Merchant/Vendor Database

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BrassFarthing
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Merchant/Vendor Database

Post by BrassFarthing » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:02 pm

I would like to see the site have a user-updatable list/database of merchants/vendors.

I have seen attempts at such listings in forums, but I do not remember them being updated much, and they were simply linear lists with formatting that sometimes gave me the info I needed, and sometimes didn't, and always took a while to read through to try to find the information I needed.

What I'm thinking of would be similar to the 'Current Resources' list in SWGCraft.com.

--- Merchant (a Registered User of the site) creates a listing.

- Pulldown Field for Server.
- Selectable-List Fields for Planets, Crafting Professions and Merchandise.
- Text Field for Notes. (Info like Character Names, waypoints, and details of any differences between multiple locations, if applicable)

--- Merchant could modify/remove the listing.
--- Site Moderators could remove the listing.
--- All Registered Users could bookmark listings and leave comments (auto-stamped with thier site names).
--- Site Moderators could delete comments deemed abusive.
--- Anybody (including unregistered Guests) could look/search/filter.

--- Should be able to search/filter by Server, Planets, Crafting Professions, and Merchandise. Would be great if we could search by Merchant, too (the Merchant's registered site name, to prevent tomfoolery).
--- Comments could be sorted First-Last or Last-First.

There might be other features that would be useful, but that's what I've got for ideas right now.

I'm not a coder. I have no idea how much blood/sweat/tears it would take to impliment such a Merchant List. I would like to hear whether it would be feasible, though, and whether others would find it useful.
Last edited by BrassFarthing on Sat Aug 25, 2007 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
[Wash] ----- Reading minds? That sounds like science fiction.
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[Wash] ----- So?

Sobuno
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Post by Sobuno » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:17 pm

While I can't comment on its usefulness, I will add it to our list of User Suggestions.... If enough people think it is a good idea, we might just implement it :)

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BrassFarthing
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Post by BrassFarthing » Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:35 pm

Much appreciated, Sobuno! :)
Last edited by BrassFarthing on Sat Aug 25, 2007 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
[Wash] ----- Reading minds? That sounds like science fiction.
[Zoe] ----- We live on a spaceship, dear.
[Wash] ----- So?

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awek
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Post by awek » Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:39 pm

I've been looking for a SWG web project to sink my teeth into. Though I'd prefer to do it with .NET....I could build it though with "service" hooks if you ever wanted to interop the two projects.

Ryokincaid
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Post by Ryokincaid » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:12 pm

IMO, this would be useful, but only if there's a way for users to flag dead vendors.

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Post by awek » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:16 pm

How about the owner of the vendor has to login and confirm his vendor every xx days or it gets marked dead.

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Post by Milara » Sat Aug 25, 2007 1:09 am

My suggestion wouldn't be to 'flag as dead' so much as use a priority-based listing. If a merchant logs in every day and keeps up with any messages, their listings, and so on, then they're on the ball and deserve a little credit-- a higher place on the list. Whereas a merchant that only checks in once a week is only a part-timer and should be listed lower on the list. The merchant most likely to carry the product you're looking for and most likely to respond to a custom order request is the merchant that actively does merchanty things on a daily basis.

That in mind, why stop with just listing stuff? Allow a customer to post a custom order and allow merchants to place bids on the order. Whoever has the best price or the best 'timeframe' for completion or whatnot wins the contract with the customer.

Why stop there? Put in some scripting so a person can 'window shop' on the site, use visuals (screenshots) for clothing items, select a preferred color scheme for the items using the game's color table, and have that order posted. Give it oh, a day or two, and then let the customer choose from the people who bid to fill the order for them. Someone on X server wants to purchase a pet from a bio-engineer. Place an order for x creature, x range of stats (or whatnot) and x color... bio-engineers bid a price to make the pet. Day or two later the person who placed the order can select the bio-engineer they would like to fill the order.

There are a lot of things you could do with a thought-out merchant listing site besides just having a directory of business cards. Just some thoughts. You could go really simple or you could go all-out. =)

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Post by awek » Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:44 am

All good ideas.

I was thinking this would be perfect for a webservice...so this site could consume the service and display the results anyway it wants.

This site could also tie the forum account to the service account.

I was also thinking it'd be cool to revamp a 'MyGalaxie' type thing like a Gamertag that could follow you from site to site, kind of like Xfire but Galaxies centric that could tie to your vendor listings etc...

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BrassFarthing
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Post by BrassFarthing » Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:41 am

Some cool thoughts showing up, there. :)

I will say, though, that I purposefully omitted the idea of a checkbox for users to mark dead vendors. Maybe I don't trust people enough, but I was worried about the potential for rivals or plain-ol' griefers just checking a box to keep someone from getting business.

My thinking was that Registered Users (not guests) could leave a comment if they find a vendor empty or gone. The comment would be stamped with their site/forum name, so they'd have to (in a limited way, at least) own up to/stand behind the act of marking a vendor as dead.

But the comment would be there, to tell any visitors that a vendor was found dead. Since I was thinking the comments could be sorted either first to last or last to first, the default could be with the most recent comments showing at the top, and they'd be quickly noticeable. I realize this wouldn't make the fact of a vendor's live-or-dead status searchable/filterable. Like I said, I was just worried about some hump clicking though the listings and marking everything as dead.

I think the idea of an activity meter has some merit, though I would want to discuss the amount/type of activity required to keep an "Active" listing. I wouldn't want to be listed as "Out of Business" if I fail to log in and click a button every X days.

Perhaps there could be a "Refresh Listing" button, appearing/clickable only for the Merchant who created the listing. Then, a stat (searchable, filterable) that shows how long ago the merchant refreshed the listing (X days ago). That way, people could get an idea how active the Merchant is, and could decide for themselves how to filter out Merchant listings that are not current enough for their tastes. And each Merchant could decide for themselves how often to check in, rather than being forced to do so every X days.

Merchants who are Johnny-on-the-spot with their SWG business could check in every day, and would benefit by always having their listing showing "< 1 Day" for Listing Age. Merchants who prefer to play more casually wouldn't have to check in to the site any more than they wanted to (or, for some of us, more than RL allows). Their listings wouldn't be as fresh and wouldn't attract as many customers, of course, but they would still be able to play the game casually, have their listings be locatable, and not have to worry about being shown as "Out of Business" when they are stocking vendors, just not as often as others.

I like the idea of indicating live vendors/businesses versus dead ones, but I want to avoid punishing casual players who want to craft and sell. I want this device to be something that helps all crafters, no matter how much time they can devote to playing the game.

Mm, another idea - might be nice to see when the Merchant created the listing in the first place.
[Wash] ----- Reading minds? That sounds like science fiction.
[Zoe] ----- We live on a spaceship, dear.
[Wash] ----- So?

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Post by Milara » Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:39 pm

In regards to either discussion... either priority listing based on activity or for marking dead/not dead, there is the fact that after a month, everything drops from the vendor if it doesn't sell anyway. But it would also depend on how indepth you wanted to go. If you're only displaying a 'business card' for the merchant then there wouldn't be any need to really log in that often because once your info's set, there's nothing else to change. In that scenario there would be a good deal of potential for 'dead vendors' just lying around cluttering things up. If merchants are expected to update an inventory list or something else that requires actual maintenance of their listing then if they don't log in for 30 days, maybe as long as 60 days, they should automatically be considered inactive.

Of course there's also the trap that if you expect a merchant to maintain an inventory list on a site during their 'gameplay time', they might not sign up to the site in the first place-- or sign up to try it once then never go back simply because they don't want to have to update an inventory listing.

It's kind of like updating resources on this site (or the original site). Everyone goes and takes a look, sometimes daily, but only a very few will take the effort of actually updating even though tons of potential surveyors 'signed up' to be able to survey. Or, this forum. There are... how many registered members? Yet only a dozen people post more than one or two times.

There is another way to approach using a 'mark as dead' option. You don't have to give one person the ability to mark a vendor as dead. You could set it so that 3 or 4 people have to mark a vendor as 'dead' before their listing drops. Then, if the owner of the listing happens to log in and/or update their listing, the count would be reset. True, some rival merchant might mark an opponent's vendor dead, but they'd have to find x number of people other than them to mark the vendor dead as well-- not an impossible feat, but far less likely.

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Post by awek » Sat Aug 25, 2007 6:27 pm

I think you have a point about player fatigue of updating inventory....I think a "business card" is probably a more feasible approach. And because items fall off after 30 days anyway...I'd say a vendor that didn't refresh after 60 could be considered inactive.

An alert system could be put in place to email the merchant after 15 days, 30, 45 whatever reminding them to login.

Or if swgcraft.co.uk can modify their login system to call the service then they could be automatically refreshed when they login here...the thinking there is that if they are still active here then they are likely still active in the game.

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Post by Sobuno » Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:23 pm

awek wrote:Or if swgcraft.co.uk can modify their login system to call the service then they could be automatically refreshed when they login here...the thinking there is that if they are still active here then they are likely still active in the game.
The forum software (phpBB) automaticly stores a timestamp for every user's last login, so no need to modify anything :)

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Post by BrassFarthing » Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:49 pm

Several points I wanted to respond to. Hope it doesn't appear adversarial/harping, but I needed to resort to quoting in order to keep my thoughts straight. Not trying to tear anyone up, just trying to respond coherently...
Milara wrote:....there is the fact that after a month, everything drops from the vendor if it doesn't sell anyway.
Yes, but a merchant doesn't have to log in to SWGCraft in order to restock a vendor in the game. A person's activity level on an external website is not a reliable indication of that person's activity level in the game. That is why I do not want any automated system for marking a vendor/business as dead. Show how long ago the person last updated his/her listing on the website? That's fair. Have multiple people mark as dead before the listing shows as dead? That seems fair, too. But mark 'em as dead-in-game because they haven't logged on to the website that's not actually part of the game? That makes too big an assumption, and I don't agree with it.
Milara wrote:If you're only displaying a 'business card' for the merchant then there wouldn't be any need to really log in that often because once your info's set, there's nothing else to change.
Actually, "only displaying a business card" is precisely what I would find useful. I didn't state it in those terms, but that's what I'm looking for.
Milara wrote:In that scenario there would be a good deal of potential for 'dead vendors' just lying around cluttering things up. If merchants are expected to update an inventory list or something else that requires actual maintenance of their listing then if they don't log in for 30 days, maybe as long as 60 days, they should automatically be considered inactive.
Dead listings are absolutely a legitimate concern, and do need addressing. I hope I've never been batty enough to argue against that... But I want to see a tool that makes things a little easier for crafters (a searchable/filterable listing of vendors) without also making it harder for them by requiring them to keep track of still more details/requirements outside of the game.
Milara wrote:Of course there's also the trap that if you expect a merchant to maintain an inventory list on a site during their 'gameplay time', they might not sign up to the site in the first place-- or sign up to try it once then never go back simply because they don't want to have to update an inventory listing.
Eeeek! :shock:
I agree that's a trap, and no 'might' about it... I have zero interest in producing and maintaining a detailed list of my inventory. I would not use a tool that required me to do so. Ever. I surely wouldn't expect anybody else to use it either. Where I said "Merchandise," in my OP, I meant a listing of what types of goods a vendor sells. Looking back at how I wrote it, I see I didn't make that clear.
Milara wrote:It's kind of like updating resources on this site (or the original site). Everyone goes and takes a look, sometimes daily, but only a very few will take the effort of actually updating even though tons of potential surveyors 'signed up' to be able to survey. Or, this forum. There are... how many registered members? Yet only a dozen people post more than one or two times.
A very good reason to keep the log-in-and-update requirements to a minimum. It'll still be useful to people, that way. As you observed above, if the tool is too demanding of people's time, people will not use it. The game is enough of a time-sink all by itself.
Milara wrote:There is another way to approach using a 'mark as dead' option. You don't have to give one person the ability to mark a vendor as dead. You could set it so that 3 or 4 people have to mark a vendor as 'dead' before their listing drops. Then, if the owner of the listing happens to log in and/or update their listing, the count would be reset. True, some rival merchant might mark an opponent's vendor dead, but they'd have to find x number of people other than them to mark the vendor dead as well-- not an impossible feat, but far less likely.
Ah, nice! I like that approach. I like each aspect of it. :)

Hopefully we won't have people creating dummy accounts just to have the power to mark someone as dead all by themselves. I don't expect that'll happen much, but I've seen people create dummy accounts to give themselves the appearance of support in a flame war, so I suppose it could. I think the tool ought to show who's marked something as dead (and when), to help keep things mostly honest.
[Wash] ----- Reading minds? That sounds like science fiction.
[Zoe] ----- We live on a spaceship, dear.
[Wash] ----- So?

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Post by Sobuno » Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:10 pm

*Moving the topic to Future Ideas*

Regarding the marking of dead vendors, I'd think you could have a system where you could 'Mark Vendor as Active' and 'Mark Vendor as Inactive', which adds/subtracts a point from the vendor's 'score'. Vendors below 0 would then be collapsed (So they don't take up as much space on the page) and put to the bottom of the page. Listing would not be ordered by score though, as to not have people make multiple accounts to 'up their score/pagerank'

This would make it more difficult for the rival to 'force' a vendor to be marked as dead/inactive because players could also give a vendor positive points.

Now, I am just throwing ideas out here like the rest of you guys, not saying that it's something we'll do... yet.

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Post by Ryokincaid » Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:21 pm

Ok, how about flipping it?

Owner of shop/vendors puts his card up here.....code it to die 45 days from when he originally puts it up (to account for vendor drop-off). Now, instead a mark as dead button, have a "thumbs up" button or somesuch. Each time the thumbs up button is hit, it resets the 45 day timer.

That way, if I find what I'm looking for from a listing here, I can give the owner of that shop a thumbs-up here. It will be able to provide another useful metric of how much the listings are used.

Just a thought.

edit: ok....Sobuno beat me to it :) Shouldn't have taken the time to go get that cup of coffee :)

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