Whatever happened to markets in everything?

I posted this on northern Virginia Craigslist and haven’t heard a peep:

I am looking to learn how to use Second Life.  I would like a series of lessons from a tutor with extensive experience in Second Life.  I don’t need anything very complicated, just an introduction to the basics. Please email me your rates.

Why is this market failing me?  And what should I do next?


Perhaps the NOVA Craig's List does not provide enough coverage for your target market.

I'd think the market to learn about second life probably exists in second life, not Fairfax.

"And what should I do next?"

Read _Second Life for Dummies_, duh. :)


I think the next thing you should do is post your request on your blog and see if any of your thousands of readers could help you out. I can't, but maybe somebody else can. If you don't want to take the easy way out, I have my theory below.

I think your problem might be that there really isn't a market for what you are asking. Thus there is no way to know how to price the service you want. It might work better if you set the price yourself. You can either set it at what you think the going rates for such tutoring should be or by how much you are willing to willing to pay for lessons. But either way a price in your post will either set the (amazingly inefficient) market price or show you that you are pricing your request below the market.

I've helped people through it, so I could be your guide, though I haven't used it since '03 (!), if you could buy me a new account,
just a reactivation of the old for a month. I'd want $30/hour on top, though, and I don't know what incentive
structure you'd want to make sure you and I both put in the effort. My credibility is that I've posted
here for ~18 months. I'm willing to trust your effort level.

I would also take off one hour from my fee if you'd agree to 20-min vidchat interview about economics that I could put on my yt page.

In my time on SL I have mastered and taught to others:

-Making tattoos with varying levels of transparency.
-Making arbitrary 3D objects, including for costumes.
-Scripting. (I have written a banking system, listening bugs [!], and voice-throwers.)

But about the market problem: is there no Craigslist for a broader area of the anglosphere? I wouldn't
say the market has failed you until either a) that method gets no bites, or b) such a broader net does
not exist on craiglist (and is craiglist even part of the market...?)

But Tyler...hiring someone to give you lessons is so NOT "Web 2.0." You can't price such a thing because it is nonsensical in an "everything on the Internet" kind of world. You're expected to learn online, e.g. at


I use Second Life quite a lot myself.
When asking for a tutor, though....the real BASICS are learned VERY quickly - probably more quickly than you could even establish CONTACT with a real life tutor. Given the ease of the task, and the amount of respect you get from your commenters, your odd for a freebie are rather good.

For anything BEYOND the basics (building objects, scripting, doing animations, helping people act out their rape fantasies, etc.) you need to be kind of specific because many very experienced players might not ever have dealt with one specific sector. Of course, as somebody already mentioned, there are MANY resources available online.

Possibly because many think that your ad is misplaced. Maybe people think that you're surreptitiously seeking MFM but not wanting to put an ad in the Casual Encounters section of Craig's List and instead looking there.

He wasn't entirely clear whether he wanted his tutor to be physically present (which would exclude a large sector, but is suggested by the fact he advertised in a LOCAL medium) or whether phone - or even SL presence would suffice.

I'm guessing most SL people would automatically assume the LATTER.

I'd be happy to talk him through the very beginning on the phone for about 30 minutes, just for the honor of TALKING to him....and by then he'd be able to find a more specific tutor (hey, just pick any patient Escort!) he could pay in Linden$. But I would not be willing to fly out to him unless there was a LOT of money involved.

You need to say who you are in the ad. People would be happier helping a college professor, because then they know you're not some creep.

Advertise on campus instead.

Macneil and "me" have a point, by the way.
There is a lot of X-rated use of SL, so some people reading the ad might well be interpreting it as something like "I would like to have intercourse with my wife for the first time, but am not comfortable doing this without a coach standing by. Please contact me with your rates"

If you don't post a picture of you or your wife with that ad, the response is likely to be low.

Maybe the presales effort is an obstacle. Since there is no market yet, a few terms of service must be invented and negociated. It is basically a transaction cost problem.

You could either offer compensation for the presales effort, or make your offer potentially attractive to stimulate potential bidders.

Forget CraigList.
You're the #1 economics blogger.
Phone the Linden Lab P.R. people and tell them your inquiry.
Psstt... There is a NYT article on prediction markets...

Learn by Doing, Grasshopper.

This post has generated the wackiest range of responses I have ever seen on this blog...

Your ad sounds really creepy. See if you can make your ad funny or generally lighthearted. Also you may have better luck suggesting a price or some offer of services in kind like help with math homework.

Add an image.

Obviously we need government intervention to solve this market failure. I believe Sweden has a soicalized system of education that teaches all citizens (and residents too) everything they need to know and quite a bit more just for fun.

There's got to be kids on campus that play it. Post your ad on a few flyers in the Johnson Center and I'm sure you'll get some replies.

Another possibility you haven't considered: that Second Life is a complete waste of time, thus nobody is willing to help you waste your time for any reasonable hourly rate.

The National Defense University (NDU) has organized the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds. Their next conference is as follows:

April 24-25, 2008
National Defense University
Washington, DC

Federal Virtual Worlds Expo: Implementing the Future

On 23 April they will run Second Life Preconference Workshops.

See you there!

Aha! Market failure->Second Best: We clearly need a federal program to provide SL education. If we don't, there will soon develop a digital divide between those who can master SL and those who can't. Since the future is in cyberspace, we will have to subsidize meatspace dwellers. Federal SL training is the least expensive alternative.

There isn't likely to be much of a market in this because SL tutoring in the basics is already undercut by the FREE help you get upon entering the world. Once you complete the orientation steps you're dumped on a Help Island where volunteers are usually hanging around to do just what you asked for at no cost. Given this, anyone looking at your ad would have to assume you're either helpless (not willing to even *try* SL before posting) or asking for something advanced but unspecified, perhaps like inworld scripting or business development.

Someone sent me your post here because they think I'm a brilliant Second Lifer, which is untrue. Still, I've been building and cruising around SL for over a year. I agree with the comments here that SL is quite intuitive and you probably wont need much tutoring... Anyhow, I'm in Alexandria and would be happy to come show you the ropes. I can do all the basic stuff. I would think that after one session in-world help would be sufficient for almost anything, so I suggest you establish a one-time fee for an extended three hour session... I dunno, maybe $100 bucks or so. Here's a machima of me at the Burning Life camp I made in-world. I made almost all of the stuff you see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt6VyoHMTHA Drop me a note if you'd like to discuss further or say hi to me in SL... my avatar is named Pex Petrov.

I only wish Tyler was a Second Lifer when Linden Labs outlawed interest payments and all the banks collapsed. I lost a little in the virtual stock market myself. It would have been interesting to see his reaction.

Contact one of the computer science teachers at Thomas Jefferson High School. They have a bunch of brilliant kids that know Second Life quite well and the kids will work relatively cheaply. If you wait until late May, exams will be coming up and you will have to wait until late June. The school is located on Braddock Rd. in Fairfax County.

Every success is based on continuous efforts. It is not possible be done over nigh.

It is enlightening!

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