Linden Lab is pleased to announce that we are in the process of extending our inworld search mechanism which should improve the search experience and results for all Second Life Residents! The primary goals of this project are to both make it easier to find places to go inworld and to make it simpler to find objects to purchase. Before this project launches, we’d like to explain some of the changes to you and hopefully get some feedback before it moves into production. With today’s 1.18.4 release candidate (download 1.18.4 or read the blog announcement), we will be incorporating a new check box option to allow Second Life Residents to opt-into the new Search. For the initial population of the search, we’ve made some assumptions for the default settings of each type of result (explained below).


Also, read about the planned future of search in Second Life here. You will have time to change all of your default settings before the actual launch of the new Search, which we’re hoping will happen in the next few months, please watch this blog for updates! We wanted to give you several weeks to prepare and choose your settings before the change.




If you’re curious about the Release Candidate process, please read more about it.




Technical Details
The biggest change that you’ll notice when the new Search launches is that the “Search All” dialog box has been dramatically changed and improved (see images below). We have built a system that creates ordinary HTML web pages out of data from the Second Life system. We upload these web pages to an ordinary web server. We have purchased Google Search Appliances to perform the indexing and the new search results. These servers are an off-the-shelf product which Google makes available for purchase by an individual or organization, and the servers and data are hosted at Linden’s co-location facilities. We have not entered into any working partnership with Google.




What’s Included in Search?
Land parcels, Residents profile, Groups, Second Life wiki articles, Events, and some individual Objects present on public parcels are all included in the search results. Keep reading for more information on what’s included.


How is the Order for Search Results Determined?
In the new All Search, results are returned by “relevance“, based on how well the page matches the query, how close the multiple words are together, and how many inbound links there are to the page. Inbound links are created by references in top picks, classifieds, landmarks, parcels and groups. While you can create links to these pages from web sites outside Second Life, those in-bound links are not used for relevance. For now we are not allowing HTML in profiles, land descriptions, etc., so attempting to create links in the description text will not work.




Maturity and the New Search
If your parcel has “Mature Content” checked, it will be flagged as such in the search results.




Privacy and the New Search
You have the ability to choose what is included in the new search. For the initial population of the search, we’ve made some assumptions for the default settings of each type of result (explained below). You will be able to change the default after it has been set (when we launch the new Search), although it may between 1-3 days for changes to be reflected in the search results. Due to the nature of search indexing, we are not able to make any guarantees about when any changes will appear.




Be aware that the new search results will be available to the public, once it’s released, anyone with a web browser can view them from the Second Life website. The search results may also be picked up by other external search engines such as Yahoo and Google, although we are not explicitly asking search engines to crawl them at this time. It’s important to remember that this information is not tied to your real life identity and is the same information that anybody could see with a free Second Life account.




Keep reading for information on the Default settings, more images of the new search and the Search FAQ

(Information on Default Settings)




Land Parcels
Land parcels will default to “not being searched”, just as it does now. All land parcels currently included in the “Places” search will be included. In order to be included in the Search results, you will need to check the “Show in Search > Places” checkbox in the “About Land” panel, under the “Options” tab. (Please note: The L$30 charge per week to be included in search is still in place for land parcels.)




Previously there were two check boxes in regards to groups and privacy – “Publish listing on the web” and “Show in groups list”. This is being simplified to include one box in the group settings called “Show in Search” which will make the group public. If a group was previously set to “Show in groups list” it will be included by default in the new search. The “Publish listing on the web” checkbox will be deprecated and will not be used to determine inclusion in the new search.




Resident Profiles
The new search will allow people to search profiles for information about particular Residents. All profiles are included by default, but if you want to only have a limited profile available, simply uncheck the box next to “Show in Search”. The limited profile includes your avatar’s name, born on date and account type.




If you include your complete profile in the search, others will be able to search the things you type into your “About” box in your “2nd Life” Tab, your favorite places from your “Picks” Tab and your profile picture! “1st Life” and groups membership are not listed.




Currently it is not possible to search for individual objects via the Second Life Search, but with the new version of Search, objects will be searchable! We’ve created a new “Show in Search” checkbox (see image below) which allows objects to be found via the Search All.




For the initial launch of Search, any parcels set to “Show in Search” with objects marked as “for sale” will be defaulted to their “Show in Search” checkbox on and will be listed in Search. Any objects on parcels set to which are not set for sale will default to having the “Show in Search” checkbox not selected. If your parcel is set to not show in Search, your objects will not be listed by default, regardless of their settings.




We’re also going to allow not-for-sale objects to be included in search results, but you will need to explicitly check the “Show in Search” box.


All events will be included in the new search. You will also be able to search on any information within the event details.




What Happens to Classifieds?
We are adding new functionality that displays related Classified results alongside the other results in the Search All panel. This will hopefully result in larger visibility for Classified results. Also, when you first open the Search All panel, the top eight classified ads will highlighted. Classifieds are still available both in the Search All results and in their own tab in the Search.


To be clear, the list of classifieds in the right column of the All tab is exactly the same list that would be generated if you typed the same words into the existing Classifieds tab (see image above). This may change in the future as we work to improve the inworld advertising experience, watch for more information on that in the future!