SL for Nowt

Living a digital life with empty pockets

Newbie Notes: Hints on contacting creators, landlords, and anyone else in Second Life

It’s happened to all of us at some point. We’ve bought something in a store, our money has ker-chinged out of our account, but the item never showed up. Or we need to ask our landlord something about our rental agreement. Or we simply have a query about something in general.

The first instinct of most people is to search for the avatar’s name and initiate an IM session, but most content creators and landowners in Second Life are extremely busy people and usually have a preferred method of contact. So, bearing that in mind, hop behind the cut for some hints and tips on getting the best results out of any contact with creators, landlords, and others in SL.

This guide is intended more for those wishing to contact business-owners in Second Life. Please remember that, while some of SL’s creators etc use alts for their business transactions, many of them use their main avatars; the ones that live in-world and have fun just like the rest of us.

1. Before you do anything else, bring up the avatar’s profile and read it thoroughly. Check their main profile page first, and then check their picks, too. If they have a preferred means of contact, such as another avatar who manages their store, or notecards instead of IMs (or even a web form) then it will be listed there. Use that form of contact. Do not assume that your query is too important to bother with that and that you can go directly to IM. You will only piss off the person you’re trying to contact, and that’s not the best of starts, is it?

2. If they don’t have any preferred form of contact, and are online, then compose an IM that lists your entire query in one go. It’s best to do this in an external editor like Notepad, or to write it in an SL notecard, then copy and paste the entire thing in one go into the IM window. Begin with a greeting, and be as brief as possible while listing all of your points or questions. End with a thank you. And then be patient while you wait for a reply. You may need your answer right now, but they might be in the middle of some complex scripting, AFK making the dinner in RL, or even in flagrante with their partner.

3. If they are offline and haven’t specified a secondary point of contact (such as a store manager) or other preferred contact method (such as a web form) then compose your query in a notecard. Again, begin with a greeting, end with a thank you and your full SL username – the one that you use to log in, NOT your changable display name! – (which will save them from having to view the notecard’s properties to find it out), and be as succinct as possible while making all of your points or questions clear. Drag that notecard onto their profile and be patient while you wait for a reply.

Edit: Katherine makes a very good point in comments, regarding what you name your notecard: “rename the card with a hint of whats inside such as “missing-order-#date#-#myname#”.

4. If your query is about a non-received purchase, then include your Transaction History, no matter how you’re contacting the person concerned. Log into your account at secondlife.com and under ‘Account’ on the left-side menu you’ll find ‘Transaction History’. Look through that (it will only show the previous 30 days of transactions) until you find the relevant one. Then, paste everything in that transaction into your notecard query. You don’t need to include your final L$ balance, but everything else should be there: notably the date and time, the transaction number, the name of the item, and the region name. It should look something like this:

[date here]    [time here]    [transaction number here]     Destination: [name of avatar receiving the money here]
Object Sale
Region: [region the sale took place here]
Description: [name of purchased item here]
[price here]

5. If you do send an IM, only send one. Don’t send half a dozen of them, beginning with “Hi” then moving onto to “are you online?” before launching into a six-IM description of your query. Offline IMs usually cap at about 25, so if you fill up half of that amount with casual hellos and a long-winded ramble, you’re not doing yourself any favours. As in section 2, compose your entire IM in an external editor, then paste it into the IM window. Don’t make it so long that you have to break it down into multiple IMs!

6. This is the most important thing, so I’m going to bold it: be polite! You may very well be annoyed, or even downright pissed-off, but if someone suddenly started having a go at you out of the blue, you would get defensive and probably pretty angry in return, right? Well the person you want to contact won’t be any different, and starting off on the wrong foot by yelling at them isn’t going to make them feel like being very helpful. Politeness (no matter how much it may rankle you to do it) is the best way to get results. Remember the old adage: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

7. If in doubt, always use a notecard instead of an IM. You’ll be able to say more (preferably without being too wordy!) and the person you’re contacting will be able to get to your query at their earliest convenience, without feeling hassled by your IM sitting there and waiting for them.

8. Adding a final point, because Miyoko’s comment reminded me about the existence of answering machines. If you have the time, go to the creator’s mainstore and hunt around for some form of answering machine or notecard dropbox. They will usually be in the area that you might consider to be the store’s ‘reception’ or lobby: where any group join, Subscribe-o-matic, and other info signs are. They vary in use: sometimes you click them and type out your message, which is stored and can be replayed by the owner at a later date; sometimes you drag a notecard onto them which is stored and again can be retrieved later. Many stores now have these, so it’s worth going to take a look. The same principles of this post apply, though: whether it’s a typed message or a notecard, be as brief as possible while including all the relevant details.

9. One other thing to check (and please do this before  you contact the person concerned!) is to look over your block/mute list and make sure you haven’t blocked/muted them. It’s so very easy to do, whether accidentally or deliberately (for example: if their Subscribe-O-Matic gets spammy during an event and you block it in annoyance, then suddenly wonder why none of your later purchases from that store arrive). So check that first, and if you have blocked/muted them, reverse it and then contact them.

Update: May 2011 – SL Marketplace delivery failures

10. I’m adding another point to this old post, regarding failed deliveries from SL Marketplace. Many customers of stores on Marketplace seem to have a habit of leaving one-star “never received it” reviews on items there, when it is completely not the fault of the store owner. Marketplace deliveries come from the owner’s Magic Box, which they have rezzed out somewhere. If the region where that Magic Box is rezzed has issues, or is offline (for example, for a rolling restart, which happen quite frequently) then your delivery may very well fail.

Yes, your money will initially be taken from your account, BUT if you don’t receive the item within eight hours, the money is refunded. So please wait at least eight hours before you contact the merchant concerned, and even then please don’t leave a bad review. It’s not the merchant’s fault that you didn’t receive the item; in fact they were probably completely unaware of it, because they didn’t even receive the money you paid out – not even for a little while. That money goes into a kind of ‘limbo’ until the item is actually delivered.

In short, if a Marketplace delivery fails and you’ve waited the requisite eight hours without the item being delivered, your money will be refunded. I do suggest not visiting the merchant’s in-world store in a hurry to buy the item there, because sometimes Marketplace acts up and you could still have your delivery within that eight-hour timeslot (yep, guess who spent L$500 in a store after what she thought was a failed delivery, and the delivery item finally showed up about six hours later. Total cost = L$1000 – ouch!). If you still want the item, either try buying again from Marketplace or contact the merchant to ask about it. They’ll probably be grateful for the alert that something went wrong with their delivery box and may need to re-set it.

Update: January 2013 – SL Marketplace Direct Delivery failures

Well, I’m updating again! Magic Boxes are on their way out, but Linden Lab’s replacement for them – Direct Delivery – still has failures and faults now and then. As before, please wait at least eight hours before you contact a merchant about an un-received item. Check your account on the Marketplace (log in, then pull down the little arrow next to your name at the top of the page, go to My Account, and then My Orders). You’ll be able to see whether the item is still waiting for delivery, has been delivered (check your Received Items/Marketplace folder in Inventory!) or whether the delivery failed (in which case, you will NOT have been charged for it). You can always re-order, if the delivery failed.

November 5, 2010 - Posted by | newbie notes, second life

7 Comments »

  1. I just put my hand over my mouth and said, “Oh!” One time there was a creator whom I had been talking to and she was offline and I thought it would be more helpful to break my subsequent message up into several IMs. The IM cap never dawned on me. And my own IMs get capped! DUH…

    Comment by AK | November 5, 2010 | Reply

    • LOL! A lot of people don’t give that a thought, so you’re not alone, AK. I’ve been there in my early days, too. It’s just easier to put it all into one IM, and if you pre-write it in an off-SL editor then, when you paste it into SL, it should retain all of the line breaks, and won’t be just a wall of text.

      Comment by Mar | November 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. This is a great note Mar as lot of newbies, including myself, at one time, did not realize that picks were used to give information to people like me looking for help. It never occurred to me until someone kindly suggested I check their picks.

    Also, Im not a vendo, but I get capped all the time. and when Im capped it means your IM is not coming in. Also if you send an NC,which I now do, I rename the card with a hint of whats inside such as “missing-order-#date#-#myname#

    this lets the receiver see at a glance, who you are, the date (how long you have been waiting for help) and an idea of what they need to take care of.

    Inside, just as Mar says, put ALL the details of the transaction

    cheers!

    Comment by Katherine Mary | November 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Katherine, that’s a very good point about naming your notecard. I didn’t think to include that, so I’ll edit the post in order to do so. Thank you for the suggestion!

      Comment by Mar | November 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. I like the end of point 2 :)
    Your blog always have cool advice (always wanted to tell you that). I hope a lot of people read it.
    At my store, and like my profile precises it, I have an answering machine. It’s a poster with written “answering machine” on it that you click, type your message in chat and it’s recorded.
    So it’s like an IM only you are sure that the store owner will get the message.
    I wish more people would use it

    Comment by Miyoko Magic | November 6, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m sure the end of point 2 has happened to many a content creator in Second Life, Miyoko. I can just picture it: the height of an intimate moment and suddenly up pops an IM: “That thing you sold me last week doesn’t work! Fix it now!” Talk about a mood killer ;)

      Like you, I wish that more store owners would use answering machines and dropboxes. Those are excellent ideas, especially if someone is in your store and has a query about something. What I wish Linden Lab would implement is some kind of special IM service purely for content creators. Much in the same way that an avatar can be marked as a bot, content creators could make an avatar that functions solely as a message-taker, and – if registered as such – its IMs would never cap. I think a small weekly fee (in the same vein as group liabilities) would ensure that it wasn’t taken up by too many non-creators who just wanted to make sure they got all their group notices and suchlike.

      Thank you so much for the kind words about the blog. I’m so glad that people find it useful :)

      Comment by Mar | November 6, 2010 | Reply

  4. I had to plurk this. This is great advice to everyone. I think all stores should look this over and use it for a policy about IMing/notecarding.

    Comment by Lilyana Muircastle | November 6, 2010 | Reply


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