Editorial: Are People Using Alts to Avoid Paying for a Sansar Subscription?

There’s been quite a bit of discussion and debate over on the official Sansar Discord channels about whether or not people have been creating alts (alternative avatars) in order to avoid paying Linden Lab for a Sansar subscription.

You see, every avatar counts as one Sansar account. And every account is allowed to build up to three Sansar experiences for free. If you want more than that, then you’re supposed to pony up for a paid subscription (here’s a chart of the levels):

Sansar Subscriptions 14 July 2018.png

Some people who do have paid subscriptions have rightfully pointed out that there’s nothing stopping someone from creating multiple alts and using them to make as many free experiences as they want, without ever paying for a subscription.

I come to Sansar from Second Life, where, as I have written about before, I have created (and deleted) dozens of alts for various purposes. So, for me, it was natural to want to create an alt (Vanity Fair) for the modeling of female fashion for this blog. It’s not because I wanted to create more experiences for free (Vanity is using zero), but because I wanted to keep a separate female inventory of clothes. What Sansar really needs to implement sooner rather than later is proper inventory folders. Having to scroll and scroll and scroll through my clothing folder in the Lookbook is getting ridiculous.

Another reason people create alt accounts is to work on projects together. For example, when Tyler Scarborough created the set for the Metaverse Newscast, he asked me to create an account that he could use to build the experience, which I did (this was back in August 2017, which I believe was even before Linden Lab had set up their subscription levels plan). Sharing an account was, and still is, a necessity for most collaborative work right now. Until Linden Lab gives us the proper tools, it’s the only option we have to work together on projects, and they know that.

As my academic research project at work, I am creating a user-navigable, three-dimensional version of the Mathematical Atlas website (a guide to the mathematics literature for undergraduate and graduate students originally created by Dr. David Rusin), using Sansar as a software platform. For this research project, I created a separate account, for two reasons:

  1. I wanted the name “Virtual Library” in the URL for the published experience, rather than “Ryan Schultz”.
  2. I wanted a professional account, totally separate from my personal account, so that, when/if it came time to subscribe, it would be easier to arrange for the billing through my employer and my research expense account.

At the moment, the only experience I have for my research account is an unpublished empty flat plane. I have no plans to publish an experience for my research project for at least a year, and probably longer (my research time and money are both limited).

So in total, I have four Sansar accounts and only two published Sansar experiences: Ryan’s Garden and the Metaverse Newscast studio. That’s not likely to change in the near future. If at any point I go over the 3 experience limit, then I will pay Linden Lab for a subscription. I think that’s only fair.

So, you see, there are some good reasons for people to create alts. But that still leaves a potential loophole for unscrupulous people to exploit, and a potential revenue problem for Linden Lab. How to fix it? Here are five suggestions:

  • Give us inventory folders and subfolders (which removes the necessity of using alts as “folders” to organize our increasingly messy inventories, like I do with Vanity Fair)
  • Give us tools to allow us to work collaboratively on projects, thus making it unnecessary to share accounts and make “project” accounts
  • Allow us more flexibility in the URL names for our published experiences. Give us the option to not have our usernames as part of the URL.
  • Find a way to get rid of the one-to-one avatar/account setup. Replace it with a more flexible system where you can create more than one avatar per account.
  • Set up an accounting system (maybe using the computer IP address or some other identifier?) to find and target the people who are abusing account creation in order to get around the subscription plans. If someone has multiple alt accounts, each with 3 free experiences set up, that should be pretty easy for Linden Lab to spot. You can’t hide anything on the internet!
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