Slmen a deux ans! / Slmen turns two!

Ben Vanguard | - Free Expression, - Non classé | Monday, January 5th, 2009

Two years ago, the first post was published on Slmen.

So much has happened since then! I’m almost ashamed to look at those early posts. I had no idea of the subtleties of SL lighting and wasn’t really aware of all the features available in the snapshot function.

I started Slmen to help men find cool clothing and accessories, show them put-together outfits, and to give homage to the designers who were adventurous enough to create men’s apparel. I say adventurous, because due to the male avatar specifications, creating for men is quite a challenge (tell me about the wide feet, a mesh done initially for female avatars, not really convincing when applied on male shapes). Plus, lets face it, the market for men’s fashions is way narrower than women’s, which isn’t really an incentive to design male apparel! All these facts led to the point where it was quite challenging for male avatars to look good at the end of 2006. Things have dramatically improved since then with many more designers on the scene and an amazing improvement of the quality of clothing and accessories. We at Slmen are proud to have played our little part in this expansion, promoting the work of more skilled established designers and helping emerging new talents.

We’ve done it our way, being as objective as possible, avoiding an excess of praise and reverence that often makes paying customers cringe, but still being respectful of the hard work designers do, standing by our beliefs about perms and quality, daring evaluation on items because not everything is worth everything and paying customers have the right to know that. We’ve done it honestly, spending all the time needed to make clothing and accessories look their best, without hiding flaws or retouching pictures in any way. We’ve done it trying to show a palette of styles (not wide enough, I know!), putting aside our own preferences and personal taste to focus on what is interesting to show. We never forget we stand at the customers’ side when we are doing our work. It seems our average 98,000+ readers/month (generating 390,000+ page views/month) feel that way and appreciate it!

Thanks to the wonderful fashion, skin and accessory creators who make our avatars look so good, to the pose creators who make them so expressive (and hell, how could attire look gorgeous on avatars without proper poses to make them come alive?). Thanks to those who were patient enough to work for Slmen during year 2008: Nuno McCullough; Domch Raymaker, who always brings a dash of fantasy; and Perry Proudhon, whose constant help and support are so precious to me. Most of all, thanks to you who stick with us so faithfully and spend a bit of time reading Slmen. We wouldn’t keep it running without you guys!

After the cut, you will get Slmen’s stats for 2008 and an FAQ attempting to summarize the most frequently asked questions we received in world, in comments or by e-mail.

We reached an average 4,800 unique readers per day during January and February 2008. Since then, we were forced to tremendously reduce the amount of posts per week, from at least 6 posts a week, to 3 posts a week. The average number of unique readers per month obviously suffered, but on days when we published a post we got a peak of up to 5,800 unique readers/day, while the amount of page views didn’t decrease.

[Click on the picture to enlarge]

Talking about the referrers, 49% of Slmen’s readers reach us directly by typing our URL (or clicking a kiosk in world) or a favorite in their browser, 3% using a RSS reader, 34% clicking a link on a post on the “Fashion World of SL“, 4% from a link on “Fashion Feed of SL“, 6% from Google search, and 4% from links on other blogs and websites.

Wanna see the stats for 2007? They’re here!

Frquently Asked Questions

—Reduced post amount—

“You used to post almost every day! Why did you reduce your pace so much? Will you soon give me back my daily shot?”

Those who know me know that my time online takes away from my sleeping time! Since day one, between my RL work and my RL friends and family, I did not have much time left to devote to the passion SL and Slmen had become. I dedicated all my free time and many hours I should have been sleeping, to Slmen. In January 2008, I got a promotion at work which meant…more responsibilities, and more work! Great deal, huh? :-D Anyway, it has become totally impossible to keep up the posting pace, even with the help of Perry. We managed to post around 3 times a week, but I doubt we could be able to do more without more help! So, wannabe editors, get the message? ;-)

“I miss the in-depth posts you did on skins! Will you bring them back soon?”

There are three reasons why I stopped the in-depth skin posts. It was a hard decision to make, because they were really popular.

First reason is lack of time. See above for more details ;-) Normal posts take 3 to 6 hours to make, while skin posts demand 8 to 12 hours of work.

Second reason is the genius move of Linden Labs to add bugs features in the viewer like, for example, the one that makes textures load and reload and reload forever, making the cache totally useless. I need to take more than 50 snapshots for these skin posts. For each of them, since the new bug feature introduced with Windlight, when the upper texture was rezzed, I had to wait for the middle to be rezzed, then the bottom one. But wait, during this time the upper one derezzed and had to reload, etc, etc. So you had to target that special moment where all the textures of a skin are rezzed at the same time to make your snapshot, then again for the next skin tone or hair option or whatever. It drove me crazy! Skin posts were demanding way more than the usual time to make. I had to abandon these posts before killing a few dozen Gods Lindens, until the time they might introduce a brand new bug feature which could fix the previous one if we are lucky enough. Please vote for this Jira entry! It could be useful, maybe, well…

The third reason is the least important, but, added to the other important ones, it helped me make my final decision. Each time, I mean each and every time, I posted an in-depth skin post, I got threatening IMs in world, and nasty anonymous insults in the comments, about my supporting content theft, that this or that skin was blatantly ripped off of some other, yada yada yada. Boring to tears, but still annoying. Like I’ve said many times, I’m not the police, I’m no designer’s deputy in charge of copyright enforcement. If there was a successful DMCA procedure about a skin featured on slmen, I would take down any in-depth post done or credits for that skin. Assumptions, libel and threats? My answer is the “Delete Comment” option in WordPress, my “Spam Folder” in e-mail, and the “Mute” button in SL. Love you!!!!

“Some well known brands aren’t featured on slmen, would you mind explaining why?”

The answer is always the same: lack of time! Sure, we prefer promoting less known brands than those already super-exposed all over the blogs and the press (like the one brand that uses a name close to a RL luxury fashion maker and sells nicely done exact copies of RL creations, focusing all their creative juice on marketing, or this one other —or maybe it’s the same dream team?!— with a skin for men you can see absolutely everywhere and whose owner lets the customers of their former famous brand go without any service, although they keep their huge sim/shop open). But the truth is there are some brands, both known and less known, offering interesting stuff that was never featured on Slmen (although we would be happy to do so). We will do our best to avoid missing good brands and other nice stuff for the year 2009!

—Advertising on Slmen—

“Why did you start advertising on Slmen?”

I was happy to start Slmen and show stuff I like, sharing ideas and addresses. Slmen didn’t get much traffic, the hosting was cheap and I had time to enjoy SL, hanging out with friends and wearing the stuff I bought. Then I started refining the website, spending larger amounts of time getting better pictures, precisely adjusting attachments for each snapshot, working on the lighting and background choice, adding full descriptions and prices, then updating SLURLS… The traffic increased tremendously and I had to switch to a more powerful hosting plan that wasn’t cheap anymore.

Owing to my time in world becoming more and more limited and thus totally dedicated to the website, I was feeling like Slmen had become a second job I had to pay for. It wasn’t sustainable anymore, and I had to find a way to stop injecting RL money in world (for pose shopping, background texture shopping, tier for the photo studio, last minute shopping during shooting sessions…), attempting to do nothing more than keep the RL hosting provider bills paid. Since some content creators had asked me to advertise on Slmen a long time ago, I decided to start advertising on Slmen in May 2008.

“I’m a new fashion designer for men in SL. Do I have to pay for advertising to have my stuff featured on Slmen?”

Actually, it’s precisely the opposite! We have this rule: only fashion makers that have been featured on Slmen can advertise on Slmen. Of course, if you are building furniture, prefabs or any content or service outside of the fashion scene, you can contact us immediately for a quote!

—Items rating—

“It’s pretty tacky to judge and evaluate items you were given for free by generous content creators! How dare you?!”

Well first, items are not given as gifts, they are given for review purpose; it’s a deal, and a good deal for designers: we spend a lot of time making their stuff look nice, and they benefit from Slmen’s good audience to promote their stuff, for just the price of the fabric — oh wait, there is no fabric! ;-) Promoting designers’ hard work is what Slmen has been intended for, and it’s good it stays that way.

Besides, we would be happy to hang out wearing some of the nice stuff we have been given when they happen to be totally our taste, but we don’t have any time left for that.

On the other hand, we’re doing Slmen to help and inform customers. We owe them honest information on products. We think it’s important for them to know, say, that some items are not perfectly done from a technical standpoint, but are really creative, original, and nicely priced; or that another is truly expensive but exceptionally designed and detailed. Thus, the rating. We dare because of that!

“I love this rating thing of yours, it’s important for us paying customers to know what we will buy, since demos are so rare for clothing. But I’ve never noticed any bad rating for Quality and Usability criteria. Is that to please designers and fool customers?”

The reason is very simple: items that would get less than an average rating for these criteria just can’t be featured on Slmen. See below what the usability criteria are. Speaking of quality, items with really bad seams, totally undetailed textures, or shoes with ugly invisiprims or stuff like that wouldn’t deserve to be promoted on Slmen. We have so many nicely done items to show and so little time!

“Would you mind being more specific about what you call Usability?”

It’s “what you can do with the stuff you’ve just bought, and how easy it is to handle and fit to your avie.”

You can fit your outfit to your avatar, shorten long sleeves to show your watch, modify your shirt to give a bit of volume to the jacket sleeve over it, set your pants flare to avoid it colliding with your shoes? we will give an average rating of “2.5.” You cant do that? We don’t give a lower rating, we simply don’t show the item. You get many layers for the same item? The shoes are resizable by menu? You get more than one color or version of the item in the box? All that increases the usability rating. For a full outfit, the amount of variations you are given count, as well as the presence of several pre-sized attachments for hair, prim complements, etc. An example? A long sleeve shirt, moddable but only on the jacket layer, will get a “2.5″ and will get up to 4 if it’s offered on the shirt layer as well as on the undershirt layer, plus a complement on the underpants layer and even on the pants layer. If, added to that, you find in the box the original patterned version PLUS a plain fabric version added to the other features, we will give a “5.” A pair of shoes that is moddable without several presized versions will get a “3.5″ because, although it could be tedious to adjust the size manually, it’s nice to recolor it to match your shirt, for example; no-mod ones with one available size would get below “2.5″ and so wouldn’t be featured; with two sizes we would give “2.5;” with more sizes “3;” with resize menu “3.5;” with a user friendly resize script, a bit more, same if the shoes are recolor scripted, etc! I know it’s a bit complicated, but it’s finally pretty logical, don’t you think? :-)

“How do you evaluate the prices? What does a price rating mean since you give price information on each item?”

The price rating is a simple comparison between a certain item and others of the same kind on the market at the time we write the post.

For example, you can find very good jeans in SL for 50 Lindens (Robin Sojourner’s ones!); you can find cheaper ones, but poorly done. So we set the “5″ rating to jeans priced between 50 and 100 lindens, for example. We will give a “3″ for the ones with a price close to the average on the market, “4″ for those below average without being as cheap as the reference, “2″ for those above average and “1″ for those truly standing out with their high price (which means they better be amazing to be shown on Slmen ;-)).

It seems to us it’s valuable information for those who are new to SL or not especially aware of the price of stuff, because, you know, not every man in SL spends all his time shopping for fashion!

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15 Comments »

  1. Congratulations on this milestone, guys - you’ve always been one of my top bookmarked pages. I’ll be a reader as long as you keep publishing.

    Comment by Winter — 6 January 2009 @ 0:53

  2. Happy Birthday Ben!
    I do not know how you do it - 6 months into it and I am exhausted.
    But keep them coming

    Comment by maddox.dupont — 6 January 2009 @ 1:12

  3. Congratulations Ben on this achievement and thanks for all the input - its always useful to have some constructive criticism of my clothes and i know you will always honestly tell me what you think - even if its sometimes not what i want to hear! lol . I appreciate a reviewer who will give me the reasons why he wont show one of my items and when you first did it , it made me determined to make something that was better.
    I enjoy reading slmen.com its helped me out of some difficulties when finding presents for male friends too!

    Comment by swaffette Firefly — 6 January 2009 @ 2:08

  4. CONGRATS!! *throws confetti around*

    Comment by Ana Lutetia — 6 January 2009 @ 2:19

  5. Congrats, Ben & SL Men! We love ya!

    Comment by Tenshi Vielle — 6 January 2009 @ 2:29

  6. Congrats Ben!! thats brilliant

    Comment by aems — 6 January 2009 @ 2:39

  7. Congrats Ben and SLMen, here’s to the next two years and beyond.

    Comment by Roslin Petion — 6 January 2009 @ 2:48

  8. Un p’tit beurre des touyouuuuuuus
    Un p’tit beurre des touyouuuuuuus
    Un p’tit beuuuuuuuuuuurre des touyouuuuuuuuuus Ben et SLmen.coooooooooooom
    Un p’tit beuuuurre - deeeees - touuuuuuyouuuuuuuuuuus !!!

    (requirements to understand this awful silly birthday song: native french)

    Comment by Negko DeVinna — 6 January 2009 @ 9:55

  9. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Yay!

    Comment by Francesca Balogh — 6 January 2009 @ 10:40

  10. Parabéns! Keep the good work, you are an inspiration to most of us

    Comment by Devon Chaffe — 6 January 2009 @ 11:37

  11. Happy Birthday Slmen, congratulations Ben and the team :) Thanks a lot for all the advices and the hard work during those 2 years. Keep up the amazing work you do!

    Comment by Dominic Palisades — 6 January 2009 @ 11:46

  12. Happy Happy Two !!! **hugss** Keep up the awesome work!

    Comment by Mhaijik — 6 January 2009 @ 17:10

  13. Awesome work gentlemen, Congratulations!!! Your stringent adherence to your principles has raised the bar on mens fashion, your professionalism is to be commended… little wonder that you have earned yourselves such a good reputation! You are always a delight to work with, thank you :D

    Comment by Faery Sola — 7 January 2009 @ 10:13

  14. Happy Birthday, ^^

    Comment by Photos Nikolaidis — 7 January 2009 @ 16:43

  15. Congratulations to Slmen, and happy birthday!
    Et bravo à toute l’équipe. Continuez encore à nous surprendre. Grâce à vous, nous suivons la mode masculine sur SL et sa continuelle créativité.
    Merci!

    Comment by Skall — 7 January 2009 @ 21:37

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