LL announced today that they were killing off ratings. I say good riddance — while it was always a fun and unexpected treat when some old-timer actually rated me, the only thing I ever actually gathered from ratings was a feeling for how old an avatar was in-world; highly-rated avs generally were around when ratings actually counted toward compensation and bonuses. You can get as much by looking at an av’s rezday. It seems as though RatePoint (linked to from the LL post) might be a viable alternative, but the fact that it’s free makes it particularly suitable for gaming enemies’ ratings or flaming unsuspecting avs.

But a truer sign that SL is growing up is the wide array of services and tools that allow better access and information about the grid that are gradually coming to light. While SLExchange and SLBoutique have been around a while (I grudgingly admit to making my first purchases from SLExchange this week — I had a hard time understanding how to actually use the darn site until I ran into one of their ATMs at Bali Hai🙂 ), I’ve run across several new services that improve the experience of actually using SL.

I was particularly impressed today by Search from The Electric Sheep Company.

search.sheeplabs.com

While clearly an early beta, I’m impressed by the technology on display. This is many times faster than search in-world, allows searching on multiple keywords (or as in this case, by creator name), and claims to crawl the whole grid every day using a single avatar (named Grid Shepherd, if you’re interested in friending him/her/it😉 ), that takes about five minutes to crawl an entire sim:

We have tested extensively on private simulators to ensure that the load placed on a simulator for the duration of a crawl (approx. 5 minutes and falling) is significantly less than that of a typical resident entering a sim.

The obvious first thing to do (akin to throwing a snowball as soon as there’s enough snow lying on the ground at the beginning of winter) is to look yourself up, and then all your friends to see what they’ve made and have for sale. While it doesn’t seem to be collecting all items available for sale yet (for example, Elikapeka Tiramisu appears to only have 931 objects for sale in the ETD sim, which seems a bit low — perhaps Grid got overwhelmed?), it already shows great promise.

I would think it’s only a matter of time before someone builds an interface for this in-world, which will be a significant improvement on the built-in search.