't think this will affect resellers such as myself much because of the simple fact that there is still a greater demand for discounted Therebucks than there is a supply. No reseller is in stock 100% of the time (which is also why Therebucks being sold at 50% off face value is so ridiculously illegitimate looking.)

Since one of the gold farmer sites is actually paying for Google ad placement when you do a search for "Therebucks", I do wonder if perhaps There should do the same thing. Sure it would cost them a little money, but maybe if they advertised with a link to the policy about the risks of buying from resellers, the money they spent on that would prevent them losing more money to fraud. Right? I mean, I'm tempted to do this myself for a month or two. As long as the scammers are making ANY money doing this, they aren't going to go away.

I thought this was funny...when you search for "Therebucks", check out the two highlighted (in a lovely salmon pink) results...me talking about a "cheap therebucks scam site" and then the site in question right below it. Wow, we must have all just RUN to that site to check it out, to get it so high in the rankings so fast!



Okay that's all I have to say about that for now. My one final thought is that if you are one of my buyers/sellers you should leave a testimonial for me if you haven't already so I can increase my er....legitimacy ranking or something: http://jinx.tv/feedback.php

Monday, November 9, 2009

2 most common reasons for Therebucks payment delays

Argh, I'm a WEE bit frustrated today because I've had an increase in the number of delayed Therebucks payments (someone ordering Therebucks from me and then not getting them in about 2 minutes) and the reasons why are soooo preventable.

Recently I made a rather long video explaining pretty much ALL the reasons why your Therebucks could be delayed, but it can't hurt to go back over the TWO BIGGEST in a quick post...

Number one is SPELLING YOUR AVATAR NAME WRONG.

Seriously, if you don't get your Therebucks right away, check the email that PayPal sends you to your PayPal account email address and see what you used for your avatar name. The last few days I have had a number of misspellings and to make it even worse, it seems like people email me to say "where are my Therebucks? I've never had a delay from you before." and when I email them back asking them to check the transaction, I get no response, like maybe they aren't checking that email address or something. It's frustrating. Check the PayPal payment confirmation email, or log in to your PayPal account and check the transaction info there and see what you wrote for your avatar name. If it's wrong, email me either through Wheremail (but you know that is sometimes delayed) or at jinx.tv@gmail.com and let me know what you put down for your avatar name and what it was supposed to be and I can probably correct it right away.

and two is CREATING A NEW AVATAR

There are a lot of people who, when they've been around There for a while, decide to create a new avatar. Well, some of them may have half a dozen avatars. Or they have a friend who just created an avatar and they want to buy that person some Therebucks to get them started. I have a system that ranks avatars by how active they are on There, and if your avatar is brand new, it's not going to pay you any Therebucks. If you have a brand new avatar, or an avatar you use only to manage money for your neighborhood or something, you should either buy the Therebucks using your main avatar and then transfer them to your new avatar OR you can email me ahead of time (jinx.tv@gmail.com) and let me know who you are and what your new avatar is, and I have a pre-approved buyer list I can put you on assuming your main avatar is a regular customer of mine.

Well, I feel better now that I got that off my chest. I hope that helps and if you ever hear someone complaining "I didn't get my Therebucks", you might want to point them here to this post.

See you in There!

-Jinx_tv