How to Build *Community* in SL

i have always been an idealist.  i can’t help but dream about my lofty ideas for what my ideal world would be like, in RL and SL.  

most of the time i’m pretty happy, but there are times when i feel a little bit discouraged.  like last night, when i decided to fly around the sim i live on to take a look at my neighbours parcels.  i just wanted to see and admire their houses and work, when i got unceremoniously EJECTED from the parcel!  really, i wasn’t up to anything besides looking… no camming in and spying on people, so i felt there was no reason to be arbitrarily ejected.  that surprised me considering that it in the estate covenant it clearly states that ban lines are not permitted.  i was shocked and annoyed to say the least.

a couple of days previous to that, i was in a busy store and i spotted an avatar whose particular style i really liked.  i cammed in on her to inspect what she was wearing.  not even a few seconds later, i got a rude i.m from her asking me why i was camming her.  call me naieve, but i had no idea there were such tools so you would know if someone had their cam on you.  what the hell are u doing in a busy and popular store that gets a lot of traffic if you don’t want anyone to look at you?  wouldn’t shopping on xstreet from your private skybox solve all your problems?  

these two incidents got me to thinking about privacy in sl.  it puzzles me why anyone would want to go to such lengths to keep people far away from them in a virtual world where complete privacy is pretty much an illusion.  sure, i understand the need for privacy and down time and a place to escape the lag, that’s what my skybox is for, which by the way is equipped with a nice security orb.  but on ground level, i like to leave my parcel open for explorers and passersby.  most of them have been harmless and i have only had to eject maybe three avatars who were being pests.  besides, that i have not had any trouble with visitors.  in fact, i have met some very nice and interesting people who were passing by my place.

today while i was at work i was thinking about all of this.  it’s ironic, because today i had a conflict with someone about my privacy at work – i have a nosey co-worker that i share my cubicle with who is always peeking over my shoulder to see my computer screen.  it would be nice to have one of those hud thingies (or whatever it is) to let me know when she is camming me in rl, haha.  i would eject her and ban her from my cubicle!  told ya i was an idealist.  

i digress…anyway, while i was at work, i started thinking about what it would take to create a sense of “community” amongst SL residents.  not that there isn’t already a sense of community, but what kind of little things could we do in our daily SLives to create an even tighter sense community?  

in the office where i work, this hangs on the wall next to my cubicle:

i thought to myself there should be one like this for virtual worlds like SL.  a quick google search brought up nothing but software tools for creating online worlds.  i didn’t find too much in the way of creating a sense of community amongst the residents of a virtual world.

so, i decided there was no reason why i couldn’t adapt the “how to build a community” poster for SL.  i don’t know if this breaks any copyright laws or anything like that, but i think in the spirit of the original poster, some adaptations for virtual worlds would be ok.

how to build “community” in SL

come out of your skybox
turn off your ban lines
set your security orb tightly around your house instead of your whole parcel
put up a swing so explorers can sit down and admire your virtual home
leave your parcel
introduce yourself to your neighbours
explore your sim
stop to say hello to strangers
greet people
help a noob
have a party
say hi to those people on your friends list you never talk to
pay attention to local chat
participate in group chat
read other people’s profiles
comment on profiles that you like
write something meaningful and interesting in your own profile
step out of your virtual comfort zone
brave the lag
take off your unnecessary attachments
hang out at a dance club
invite people to dance with you on your chim or huddles
attend a live music event
fashion show
or art opening
tip the performers, artists, hosts and venue
explore the grid and appreciate the hard work and effort put in by the creators
write about it on your blog
start a blog
comment on other peoples blogs
link to other blogs from your blog
find your sl friends on plurk
make new friends
invite your old friends to plurk
share your building skills
learn a new skill
sign up for a class
accept a compliment
pay it forward
reassess your mute list every once in awhile
listen before you react to drama
give people the benefit of the doubt
know that everyone is in SL for various and diverse reasons
don’t judge
and above all…
treat everyone in SL with the same respect and kindness
as you would expect to be treated with in RL.

i’m certainly not suggesting we all do every single thing on this list every day and all the time. i know i have a lot of things on that list to improve on, but wouldn’t it be nice to try?

24 thoughts on “How to Build *Community* in SL

  1. Eli Schlegal

    Hi there… first time reader. Awesome post. I have just a couple comments. 1. The woman in the store was probably using the Emerald viewer. It gives overly vain and and paranoid users the ability to see where people's cams are focused. I really have no idea why people care where others are looking… but many people seem to care quite a bit. Which brings me to point #22. Some people are… well, just dicks. They will ban and eject you just because they can. They will put up ban lines next to a road just because they know if your car veers off the road a tiny bit it will get stuck and you will probably have to re-log. 3. I love your story about your RL co-worker. I have a feeling my boss is camming me right now. Oh hell here he comes! Let me right-click and eject him.

  2. Carrie Lexington

    Wow! I think is the most traffic I’ve ever had on my blog! Thank u everyone for your kind words. I’m so happy that my post is being so well received. Eli, thanks for the info about Emerald, I did not know that. As for those people who want to be dicks, I really don’t understand that. That kind of thinking is so far off my radar, that I forget that there really are people out there who do stupid things like that because they think it’s fun. Most of my experience in SL is pretty positive, so when something like that happens to me, it kinda hits me out of left field. My general rule of thumb for SL is if I wouldn’t do it in RL, why would I do it in SL? (well, except dancing like a fool and walking around in a bikini. I wouldn’t be caught dead doing either of those things in RL). would I eject someone from my front lawn if they came over to take a look at my garden or just to say hello? Would I be mean and cruel to someone just because I could get a good laugh out of it and temporarily make myself feel good? No, I most certainly would not. However, I’m also not a doormat to let people walk all over me…I have no problems laying down my personal boundaries and accepting the boundaries of others, but geez, can’t u do it in kind and diplomatic way? There’s no need to be mean and cruel about it.

  3. Anonymous

    Wonderful article: Very thoughtful. Your words also provide important perspective to many, particularly those in legal or journalistic endeavors who seem to frequently get lost when trying to understand virtual worlds.* Please forgive the anon comment, but one of more of the following could be true.1) My spouse has an ex-lover who is a stalker.2) A disowned relative is felon with a serious grudge (and easy access to gasoline and matches).3) It's not paranoia if someone really is out to get you.4) My name is awkward of difficult to type/pronounce.5) My phone# is unpublished: Authors use pen names, DJ's use air names; sometimes it's not about hiding but more about minimizing the risk of nuisance or even creating digital bread crumbs. For these reason, my cat also has a subscription to TV Guide and is predicted to win a major sweepstakes soon.- Seriously – great article. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Beryl

    Hi Carrie, I think we see a pattern going here. Everyone who commented on this post must indeed want a community to be a part of. I know that I am often lonely in SL for various reasons. Great article! You are so creative.

  5. Pituca FairChang

    Thanks to Hamlet I saw this post. I agree 100%. This is what Garth and I always strived for in our Community. Thanks again for writing it and to Hamlet for 'favoriting' it…

  6. Fogwoman Gray

    I was alerted to this post via my friend and neighbor Otenth Paderborn's blog. I am so happy to see so many of the things we actively do in our Steamlands communities on your list :)And it truly all boils down to recognizing the soul on the other end of that connection and treating them with respect.

  7. Robward Antwerp

    Thanks Carrie… a wonderful reminder. It is too easy to get lazy with in our own circle of friends. With out a bit of effort all our circles will narrow. Btw… I did some "GIMPing" of the community poster and your list… I'll find you in world and send you the poster… see what you think. If you like it… I'll post it on my blog (and you could here too) for others to grab for an in world poster.

  8. Carrie Lexington

    wow thank you robward! that is awesome! i'm really looking forward to seeing that. and please do post it on your blog, and i'll post it here too. and thank you again to everyone for your kind words. i'm really touched about all the positive feedback. i really feel i should give credit to the person who created the original poster…Karen Kerney created the original watercolour painting for the poster and i'm not sure if she wrote the text as well. i haven't found anything. if anyone knows please let me know. :))

  9. Anonymous

    One idea I like is creating a new location or group -and inviting like minded friends. A great group I joined has an excellent sim, and many members hang out un a large sandbox and amuse each other with stories and rezzing new creations. Shared space, shared humor, and shared experiences build community togetherness.

  10. Skylar Smythe

    I think with all the hits that Second Life is taking PR wise that a great many residents are disheartened, confused and maybe even scared that this signals some kind of "end days" or apocalypse.I don't think there has ever been a more important time to band together and foster community. Great post. Very happy to meet you Carrie. :)xoxoxSkylar Smythe

  11. Ivey Deschanel

    So glad you posted this link up again cause I missed it the first time around. Fantastic post and I'm definitely going to try a few of those things that I haven't in quite awhile. THANK YOU!


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