30 (and more) things every newbie should know before starting Second Life
Edit: OK, the number is increasing now. Scroll to the bottom for additional suggestions, credited to those that suggested them :)
Just a list, as the items have come to me. No doubt the number of items will increase (got something you think should be on the list? Leave a comment!)
Hop behind the cut, for 30+ things every newbie should know before starting Second Life.
1 – Nobody can ‘kill’ your avatar. If you happen to be in one of the rare ‘damage-enabled’ zones, the only thing that will happen if your avatar loses all health (which it only has in those rare damage-enabled areas) is that you will be teleported to wherever your Home location is set.
2 – If anyone tells you they are ‘a Linden’ or that they work for ‘the Lindens’ or for Second Life, unless they have the SURNAME of ‘Linden’ and their profile (right-click on them and select ‘profile’) has, under the ‘Account’ section, the words ‘Linden Lab Employee’ – they are LYING. Impersonating a Linden is an Abuse-Reportable offence, so if someone makes this claim (especially if they are threatening you with it) and they are lying, right-click their avatar and select ‘Report Abuse’ from the pie menu (you may have to dig down a bit for it), or you can choose Report Abuse from the Help menu of your viewer.
3 – If you feel at all uncomfortable, then simply teleport away. Same thing if you are being hassled or griefed: simply teleport away. If, for some reason, you can’t teleport (such as you’re getting an error message because the area is busy or teleports are down) then log out and log back in at your Home location, or any other location (see #9, below, for how to do that).
4 – The first place you teleport to after leaving Help Island when you first arrive will be the place that is set as your Home location, until you change it. You can only set your Home location at a Linden Lab infohub, or to certain areas in certain groups that allow it when you are a member of that group. eg: if you join the New Citizens Inc (NCI) group – a newbie-helping organisation – you can set your Home to one of their campuses. (Eloise also points out in comments that you can set your Home to any land that you own, and you can also set it to land that you rent, assuming your rental group allows this – which most do.) UPDATE: You can also set your Home location to your Linden Home, if you have one.
5 – Following on from #3 and #4 the quickest way to teleport to your Home location is the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + H.
6 – Many of the Welcome Areas (which are where you will land when you leave Help Island, and which will be set as your Home location) contain griefers (people who get their kicks from harrassing newbies). Try to find an alternate home, such as NCI or ‘Help People!’ as soon as you can, to re-set your Home location (you will usually have to join their groups before being able to set their locations as your Home spot). That said, some of the bigger Welcome Areas are worse for griefing than others. When leaving Help Island, keep clicking that ‘Ready to start your Second Life?’ sign until you have several landmarks for locations. Discard the ones for Ahern and Waterhead, as those are two of the worst for griefing. Quieter locations, such as Ambat, are preferable.
7 – Ladies, be aware that choosing a female avatar will make many men gravitate toward you, even on Help Island just seconds after you first arrive in Second Life. It can be unnerving to try to learn a whole new online experience with some guy insistently chatting to you and asking you where you’re from, what your real name is, etc. Two ways to avoid this are: simply tell him to go away, and to pick a male avatar when you first register (you can always change this to a female one at any time later on, using the shapes in your Inventory’s Library folder). Most people don’t check the names above other’s heads when they first arrive, but they are drawn to a female shape. Having a male shape will enable you to get through those first few hours without feeling hassled.
8 – Be wary of offers that you receive for items and group invitations, especially those that are sitting and waiting for you the minute you first appear in Second Life. The only offers you should consider accepting at first are ones that are clearly from people such as the ‘Help People!’ institute, official Second Life Mentors, and the NCI people. Use your common sense. Some people think it’s fun to grief newbies by offering them something that will do something stupid.
9 – A ‘relog’ (logging out of second Life and then back in again) will fix any griefing problems. If you are being griefed somewhere (such as a sandbox) and relogging only sends you right back there, then when you fire up your Second Life viewer, open up the Edit > Preferences menu (top left) before you log in, and under the ‘General’ tab, check ‘Show Start Location on Login Screen’. It will appear at the bottom of the viewer, under the place where you type your name to login. Change it to ‘Home’, or type in the name of any sim in Second Life (it’s handy to have a few names of quiet sims to choose from at moments like this, so if you find one, note it down somewhere). When you login, you’ll be at whatever location you chose. Please remember, this setting will persist until you change it. ‘Home’ will always log you in at your home location, ‘My Last Location’ will always log you in where you last logged out, and <Type Region Name> will log you in at the centre of the region/sim you choose. If you’re using Viewer 2 (or a third party viewer based on it) then you also can set your Preferences to allow you to log in at any of the landmarks you have on your Favourites Bar.
UPDATE: If you can’t find your Preferences while logged out, then your viewer is set to Basic Mode. See this post on the new SL for Nowt blog for how to change it to Advanced Mode, which you’ll need in order to access your inventory and all Preferences.
10 – You don’t have to do anything in Second Life that you don’t want to.
11 – If you come across red lines saying ‘NO ENTRY’ or you’re bounced away from somewhere or get sent a blue dropdown flag saying you have tried to enter a banned area, don’t take it personally. People value their privacy in SL, and can set their land to bar entry to everyone except themselves or their friends if they wish.
12 – Following on from #11, please respect the fact that most of the homes you see in Second Life will belong to someone. While there are some people who don’t mind others walking around their homes (especially if they themselves aren’t online) others will view it in a manner similar to an intrusion in their real life homes. ESPECIALLY do not walk into someone’s home if they are there and with friends or a lover. If you do blunder in and are asked to leave, apologise and make a quick exit.
13 – Following on from 11 and 12, DON’T use the poseballs you find in someone else’s home. That’s about as rude as shagging in their real life bed. Just don’t do it.
14 – Child avatars aren’t perverts or underage users. Many people wearing child avatars enjoy the innocence of being a kid again. Don’t be too hasty to abuse report them as underage, because you could quite literally ruin their Second Life. If you’re hasty to abuse report someone for being a pervert, you could well ruin their real life, too. You should only abuse report that if you see someone clearly roleplaying a sexual situation between an adult and a child avatar (and even then, be aware that many people in Second Life have young-looking avatars but are not child avatars). The only ‘ageplay’ that is banned in Second Life is sexual ageplay; not simply making your avatar younger than you actually are in real life.
15 – That said, don’t be afraid to abuse report people who are harrassing or griefing you. The worst thing you can do in these situations is retaliate, as often a griefer will hassle you to try and get you to retaliate, at which point he will abuse report YOU.
16 – It’s very likely that, at some point, you will receive the following message in a blue dropdown menu, completely out of the blue:
“Fangs [Thirst::Bloodlines] 2.8: (Avatar Name) would like to give you a Vampire bite. This will register you with The Thirst::Bloodlines system, and you’ll get a FREE pair of bite marks. If you accept the bite, you don’t have to play, and if you get bitten, you don’t have to drink a potion to undo it. Say Yes to accept!”
You don’t have to say ‘yes’. Bloodlines is a pyramid ‘roleplay’ scheme and it annoys a lot of residents. The vampires use a HUD that scans an area and tells them who has not yet been bitten. They tend to hang out in newbie areas, because most newbies won’t understand the offer and are more likely to click ‘yes’. If you are bitten, or have been bitten, then you are not automatically a vampire. You don’t have to play along. You especially don’t need to buy any kind of potion to ‘heal’ yourself.
When you are bitten, your avatar name is entered on a database held at the Bloodlines site. It lists your ‘soul’ as ‘belonging’ to whichever vampire avatar bit you. If you have been bitten, you will no longer register as a potential victim to any other vampire on their HUD. If you don’t want to be a potential victim, there is a FREE (never pay for it anywhere; it’s offered free at a lot of places*) ‘garlic necklace’ that you can obtain in-world, wear once, and then discard. This will add your avatar name to another database that means the Bloodlines HUD will disregard you as a potential victim, as though you were bitten.
*UPDATE: Here is a link to buy the free (remember: never pay for it!) garlic necklace on SL Marketplace.
I’m leaving out opinion about Bloodlines here, and sticking mainly to the facts. A great many people find it annoying, and the use of the Bloodlines HUD is increasingly being banned, especially in newbie areas (but that still doesn’t stop it from being used: I’ve had three bite offers recently at Sarah Nerd’s Freebie Paradise, where Bloodlines users are warned not to use their HUD). You can read much more in the official forums, especially in the threads: “Okay, so I read a lot about Bloodlines…” and “Tired of vampire bites? Read this!”
17 – The ‘mute’ button is your friend. If someone is harrassing you, either right-click on their avatar and select ‘mute’ or search for their profile and click ‘mute’ on that.
18 – Torley Linden’s video tutorials are absolutely invaluable. Make sure you watch as many as you can.
19 – The official forums are a great starting point if you have any questions, especially the Resident Answers sub-forum. Be prepared, though, to have your thread derailed. It’s sort of a tradition there ;) Also, be wary of asking questions or making outraged posts about: Gor, furries, or child avatars. These threads come up very often, so try searching the forum first. Especially do not bug the Resident Answers people to take any surveys you’re doing. If you ignore that last bit of advice, on your own head be it ;)
20 – One for the guys: don’t bug every female you see for sex. Especially don’t attach your ‘freenis’ (freebie penis) and run around everywhere. You WILL get laughed at.
21 – If you’re freebie-hunting, remember your manners. Don’t like a freebie that a store owner has placed out? Don’t bitch about it, and don’t bug the store owner to give you a different version, or one in another colour. You got it for FREE, and they didn’t have to offer it at all. Just delete it from your inventory if you don’t like it, and move on.
22 – Don’t beg. It’s lame. There are few quicker ways to getting banned from groups and muted by large amounts of people, as asking them for “just 10L$ so I can upload a profile picture”.
23 – The easiest way to ‘get money’ is to register a credit card or Paypal account at the official Second Life website. If you can’t use or obtain a credit card, many countries have pre-paid credit cards you can buy.
24 – There is no ‘get rich quick’ scheme in Second Life. You won’t be able to earn enough money to give up your real life job. There are very, very few people in Second Life in that situation. Also, people with ‘click me for free lindens’ hovertext above their heads, or the ‘earn lindens fast!’ websites are mainly scams, especially trying to harvest email addresses for spammers. Use your common sense. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably IS.
25 – Lag is a part of Second Life, and we all hate it. There are alternate viewers you can use, and tips and tricks you can try that will reduce the lag a bit. Search the official forums for hints about those. Two excellent posts by Gwyneth Llewelyn will give you some insights: Anatomy of Lag, and Lag Myths Dispelled.
26 – When you’re getting changed, you don’t need to undress fully before getting dressed again. Clothing in Second Life comes on layers (undershirt, shirt, jacket, etc) so if you’re at all embarrassed about getting changed you can do the old ‘putting on your swimming cossie at the beach’ trick, akin to wriggling around under a towel. Want to change your shirt? Put on a jacket first, then change the shirt underneath it, then remove the jacket. And so on. (Read more on this subject at the bottom of the post: comment #33, suggested by Mitch Wagner.)
27 – A ‘yellow dropdown flag’ (as opposed to the blue ones you will encounter) is a money debit warning. If you receive one of these, think twice before clicking ‘yes’, as doing so will give whatever object it came from permission to take money out of your L$ balance.
28 – Not everybody wants a massive friends list, or to be chatted to by all and sundry. If you get talking to someone, or ask them a question and receive an answer, don’t just send them a friend offer out of the blue. Ask them first if they mind being friended, and don’t be offended if you’re turned down. Also, don’t be offended if someone accepts your friendship offer, then a few days later their name vanishes from your friends list. This most likely means they accepted because they either: didn’t want to hurt your feelings, felt awkward about saying ‘no’, or simply changed their mind about your friendship, and removed you from their friends list. If this happens, don’t send the offer again.
29 – Don’t be surprised if the female avatar you really fancy turns out to be played by a man (or the male avatar you fancy turns out to be played by a woman). People gender-swap in Second Life more often than you might think. So don’t assume anything (like you wouldn’t assume that the cute little bunny rabbit you’re talking to is a REAL bunny rabbit). Having said that, though, please don’t demand that every avatar you’re interested in ‘voices’ with you (uses the voice chat facility) to ‘prove’ they’re the gender they say they are. You’ll offend them, and what you hear might not be them anyway (voice-changing software is freely available, and is very effective at making a male sound female and vice-versa).
30 – I’ve left what’s probably the most important thing until last. Please, remember that behind that other avatar is a real life person. A human being with feelings and emotions just like you.
Extra suggestions from the comments section
31 – If you take snapshots, create Objects and take them into inventory, or upload textures – be sure to give them meaningful names at the time of creation. And if something has a name that is not helpful or descriptive, rename it to something that makes sense to you. (Suggested by Crap Mariner.)
32 – Don’t get offended or mad at someone if they won’t share their RL info with you. Many people come to SL to run around as the person/avie/whatever they are. Some consider their RL info very personal. When they’re ready to share, they will. (Suggested by Dakota Rosca.)
33 – Further to being embarrassed while changing clothing:
1) Find the items you want to wear in your inventory. Right-click and select “wear.”The new item will replace whatever you’re currently wearing in that place.
After you’ve done that with everything you want to wear, you’l be wearing your new outfit and avatar plus a couple of pieces of the old one.
2) Click on the search field at the top of your inventory. Enter the text “worn” The search results will be everything you’re currently wearing.
3) Right click and remove anything you don’t want to be wearing.
If you already know what you want to wear, changing clothes or avatars using this method takes less time to do than it took you to read this comment. And you can do it anywhere, without ever making an unseemly show of flesh. (Suggested by Mitch Wagner.)
34 – Don’t dismiss the idea of joining a group. Even while flying solo in the Metaverse I have my group chat window open to keep up with people that share my interests. Groups are time savers when you are looking for specific answers, places or products, and you can always close the window if they get too chatty. (Suggested by xannaziskey.)
35 – Join the Fashion Emergency group, whether you care about fashion or not. A very well run free group that can usually help with just about anything. You will save enormous amounts of time shopping. (Suggested by xannaziskey.)
36 – Best money to spend on updating appearance? Skin. Hair. These are the most difficult items to find free in good quality, although the Fashion Emergency group can probably tell you if there are special offers about. (Suggested by xannaziskey.)
37 – You CANNOT get locked inside a house, cage or otherwise. If you find yourself seemingly trapped, simply teleport away. If teleports are down, log out. (Suggested by Dazz Anvil.)
38 – Better than search for worn [to find things you're wearing] is searching for (worn – that gets rid of those items with a “worn” in their description. (Suggested by Angel.)
39 – Further to cages, tps being down etc. If you want to get away and back in somewhere else, start Second Life, go to Edit>Preferences and check “Show Start Location on Login Screen” you then get a drop-down box and can choose home or another location (e.g. a sim by name) and you will log in there. (Suggested by Eloise.)
40 – You don’t have to move your avatar to get a closer look at things. Use “Camera Controls” from the View menu – and practice with them until you’ve got them mastered. It’s a much faster way to browse big walls of stuff in stores. (Suggested by Tara Yeats.)
41 – If you use a Mac for SL, join the group “Macintosh Users” – it’s the go-to resource for Mac-specific SL issues (and they’re are lots of them). (Suggested by Tara Yeats.)
EDIT: My God, I can’t keep up with you all! OK, to anyone coming in and reading this now, please check the comments section for further useful tips. :)