Tuesday 24 July 2018

InWorldz Grid Fighting to Survive!

InWorldz announced the grid was to close just a day ago but after an outpouring of Resident grief and worries over lost money and content, Beth Reischl, leading founder of the grid 10 years ago, set up a GoFundMe and is appealing for help to save the virtual world so many have come to love and call home.

Reischl has blamed travel-related communication problems, bureaucratic mistakes and other issues resulted in the shutdown of the grid’s PayPal accounts and the calling in of the company’s business loans. Hypergrid Business reported this and, quoting InWorldz blog, Reischl also explained "In middle May, we took a loan from LoanBuilders, a subsidiary of PayPal." All was going well then everything took a down turn. She went on "The first payment was scheduled at the end of May. I received notice from them that it was NSF (Non-Sufficient Funds). I checked our bank account, the monies had not even attempted to be taken and the monies were definitely there."

"Without payment, RackSpace will be shutting our servers down," she went on to say in her initial announcement. "I’ve extended our servers out until Friday, July 27. I can not process cashouts, no payments may be sent out. For that, I’m truly sorry." However, she said she will begin issuing refunds, as much as she can before PayPal shuts access to the accounts, and she recommends customers use the PayPal dispute system on monies they paid to InWorldz which PayPal will have to honour and make refunds from their account although the dispute process may take a short while.

Later in the day Reischl came back with an addendum to her initial announcement, saying "Many of you are not happy over this, and want to do whatever you can to save the grid. I'm down for that! So what I did was set up a GoFundMe that will update your tiers and if we raise the amount needed, the grid will be ok and we'll set up new payment methods. They will not include PayPal. If you want to keep your home, please visit us at: https://www.gofundme.com/inworldz-in-trouble And let's make this happen! I can't stand the idea of going down without a fight, but now it's on our users! YOU!"

InWorldz does, indeed, have a loyal user base but there have been many voices raised against the managment over the years including my own at one time when the InWorldz founders, having migrated from another early start-up based on Opensim code, kept attacking Opensim developers and Hypergrid at a time when InWorldz was itself an early fork of Opensim and little different than the growing number of other grids around. However, although InWorldz has it’s roots in Opensim, it has diverged considerably over the years and now runs on the in-house developed Halcyon platform.

Early on in 2017 Hypergrid Business posted an article "InWorldz stops publishing falling stats" which brought a torrent of heated comments from both Opensim users and InWorldz supporters on the reasons why Reischl suddenly decided to stop giving their monthly traffic stats. The gist of the argument was that InWorldz was losing merchants and users which brought a backlash from the Iz community on HB for the article. A year later HB published a new article, this time headed "InWorldz merchants concerned about future" and reported that the public forum for InWorldz had been closed some time to try to block  complaints.

Not withstanding all the past drama and obvious drop in traffic many merchants remained on the grid and it appears they are willing to help save it because after just a day the fund stands at $11,818 of $17,000 goal. InWorldz is loved by and for its community as much as anything else and it looks like help is on the way.