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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Not Just Anybody

When I was younger, so much younger than today...
How is it that even in SL you can choose your friends, but not your family, I thought, when my brother started shouting stuff about "un orgy room da niubbio". He is a much-married, howling combo of Arthur Daley, Scarface, and  the Cable Guy, for whom factual reality is a movable feast, and trouble a companion never more than one step to the rear. We have absolutely nothing in common, except for everything: we are the last survivors of a once vibrant family. Those first fatal days  in Second Life have cemented us together in a childhood shared, and the memories of those places and people are a sticking post in the heart.
Like you, I was moderately intrigued to know what constitutes a 'newbie' orgy room, but, being busy with something else at the time, was kind of glad when we moved into the standard Third Act, the familiar 'no, you better not threaten me' stage. One of his 'becauses' rang false, however. Surely I'd read somewhere that they don't have mentors any more in SL. And this proves he really is my brother, because if any random dude made similar wild statements, I'd simply mute him. But sibling rivalry demanded that I bring living proof of his BS to his door. 
I took time out to consult my favourite Knower of Things Linden, Wizard Gynoid. She rolled her eyes and passed a link to the Alphaville Herald, written some 6 months ago. I shook a triumphant sisterly fist in the air, but Wizzy's reaction was more reflective. Poor noobs - what happens to them now when they have questions? We packed some sandwiches, Wizzy got out her 'Noob Assistance' folder, and we TP'd over to Help Island to see what went on.
The noise is the first thing that hits you; Help Island Plaza was full of people. There was a big fight going on in Chat about Viewer choice, and the term 'smart ass' was being passed around pretty freely. 
Wizard Gynoid: Part of the reason they did away with the mentors is because they all argued, lots of ego problems.
Among the 'patients' - not all of them noobs, strictly speaking - were a woman who was ruthed, a guy inquiring about megaprims, and somebody who spoke only spanish. Wizzy found herself a newbie with a texture/money problem, but I was curious about the helpers, and asked Lisa Lowe what was going on there. After all, didn't the Mentor program get nuked by LL?
Lisa Lowe: They fired 1/3 of the personnel last year and with that it also killed the SL Mentor program. The people here are mentors in other groups, from the RHN. Everyone is free to come here, it is a public place. I do it because I always liked helping others. Many also become good friends.
A person called rapists Resident appeared on the Plaza, and offered his services to the group. 
Wizard Gynoid: It's obvious to me why retention rates are so low if this is what noobs have to wade through.  They need a safe place to ask questions. To do that they need to trust you.  This place does nothing but make noobs doubt you.  It took a few minutes for that guy I helped to realize that he could trust me.  He was astounded that I gave him $200L.
The person called rapists Resident was still holding forth.
That kind of talk, Lisa said, is par for the course, and a week on Help Island would give you material to fill a book, of bizarre conversations, threats, and avatar choices, not to mention genuine difficulties and people looking for a connection or a solution to keep them in the game. It was obvious, even in the brief time we spent on the Island, that despite all the silly chat, these mentors take their volunteer work seriously.
Lisa Lowe: Teaching is a real job. Many often try to help, but they sometimes only make it more confusing. I've been mentoring for about 4 or 5 years now. I have professional expertise in IT, engineering, programming and so on, so I can often help with werid stuff. I used to be a coach for mentors, and I try to keep track of all the developments, like with the viewer or ways of doing things in SL, by visiting Linden meetings. 
She worries that people are too quick to paint the Lindens as the bad guys.
Lisa Lowe: Trust me, I am not happy with everything they do either, but I try to be rational about things.  If you talk to the Lindens, you often get a different perspective on things. Too many people shout very stupid things in here and on blogs.  SL is still the leading platform when it comes to it, and very complex also. 
Time to go. I went dancing with Jay, which is a form of humanitarian aid, if you know Jay. Meanwhile, Wizzy was showing a second noob how to win hair with Lucky Chairs, and how to open boxes in a sandbox.

Wizard Gynoid: Such simple but necessary things to know. Back in my day, it was not uncommon for oldbies to give noobs money.  People gave me money, some took me shopping and paid for it. That sort of thing makes all the difference.  It helped me to stay.  The community I lucked into made me want to return.  If you don't find that   - if you aren't lucky -   then you won't return.

Who cares about the machinations (or mishaps) of Linden Labs.  All the time Second Life has people like Lisa and Wizzy in it, it will be a lucky place to be. Oh go on, and my brother Jup too.

1 comment:

Miso Susanowa said...

Wiz rules. I also was given 200L once when a noob to buy some clothes and hair. I also returned that by going to Help Island and doing the same. It was what decided me to come back.

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