Friday, 25 January 2008

Trademark claims and land use bots

Two unrelated posts on New World Notes recently caught my eye...

Firstly, the suggestion that building an in-world prototype of a real-world object might form a much better way of asserting 'prior art' (or whatever the correct terminology is) for the purpose of trademark, patent or copyright claims, especially if that object can be sold commercially in-world, than simply writing the idea down on paper (Is Rapid Trademarking Second Life's Killer App for Corporations?). Note: whether or not this is a killer app, I don't think it will be a step in the right direction for SL generally.

Secondly, the apparently prolific use of bots to increase avatar traffic measurements on an area of virtual land and thus improve in-world search engine result rankings (Still Un-Alive: A Landowner Defends Her Use of Bots). It seems to me that this is no different, in principle, to the use of link farms on the Web to try and improve Google rank. The answer isn't to stop using traffic as a measure, but to try and spot the use of bots and weight their influence accordingly.

How do you spot a bot? I have no idea off the top of my head, but I don't doubt that some workable set of heuristics could be developed. I'm very tempted, just as an experiment you understand, to see how easy it is to use bots in this way on Eduserv Island. Our traffic could do with a bit of boosting! ;-)

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