Monday, 24 April 2017

Opensim Metrics Paranoia Kills Popular Grid List

A biter war of words broke out just recently over the publication of Grid Lists & Stats with some well-known people fanning the flames with some pretty incendiary and divisive blogging calling on grid owners to remove stats info from splash screens. This row began recently on Hypergrid Business where, in comments, Inworldz owners demanded they be removed from the HB grid list and stopped displaying their full stats to prevent HB from scraping the numbers. Great Canadian Grid then joined the argument and a furious row broke out between Magnuz Binder and Roddie Macchi, owner of GCG, which lead to the closure of the Binder stats list and to Macchi threatening to bring a lawsuit against Binder. GCG, Inworldz and Atek grid appear to be arguing that stats lists are being used against them unfairly. However, others say the grids complaining have seen some decline and rather than addressing the root causes of that decline they would rather have the numbers hidden.

The Great Canadian Grid Arrivals

It is well known that Inworldz owners have had a stormy relationship with HB at times and complained of bias in their reporting and yet that grid which grew out of forked Opensim code has grown pretty well over the years to be the grid with the most active users, and it is that statistic which has been falling in recent months, and the stat they now want to hide. HB noted this as part of the grid watch reporting but Inworldz owners just saw it as yet more bias. Inworldz is not Hypergrid enabled and they have often complained that HB takes a "them and us" approach while others, myself included, have generally taken the view that Inworldz appears to see Hypergrid as their main competitor as if it were a single grid they were up against. Well, in a sense that is true but only because Hypergrid connects grids allowing travel between them and that is building a bigger market for goods and services. For a large competitive commercial grid like Inworldz you can see how they might see that as serious competition.

However, regardless of how Inworldz might see things I myself though G+ Opensim Virtual and I think Maria Korolov of HB too have been trying to bring the community together including the closed grids but that is not because we favor or disfavor closed grids in any way. My view and that of Maria I'm sure is that it is better to be conciliatory towards closed grids while spelling out the advantages of Hypergrid and trying to persuade them to open up. Some grids have done so and I think that proves it is better to take that approach than waging an ugly war of words that, in my view, is more likely to drive people away from the open Metaverse altogether. And to be fair to Inworldz I do think they seem to get the headline when Maria reports on Opensim Statistics and that does tend to labour the point that Inworldz is outside the mainstream Hypergrid community which must be annoying and even frustrating to both the owners and the resident community that would naturally defend the grid they call home.

Inworldz Grid

Inworldz is not actually against Hypergrid though but, like Avination before it closed which has a core developer, Melanie Thielker, both grids wanted to see a more secure Hypergrid if they were to adopt it. Inworldz lead developer, David Daeschler said recently in comments on HB "I personally review and approve many of the pull requests I can tell you that there's no reason we would block an interconnectivity protocol from Halcyon, unless it really messed up the core code. I would definitely prefer to see something like Hypergrid implemented as a separate gateway process that worked gracefully with the simulator rather than something that had to be tightly integrated with the core code. A contribution as such would be welcomed with open arms and actively supported. This has been discussed at length with core Halcyon contributors." Jim Taber, another Inworldz developer also commenting at HB said, "I think InWorldz would welcome connectivity with other grids, provided it meets either (or both) of the following: protected content must travel securely, or what seems more likely to me personally, it allows exportable full-rights content to enter other permissions-free worlds. Of course it could do both. But one thing is clear, that does not describe Hypergrid, so there would need to be a new, improved, peer-reviewed protocol between grids. I think the MOSES team may have put a start to that, but it would be a big project and could be years away from production use." So this doesn't sound like they want to shun the rest of the free Metaverse as a closed world and HB has probably given that impression.

So, in the wake of this controversy, we have lost a very useful stats list that Magnuz Binder took great pains to keep updated. He did this as a service to the Metaverse and asked nothing to use it. HB provides a grid list too and free adds that help our community. I keep a grid list as well on the METAVERSE link of my blog Metaverse-Traveller which is designed to be searchable and serve the community. That's what we do for free but too often, and especially at times like this, it becomes a thankless task that only brings us unnecessary abuse, legal threats and stressful drama.

The thing is grids display their stats for public information so it is helpful to gather those statistics and publish them in a list so people can get an idea of the size of the Metaverse and where the action is likely to be found. Bloggers and writers may well report conclusions after looking at the stats and if the most active grid shows some decline then it is fair to report it. I agree they do have a responsibility to not over egg the point though which Inworldz claims HB has done. But, at the end of the day, if the numbers show decline for a grid then I would say the owners need to address the reasons for that decline and not try to shoot the messenger to avoid the facts being known.

Grid Search

Now the Binder list has been closed I decided to review my own Grid Search list and it looks like Inworldz will drop in ranking if I can't find their stats. They have, until now, enjoyed the highest rank since I started publishing some three years ago simply because they have consistently had the most active users in that time and, as of last month, they still had enough to keep their high placement when people search the commercial category. Unfortunately, now Inworldz active user stats are hidden, they are not going to appear at the top and that will also make the Metaverse look smaller when, in fact, an important member has just made itself invisible. Or, some might say, cut its nose off to spite its face.

Grid Search open web page in viewer
But I have a plan! Maybe I should do some informed guess work? Well, let's face it, some people are quick to say all grids fake their numbers and that may well be true in a few cases. I'm pretty sure Second Life stats are suspect anyway because we know there are plenty of bot's and alt's  - that is, robot avatars and alternative names owned by the same person - that are all included as unique active users. Well, Opensim grids might have their alt's and bot's too but, better than Second Life, Opensim does have proper scripted NPC bot's and they are not included in Opensim stats anyway so you can rule those out. What I mean though is I am going to have to login to those grids that don't display their stats and seek to get view on the in world activity and try to build an estimate based on new user count and the in-world actives I find. It is possible although extra work for me but no Opensim grid is so big that it would be impossible to do. it's just a matter of if I want to bother helping a grid to keep their high ranking for the sake of keeping a full view of the Metaverse.

The thing is the open Metaverse is growing. People are investing in it. Kitely Market are delivering to very many grids and now there is a universal currency, Gloebit, available which is spreading with new malls opening that will increase in-world shopping via Hypergrid. There are a number of Opensim forks and Inworldz has open sourced their code under the name, Halcyon which the US Army MOSES team have adopted and continue to work on a web viewer for it. Inworldz might differ from core Opensim in physics and script engine now but it is based on the same protocols so will always be an Opensim derivative and therefore part of the open Metaverse so I think they will be included in grid search and I will still welcome promotions from both closed and open grids including Inworldz at G+ Opensim Virtual.