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WSE Closes For A Month, Citing 'Upgrades'

SL World Stock Exchange Jan 4 2008Skip Oceanlane dropped me a note about the WSE taking a month, as of today, for upgrades - so I went over to take a look. I was immediately greeted:

[8:44] Auto Greeter: Hello. Nobody Fugazi Welcome to the WSE. As you all know we are upgrading as part of our launch for the WSE 4.0 platform. This is a huge undertaking and we have now entered a phase of development that requires the WSE to close all trading and transactions for "up to" 30 days. As responsible managers and to ensure stability, security and improved services it is important the WSE fix all existing bugs in the website as part of the upgrade. CEO's will continue normal reporting and announcements during this period. WSE 4.0 includes a new ATM, improved security and functionality along with a new conditional trading system. All WSE Account Holders will earn a bonus 25% p.a. interest during this process. We ask for your patience and apologise for any inconvenience. Kind Regards, LukeConnell Vandeverre

It does seem rather odd that this would happen on the tail of Linden Lab's post, 'Use Caution in Dealing with Third Party L$ Sites', especially with some less than... popular... practices at the WSE. Still, this could be a coincidence.

A visit to the WSE site nets 'IMPORTANT - MARKET CLOSED FOR WSE 4.0 UPGRADE'. Within it, there is some information - and I've condensed the claims into a list:

  • The upgrade is claimed to be for 'fixing all bugs' and also a new ATM, improved security and functionality along with a new conditional trading system.
  • CEO's will continue normal reporting and announcements during this period.
  • All WSE Account Holders will earn a bonus 25% p.a. interest during this process.
  • It is supposed to take up to 30 days, but later in the post there is this:

    We have also been extremely busy developing the very latest version of the WSE Platform - called WSE 4.0 -, which is progressing well and we expect the new website design, layout, functionality and services should be completed within 45 days.

Basically, any investments in the WSE, for up to the next 45 days, appear to be a loan at 25% per annum loan to WSE. WSE investors are very kind, it seems.

Nobody Note

With so little actual facts coming out of the WSE, and with this unannounced 30-45 day closure the day after Linden Lab posted about 3rd party exchanges, as well as the track record of WSE when it comes to many practices that some consider less than reputable (understatement), this is at the least a poorly timed upgrade.

As someone with experience in updating real time systems, I do not see how the upgrades were not done in a development environment first and then ported to the production system - something that certainly would not take 30 days once the work is done and would be less than inconvenient.

Sometimes the best one can do is identify something by the shadow it casts. This unannounced closure seems to be deep shadow, indeed, because of timing and the manner in which it is being handled. Other exchanges will certainly do better than the WSE over the next 30 days as well, and while WSE has effectively tied up funds of users during this 'upgrade' that comes complete with its own decimal point (so 1990s..), I imagine other stock exchanges in Second Life will be leveraging the WSE's actions against it. As well they should.

As more news of note develops, I'll cover it - but I fully expect it to become even more cloak and dagger over the next 30 days. And for inexperienced software developers - this should highlight the need for a development environment.

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Anonymous 2

In regards to the companies being asked about this closure, I would not doubt that they are part of the reasons for it to begin with. I've been keeping an eye on WSE and it seems that companies left and right are being taken off for simply taking investors money and running, then swept under the rug in a ridiculous stock aptly titled WTF. The companies that did post dividends have largely had pathetic returns. Most IPOs have a 1L/share rate, and considering most companies only gave out .02L/share at best each month, we're looking at several years just to make that initial IPO share pay off. You'd have to be an idiot to trust something like that in a world where a Linden blog post can make or break industries overnight--and I criticize myself as someone who got caught up in the excitement of stocks when they first appeared versus the logic.

We really need to see people like Nicholas and Luke arrested for stealing money via their fraud. People invested their real money into SL, converting it to a "fictional" currency, in which these individuals among others have reconverted into real money, so I'm hard pressed at seeing this as "imaginary" currency--we all know it's not. I think I know why LL didn't do anything till now, though. Look at all the publicity the banks and stock exchanges generated for Second Life, giving them millions of interested people who registered and will likely never come back (the 'everybody can make $$$$' image only lasts so long after all). Now that the popular press is starting to wane, now's as good a time as any to finally address the folly.

ouch.

You'd have to be an idiot to trust something like that in a world where a Linden blog post can make or break industries overnight...

No, not an idiot. The illusion is removed, that is all. Plenty of smart people get taken in by illusions every day.

...We really need to see people like Nicholas and Luke arrested for stealing money via their fraud. People invested their real money into SL, converting it to a "fictional" currency, in which these individuals among others have reconverted into real money, so I'm hard pressed at seeing this as "imaginary" currency--we all know it's not...

Dunno that Luke took anything or not, at least directly. The handling of GPB by WSE certainly raises some ethical questions (and perhaps some legal ones), as did the issues related to Midas Commons.

You know, come to think of it... a legal letter may be what caused Linden Lab to move. Intriguing.

You are right about the press wane. Of course, people want to read about how to make money out of nothing - it really is a big selling point. They would rather that than hear about people losing large sums of money. Perhaps the press is irresponsible in not reporting the truth, but circulation numbers mean a lot to advertisers. You could get me really going on that, I suppose... but that is really off topic for what I write about on Y2P, so... I'll let that go. :-)

Second Life Consultant

WSE 4.0

Maybe my memory is failing, but wasn't the last reason given for WSE going down for days, the implementation of WSE 4.0, because of the theft. Were they not "tightening up security" then?

In fact haven't they been implementing WSE 4.0 over the last 4 months or so?

Like I said maybe my memory is failing me.

I would appreciate any "memory refreshers". Old age is a bitch!!

Arnaud Villota
"When you got nothin' you got nothin' to lose"
Dylan, late 60s'

I'm just wondering why Luke

I'm just wondering why Luke isn't shitting his pants and shivering in all his pants shit, which he's up to his eyeballs in. Whether or not he's doing something illegal, there's many people out there in the world that feel ripped off. They feel he stole their money. How would Luke be able to go about his future days comfortably knowing that the people he ripped off have his personal information including RL name, address, and ISP info?

Rapidly slipping deadlines

Yes, you are of course perfectly correct here - 30 days is utterly unbelievable as "upgrade" time, that's just a rather poor joke, and perhaps indicates what their opinions are of the intellectual abilities of their subscribers.

It is interesting that this comes so close to that particular announcement, and it might well have something directly to do with that, though I'm not sure precisely what it might be. Other possibilities that I can think of include:

* a really, really huge and basic security flaw found, requiring a huge amount of recoding and redeployment, which they want to try to cover up to avoid scaring people from the platform as a whole but can't risk leaving the system up for;

* an internal argument with technical staff that has resulted in them taking down the whole system and quitting, meaning that it has to be recoded and redeployed, as above;

* a "getaway period" for a cut-and-run from SL, to stave off questions until cash is safely sequestered in assorted offshore bank accounts, or, at least, converted into Neopoints.

Were I an actual investor I might be a bit less whimsical and a bit more outraged, but then, I am tempted to say that were I an actual investor I would probably believe the 30/45/whatever-it-ends-up-as day thing too.

well then

If i was a ceo that had a company listed on any exchange that didn't consult me before closing for a mounth i would put out of the exchange and look into another one.
It is not good business pratice.

Hmmm

I think I have a few shares there, I like to pretend I'm playing the market but this seems to be a long shutdown and this can't be good for business but more importantly, what about the companies who are listed there, have they been consulted?

Scares Me Somewhat

The last time they shut down like this wasn't it because security had been comprimised and money stolen? It was masked as an upgrade, or if I recall correctly the upgrade and theft timed out convienently.

My only real beef with this (right now) is that there was no heads up. I imagine some people keep operating cash in their WSE account and would need it. Daytraders will also suffer. It would have been nice to have been alerted to the fact that WSE was shutting down at least 15 days before with a series of reminders. That's a pretty common thing when you care about your customers.

I agree Nobody. Seems a bit off to me too. To wake up and find a substantial service in the SL Economy is closed for a month with no previous notice is not right. It appears as though Luke knew this was going to happen for some time. However everything published by WSE makes it appear as though it was all planned. He could have at least alerted his CEOs before the shutdown.

Suprise! We've cut off access to your money for up to a month! This was all planned for your good and to improve your trading enviroment.

WSE 4.0 - a monkey or a rabbit?

Exactly what I was thinking too. Well, not exactly, as I hadn't made the connection - if there is any - between the recent LL announcement about third party exchanges and the WSE closure yet, but apart from that very similar.

How can anyone expect to just close up shop for "up to 30 days" and still have a shop when they return? We all know that SL is a rather fast paced environment and economy, which makes it even worse. I won't even guestimate how much L$ is tied up in WSE, but it has to be millions. Not having access to that money yet being promised 25% pa doesn't really soften the blow.

After all, we do know the track record of HCL on bond payments etc. Some may consider this throwing the stick in the hen house, but... what if WSE and Luke disappeared over the next thirty days? Since over a month would have passed before people could be "certain" (if there is such a thing) would there be any recourse, and actions that could still be taken? I seriously doubt it. And wouldn't the requirement of WSE to have CEO's still post announcements be a cover to make everything appear active and legit?

It's too early to predict what'll happen, and no one - but Luke maybe - knows whether it'll be a monkey or a rabbit that's being pulled out of a hat.

ServMe Nakamura
virtualSecond CEO

Closing up shop

"How can anyone expect to just close up shop for 'up to 30 days' and still have a shop when they return?"

Certainly they can't, but I wouldn't predict the death of WSE just yet. I keep thinking that surely all confidence in them will be broken after this or that event, but somehow it hasn't happened yet. They have nine lives. Is this the ninth one? Maybe, but I have quit predicting their death.

Unoti Quonset
Tango 11

How Annoying

This is so annoying- Id stayed away from WSE for months because of this kind of thing- then the other week started invested 20,000L in several of the better stocks- to be rewarded by this New Year treat.

I think that Luke has his own intentions at heart (as always) and thinks its worth the shutdown for his new web-site, but the truth is that the investors only lose out- The WSE will undoubtebly lose market share to SLCAPEX (a ponzi front) and ISE (a good exchange but with no decent stocks).

There will always be people

There will always be the type people who buy diet pills, buy from adfarmers, buy anti-aging creams, are careless about setting the price of their land correctly, buy re-grow hair shampoos, invest in SL banks, order mostly cure all junk from half hour infomercials......

I would say security flaw

I agree with Ordinal, this is the likely scenerio:

"* a really, really huge and basic security flaw found, requiring a huge amount of recoding and redeployment, which they want to try to cover up to avoid scaring people from the platform as a whole but can't risk leaving the system up for;"

Its likely has to do with security, they found a security flaw that exposes them to risk. A flaw big enough to make him risk his entire business, obviously its a flaw that could potentially cost him the business and more.

Either they are already in trouble or the potential was too high, they needed to take down their system to recode. Again 30 days is still too much it just shows how severe the issue is.

But WSE is roleplay for entertainment and education only. People only invested their entertainment tokens?

WSE

Doesn't matter what the reason for the closing is. The information given is inadequate and were I an roleplay investor I couldn't help but think they've taken a 30 day headstart. In a bank roleplay whoever has the money is the winner.

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