Getting Started in Second Life

EDIT: Page has moved to here:
http://catnapkitty.wordpress.com/getting-started-in-second-life/

Why? Because this is permanent and planned to keep up-to-date content. Having it on a blog that appears to be from 2010 makes it seem ‘old’, when as of 2014, I am still maintaining this information.

The page below is no longer up to date, so I’ve greyed out the text to hint that you should go to the new location.

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Once you read this, see my category of articles for new folks.

If you’re considering Second Life and found my article from a search or recommendation, or perhaps already in the world of Second Life (inworld) and a little lost, I hope I can be of some help.

Installation
Making an account
Display Names
Initial Log in
Configuring Preferences and Camera Setup
First Steps
Teleporting – Getting Around in Second Life
Getting your First Outfits
Changing your look
Finding a Community and Profiles
Advice on Friending / Partnering / the ‘Social rules’ Of SL.
Putting real life money into Second Life?
Feel Free to Contact Me


Installation:

If you haven’t yet started with Second Life, your first step is going to be getting and installing it. Second Life calls the programs that run it ‘Viewers’ and there are both official and unofficial viewers available, as a result of an Open-source project.

As a new user to Second Life your best bet is to start with and get comfortable with the official ‘Viewer’ first, and only after that point, consider looking into some of the third party viewers.

The official viewer, and links to allowed unofficial viewers, can be found here:

http://secondlife.com/support/downloads/?lang=en-US

The installation is very small, using up roughly 100mb, with a download file under 30mb. That said, you should make sure your computer can handle an additional 1gb of space, for a large ‘caching’ folder.

I strongly recommend starting on the official viewer until you gain comfort with Second Life. Some third party viewers have in past been wrapped up in controversy over copyright infringement, hacking attempts against Second Life and its users, and so forth. So it is best to investigate the reputation of any viewer and its authors before getting it – even those listed on the accepted list. A very close and popular alternative is Kirsten s20, direct download here.


Account Creation:

Most people will want to create their account on secondlife.com itself. Here: https://join.secondlife.com/?lang=en-US

Lots of choices of different types of things and creatures.
The process starts by asking you to ‘pick and avatar’ – don’t worry over this too much. These are ‘default new user’ looks and most people will and should spend some early time in Second Life getting rid of this avatar for more custom self-inspiring looks. If you happen to really like the theme of one of these, some of the non-human ones are still pretty uncommon as they’re newer and you could “get away” looking special with them for a bit.

Can't find a name, try wikipedia and elsewhere for ideas.
You will be asked to pick a name next. Think carefully about this. You’re stuck with it. There is a concept called Display Names which will make your name look different to many but not all other people in Second Life, but your real account name will always still be accessable or even visible somewhere. Try and avoid using any numbers in this – its seen as tacky in Second Life’s culture. Sadly there are only so many words out there, and names are running out. So people with numbers here are starting to show up more and more often.

You might have to go through a few dozen choices to find an available one…

Back in the old days we all got a last name as well, so there were about 1000 times as many choices for names – you’d pick a name, and then choose one of the available last names. There’s is no logic I can comprehend that explains why Linden Labs decided a system that would cause less people to be able to join Second Life would be a good way to attract new people… But there you have it.

Linden Labs has announced that last names will be coming back soon, but not yet how they will handle the folks who didn’t get to have one during the crazy period of late 2010 through early 2012.

Choose carefully even though there are few good choices you can make… I found going to wikipedia and some online sources for things I had ideas about helped. Remember you can be pretty much anything in Second Life, so if you always wanted to be an ironing board (hey it could happen), now is your chance to look up how to say that in ancient Summerian and go for it. :)

Next you enter some basic details: email, birthdate (your real life one), password, security question. After that you’re ready to log in.

Initial Login

Make sure to bookmark this on your way through:
http://secondlife.com/support/quickstart/basic


You can pick a Destination here and go. Which is very handy. But for your first login I suggest not doing it this way. In fact I think this screen might not show the destination on the initial login. Regardless, just login with your username and password. That should bring you to Welcome Island. From there we’ll come back to using the Destination Guide you see above, but from its ‘in world’ (in game, or logged in) access.

Login
On that first log in, you will land in one of the DiscoveryIslands, and have to progress through six basic rooms, each of which teaches you a vital skill about the user interface, such as chatting, walking, flying, and so on.

Pay attention here, and play with it a little before leaving the last step. If you screw up and leave, don’t panic. You start here and can’t return, but you can return to an identical public‘ version. Second Life locks the ‘real’ Welcome place to new users on first login only.

The public version is named: SL Welcome Island Public.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Welcome%20Island%20Public3/28/226/24
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Welcome%20Island%20Public4/28/224/24
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Welcome%20Island%20Public5/28/226/24
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Welcome%20Island%20Public6/28/226/24
– For some reason these places are not listed in search. They can be found by typing:
“Welcome Island Public” into the Find field of the map and clicking find (hitting enter will fail as ‘enter’ seems to only find an exact match, but hitting find will find a similar match).

But not through normal search. I’m writing this because Linden Labs keeps changing the number after them. You note that I list 3 through 6 there. Some days the numbers were different. So if those links fail, you’ll need to open the map and find the current ones…

When you first land here you might see just a cloud as yourself:
Clouded Logins happen.
If so don’t panic. You can either wait it out, or type ‘Command-Option-R’ (Mac) or I think Control-Alt-R on the PC to “rebake” your textures (force them to reload, or load if not loaded at all). This cloud thing happens now and then when SL gets confused about what to download or what first. You can force yourself to be top priority by lowering the distance your graphics can see to the minimum and looking at yourself with as few things behind you as possible (how to change that setting is below).

Rezzing in.
Eventually you will “rezz” in, or start to appear, sometimes a piece at a time.


The last room of this place gets changed a lot as Linden Labs has trouble figuring out what to do with new people… A few months before I wrote this it was taking people to SL DiscoveryIsland Public, and now that seems to have been removed.

These days they want you going straight to a destination, but the instructions for the destination guide there might not make full sense, or might even be outdated. So here’s what you do:
Using the Destination Guide

I suggest either going to the Shelter (Click this and it will load the Second Life Map, with a ‘Visit This Location’ button to send you there once you log in) as noted in that image, or going to a freebie place like “Free Dove“. There are also commercials shops with large freebie sections, like Grendels. This is good as once you decide to start buying stuff, you can just move upstairs from the freebies and see their more intricate offerings.
But lets get your preferences set up first.

After this spot, everywhere you go in Second Life is somewhere you can return to (unless you get banned by the owner of that place…), so it becomes better to be more selective about what you acquire. The more items you own, the longer it takes to load your inventory

(there is an advanced user trick to get around that thoughstoring them in notecardsbut its one of those ‘don’t try this at home kids’ kind of things).

As a final note, if any of the above is confusing, or you’re still unsure after doing it and and even seeming to grasp it all, make a point to visit Caledon Oxbridge and examine their tutorial and classes. They have a very long history of being very good at helping to retain new users into Second Life. They’re known for ‘doing it right.’

Getting yourself setup.

So far you’ve just logged in, done the initial tutorial, done the first SL DiscoveryIsland Public, and now its time to get some basic preferences configured. The initial preferences setup for Second Life is… not ideal. In fact its pretty bad. A few basic changes will greatly improve your Second Life experience.

You can find Preferences under the pull-down at the top left of the screen, or the icon on the left side of two gears.

Me –> Preferences.

The first thing to do is to go to the Sound and Media tab and make sure playing of Media attached to other avatars is unchecked. Next turn off auto-play of shared media. These two changes are for security reasons. Unless you have rock solid anti-virus protection, always a step ahead of the hackers – you want those two unchecked.

Shared Media is great, but should be used wisely. If you found this website inworld, chances are you already are viewing some Shared Media.

Now go to the ‘general’ tab, and change the away time to an amount desired. Unless you want SL to log you out when you go away from the keys for a bit. You can also set your content rating here. And look at those name tag options. Play with them as you explore SL until you find what you like. I turn off my own name because most of the time I can remember who I am, but I like to see the details on other folks.

Next go to ‘chat’ and set it to tabbed messages. It’ll make your life a LOT easier. Note how I also set Font size to large. This is because I set my UI to very small in the Advanced tab. So using a large font but small UI lets me have small but readable buttons.

In the setup tab, raise up bandwidth to about 1500 to allow faster downloads. Raise it too high though and your computer will ask the internet to download faster than it can handle, which will make SL feel like you might if you tried to eat everything in your fridge all at once, in a single second… you’d choke, and crash, and end up eating nothing. High bandwidth lets you go fast, but too much crashes you like hitting a brick wall.

Next go into ‘Advanced’ and change your cache size to the maximum possible. 9984 megabytes as of this writing. The bigger that is, the less stuff you have to keep downloading. Especially when you stay in one location for a while, this will make SL run smoother
Also consider changing the UI size. Try sliding it down a little, and hitting apply. I actually set it all the way down to its minimum setting, and find it still a little bigger than I would like.

Also consider making yourself visible in search so people who you might want to meet can find you:
Show yourself in search.

There’s not much to say about Colors and Notifications. The items in here are all matters of taste. Personally I don’t even know the exact details of what they’ll do… :)

Now right click the location bar, and check the marks to show parcel information and coordinates. You’ll appreciate that over time.

Finally… type: control-alt-D (or Command-alt-D for Macs). The Advanced menu shows up along the top of the screen. You’ll need a few things in here, but will want to be sure to avoid others unless you know what they do – the wrong option in here and you will end up finding yourself re-installing Second Life…

For now we’re only going to touch two things. Down at the bottom of the Advanced menu is a thing that says ‘Show Debug Settings’ – click that. A window pops up, and this is the very place where you can easily ruin your install. But its also the place where two very important settings need to be changed. One of them, if not changed, leaves SL looking very ‘old and funky’ with half the world just a short distance away not rendering on your screen…

First, pull down the pull-down menu and one of the first choices is AdvancedScreenshots. Choose that and set it to True.

Now the important one. In the field for that pull-down type in, exactly:

RenderVolumeLOD

The window that pops up, set the value to something 4 or higher. Most people go for 4, but I’ve noticed one third party viewer sets it to 11.25 for some reason. This will make ‘sculpties’ show up properly on the screen. You don’t need to know what a sculpty is just yet, just know that about half of SL since 2005 has been made of sculpties… :) Without this set to 4, much of SL beyond about 30m from your camera would look like weird bubbles stuck to other things. I imagine that’s one reason a lot of new people quit SL – it looks messed up on their screens… We’ve been trying to get Linden Labs to change the default on this for years…

MeshMaxConcurrentRequests and TextureFetchConcurrency

Full article here:
MeshMaxConcurrentRequests, TextureFetchConcurrency, HTTP Textures, Texture Thrashing, and Why isn’t my stuff rezzing yet?
These two is vital. Its vital to not set them too high or too low.

And the ideal setting is different for everyone. This determines how much of your bandwidth is given to Mesh item downloads and to textures. Set it too low and mesh items or texture will never rez. Set it too high and the system will grab more than your internet speed can handle at a time, and lose some of them… and then both mesh and other things will fail to show up… So, if that’s confusing, think of those bell curves from math class. Its kinda like that, only not at all (finally have a valid place to use that Dr. Who phrase). Right in the middle is a sweet spot where you are asking for just enough to match what your internet company gives (note this relates to your internet speed, not to SL or anything Linden Labs controls) – and items show up at the same speed you encounter them. I recommend starting with a value of ‘8’. Then try both 16 and 4, and play around now and then until you find perfection. Which will work until your internet company secretly slows you down and tries to charge you money to get back what they took away under the name of some souped up package…

The real laugh here? The default for TextureFetchConcurrency is 0. At 0, it shuts off… So by default SL is set to not download textures when in HTTPTexture mode – which by default is on. And people wonder why SL looks so horrible to new users… Note that when shut off you do get partial texture downloads. It basically tries, grabs a blurred thing that reminds us of the dialup days, and then chokes to a stop.

Camera Setup
Make sure to adjust your view angle and camera distance, and turning off click to move can help a lot as the feature really doesn’t work the same way it does in a normal 3D world:
SetupViewAngleandturnofclicktomove
Penny Patton also has discovered:

Before editing these, hit escape, to reset your camera view, so that you can see their results as you edit them. That will let you adjust the values to taste.

Penny Patton recommends these numbers to simulate first person video game perspective (I think that’s what she was referring to):
CameraOffsetRearView
X: -2.000
Y: -0.400 (Make positive for a left shoulder view or keep 0.000 for a centered view.)
Z: -0.200

FocusOffsetRearView
X: 0.900
Y: -0.700 (Make positive for a left shoulder view or keep 0.000 for a centered view.)
Z: 0.200

I on the other hand have been adjusting them to suit my own tastes. I like my camera just behind my avatar by one body length and about butt level, angled slightly up or slightly down. Here are my personal settings:

CameraOffsetRearView
CameraOffsetRearView
X: -2.5
Y: -0.100
Z: -0.300

FocusOffsetRearView
FocusOffsetRearView
X: 0.4
Y: -0.100
Z: 0.100

I cannot stress how important this Camera one is. It will make SL look a heck of a lot more like a 3D world looks in most games – which allow for objects to not seem as cramped as they tend to in Second Life.

One last thing to do early on: go back to the graphics tab of Preferences at some point and dial the settings down as low as you can stand to look at. Over time, raise them until you feel the game slowing down. Better to start low – SL won’t be as pretty, but it will be faster to respond which is probably important right now. At this stage, half the lag of SL will actually be you just trying to find the right button. Why add more to that? :)

My settings at low-mid range. Lowering ‘Draw Distance; has the biggest impact on lag. It determines how far out from you Second Looks to find things that it downloads and displays. When those things it finds are other people, it has to get info from them and let their viewer know about you. So a large ‘Draw Distance’ increases not only your own lag – but to a lesser degree that of others as well. In the screenshot I’m set to 96m. Most of the time in Second Life I actually use 64m.

My normal settings are a little higher:

You can edit the ‘privacy’ and ‘notifications’ tabs to your tastes. Most people have it log messages. But in so doing remember it is a serious Terms of Service violation to repost chat-logs unless you expressly and directly ask ALL people in the log for their permission FIRST and have in the log them saying ‘yes’. You will find some people who have profiles that claim ‘talking to me is granting permission to repost’ – that is not legitimate and those people are risking getting banned if they do in fact repost a chat-log.

- If you didn’t notice yet looking at those menus, there’s a whole lot of freaking buttons in this thing. But in time, you’re only going to use maybe 5% of them regularly, and will have them down so well you won’t even notice. Right now though, if you’re like I was when I started, it might be freaking you out a little. SL is a lot easier to use than it looks at first. They just designed it to look harder – something we’ve been trying to get them to change for years.

Display Names:

If you get stuck with a less than ideal name, you can tack on a different visible name. Chat and the name floating over your head will sow the Display Name, and sometimes your real name under it in smaller type (what shows up is something people looking at you determine in their preferences). If you don’t like your name this is probably one of the first things you’ll be looking for, so here’s a screenshot:

What to do first?

There you are standing there with no idea where to go or what to do next. Welcome to Second Life. There actually is an amazing amount of things to do here, but because its all made by the users and not really interconnected that much, this feeling is not unusual. You need to approach Second Life with a goal, it won’t provide you with one. But I’ll give you some advice here on how to get a goal going when your first thought is just ‘but I just want to have fun, where do I go for that?’

You can do almost anything in Second Life. But most people come here to ‘play’ in one sense or another. To find something related to an entertainment interest, and pursue it.

Before you get too far in Second Life you should figure out for yourself why you are here to begin with. You think you know, but lets ‘make a list‘ so you’re sure.

I tell people who say they’ve run out of things or are lost this same advice all the time, make three short lists of three things each:

  • A list of three hobbies or interests you want to explore.
  • A list of three things you have -NOT- done before, that you are curious about.
  • A list of three things that you know you don’t like, and wish to avoid.

As you explore Second Life, search for things in the first two lists – the second list when feeling bold or adventurous, the first list on those comfort-food days. And use the last list to filter out search results and keep yourself from getting alienated; Second Life has just about anything – and you can very easily find things that you will not like, so being consciously aware of your limits will help you stay comfortable -before- you cross any of your own lines.

Once we get you an initial look, we’ll come back to this and use it to find your first community. I’ll recommend one ‘everybody’s welcome here’ for you to try, but also use this list to teach you how to find one fitting you and not just picked by me.

Teleporting – Getting around in Second Life

Ok this is nice. Here you are at the end of the intitial tutorial and all these signs saying go here or there. Plus me telling you to go here or there.

But how?

When making the screenshots for this website I discovered that I’d forgotten years ago: how to teleport in Second Life is not obvious. I got to that same end, I saw the signs, and of course being an oldbie I knew to click A, then B, and then C to go to Z. But standing around me were several actual real newbies who were looking at the same signs and drawing a complete blank. I recalled how, back in 2006, when I first got to Second Life; somebody had told me to just ‘go here and we’ll see you at the event’ and provided me what looked like a website. So um… what was I supposed to do with that, I thought. I took me a few hours (I’m a sharp tool on some things, but a pretty stale cookie on others) to get there…

So here it comes, Welcome island taught you how to walk and fly, I’m going to try and teach you how to teleport. Teleporting around is going to be how you get to most places in Second Life (and would you believe that originally, in 2003, so I hear, you had to pay linden-dollars each time you did it, and even then it only worked at certain places and to certain other places).

There are 4 basic ways to do this:

  1. Use a Landmark – this will be your everyday way
  2. Use a SLURL – A what? We’ll get there, but this is almost as common.
  3. Map Teleporting – Makes sense to say, but I find newbies have trouble using the map, so pay attention on this one.
  4. Accepting a Teleport offer – I’ll also show you how to send an offer. And some social cautions on over-using this.

Landmarks


So there they are in your inventory and in the landmarks windows, found with the icons on the side (by default the left side, but you can move those to bottom or right, I often put them on the right). Above I showed you how to make one. To use it is very easy. Double click the thing, it will take you there. If the place it goes to has a preset ‘landing point’ you will go to the landing point instead. When that happens a read beam from the sky shows on the screen, and a red arrow points to where your landmark wanted to go, so you can walk or fly over there. If you click that red arrow, it and the beam will go away (believe it or not, it took me a month of constant frustration to figure that out… I never thought to just ask somebody, ‘hey, how do I get rid of this red beam on my screen?’). It will also go away if you go -exactly- to it. Not near, but exactly.

Landmarks can be traded freely. So a good way to tell a friend about a place is to make a landmark, and send it to them. Many items you will buy will also have landmarks in them – so you can remember where you got that ‘thing 1′ if you later want a ‘thing 2′.

To make your own landmarks, use:
World –>Landmark This Place
New landmarks will go into your landmarks folder unorganized.

Hint: Start right away organizing your landmarks folder in a way that makes sense to you. Shops, clubs, friend’s homes, hangouts, Roleplay places, whatever. You will end up with a -LOT- of them and its a pain to find ‘that place from 6 months ago’ if its just in one giant folder…

SLURLS

Ok, that stands for ‘Second Life URL’ – as in a web-based coordinate to a place in Second Life. Put a SLURL into your web-browser and your browser will open up a map of Second Life and option to teleport to that spot. Type one into chat and then click it, and the map in Second Life will open, and you can click the teleport button to go there (but see below). You will see ‘SLURLS’ all over websites that talk about Second Life. Several of the links in this blog are SLURLS. SLURLS are a great way to tell people about a location, when writing from outside of Second Life, like on avatarsunited, a forum, or a blog.

For a really unusual SLURL / Map viewer, check out Threadmap

Map Teleporting


To open the map, type Control-M. You can also create a button that opens the map by right clicking the bottom panel of the viewer and putting a check-mark for map.

You can put location names into Find, or browse around. Zoom in and out, check off different options, and then click teleport to go to whatever the map is showing the red circle. Note that sometimes you can pick a location but if the map’s location field isn’t also saying it, you will go instead to where the location field says.

Map find works not by the names of the places you want to go to, but by the name of the region. Second Life is organized into regions, called ‘sims’ – that are each 256x by 256y by 4096z meters in size (z, or height, actually goes up forever, but things can only be built at 4096 or lower). So map Find will find a ‘sim’, not a place. Example, ‘The Shelter’ is a place, it is in the Sim called ‘Isabel’ Put Isabel into map find and you will see that region, and maybe even recognize a skyview of The Shelter.

Accepting and Sending Teleport Requests

You can right click anyone in your friends list and offer them a teleport. You can also do it to anyone who’s profile you are looking at. If you get a teleport offer, clicking accept will take you to the place it was sent from. This can get past landing points. So a handy trick friends can use to skip past a laggy area is to have one person do the laggy walk, and then offer teleports to the others.

Think twice before accepting teleports to unknown places from strangers. You can’t get hurt in Second Life, but you might not like where you get sent. Also, DO NOT become one of those people who gets a very long friends list and then gets paid to go to events and offer teleports to all their friends. Doing this is a very good way to lose your friends, and maybe even be Abuse Reported. Its considered very rude.

Getting Your First Outfits

For now though, you want to get yourself looking right. Not your final look, lets just get you looking a little different than the other ‘noobs’ standing next to you wherever it was they dropped you.

We’ll do a little freebie shopping.

First, to make sure you can get back to wherever you are now, because its probably a good place to go in those ‘lost’ moments, pull down the menu that says ‘World’ and choose ‘Create Landmark’. There is now a Landmark in your inventory under the Landmarks folder. Double clicking this will take you to the spot you were at when you made it, or some spot nearby if you’re at a place that forces people to start in a certain location (A lot of shops and clubs for example, force people to start in a welcome spot just outside the door, to keep from cluttering up the inside – nothing like having somebody land on the host’s head and then go AFK-, and so they can track visitors).

PS on going places: anytime you go somewhere, the moment the screen comes into view again, tap forward or backward just a tiny bit. When multiple people land on each other, they can all get sort of stuck and unable to move for a minute or so – so its always good to ‘duck out of the way’ right away when you land somewhere, just in case somebody pops in right behind you. And chances are, before your first day is done, you will go somewhere and get stuck like this by landing on some other noob who didn’t take this advice… :) Everynow and then, so many people get stuck on the same spot that it will cause you to crash. Later I’ll give a tip on getting clear of this.

Its always ok to be a newbie, just don’t be a “noob.” :)
The first place I recommend going to is ‘Free Dove.’ They have a good selection for both women and men, the quality is decent to good, and its got quality control to ensure nothing there is stolen content.

Just spend an hour grabbing things that look like you might like them, and use the dressing room they have to wear something there.

Before you get settled you should make a quick jump from there to Grendel’s Children.
Here you will need to turn and go north to behind the stairs you see there that go up – another set goes down, and leads to a freebie section on the right of the stairs. Why do I recommend one peculiar shot out of the thousands in SL, that is mostly commercial and “just has” a freebie basement. If you see it you’ll see why. The word peculiar is exactly the word for this place. Grendels has all those ‘special and unique’ avatars you’ll not find anywhere else. Aliens, Fantasy monsters, unusual animals (ever wanted to be a Goldfish? Or a Hippo? Or a cardboard box?), and other things. If you go here, you’re guaranteed to be able to start out in SL being a lot more interesting than the “other noobs.”


Buying items is simple. Right click the item you want, and then select ‘buy’ or ‘pay’ if there is no buy option. Pay attention to the price it shows; make sure is it what you expected. Also make sure you your right-click did in fact select the proper item. With buy this is easy, as you can see the contents of what you are buying in a popup window. With pay it requires a little more trust.

To wear you items, open your inventory with the ‘briefcase’ icon on the left side icons. (or type control-shift-i to create a popup window of your inventory if you want to open multiple inventory windows – handy to drag an item from spot to another. I often open one to ‘recent’ when I’m shopping, and another to the regular stuff, so I can drag just bought things into folders I’ve made to organize things). Once open, find the item in the recent tab, right click it, and choose wear. You can right click other items shown there or in the worn tab and choose ‘take off’ or ‘detach from yourself’ to take them off.

You can see in the picture that I put on my new dress before taking off my old one – that’s a good trick for changing clothes in places that don’t allow nudity (which is anyplace with the blue ‘G’ in a box up there in the location bar. Some ‘M’ and ‘A’ places also have local rules posted banning nudity – though it is by default allowed on ‘M’ and ‘A’ rated lands, and very common on ‘A’). ;)

At a minimum get one of each of:

  • Hair – a good way to be distinct is to get hair that can be modified, and edit it, go into the texture tab, and change the color. Get a couple of them, because I can almost bet you won’t like the first few hairs you get in Second Life after a few days. That said there are some very good freebie hairs out there, but they’re not as common as other quality freebies. There is also a lot of hair sold in SL that simply wearing can crash a whole region knocking everyone there offline… so, I will offer some tips below on responsible hair shopping.
  • Casual outfit – jeans and a shirt. Something neither formal nor sexy. You will appreciate having this. Female avatars especially get sort of pushed into wearing ‘hyper-sexualized’ clothes, and there are many situations where it is just not appropriate to show up looking like you have a $20 price tag over your crotch. Even if you joined SL for the dating scene, it can help sometimes to be able to tone it down & charm it up – just like in Real Life; a guy might give the $20 tramp his 2 minutes, but he’s not going to value her much more than that…
  • Something formal. It happens. There will be times when you want to look professional. Might as well have a backup for that now – if you end up wanting to look professional often, go shopping for better. But one backup is wise for anyone. Guys will have an easier time here, in a flip of every other norm in Second Life – this is the one kind of fashion that is easier for men to find.
  • Something pretty or handsome. Selling yourself, even in the dating scene, is about much more than that $20 crotch tag… Get a nice charming outfit. A gown, or tuxedo, or something sexy but not trashy.
  • 2 -3 pairs of shoes. 1 heels, 1 loafers or tennis shoes, 1 boots or sandals.
  • An Animation Overide (AO). This is a device you wear that changes your avatar animations. How you walk, sit, stand, run, fly, and so on. There are a few in Free Dove on a table near the entrance, but you might have to look to the Marketplace for an initial one.The default animations of a Second Life avatar are the source of endless derision and jokes. Don’t be that person any longer than it takes you to find a replacement. While the free ones are amazingly common, some of them are also rather good.Once you start spending money in Second Life, a new AO is a very wise early purchase to make yourself stand out. Shops that sell them inside of Second Life will normally have a special stand to let you test out each individual animation. Many such shops also let you buy the animations one at a time. Be careful there, unless you have learned how to edit your AO and add a new animation, you can give yourself a lot of frustrations buying animations individually. By contrast, once you learn how to edit your AO, you will never need to buy another one – just buy individual animations and make yourself really unique by mixing them all together (the caveat here is that my friends can spot my alts a mile away because my tastes show through too much).

    I very strongly recommend that you always Demo AOs before buying them. You and everyone you meet will spend more time looking at this than anything else. Having animations you like will make or break your experience in Second Life – and you might find yourself unconsciously making assumptions about people based on their AO, and they of you. So make sure it feels like “you”.

  • A few extras. If you must have the tramp outfit, get it at this stage. But recognize that about half of all the clothing made in SL fits the $20 lady of the evening crowd, and you’re freebie will be competing with more advanced ‘items’ (half again of which will be less well designed than the freebies in Free Doveso take that caution as mixed). For me, this is the stage where I walked out with a pair of bunny slippers and a cookie monster pajama outfit.

As for skins and shapes… if you see a skin you like get it. But you should make your own shape – even as a complete newbie. A shape is nothing more than the dials in the editing your appearance panels. One you make yourself might not be great, but it will be you.

You might see some jewelry. I actually suggest avoiding that for now. Jewelry has the same problem as hair – badly made jewelry can crash Second Life for the people around you by generating massive ‘scripting’ lag.

How to unpack and wear your new stuff


Items will often come in boxes. You’ll find this out either because it will be a single box icon in your inventory despite saying its more than one thing, or you’ll try to wear it and the package will attach to, hopefully, your hand (I’ve seen one once that replaced my head…)

The first step in opening a box is finding a place that allows you to rezz items. There’s a check-box in the ‘options’ of the ‘about land’ for any location that will tell you this:

To get to ‘About Land’ you need to use:
World –> Place Profile –> About Land

So… first opening a box.


To do this single click and hold on the box icon in inventory, and drag the item onto the ground next to you. I advise always only doing this somewhere with relatively low lag.

Once the item is on the ground, right click it and select ‘Open’. Once you do a window pops up. At the bottom of that window, a button to copy to inventory. Click that. Everything gets copied into your inventory. Fastest way to find it there is to click the ‘recent’ tab of inventory.

To wear the things now in your inventory, right click them and choose wear. To take something off, right click it and choose ‘take off’.

Double-clicking box-icons in your inventory will often either wear them, or open up a property-dialog window on them. Confusing… yeah… and this seems to change every couple of patches. Double clicking things with clothing icons will wear them. BUT, if you are using the preferences setting to wear multiple items, it will NOT take off your other clothes in that spot first… so yes, if you have that enabled, you can end up wearing 2 pairs of pants, or maybe a dragon head and a mouse head at the same time, and so on…

Just be sure that unless you’re in a nude-friendly place, you don’t take off everything. It might seem funny to a newbie to do this and run around laughing, but people will file ‘Abuse Reports’ fast in some places if you do, and you could end up losing access to Second Life before you even have a chance to learn much about it.
(I have filed some of those tickets myself when in infohubs, but on my own land, and in many places I’ve been, nude avatars are often welcome – most places have ‘rules’ posted. But ‘G’ rated places never allow nudity, and ‘A’ rated allows it by default unless the specific place has said otherwise. The Terms of Service allow nudity on ‘M’ land, but most ‘M’ places don’t allow nudity – so always check first.).

Changing your look / shape

There are four things to thing about here that I’ll cover in steps: shape, skin, hair, eyes. Everyone is going to have one of each of those on at all times (yes, even bald people have a form of hair). So this is the part where even a Second Life Nudist needs to pay attention.

Eyes

The easiest topic. A starter avatar these days comes with decent eyes – but they might not be the color you want. If Free Dove has some still, grab a few colors and try them out. Buying eyes for your avatar makes a decent early purchase – eyes often go for as little at 50-100L while still being high quality, and free sets are all over the place for moderate quality. Get a set, wear them, enjoy. Move on to the next step.

Skin

Skins are the most expensive things in Second Life. The only way to lose more money and get nothing in return in Second Life, other than buying skins, is to open a music or dance club.

Good skins can go for 1000L. I’ve paid 1500L once for a “Na’vi” skin. But, great skins can be found for a few hundred linden if you get lucky shopping or have just the right theme going.

Many skins in Second Life have too much eye mascara, resulting in a look that appears brooding or angry. Pay attention to what your eyes look like from both close up and a distance on the demo, before buying, unless its really cheap. The number of angry, brooding, unfriendly looking women in Second Life is just astounding – and most of them do not desire to be seen that way.

Some free skins are not that bad. For women there are some photoshop files of a good free set available on their maker’s blog. Many skin makers in Second Life use those photoshop files and then charge a heavy price for the end result… These can be found free as well in various places in Second Life.

The best free African skins I’ve found yet in Second Life are at Lyrical Oh’s shop. Join his group from a sign above two boxes near the entrance. The boxes are one for women and one for men. Click the one you need. Remember this shop, because in my opinion the paid for skins are also the best ones in SL for purchased African Skins. This guy is good – support his work so he sticks around. He has no idea I’m writing this, in fact we’ve only ever met once when I was on an alt in his shop.

My advice here is to head to Free Dove or Lyrical Oh’s shop, get the skins there, try them on until satisfied, and not buy a skin elsewhere until you’ve been in SL long enough to start feeling you need a look that is more defined. I myself jumped off of the photoshop set and onto a brown tone with black leopard spots when I finally ‘settled’ into what I was going to be in Second Life.

DO NOT stick with the skin your avatar started with for any longer than it takes you to get to Free Dove or Lyrical Oh’s shop and into a skin. If you want to know why, just try and take off all your clothes… and then imagine wanting to wear a bathing suit.

A note on the bits:

Guys, yeah, there’s something missing on your avatar… we know. If you need it, you can get it, those things are available all over second life. But keep in mind that a cheap free one has its limits. And gals, a better skin texture will give the appearance of your bits. You can actually buy 3D ‘bits’ for above and below, but trust me – they will NEVER match your skin tone and there will always be a rough edge where they meet the body. Yeah… I spent a good amount of money learning that when I was a newbie…

For about 300L, the ideal solution for both men and women in terms of ‘interactive bits’ is probably found at a place called ‘Sensations‘. But be prepared for some pretty rough visuals in the other parts of that shop… To get there your account must be adult-verified or have payment-info-on-file.

Shape


Editing your shape is work that is worth doing.

Right click yourself and choose edit shape. Or, alternatively, create a new shape. Note the height up there at the top of the panel – it is shorter than you actually are. That height is the distance from ground to YOUR EYES… Why? I don’t know. But its from something called your agent – which determines your ‘bumping into things’ space. Why your agent is shorter than you I do not know… but that’s how it is. Unless you give yourself a funny shaped head, you are probably 1.125 times taller than the figure there claims. I sell a free ‘meter’ that does that – it shows the number x 1.125, and it makes itself that tall, so you can stand inside of it for proof. That may sound silly, but the addition of that number is new – until recently people had no way to know how tall they were without using meters like mine and competing models. Alternatively for $10L I have a measuring stick to stand next to and compare height to real world averages.

Its one thing to be alien super tall because you meant to be. It another to just end up there.

Anatomy is Key to success

When you edit your shape, keep anatomy in mind:

  • Your hips should be about halfway up. Half your height is below that, half above. Those super long legs… they only look good if you’re failing to see the tiny body they’re attached to.
  • Your head is about 1/7th of your total height. A -lot- of people in Second Life look like they were attacked by a head hunter with a head shrinking gun… don’t be one of them.
  • Your finger tips should touch the tops of your thighs / hand just at the bottom of your butt. T-rex arms are everywhere in Second Life…
  • Women do not have football linebacker shoulders, but the default dial in Second Life gives them just that… The default shoulder setting for women in Second life is wider than even most men should have.
  • Careful minor tweaks to the Saddlebags setting and Hip length can smooth out a funny looking bumpy big butt. If you want a big butt, you can have it without being distorted like most of the other people with one end up.
  • The bigger the breast size dial setting, the more they lose their shape. 100 just looks funny boys. Even at 50, you’re looking at melons.
  • Men tend to have wider mouths, squarer jaws, and eyes set further apart from each other than women. Women will have rounder faces with a thinner jaw. On average – but this is a great place to make gender distinctive in a subtle way.
  • See these articles for more advice:
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_anatomy
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_proportions
    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_attractiveness
    4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height#Average_height_around_the_world

Hair

First the easy lesson, how to be bald. This is super easy. Just don’t wear any prim hair AND edit your hair in your appearance down to 0 in length. If there’s anything left, its painted on your skin, and you need to replace that.

The next thing you need to know about hair is to check its ‘permissions’ and look for the presence of dangerous scripts. This is a hard and harsh lesson for newbies, but it is VITAL:

NEVER buy hair that uses a resizer script. These scripts create amazing amounts of lag that can bring down entire regions in Second Life when just one person wears a hair using them. There has been a growing call to get the selling of these products labeled as a ‘denial of service’ attack against Second Life. For those of you with a little computer knowledge, the problem works like this: The resize script is fairly small, typically 64kbs. But the hair is made by linking together 100 to 300 strands of hair. In the typical resize script, one copy of the script is needed per object. So that 64kb script suddenly becomes a 6.4mb to 19.2mb burden that must be checked every 10th of a second or so, 100 to 300 times, to see if anything is happening with it, sometimes by each person in the area if it was coded poorly enough…

Almost all of the lag you will encounter in Second Life is due to scripted hair, scripted jewelry, or scripted shoes. And all three of them from the same kind of script; the resizer.

All of this relates back to item permissions. The resizer script is used instead of letting the buyer of the item modify it on their own. It stems from an incorrect belief that disabling modify protects against content theft (repeated proven false).

To avoid this, simply ensure that any hair you purchase allows for modify permissions:

Obviously you can’t see the information in the screenshot before purchase. Before buying look for information on the sign advertising the hair. If it says it is modify; its safe to buy. If it says it has a resize script – its dangerous. If its silent, its a bit of a gamble but you can ask the shop owner, or check to see if you can find it on the Marketplace website. If so, it might say there.

Make sure to share the names of hair stores selling unscripted modifiable hair with your friends, and warn them about places that uses resizers before they lose a lot of money on this.

Special Exception: linkset-resizer scripted items
There is a new as of 2010 resizer method that only uses a single very small script for the entire hair, shoe, jewelry, or whatever and not one per ‘piece’. So if you have a hair made up of 200 strands, where the old script needed 200 scripts, and caused the problem I mentioned above, the linkset one needs one script, 16kb or 64kb in size – for the entire thing. Its virtually lag free. A complete opposite, items with this script are perfectly safe to use. So if you find products that advertise themselves as using the ‘linkset resizer script‘ – go ahead and get them, and spread the word about them to help reduce lag in Second Life. If you find items using this method that are not advertising how they are different from the old method, tell the maker of the item to advertise it as a feature. Users of Second Life are now rapidly trying to find these Linkset items.

Finding a Community

So we’ve got all that preferences and getting dressed and figuring out a look stuff done. Now its time to get actually get busy meeting people in Second Life. Time to get to the basics of getting social. First, I will give you two places that are what I consider ‘welcome anybody’ areas. You can go to either of these and strike up a friendly conversation. Moderators are almost always (but not always) on staff to prevent hostile behavior.

The Shelter

The Shelter is a very active social club for newbies (and newbie-friendly oldbies) to gather, mix, and learn about Second Life. Pretty much any time you’re feeling lonely or lost you can pop into this place and likely find someone who’s up for a chat. I have managed to get there and find it empty, but it took me a while to do it.

The Shelter is fairly relaxed. Its on Moderate land but it does have a no nudity policy. Not only that, but I’ve even see some of the moderators require non-human animal avatars put on pants (yeah – a dog with pants on. Made no sense to me, but whatever).

Some other amazingly helpful places to visit on your first day or two:
NCI Kuula – Great for a lot of self help and free items. The free items are dated, but they will still look better than your starting look. And some seriously good stuff is mixed in with them. There are classes taught here, and this is one of the best ways to make long term low drama friends in Second Life – take a class, and talk with the others in your class.

London City – A general hangout, slightly monitored by staff who are ready to help and will clear out griefers quickly. Its very popular, so you can go here if looking for a conversation. Start chatting, being nice, and your odds are good. Look around for a moderator or staff member, and start out kind of close to them so they can see your public chat (SL chat has a limited range, used to be 20m, not sure what it is now) – and help you if needed. Everytime I’ve snuck in here, I’ve seen one of them busy helping somebody.

Help at Caledon Oxbridge – The best guided tour in all of Second Life. Takes you through a series of sign boards to teach you everything you’ll need to know for your first few months in Second Life. Just like NCI, they do classes. I’ve not taken theirs, but I imagine it has the same quality at the NCI ones. Caledon is one of the oldest “private” communities in Second Life, and they’re also one of the friendliest to visitors. Well worth joining them if their ‘Steampunk’ theme is your thing.

One word of caution. be careful about ‘Help Island’. ‘Help Island’ was created long ago by Linden Labs and has a lot of useful items here and there. Back when I started, it was the public copy of the place where new accounts began. That said, it has no moderators and no Linden Lab employees monitoring it. As a result it is possibly one of the most hostile and unfriendly places in Second Life. If you want to get treated rudely, griefed, spammed, threatened, or otherwise ill-treated – Help Island is the place. Avoid it. Many griefers just sit there all day waiting for new users to visit so they can try and drive them into quitting Second Life before they even have a chance to get started. This spot has been bad for years with the company just leaving it and not promoting it anymore rather than cleaning it up.

Some common communities in Second Life:

Before we get to going through your lists of threes, lets learn about some common communities in Second Life. You will find many people overlap into a couple of these.

Neko

Community Core: Virtual Neko Blog | Virtual Neko Forums
Also known as ‘catgirl’ or ‘catboy’. Neko are people with mosly human characters, that have added a few cat-parts. Almost always a tail and cat-ears. Sometimes more. Neko are not known for being very communal with each other. Its a very splintered community, but it does have some common personality traits. They are somewhat hard to explain, beyond saying ‘catty’. Most Neko seem to feel being Neko in Second Life is an expression of their ‘inner feline nature.’ In Second Life, the crazy-cat-lady is a cute crazy-catgirl. :)

Vampire

Central Community: Bloodlines
Vampires are pretty popular in Second Life. This community is centered around the roleplay of being vampires or those they feed off of. It can be very popular as its a near instant way to get added to a group of people that will then end up hanging out together frequently. On the flip side, Vampires have a very negative reputation in Second Life as the most popular Vampire Community used to send its members to other social hangouts and spam invitations at people, even after being asked to stop. While that community no longer endorses doing that in places meant for new users to Second Life, it still happens regularly both in those places and elsewhere.

Furry

Central Community: Luskwood | SLARF Avatar Reviews | PG Furry
A furry is an anthropomorphic humanoid animal. Like Bugs Bunny. There are many very nicely designed furry avatar kits you can obtain in Second Life, both free and commercial. Some employees of Linden Labs use furry avatars. It is both a look, and a community. Many people who use furry avatars do so out of a strong emotional or spiritual connection to an iconic or totemic animal or animal spirit (Like a Jungian Archetype). Many others just wear them for the look.

While many Furries are genteel PG-minded friendly folks, there is a peculiar adult-content side to the community. Furthermore, that adult-content side runs some of the more popular clubs. They are easy to avoid and it is easy to find a more casual social furry community, but they are there if that is what you are seeking. But please do not assume most furries are of that nature. :)

Tiny

Central Community: Raglan Shire
On first blush these folks look a lot like furries, only smaller. And that’s essentially what they are. The only difference appears to be that they have no adult-content side to their community. The tiny community is very friendly, very open, very playful, and full of a lot of people who enjoy building things in Second Life. While I can’t say if its true or not for the majority of the community, but every tiny I’ve met has been newbie friendly. If you are seeking a fun, friendly, social and ‘PG’ minded introduction to Second Life, getting a tiny avatar (they tend to be cheap, and there are some free ones out there) and visiting Raglan Shire is a great way to go. The only caution is that your avatar will be of a shape and size that means it won’t be able to use normal furniture – but the Tiny community has ways around these hassles.

Na’vi

Central Community: Na’vi of Second Life | The Na’vi People
Since the movie Avatar came out, there has been a steady set of people who have adopted the look of the Na’vi. You’ll find them under other names though. Usually ‘space elf’, ‘blue neko’, ‘blue elf’, ‘space neko’, or some variation thereof. This is a great path to go down if you’re an environmentalist, nature-minded, or otherwise felt a connection with those blue guys. Myself, my grandmother was descended from the Amazonians of Peru; so I have found this community very appealing. Finding them inside of Second Life can be a little tricky. When it first started it was a big fad and there were roleplay locations everywhere. Since that time the community has gotten a lot smaller, but also more stable.

Sailing

Central Communities: SL Sailing Association, Tradewinds Yacht Club, Second Life Sailing Federation.
Something I’ve somewhat slighted in the past in Sailing. But don’t make my mistake. If you want to really get in there and see the world that is Second Life – from an ‘eyes on the ground’ angle, get with the sailing community. Sailing in Second Life is an amazingly good way to see a large number of places in a short amount of time. Its an ideal early way to explore Second Life as its both fun and immersive. Several large popular oceans exist around Second Life.

The largest of them is Blake Sea. You can start in this tiny corner of Barbarossa Crammed between the building and the pier is a teenee tiny spot where you can ‘rez’ things, like boats – get the free boat you’ll see a few feet from you, and put it in the water, right click it, and ride. I know it would make more sense to put your boat on the end of the pier… but that’s not where they enabled it… go figure.

The second best is the ocean around Bay City and Shermerville. Start in Shamwari – another free boat here. Rez it into the water and enjoy. The trick to both these places, stop now and then and move your camera to look underwater – neat stuff down there. If you make it far enough from Shamwari you can navigate your boat all throughout the channels of Bay City.

You can also visit my boat dock in Honawan. Just sit on the Sampan boat, on the back seat near the rudder, and start moving. PageUp to go faster, PageDown to go slower. The water here is 80m deep, but not much down there.

Builder Groups

Central Community: Builders Brewery
There are many builder’s communities in Second Life. What often happens is a group of builders with like interests will start to cooperate and eventually form their own circle of friendship. That said, a lot of builders seem to revolve around a few key places in Second Life. Some of these are shops that sell to builders, and some of them are places where a good number of builders first got their skills. If you want to become a builder, or meet builders, I suggest getting involved in Builder’s Brewery. It is not the only place that teaches courses (See also Caledon Oxbridge, NCI, and The Institute For Cooperative Education for three other major choices). However it appears to be the most social.

Club Goers

Central Community: Second Nights | Club Hub
This is perhaps the largest ‘community’ in Second Life. There is a very active club going scene; people who take their avatars to dance or music clubs in Second Life, engage in costume contests, chat, and otherwise play together. The best way to get involve is to search for a club matching your music tastes, go there, and start talking. There are a number of blogs on clubs and fashion. It is hard to say which is the best, so I’ve picked two options for you to try.

Adult Content Users

Central Community: Adult Hub (once you’re adult verified, type the word ‘Adult’ into the Map find, and go there).
Yes, there is this kind of content in Second Life. In fact there is a -lot- of it. Since mid-2009 Linden Labs has required it to be on ‘A’ rated land. Your best bet if you wish to find it is to go the region named ‘Adult Hub’ using Map – Find. Once there, zoom your map back and look for places to go. If you set your map to show people, the places with a lot of green dots are good choices. Be warned however; much of the content is extremely violent against women. Those folks are segmenting out more now than they were when the ‘Zindra’ continent first started. But you can still turn a corner and find a bit of a shock.

If you find a place on ‘G’ or ‘M’ land that clearly belongs on ‘A’ land according to the Adult Content Policy and FAQ, please Abuse Report it. Why snitch? Linden Labs lacks the staff to police Second Life due to its size. Furthermore, the presence of these places on improper regions hurts those around them, and hurts ‘A’ rated places that are on ‘A’ rated land (which requires ‘Account Verification‘ to reach).

Some other Popular Communities

I obviously can’t mention in detail everyone out there, but here are some others I know of that seem popular:
Victorian Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Fantasy Roleplay, Combat Simulation, Goth, Child Avatars, Poetry, Live Music, Philosophy, Native American, Golfing, and so on. I even once saw a video of an SL Hockey league.

If you want to see some random communities, get a treet tv and flip through its channels. They’re free from treet.tv. You can watch some of the broadcasts on the web instead.

Using your interests to find your ideal community

Its fairly simple though it might take a little time for the right result to show up for you. First you need to configure search to show the right variety of options. You will want to enable ‘G’ and ‘M’, and if interested in adult content as well, ‘A’.

Once you have your search ready to go, just put your interests in there and see what comes back. Useful sections to examine are the ‘All Results’, ‘Places’, ‘Events’, and ‘Groups’.

Start with your list of hobbies. But in a day or two, try combining it with your list of curious things. Mix and match and see what comes back. Remember the third list though. The things you know you want to avoid. Well, be smart here – avoid results that feature those terms.

Profiles

Nothing could more important to your social success in Second Life than having a fully filled in profile. Below I will cover how to fill it out, and how to make use of looking at those of other people.

Create an Interests List, and use it to Search for others

A new feature to Second Life is searchable interests. But many people haven’t quite figured out how to work it yet. Don’t be one of them.

So here you can see the interests section of editing my profile. When I view my profile part of it looks like the section in the callout box above that I’ve drawn an arrow to. Its a list of buttons each labeled for one of my interests. If I click one of them I find people who have, here’s the kicker; THE EXACT SAME SPELLING AND WORD for one of their interests.

To properly enter them you need to enter them one at a time, in as few words as possible for each entry. DO NOT make a list, just enter each interest one by one. If you made an entry like this:
“Christian, Dancing, Exploring” and I had “Chrisian” we would not find each other. Worse… if I had “Christian, Exploring, Dancing” Second Life would assume we had -nothing- in common… If I had “Christianity, Dancing, Exploring” Second life would -still- think we had nothing in common.

And it gets worse… Lets say you have “Dance” and I have “Dancing”… yeah you know this one: we’ve got nothing in common still…

So play around with it. Once you enter one, enter alternate spellings for it, and search them all. Keep whichever one has the most other people in common, delete the others. Over time people will start to gather around standards. But the feature is very new right now and a bit chaotic.

That said, when you get a match, its a handy way to either profile snoop that person (see below), or even whisper them and say hi and see if they’re open to talking. A little hint: I’m usually open to talking. But you’ve gotta chat me up before I’ll accept you as a friend.

Profile Snooping is your friend

But perhaps the most effective way to find communities is to look at People, and then examine their Profiles, and go to places listed in their Picks:

Profile snooping is always fair game. Profiles are there to be read, so read them. Picks are there to be shared, so share them, and go to the places in other people’s Picks. Its the best way to find lively environments in Second Life. A lot of Picks are advertising, but just as many more reflect places people love and enjoy.

Note how the things in a profile that are interests in common are in a deeper blue. Click these and have fun following chains of people you might like or might like you. But you’ll need to make sure to fill in your own interests also.

Once you get somewhere, start chatting. Look for any opening in a conversation, and babble. If not, just say ‘hello’ and see if any fish bite.

Helping Communities Find you – Getting a Profile

Fill in your profile. From the moment you log in you can put something in the Second Life and First Life boxes. This is important, so I’m going to use a -BIG- image. :)

As soon as you get $10L, upload a picture. It seriously helps. Make both the profile text and the picture reflective of you, how you want people to see you, and nice.

DO NOT put in words like ‘don’t mess with me’ or ‘I’m one tough [deleted]‘ or other threats against people you want to warn off. It will warn off everyone, not just the bad ones. No one likes a Negative Nancy. Don’t be her.

Advice on Friending / Partnering / the ‘Social rules’ Of SL.


With the People button, one of the icons on the bottom of the screen by default, you can see those near you, your friends, groups, recent people you’ve encountered, and use the ‘gear’ icon at the bottom to show more options or people you’ve blocked. Right clicking any name bring up more options. Offer Teleport was covered above in getting around. ‘Block’ is useful if you want to put someone on an ‘ignore list’. Once blocked they will be invisible on your screen, chat, voice, and so on.

Keep to good spelling and grammar.

Second Life is an adult-aged community. The ‘leet-speak’ of many MMOs is heavily frowned on here. Nothing will get you scorned and ‘blocked’ or even locally ‘banned’ faster in Second Life than using terms like:
‘cool story bro’, ‘lul wut’, ‘moar’, ‘nao’, ‘leet’, ‘Chuck Norris [anything]‘, ‘kewl’, and so on…
(context depending. People of course in humor and inside jokes say these things all the time, but its not how one ‘normally talks’ like it can be in an MMO.)

If you wouldn’t say it in Real Life, don’t say it to them in Second Life

No, its is not ok to walk up to a random person in Second Life and ask for ‘the sexy time’. Expect to get a harassment Abuse Report filed against you if you do. Nor should you walk up to someone and say ‘why are you black here when you don’t have to be like in real life?’ (which btw, is a quote of something actually said to someone). The same basic rules about human decency and treating other people with politeness and as individuals rather than some ‘category’ or ‘label’ apply here just as in the real world.

SL is amazingly international. So don’t assume the people you meet even live on your side of the planet, or have any clue about whatever biases might be common where you are from. Treat everyone like its a social party at the United Nations – which is really not that far from what SL is, minus the governments. If I could write this blog in 200+ languages I would. :)

Only friend friends

This is not Facebook, nor is there a prize for the person with the most friends. Your Friends in Second Life will rightly expect to be able to randomly chat with you, come visit you, want you to visit them, and hang out together. Just like your friends in Real Life, only without the smelly socks.

DO NOT friend everyone. Don’t friend random people right after you meet them. Get to know someone, determine if you like them and they like you. Then and only then, friend them. And once you have, maintain that friendship. Treat that person well and chat with them often. That’s a real person there; respect them.

Partnering / Romance

A lot of people come to Second Life for adult content and or romance. There’s no escaping that fact. But a vast majority of people come here for other reasons. Chief among those being play time and casual social relationships. Some people approach Second Life as if it was an extension of their Real Life, some approach it as it was an extension of Pac-Man. Most of us are somewhere in-between.

Before you let yourself fall for some random stranger on the internet, keep in mind that you have no real idea who they are. You can see how they portray themselves and many people are genuine in that. But not all are. Furthermore, if you wouldn’t walk around the street of where you live in Real Life and randomly fall in love with every person you met there, why would you do it in an online ‘video game’ when all you have in front of you is a digital creation that appealed to the person playing that ‘character’. Remember that you have no access to body language in Second Life. You cannot see, feel, smell, and hear many of the cues that in Real Life tell you the person is right or wrong for you.

Everyday the forums for Second Life are filled with stories of people who got into bad relationships. Don’t be one of them. Sure, there are some Real Life success stories that began in Second Life, but they are the exception, not the norm. Your odds at romantic happiness here are about as good as they are by going to your local grocery store and flirting with the person next to the cereal boxes.

So, proceed with caution. Don’t click that ‘Partner’ button with the intention of Romance before you’ve picked up the Real Life phone and taken that relationship to a level you can trust. Its fine to have an SL Romance, but if it involves real feelings, make it a real world relationship that merely uses Second Life as one but not the only way it connects.

Don’t ask for Real Life info

I just told you not to get into Romance without a Real World connection, and not I’m giving the exact opposite advice… First, it is a severe Terms of Service violation to snoop into someone’s Real Life information and spread it. It can even be a violation to inquire into the information. If you have a special relationship, you can ask if they want to take it to the next level. Back off if they decline.

But DO NOT ask people you don’t have the right special bond with for their Real World information. It is considered very rude in Second Life to ask questions about Real Life age, name, address, gender, religion, occupation, and so on. If someone volunteers it that is fine. But even if they do, don’t repeat it. You could end up with your account banned from Second Life. Many people are even uncomfortable with being asked their city or country. This is NOT Facebook, and many Secondlife users are very adamant about their privacy.

Alts

Many people in Second Life have multiple accounts, also known as alts. Most of us do this to help manage land we own, groups we own, businesses, testing with building (handy to have a mannequin), or exploring various sides of our personality or spirituality (my own reasons). This is perfectly acceptable and allowed. Many people are quite open in who their alts are. But just as many have a few alts reserved for quite alone time.

Don’t bother people on an alt if you know its them unless they let you know its them. But if they come showing up, and you think its them, its ok to guess and ask. One of my friends guessed me right on a new alt I had before I’d managed to finished typing out ‘hi, it’s me, Pussycat’ into chat. :)

Some people do use alts in bad ways to spy on others. This is a very tiny minority, but they revolve heavily around the romance community – so you end up with two opposing highly emotional communities coming into contact and it creates a lot of public friction.

Very few alts are used for content theft. There is a lot of paranoia about this, but at the end of the day, most actual content theft is done by people on paid accounts, who turn around sell the stolen goods for profit. Sometimes a free alt is used in part of the process, but often not.

The official FAQ on alts is here. However the Terms of Service is slightly different and supersedes the FAQ. The difference is that the FAQ limits it to 5, but the Terms has no limit stated.

Sandboxes

Linden Labs is very proud of Sandboxes, but residents have more mixed opinions. The official public ones tend to be unmonitored and therefore subject to a lot of griefing. A sandbox is a place where anyone can go to build things and rez object. They are popular places to go to open packages, or for people who do not own their own land to build new things. If you decide to go to one, find one that has staff who monitor it and have the power to remove bad elements. Some such Sandboxes include the ones at NCI, Builders Brewery, and Raglan Shire – but there are many others as well. Builders Brewery requires joining their group to access, and Raglan Shire’s is meant for Tinies and their friends. NCI’s is open.

Finding a Safe Home

Having a home for your avatar is optional. There is nothing wrong with just logging out wherever you are and coming back later. When logged out your avatar is not present there and cannot be tampered with. That said, most people eventually feels an urge to have a nice safe spot as their Home location. In finding a good spot, look for someplace quiet or owned by friends, or both, or owned by you. Some places will let you set home there if you join their group. If you find such a place, and you like it or it feels safe to you, go for it. If a friend owns land, ask if they can let you set the place as your home. They can do this by inviting you to their land group (if they have one), letting you set home, and then either leaving you in the group or removing you. Don’t feel slighted if they remove you. Sometimes the land fees charged in Second Life get applied to the wrong people in a group, and so they might be doing you a favor. I’ve had to send a little bit of money out to everyone in a group I own once before because of that.

If you decide for the third option, owning your own land, you can rent from another resident or get a premium account and either buy your own land or get a linden home. There are a -LOT- of opinions on which option is best, and very little agreement. But I can tell you two generally accepted pieces of advice:

  1. If you rent from someone, research the landlord very well first. Some of them have very good reputations, and some are known for cheating people. Make sure you know which yours is before you pay them. If you buy land, look around first – who lives nearby and have they been there long? The longer they’ve been there the more likely they will stay there. Keep in mind that people move in Second Life ALL THE TIME.
  2. Don’t do this too early. Wait a month or two into being in Second Life before getting either kind of land. Make sure you like it here, and understand the place to know what you’re getting into.

Dealing with a Griefer attack

It happens. Especially if you get unlucky in where Second Life starts your avatar. Some places like Moose Beach and Help Island are hotbeds of griefers. Sandboxes seem to attract them as well. But sooner or later, you’ll probably encounter one, even in an innocent place. My own first encounter with one was in a small club in the sky. Someone bought the land next door, didn’t like the women’s club he moved in near, so he created a giant object and managed to move it into the club making a wall right down the middle. he then sat there and refused to remove it.

Some people are like that.

There’s no rational explanation for why some people get enjoyment out of hurting others. But they exist.

The most important thing to remember is they can’t do you permanent harm. Don’t panic. If you get one; your first option should be to right click them or their name in a social panel, and choose block. After doing that, file an Abuse Report. From there, just try to act as if they did not exist. Block will cause a lot of things they can do to no longer have any effect on you. Not everything, but much of it, will not show up on your screen.

Ignore them, and in time they often go away. If not, leave the area for a while. If you can’t, log out, and on location, type in the name of a different location on the location field of the login screen.

Some other things to know:

  • Sitting on something prevents you from being moved.
  • If your shape is messed up, remove all your worn items, and put on new ones. The best way to do this is by picking a folder and choosing ‘replace current outfit’.
  • If they seem to have managed to stalk you, get rid of any recently acquired items, or bring those items to an experienced friend to see if there’s a spy-script in something you’re wearing. If there is, you’ve struck gold. Using a chat-spy without consent is a permanently bannable offense. File an Abuse Report and that person will be gone from Second Life. Note that a lot of stalking is actually just done by learning a person’s habits. But stalking is still abuse and punishable.The most important thing to remember is DO NOT GRIEF BACK. Many Second Life users will tell you to just ‘get even by doing xyz to them’ – griefing back often results in the griefer filing an Abuse Report against you. Chances are they are waiting for this, with their fingers on the screenshot button, and the report all typed out and ready to go. So their report will look more ‘ready’ to the Linden Labs staff… Staff that often act before doing a full investigation.New Citizens Inc. and Builders Brewery both in past have taught classes on dealing with griefers. If this becomes a concern for you, take one of those classes. At present the best resource for classes is Caledon Oxbridge, which should have a course on this subject.

    Have Fun

    Do have fun in Second Life. Get out there, don’t be a wallflower. Chat often. Feel free to start the conversation. Most of us don’t bite. If you have a bad experience or two, avoid the places or people that caused it, and move on.

    Putting Real Life Money Into Second Life?

    This is a hard decision for a lot of new people. Especially if you come from online gaming. In online games, spending real money to buy ‘game gold’ is usually a bannable offense. But in Second Life the norm is flipped. Putting in Real Life money is expected.

    At first, it will seem like a rip-off.

    We oldbies get that. Or at least those of us who remember being newbies do. A lot of people come into Second Life and expect to ‘get a job’ and earn ‘game money’ but the scale of that is usually very predatory – often against the employee, and in clubs, usually against both the employee and employer.

    First, realize that every single ‘linden dollar’ ($L) in Second Life was put there by someone buying it using real life money. There are no monsters to kill or quests to do that will ‘drop’ game generated money (if you find one that does earn money, realize that some real person somewhere is actually paying you with their real life money to play their game. Then ask yourself why?

    Second, look to the scale of it. For most of Second Life’s history $L260 has been about $1 US. Most jobs in Second Life will pay you rates from $L1 to $L100 per hour. Yes… that’s up to about $0.38/hour. Not exactly minimum wage in most modern nations. They pay so low because the people paying you are putting in their real life money to pay you – and what are they getting for it? Think hard about that. They’re getting you to more or less play with whatever toys they’ve set up in Second Life.

    Now look at costs of items. You can buy a full very nicely made outfit in Second Life for from $L150 to $L500, usually. More than that and it might be a rip off unless there’s something really special going on. So an entire outfit for less that $2 US.

    After a while, if you start to enjoy your time in Second Life, it will start to just make sense to put in some Real Life money. If you get a job, fine. But do it for fun, not the money. The money will be too small to worry about. A few builders who own shops do make enough to support themselves in Real Life. But out of some 1 million people who use Second Life, we’re talking about probably less than 200 people. A lot more make enough money that they can support what they buy inside of Second Life, including the monthly fees on their land. But even this is a relatively small number – and most of them are here for the fun, not the income.

    Do yourself a favor, get your ‘payment info on file‘ recorded, buy about $L2000, and have fun rather than seeking an ‘SL job’ (unless the job is the fun).

    Feel Free to contact me

    But do let me know right away how you found me and what you’re contacting me about. Otherwise I’ll just be confused. I do really enjoy helping new people out, and making new friends in Second Life; but I need context and an anchor around which to build that relationship.

    I am -not- involved on the adult content side of SL, so please don’t ask. :)

    If you need help with something in the advice here, let me know. I don’t know everything though – I’m not an expert. But I can try to be helpful. :)

    I can usually be found as:
    Pussycat Catnap | Bunny Gearz | Mocha Edenflower

    I also run a couple of venues in Second Life:
    Zion Kitty – my so-called shop. :)
    Zion Kitty – PG Outlet
    Toadstool Reggae Newbie Help Zone – has a lot of Second Life help info.

    – I hope you enjoy visiting them.

21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Zena Juran
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 12:20:47

    HIyas Pussycat,

    What a wonderful blog you have here!

    I like the organization of your table of contents for this post. A very well thought out approach for someone new to log into Second Life for the first time and what to do once on the “grid”.

    Good advice in the “Social Rules” section. Second life is a diverse collection of people from all over the world interacting with one another sometimes on an emotional level that is no different than real life. Treating other as you want to be treated is a sound practice in Second Life as it is in real life.

    Thanx for the post!

    Zena :-)

    Reply

  2. Sea Warcliffe
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 18:13:16

    go cat go!!

    Reply

  3. Alana Pyara
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 15:10:49

    Hi. Thanks for this. Very well put together. I will link to this from my own blog. I am doing my personal account of experiences as a newbie.

    Reply

    • Pussycat Catnap
      Aug 14, 2010 @ 23:48:07

      Nice blog you’ve got going. Liked your comment about the white cloud problem. I get asked how to fix that almost daily, so I might have to add something about that here as well. Skipped my mind when I wrote my page. :)

      Reply

  4. Felicia Dasmijn
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 20:09:43

    I loved this blog. I have read other getting started blogs and have been on SL for about 3 months now, but those blogs were YEARS old. I’m glad to have something updated to look at and give me ideas! thanks!

    Reply

  5. PTZ IP Camera
    Aug 30, 2010 @ 02:25:29

    Nice work! great website

    Reply

  6. Shirley Marquez
    Aug 31, 2010 @ 10:05:09

    Nice guide… I just noticed a couple of things that might need mentioning.

    First, Linden Lab announced at SLCC that the third party registration portals are being discontinued. SLNamewatch still lists a few, but it’s not clear whether they currently work or will continue to work in the future.

    The name thing is about to change radically with the upcoming introduction of Display Names. Hard to write about that until LL actually rolls it out, and in the short term it will severely limit your viewer choices.

    As for viewers, it might be worth at least a mention in passing that most third-party viewers will have a radically different user interface (because they’re based on Viewer 1, but getting into THAT controversy might be Too Much Information). So far as I know the only alternative viewers based on Viewer 2 are Kirsten’s Viewer (which you recommend), Snowglobe (probably not something newcomers want to get involved with, especially the test builds as they vary wildly in stability), and Snowstorm (see comment about Snowglobe and double it).

    Reply

  7. Ceejay Writer
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 17:25:15

    A very valuable resource – thank you! I’m often asked for help, but feel helpless lately as I am clinging tightly to the original, generic, vanilla SL viewer and will continue to do so as long as I can. This gives me a reference to point newbies to!

    Ceejay Writer
    Barista
    CocoaJava Cafe, Academy of Industry, New Babbage
    Java Jive, Seraph City

    Writer/Editor
    The Primgraph Magazine
    Prim Perfect Magazine

    Reply

  8. Trackback: Found a great Newbie Guide for Second Life « Miyodarcy's Blog about her Second Life
  9. Leikir
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 02:16:11

    finally i found, thanksss so muchhh !

    Reply

  10. elseybaby
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 15:29:05

    Hi thank you for this blog it was really inspirational and informative :D

    Reply

  11. Indigo Mertel
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 10:41:57

    Hi! I have added a reference to your post on MetaLibrary ( http://metalibrary.posterous.com ).

    I applaud your inclusion to a paragraph dedicated to communities though, as I say in my post, it is unfortunate that communities not focused on a theme or specific activity do no get mentioned. This excludes some popular communities. I also think that the sailing community should deserve more attention as one of the most active and engaging in SL. However, I understand that trying to give proper coverage of all the communities in SL is a huge task.

    Reply

    • Pussycat Catnap
      Apr 27, 2011 @ 18:19:39

      The guide is meant to be a general resource for new people.

      Rather than go into detailed specifics of every community, I’ve tried to help people with how to find a community they might enjoy, and followed with some samples that were broad or common among new users.

      Every such list will miss some, and if I try to address that, I’ll end up just having to revert right back to listing every single community in SL.

      EDIT: That said, having finally tried sailing now, I’m going to have to agree that it belongs in a new user guide simply because its such a great way to get an immersive visual look at the world of SL. As such I’ve added a section for that community, and am considering giving it a full blog post as well.

      Reply

  12. sorornishi
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 08:30:56

    Wonderful, well done. I know what a lot of work this is.

    Reply

  13. Trackback: Alts… Gotta love my alts… « Pussycat Catnap's thoughts
  14. Adur Gaelyth
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 08:07:38

    Good work, Pussycat!! :)
    But I must say, I fear the advice you give about hair is WRONG. All the best hairs in SL have resizer scripts, and all of them come with the option of DELETING them. So, all you need to do to prevent lag is just save a copy of your favourite hair, resize it as you like, and then delete the script. Problem solved.
    I think you should change that section of your blog!!!

    Reply

    • Pussycat Catnap
      Jan 29, 2012 @ 09:26:53

      I’ve bought a lot of very very very good hair that lacked scripts. One merely has to shop elsewhere. :) I recommend .:EMO, Discord Designs, and SAIKIN. For dreadlocks, Jonah Dreads. That is just a few, but there are many more.

      The problem with scripted hair, is that many cannot be deleted. And even those that can, customers often refuse or forget to do so.

      And there is just no need for it to have that script to begin with. This coming from someone who puts out a resizer script. A very popular one – a freebie, but still my most popular item. Mine is linkset based so remains only about 16kbs no matter how complex the hair. But the entire concept of a resizer is really not needed in SL.

      Reply

  15. Adur Gaelyth
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 01:29:56

    Another update: it seems Lyrical Oh’s shop no longer exists…

    Reply

    • Pussycat Catnap
      Jan 29, 2012 @ 09:29:07

      Its just moved, that’s all. Going to the shop in his picks takes you a big white box, and he spams a landmark at you.

      The new location is sadly G rated, meaning he is subject to ARs for selling graphic skins, and his customers can be AR’d if they demo the products in his store… Skin shops simply should not be on G-land… its a TOS violation. So I hope he moves back to M land before he gets banned, because he’s the best there is…

      Reply

  16. Trackback: Furries.. what.. where… | TamZ.se
  17. Trackback: teacherdreamer » Third dimension… Second Life… First experiences!

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