February 28th, 2010


Advice for Newcomers

Hello, and thank you for reading this notecard.


First of all, welcome to the world we know as Second Life! While this may resemble many video games you're familiar with, it's actually a 3-dimensional social network. You see, video games have predetermined rules and outcomes and so forth; Second Life is populated by real people whose choices are limited only by their imaginations.

IMAGINATION. You can literally be anything or anyone you want. You don't even have to keep a human AVI. You will find all kinds here - animals, cartoon characters, anime characters, anthro furry creatures, mermaids, warriors, vampires, angels - you name it, and if someone can think of it, it's here. Even if you decide you'd rather just be human, please try to be respectful of those who wish to stretch their imaginations.

Imagination doesn't just end with avatars; you will soon find that many people own land throughout the Second Life "grid" and have built many things, from the fairly mundane, to the amazing and fantastic. A lot of this user-created content is free for you to enjoy; at the same time, everyone has to pay for everything. Now, we know that you, as a brand-new user, aren't usually ready to just convert money into Lindens and start paying for everything; in fact, at some point, you may wish to get an SL job to earn Lindens instead. We just want you to know that Linden Labs, the owners of Second Life, didn't create most of the content you will see and come to enjoy. Other people, just like you, pay for the land, the textures, many of the gadgets and whatnot that go into the creations you will see.

BE CURIOUS. There are a lot of things to click on in Second Life, some of which will reward you with a return, some of which will tell you things you will find helpful, some which will do nothing at all. Click everything that looks like it could be clicked. Go through that mysterious door. Climb down that interesting cavern. Learn how to use your camera controls to peer inside that strange place.

At the same time, show respect for places that look like private residences. After all, you wouldn't want someone barging through your front door uninvited, would you?

Use common sense.

SL IS NOT A GAME. Unlike video games, Second Life isn't a "virtual banquet" laid out expressly for your enjoyment. Please show appreciation for the content you see, and the people who created it. Some day you may be one of the creators sharing your individual "magic" with the rest of Second Life, and then you'll understand why I've asked this. Even if you can't donated even one $Linden to a donation jar, take the time to look around, and thank the people behind what you see. If you find a guestbook, sign it and say something nice. If you know how to drop a notecard into a mailbox, do it and compliment the owner. For some, just knowing that their creations make others happy is plenty pay enough.

TAKE TIME TO LEARN. It will take you at least two weeks - if not more - to figure out the Second Life user interface and how to do the simple things inworld, such as sending a notecard, friending someone, starting an IM, teleporting places, etc. Until then, don't try to get a job. Why? Because most business owners know it takes a minimum of 2 weeks to learn the basics of navigating and interacting in Second Life, and they won't hire you before then. If you simply cannot wait to buy things, then you will have to go to the Second Life website (http://www.secondlife.com) and learn how to convert currency into Linden dollars. You log into the website the same way you do into the grid - using your SL username and password.

ASK QUESTIONS. Don't be afraid to ask questions but at the same time, try to find the answers through Second Life resources as well. Begin with the Second Life Wiki, which is here: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Main_Page . Just copy this from this notecard and paste into any external browser window and you're set. If you can't find your answer there, try to find a friendly resident that can help you.

BE CAREFUL. Lastly, there are a lot of idiots, asshats, and just plain bad people in Second Life - just like there is throughout the Internet and real life. Nobody is obligated to be nice nor honest here; in fact, a lot of scammers steal thousands of Lindens from unsuspecting people every day. So here are some basic words of advice for avoiding becoming a victim:

  1. Remember that nobody can "make" you do anything. If someone invites you into an animation, and you don't know what it is, or who they are, hit the "ignore" button on the menu you were given. If you know the person but still do not know what they are inviting you to do, ask before accepting.

  2. If someone tries to "trap" you by a cage or other kind of device, teleport out of there immediately. There is nothing whatsoever that says you have to stay there and get "trapped" against your will. If all else fails and you can't think of a landmark to use, pull up your map, type "pooley" into the search bar, and teleport via the map to pooley. If you can't even do that, log off, the log on at your home point.

  3. If it looks like too good of a deal, it probably is. There are a lot of people reselling things that they should not be, because the creators have mandated that the materials not be sold as-is. A good example is textures. Most makers of textures do not permit the reselling of their texture packs in the same way they were bought; the textures have to be on a prim, as part of a build, to be resold *as a part of that build*. At the same time, most texture makers don't permit their product to be given away, either. There is a 10,000-texture organizer out there that is full of stolen textures. If you encounter it, do not buy it or take it as free.

    When all else fails, ask someone who has been in SL longer than you have.

    Yes, copyright and trademark laws apply to online content as well as offline.

  4. You are entitled NOT to be harassed in any way. Learn how to file an Abuse Report (Help > Report Abuse). If someone is harassing you, pushing you around, attacking you, belittling you, file an Abuse Report then get the hell out of there and go someplace else.

HAVE FUN. Have fun, but not at the expense of others. Never forget that every avatar you encounter is piloted by a real life person, and they are just as entitled to have a good time as you. Good rule of thumb: If you wouldn't do or say something to someone in real life, don't do or say it in Second Life.

Gender Bending...He, She, It?

One of the fantastic things you can do in Second Life is be anything you want - and we mean literally, anything. You can be a pet rock if you want to, or a hot dog, or a panther, anthro furry, talking tree, robot, cyborg, angel, devil - you name it and you can BE it in Second Life.

Another thing you can be is a different gender than you are in real life. Some do this to experiment, some do this because they are roleplaying a character of a different gender.

It doesn't really matter why you choose to be something else - the point is to have fun and experience here in Second Life.

There seem to be lots of people who don't really "get" that, however, and show prejudice if someone isn't exactly what they are in real life. They also seem to think it's their "job" to "expose" someone if they aren't exactly like they are in real life.

Face it, people. Anyone can be Anything here in Second Life, and it's not YOUR job to "make sure everyone knows" who they are in real life. That's both a violation of privacy and just downright rude. Have some respect!

If the person is playing a male character, address them as male; if they are a female character, address them as female. If they are something else entirely, ask them how they would like to be addressed. Even if you know the person's RL gender, have some respect and address them as they present themselves - not based on what you know.

Even here on Livejournal some folks present themselves as other than their RL gender. There is nothing wrong with that; address them as they present themselves.

What prompted this was an exchange with someone who is now banned from my journal. They say in their own journal profile that the journal is for someone they play on Second Life, they prefer to be addressed as that person, and anything real-life is irrelevant - and yet, they turned around and addressed another SLer by real-life gender, even though they are presenting themselves as a character of the opposite sex.

That, my friends, is rude, and approaches hypocrisy.

Have the respect to address someone as they present themselves - especially if you expect others to afford you that courtesy.