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City of Gulfport 03

No bid

How does the LL land auction thingy work? It seems the question may have a simple answer, but for me it doesn’t. The mechanism itself is, indeed, pretty straightforward: You visit SL website, log in, click on Buy Land, select Auctions, and then Browse L$ Land Auctions. There you will find a list of all the parcels available, including the name of the sim each one is in, the coordinates and parcel size (given in squared meters), a slurl in case you wish to visit before bidding (a must do, I don’t need to tell you why), the current bid, number of bids, and the time the auction ends. When you pick one, another page shows up with more details, the most important of which are a text box where you input the amount –in Linden dollars– of your bid, and a green button with white letters that reads Place Your Bid. I’m sure you can correctly guess what follows: You have to write down an amount higher than the current bid in order to proceed to the next pop-up window, which gives you a warning kind of message before you click OK and confirm the bid. After that it will be a matter of keeping track and bidding now and again whenever another offer beats yours.

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The whole process gets interesting during the last minute, when no matter how fast you enter a new offer, someone else always betters you in the end. I’ve only tried the “auction house” thrice, but the results have always been, alas, the same. So now I wonder, are my fingers stiff, unable to move like normal ones? Is the Enter key in my keyboard borked? Is my computer or internet connection so slow that it (whichever of the two, or both) fails at refreshing time? Or else, is there some software to track auctions that automatically makes a new offer whenever it detects it’s been outbid? I know LL banned land-purchasing bots early this year, but since such automated software is buying land directly from the Lab I guess it would be more than welcome (?).

Instead of sweat, I’m known to transpire distilled bad luck. That’s why I refuse to use antiperspirant deodorant, to avoid sticking with that shit inside of me, but hell, you see the consequences: it doesn’t work anyway.

City of Gulfport 01

Auctioning land should give all SL users a fair chance to win a plot, but if there’s actually a software that automates the process, then the odds are against mere mortals trying to do things the way they were intended.

Why do I ask if there’s some mechanism at play, other than the archaic digitus manus? Two times out of three I’ve come back to the parcel I lost to see who has been the winner. Both times, I’ve checked the lucky guy’s profile to find a similar description: “Rentals and sales of mainland” the first one, “I buy/sell mainland” for the second one. Nothing about his/her hilarity, abilities or affinities; nothing about his loved ones or political stance.  Curiously both of them have been one year and ten months old. To me, these may not be people who enjoy SL fashion, that get involved in RP, that are willing to fall in love with other virtual entities, that go to dance clubs to have some fun. These are more likely virtual real estate agents that are only interested in playing the profitable game of making money out of selling land in Second Life. They are the ones to buy cheap land to later sell for 3 to 10 times their original price.

Today, I even had the “good” fortune of meeting one of these guys in person: a man with some non-mesh/non-sculpt basic clothes, with slider hair styled like a brown squirrel resting dead down to his shoulders, with tumbling AO-less newbie moves, and with the dull look of someone who can’t control his gaze. Perhaps under others circumstances I would have thought he might have been a character out of a low budget version of That 70’s Show.

City of Gulfport

A few minutes after the auction went to the front runner for approximately L$6,000 (I couldn’t check what was the last bid, since the parcel was no longer on the list), the plot was up for sale for more than three times that sum. Now, imagine that this guy, being as professional as he is, won at least five or seven other parcels today. Do your calculations, then convert to US money… blink! Neato, isn’t it? In the meantime, the likes of us are left with a couple of numb fingers, pondering if we should try the auction thingy again.

City of Gulfport

Images: A few snapshots of the City of Gulfport at dusk.