Sunday, April 19, 2009

If I can't help, I don't want to hunt.

Hunts kind of fascinate me. I remember last year doing one and it was fun because it was in one store and it was cute to just look for the little items. I can't remember what it was now, it was a long time ago. Then FashCon Day hit, and that was the first time I remember hopping all over the grid for gifts. But it wasn't that bad because it was new and nothing was hidden and everyone had a fun time. Then Valentine's Day came, and Cen and I hopped all over the grid hunting for our gifts. It was a little annoying, but also kind of fun because, again, it was kind of new and everyone seemed to be having fun.

Fast forward a few months and suddenly everyone and their mother was doing a hunt, and then the gridwide hunts started blasting off like mad. And I'll admit it. I did almost all of them. 20 stores here, 50 stores there, who cared? Didn't matter if I threw almost everything away immediately afterwards, I learned of great new stores to shop at later.

And then... The Ghost Hunt. *shudders* For the first time that I could remember, we were hit with over 100 stores to go to. It was so much! It was nuts! It was....just the beginning. 200 stores, 300 stores, 400 freaking stores. Stores were participating in 3 or 4 hunts at once. People were mindlessly running from store to store, never stopping to look at what else was on the walls of the store, just looking for a heart or a box or a snowflake or a pair of lips. Inventories grew, people began to get annoyed. Even if you weren't doing a hunt, you could no longer shop at the stores you loved because the lag from the hunters made it a less than enjoyable experience. [Personally, I've begun to shop at stores now that aren't currently in any hunts because I can't stand being knocked down as someone charges past looking for a gift. I love free gifts as much as the next person, but give me a break.]

As the hunts grew, another funny thing happened. People began helping each other out. Cheat sheets were being passed around with the direct SLurls to the items. Object scanners and hunt helper HUDs were on the rise. There were massive group chats asking for help finding this or that. But the fact was, people were helping. We made new friends on these hunts as we helped each other out. We were able to spend a little more time in a store once in a while because we weren't spending 20 minutes hunting for a flower petal embedded in a chair. But not too much time. There are only so many hours in a day and 300 stores is quite a lot to go through.

But then the store owners began to get angry. They didn't want anyone to say where they'd hidden their gift. They didn't want people to find it easily. After all, the longer someone is stuck at their lagged out store, the higher the traffic, right? Or perhaps they believed that if someone was forced to stay there staring for a box, they might see something that they would have to buy on the walls. And that might work on a rare occasion, but as a hunter and as a friend of a group of people who do almost every hunt out there, I can tell you that that's not usually the case. Especially if the store hid the item so well, they were forced to stay in there for a long time to find it and grew frustrated. There were even some store owners who were banning people from their stores for helping! How is that in the spirit of fun??

Today I got a group notice from one of my favorite stores that they were participating in a hunt that I'd never heard of. Having hit the wall of The Bunny Hop, I knew there was no way I'd be able to do this new hunt, but I love this store so I went out to pick up their item. While I was there, I decided to grab the notecard for the hunt, just to see if there was a list of stores participating, or at least a blog where I could see the list. You see, in some hunts, I just go to the stores that I absolutely know I love. It saves time because it's more likely I will keep the item rather than wondering why I wasted my time picking it up. I was a bit floored to read this directly on the notecard:

Also, vendors are encouraged to move their hunt gifts every week or few days so cheat sheets will not work for this hunt. Nor will freebie finders as the vendors are also encouraged to change the name of their box to something random.

Why are cheat sheets and other ways of helping wrong? Why does it matter? I understand that it's a hunt, but I also understand that people sometimes don't have time, or aren't really good at hunting, or sometimes their computers just simply won't rez properly and it can be completely frustrating for them to try to find whatever little thing they're looking for. you think this works? There are people who spend their time helping instead of hunting. There will be an updated list within an hour of someone changing their location. Trust me on this.

I headed over to the hunt blog to see who exactly was participating in this hunt, and how many were participating. Guess what? No list. Not a list of SLurls. Not a list of names. Nada.

Pulled the vendor list, it will not be returning.

Yes, some of the
[deleted] are out already but to avoid cheat blogs we feel it's necessary to pull the list.

Oh really? So not only do we not know how many people are in this hunt, we don't know WHO they are in the first place? The stores don't get their advertising because people don't know they're in the hunt. Instead, there are some [quite noobish] looking photos of hunt gifts and that's it.

We can't get help, we don't know who's in it, and we don't know how long we'll be going from store to store. Wow. That's....fabulous.

Look...hide your gift and leave it. Let people find it with help or without it. Let them have fun helping out and meeting new people. I promise it won't kill you. It might even help out your business in the long run.


Casandra Shilova said...

Way to go Ali! Very clear and very much to the point!

During each hunt I discover a wonderful shop that gains a new customer - but only because someone took the time to help me.

Anonymous said...

I agree! And pulling the hunt vendor list is a negative for both the hunters and the vendors. A lot of vendors are going to miss out on traffic and new customers, as many hunters (like myself) may never end up at their store.

If the stores or hunt organizers are so against the idea of people getting something for free without having to jump through a pile of hoops, worrying about being banned, not being able to get help if they are stuck, etc., etc...then damn, just don't bother offering anything in the first place!

Tymmerie Thorne said...

A-frickin-men! This should be sent to every store in a hunt and every hunt organizer!!!

I am shopping for furniture this weekend and I have been actively avoiding a merchant who got pissy during a recent hunt because people were helping others find his item.

Anonymous said...

We should have a hunt strike!! I am boycotting this and all other hunts. LOL I am too lazy to hunt without a cheat sheet!! Good post Ali!!!


ZaraSparta said...

Everything I have been wanting to say to the vendors!! Move your gift, make it too hard to find, call people cheaters or ban people and guess what! We won't come back b/c we think you are a douche! WHY do some stores not get this??

I feel the same as you do, there is just not enough time to do all these hunts, so without a cheat sheet, or at least a list of stores, I just can't do it.

They are shooting themselves in the foot, and they don't get it. GAH!

Rika Watanabe said...

I do have a technology in the works that will reliably defeat all attempts at renaming and rehiding the prize effectively enough to make attempting to participate in a chain hunt with a hidden prize just as frustrating as looking for 300 of them.

And if that nonsense keeps up, I'm launching it for free as a service to the community and an attempt to knock some sense into this screwed up marketing habit. This has to stop.

Peter Stindberg said...

That sums pretty much up what I intend to blog for some weeks.

Caitlain Clowes said...

Woo hoo! I agree wholeheartedly! I am doing the hunt that you speak of and never before have I seen people so intent on concealing the objects! I was chastised in the group chatter for giving a hint that was "too good".

The fun part of a hunt is checking out new stores AND meeting new people. Sometimes bonding over finding a little petal or letter is a fun way to make a new friend.

I have a post going up tomorrow with some of the hunt gifts. Photos are slightly better than noobish though I can't promise much hee hee

=) Happy Hunting!

Natasha Burke said...

Great post Ali.

It's ridiculous and I wont be doing this hunt either.

Quaintly Tuqiri said...

Great post Ali, I can't stand it anymore with the creators and they're "It's supposed to be hard to find, it's a hunt" and "Damn you for spoiling all the fun" attitude. People who don't want cheat sheets don't need to look at the cheat sheets, and people like me (and you!) who don't live in SL 24/7 don't have the luxury of time to do several hunts running at the same time covering a bazillion stores all over the grid. Sheesh!

Lialynn said...

Great post! Being kinda new to the whole hunting thing, I really don't know what to expect lol, in fact during the bunny hop hunt I almost gave up until I saw people post blogs (mainly on the freebie blogs) about the nice stuff, so I went to get those and discovered great new shops to shop in, and maybe it's just me but I don't understand why you would want to make it so hard to find your 'free' item, since isn't the point of giving free items like a promo? If you like it you'll go back right? If I don't find it I'm not gonna go back LOL, not to mention I don't have all the time in the world to be spending at 300+ stores finding each little thing all on my own :P

Sai Pennell said...

I refuse to do a hunt who changes their object names to random crap. I will use my object scanner, and if I have a cheat sheet available, I have no problems using it. Ban me from your stores now, creators! \o/

But really - its insane how hunting has become, and most of it is crap because it seems the general creator attitude is "Oh, it's just a hunt item." I hate spending over 10 minutes or more in a store, looking for something I probably won't even keep. It is a total waste of time.

The people who have this attitude, ban people, or get slightly angry with people who use help - I avoid their store at all costs.

So, for the creators who hate helped hunts: you lose customers with this attitude. Is it really worth acting that way about?

*steps off her soapbox*

Tristan Micheline said...

Well said Ali.
If stores persist in hiding their hunt item so extremely I have been known to completely delete the item (once I've found it) and all landmarks I have to that particular store and write the name on my notecard of doom to places I would never go back to again (or on a more positive note ~The winners of the asshat prize~ ) Meh, all about the same. Thank you for bringing this subject out and getting us all talking and thinking about it more.

Gabby Panacek said...

I don't hunt much, my time inworld is limited enough as it is. But I do read the blogs and when I see something I like, I'll go get it. When there is a direct slurl, or a hint to finding the item, in my mind the designer wins. Because if I'm spending my time searching for an object that is impossibly hidden, or moves every hour, guess what...I'm not looking at your stuff. I'm getting frustrated. But if I find the item right away, and remember, in my case I've probably already seen a picture so I'm reasonably sure I'll like it, then I will spend a few extra minutes, and usually a lot of extra L$s, checking out the rest of your store. I found some great new-to-me stores during one recent, smaller-scale hunt...and believe me, I have the declining account balance to prove these designers benefited from not actively discouraging the use of cheat sheets!

Thanks for the great post, Alicia.

Pumpkin Saenz said...

Like Quaintly said, many of us don't live in SL 24/7, and with these 300+ hunts that keep popping up, time is limited. I like being able to use SLURLS to grab the goods. Once I'm done, I go through and see the gifts. If I like what I see (while at the store -- if it rezzes -- and the gift), then I will blog about the items and go back to take another look around. I've found many wonderful stores that way, and have led many friends to these stores. Not all hunters are greedy, cheating pigs like they seem to think.

I won't be blogging any items from this hunt because of their juvenile antics. If they want to treat potential customers that way, then they must not really care to have any sales. Their "Us vs. Them" mentality is so sad.

Eliza Wrigglesworth said...

Rika Watanabe is my hero. If I were mildly deranged, I'd stalk her : )

I haven't finished a big hunt since the FashCon thing last year. I do less and less with each one, and I have to be in a really good mood to even go to a few participating shops when I have a cheat sheet.

I'm kind of looking foreward to what the Keys To The Kingdom thing is going to be like.

JanaS said...

hear hear Laleeta!
i started that hunt early, and dropped it quick-smart due to the smarmy comments made by the lady who organized it and her horrible comments and the way she treated people. I also read bananas blog about it how she was treated too. Not cool and spoils it for others.

Dont want freebie hunters? Arent all hunters technically 'freebie' hunters? Whats with that comment?

Wrenja said...

Oooooh THAT hunt. The hunt I made six stops at before I quit because 3 of those six stops were clubs/escort clubs, and the gifts were full perm crap. Yeah, I almost made a really nasty blog post about that hunt today.

I feel super bad for the vendors, they're in the hunt for promotion, and since the organizers are trying so hard to make sure their ridiculous 'comedy' club gets traffic, actual STORES aren't getting the business they need.

Narita said...

agreed. as a hunter & a vendor in several hunts, i find it a disturbing trend when some vendors go out of their way to torture potential customers. what is the point? my hunt gifts are just that - gifts! and i want people to have them. i have nothing to gain by frustrating and upsetting people before they can actually have it.

also, as a vendor, when people ahead of me in the chain make it so impossible for people to find their gifts, that they give up entirely, it hurts my business. they never get to come to my store, because that vendor thought it might be cute to be douchey. so stupid and inconsiderate....

Ana Lutetia said...

Loved your post!
I don't do hunts and I am personally tired of seeing new hunts being announced over and over at the fashion feeds.


dandellion Kimban said...

You're right. When hunts came to our happy little world, they were fun. I did some properly, I used cheat sheets in some, I even hanged around in some because some friends were hunting the things that were not interesting to me (and I like to keep my inventory small if not tidy). It was fun. But then it became biz. And all the fun went away.

I'm not against promotion, raising sales, on contrary. But not on the price of losing fun. I am not playing that game.

Ivey Deschanel said...

I really liked this post. It makes a lot of great points and demonstrates the frustration we as designers have had lately as well as hunters. Since I started designing almost two years ago, I've given a group freebie every week cause I remember well what it was like to be new or not have money to spend in world and I really love to give. I've had my share of trouble with hunters even before the "grid wide" issues. People shouting out prize locations, spamming, being complete asses and making it impossible for others to shop in peace or enjoy hunting (which some people, believe it or not, do like to do). Ever since the Ghost Hunt I've never hidden my hunt items again. It was too much stress on myself and employees and it brought out the worst in people. For the Peace on Earth Hunt, I put my globe on a spinning stand with a giant flaming arrow over it and I still had nasty IMs about hiding it. Since the problems with the massively huge Kiss hunt and the Twisted Hunt where I had to ban several people, not for helping but for attacking store employees that were trying to help by asking people politely to remove heavily scripted and primmed objects to help with lag, I made the decision never to do another large grid wide hunt. It doesnt help my business. With every new hunt starting my business drops in sales by over 20% for the first several days.

As I said, I do LOVE giving things away and I will still to my group and in smaller hunts for specific places I want to help promote. I will also always tell the general location of my gifts cause I don't want to make anyone angry. The sad part about the hunter issue is, for every one person that loves the hunts and enjoys and appreciates (and I'm sure this is why the strong reaction from a lot of designers) there are several more who bitch and complain and grab and hoard with no intention of coming back. I overheard a group of hunters in my store laughing at me, at all of us who give, saying we were suckers and they didnt have to spend a dime in SL. I don't spend hours making something to have to hear that or to get cussed out in IM or in a notecard cause I won't do a special color or send someone a copy cause they dont want to bother to look for something out in plain sight, and I don't think anyone would expect me to. Honestly I encorage the designers I know to concentrate on their own stores and their communities and regular shoppers rather than this "give me" mentality that has come up over the last several months. Freebies and Gifts just aren't special to anyone anymore and that's very sad to me.

Nivaya Barbosa said...

Beautifully said. Also hear hear to Ivey's comment, the escalation of gridwide hunts has done nothing for the prevailing sense of entitlement some people seem to have regarding freebies, and with the hunts spanning so many stores, rather than being 'great advertising' (particularly when vendors are encouraged to move their hunt items around, like you say, pissing a lot of people off), I think it's just exposing a wider audience of freebie vultures to innocent-enough stores.

Also, my word verification for this comment is 'turdsoc', which amuses me no end.

Creamy Cooljoke said...

SO true Ivey, freebies and gifts just don't seem so special and exciting any more. People do seem to expect them now, it's almost like hunts and freebie hunting have become part of the game of SL.
I feel partly to blame for that because of my blog, but there is no way I could have known - I just thought I was helping when I set it up:( It's part of the reason I do not blog so much anymore.

You are so right about the hunt thing Alicia.
I hate hunts, seriously even me!
I rarely do them.

I used a cheat sheat for Albero which would have taken me weeks if I didn't have it - that meant that I had time to check out some of the stores properly, some of which were totally new to me and therefore I bought stuff.

BUT not hiding the hunt items and using cheat sheets kind of make it no longer a hunt, so therefore what is the hunts? Maybe they should be called 'no hunt hunts' LOL

Candy Cerveau said...

I agree with much of what Alicia said. I also agree with a lot of what Ivey had to say in her post, and I know she's gotten lots of crap from people over the hunts she's participated in. She is an incredibly generous designer, giving constant freebies away and its unfortunate that she gets grief.

It is true that with a hunt you do get a lot of grief from a few people and I have also overheard conversations where ugly things are said. There will be nice people and there wil be ungrateful assholes. You can't stop people from "cheating" and its best to not even try, you will just stress yourself out. In a hunt scenario, you can't control who comes to pick up your gift. Accept that before you participate or run a hunt. These are the things you can control:

The quality of your hunt item - make it at your highest quality, it represents your work to everyone who comes in and the whole point of this is positive exposure. The people who say "well, I can't sell this, so I'll make it a freebie" are making a grave mistake in my opinion. People remember that it was crap and they don't come back to your store.

The quality of your participating designers - look for good designers who want to give a nice prize away.If your hunt has a BIAB gift in it, I guarantee people will remember that and not do your hunt next time. We are lucky that we have extraordinary designers who make fantastic gifts for us, and we are so grateful to them.

The type of hunt - if you don't want to make it super easy at least make it fun! We try really hard at Oz to make the hunts fun and have a story behind them and it seems to work well. Doing it that way certainly takes more work - each Oz hunt takes HOURS to plan and set up but the positive comments we've gotten make the time worthwhile so far.

The size of your hunt - keep it manageable! I haven't even done most of the ones lately because the sheer scope is daunting. More is not always better. Try narrowing your focus to a particular theme - that also helps you find your target audience.

I think that many of the problems we have with hunts can be solved with a simple concept. Be Kind to Each Other. Designers, don't make it hellish for people to find your gift and make something that is worth their time to visit your store. If people need help, then help them or let others help. Hunters, say thank you and don't be rude or ungrateful - remember that the designers spent time and effort to bring these things to you. You aren't owed gifts or freebies.

All this being said, I do think that hunting is reaching an over saturation point and we are going to have to think about new ways to reach consumers. As with so many things, the actions of a few end up ruining it for the rest of us. Innovation is key when marketing in Second Life. What new things can we do? Time to start thinking - I already have :)

Raul Crimson said...

I did only one hunt... and i was so tired of lag that was the last one.

Anyway, your post explains quite good a general feeling i think. As much in SL it stops being fun once it becomes a business and that works for magazines, art, fashion and everything under my point of view. Now it all about money, not about fun anymore.

Alicia Chenaux said...

Wow, I never expected so many comments!

There are many many of us who completely appreciate the designers that give gifts and give them just to see someone happy. Believe me, it does not go unnoticed or unappreciated, even if you do not hear the actual thank you. And we appreciate the freebie bloggers. Without them, there are many stores I never would have found on my own.

But yes, these enormous hunts have sucked the fun out of everything. Keep it small and space them out. How can we enjoy the gifts of one hunt if we just throw them out in order to make room for the next hunt's gifts?

Thanks for all the comments, it's great to know that I'm not the only person out there feeling like this!

Raynee said...

I agree with quite a bit of what I'm hearing about hunts. I actually like hunts that are small and challenging (though not impossibly challenging!) with quality items. Much better than 300 items of which I'll keep half a dozen. I don't mind hunts having rules either; ie: no cheat sheets or yelling out locations. I know of one designer who has a hunt every month or so who does exactly that. She has rules, you can IM someone who asks for help but no blatant giving it all away. Its also just a hunt in her sim and not one of the gigantic gridwide hunts. Her items in the hunt even ... omg, cost $10-$50L. But you are guaranteed a nice item, and you can see the description and decide if you want it before you buy it.
On the other hand, I've found some great shops I might never have found while doing the large hunts. I hate the lag and the bitchy people you encounter though. And I hate BOTH the designers who make it too hard to find their item and the whiney people who complain about everything. I guess I'm on both sides of this issue- for and against hunts. Its all become such a great big commercial thing and not fun anymore. I'll just stick to small hunts if I do any at all, or just hitting stores I like.

Astrid Kiranov said...

I have to agree with everything that's been said here. Everything is exactly what's been on my mind.

I gave up on the 300+ store hunt because it was just too much. I don't have that much time to devote to SL, and soon it will be even less, so I'll have to be very picky about any hunts that I do. During the Bunny Hop, I primed way down, and still was hit by lag that I could have cut with a chainsaw. That annoyed me. Then the shop owners who hid the darn things to the point you had to ask for a hint, yeah, I got annoyed. With 300+ eggs to find, in a limited amount of time, did we really have time to be putting in a lot of time searching?

And yes, the prizes. Oh, geez. I've still not fully sorted from the ghost hunt. Who knows when I'll get through the Bunny Hop prizes.

As for being thankful, you bet I am. My small SL budget thanks everyone who puts on hunts. I as someone who loves the thrill of the hunt thank you. I love Sn@tch so much that I put up with the lag in order to do hunts there. And the Oz hunts are so much freakin fun, that I'll put up with the lag to do those. I think they may be the only ones I'll do in the future. So, Ivey and Candy, THANK YOU! I also love the hunts at Calla. Ok, so there's three that I'll do. Yes, in the future I'll be keeping it to one store or one sim. I just don't have the time. I wish I did, but I don't.

Anonymous said...

I feel so much better knowing I'm not alone in my recent frustration with the Bunny Hop Hunt. Even using my alt to do it, so no interruptions from well-meaning friends, my conservative estimate is that I spent well over 40 hours searching for sometimes tiny, sometimes transparent eggs.

Part way through I was wishing I had started my own cheat list. With all the names of the stores that had made my egg-finding addiction stretch out into the wee hours of the morning (5am, more than ONCE!) A list of stores that I would never give any Linden$Love to when I was freed from the hell of the Bunny Hop Hunt.

Come to find out, I don't need that list. Last night while taking my main avie out for some spring furniture shopping, I came across a store that I recognized quite easily. Let's just say that I DID NOT go look to see if the little blue egg was still on the staircase, way in the back, and way up high where you have to fly to see something so small. I just got the heck out of there as fast as my stilettos could carry me.