Really now

Awhile ago when we changed from the older-style “First and last name” at registration to “Single-word username” system as part of display names improvements, single-username Residents could view, but couldn’t post to the forums and blogs here at

via Second Life Blogs: The Support Team: [FIXED] Newer Residents *can* post to the forums and blogs!.

How many kinds of fuckwit can Linden Lab be? Honestly! The post goes on to say that accounts with the new single usernames still can’t log in to the Second Life wiki.

And the new web profiles? The login at doesn’t persist over to Nor to the marketplace. And once you’re at the marketplace, there’s no link that will take you back to your SL account.

A store I’ll never patronize

I’m doing the House and Garden hunt until I get bored. I came across an item at rbcg (#14) that insures I’ll never shop there. And the hunt conveniently provides all the places, so I’m not dependent on taking whatever they’re offering, either!

The offending item? A mask of some sort that attaches an elephant trunk and tusks to your face. That’s fine, as far as it goes. But the item is called “you have aids!” and the sign has a letter in the image, which reads: “hello. we are writing this letter in regards to your last visit here at the unplanned parenthood department. we regret to inform you that you have been diagnosed with aids. sucks for you.”

Sadly, I don’t think just being deeply, deeply offensive is on the list of things I can abuse report the creator for, so I thought I’d do the next best thing and tell teh intarweebs that rbcg sucks, and don’t shop there.

Is this a persistent login?

Lo these many, many ages, we’ve been asking why Linden Research, Inc., can’t manage to have a single persistent login across the assorted websites its customers might want to access (,,,,, Well, they seem to have managed it for SL, xstreet, marketplace, and the blogs, but not the jira or wiki.

On the other hand, I now have to log in *every* *single* *time*.

Compare and contrast

Watch out, everyone, I’m on a tear!

Here is the rather simple description of the Victorian Shopkeepers Association, a smallish group that I created in an attempt to help both shoppers and business owners:

The Association exists to enrich the 19th-century communities of SL.

* Discerning consumers, consolidate notices of new products and specials in a single group.

* Shopkeepers, reach a wider audience through cooperative effort.

Shopkeepers may send up to one notice fortnightly announcing new products or sales.

No general advertising. No general events. No land sales. No chat.

Rules strictly enforced.

Recently I noticed a number of land rental notices, freebies, and general advertising, and I was tired and just shrugging it off until I got two IMs from members who asked if the rules had changed. So I decided I should send “a gentle reminder” on May 30:

Shopkeepers may send up to one notice fortnightly announcing new products or sales.

No general advertising. No general events. No land sales. No chat.

I’ve attached our logo and group joiner in case anyone is in need of them.

On June 2, just three days later, “guilty party #1” sent this notice:

Visit Guilty Party #1’s to look at some of our conventional, weird n wonderful furniture, home decor, v 2.0 media systems and much more!

Be sure to IM guilty party #1 if you are interested in custom building, projects or entertainment services!

Then on June 6, “guilty party #2” sent a rental notice (a duplicate of a notice sent just on the 29th before, part of the impetus for the gentle reminder).

And so, also on June 6, I sent “a not so gentle reminder” and added the two aforesaid guilty parties to the new “rule breakers” role.

There is now a new role in the Victorian Shopkeepers Association: rule breakers.

This group is to announce new products or sales. No rentals, no land sales, no events, no general advertising.

The first response I received to my not so gentle reminder was this email from someone I had not placed in the rule breakers, as there had been no transgression following my initial gentle reminder:

I realized I goofed a couple of weeks ago by sending out two notices with a couple of days of each other. I wasn’t paying attention to which group I had entered the second message into. I blame the chemo drugs, but it’s still not an acceptable excuse.

Please be assured I will be more vigilant in the future, because I greatly appreciate the promotion that VSA offers my business!


Not Guilty Party

(I replied that chemo is always an acceptable excuse.)

And then I received an IM from “guilty party #1.”

a small point for attention. there is a proliferation of junk advertisements in victorian shopkeepers. there are further, numerous ads for old products with no “sale” associated with them. on the rare occasion i have sent notices, they offer very specific products, note sales or offer niche services. fortunately, the only work i do in SL is commissioned, many requests which are turned down. consequently, i do not tolerate defamatory action without an ounce of procedural fairness and have gladly left the group.

I congratulate guilty party #1 on his/her/its success in doing commissioned work. But quite obviously, guilty party #1 was simply in the wrong group. Why he/she/it would want to be in a group with “junk advertisements,” I don’t know.

The Victorian Shopkeepers Association is perhaps a misnomer, as it is not an association. There is no procedural fairness. I “own” the group, in the parlance of Second Life groups, and I initially set the rules after a fairly small amount of consultation. It is neither more nor less than what it is. If that works for you, I am delighted to have you join. If it does not, I prefer that you not join. Mr Excalibur Longstaff provides an excellent aether forum at for all manner of announcements and discussion, and there is the nascent Aether Chrononauts group (in-world, or Subscribe-o-Matic) for event announcements from across (and beyond) the Steamlands.

Observant readers will note that I myself do not own a shop and have no personal, vested interest in being able to do cooperative promotion such as the Victorian Shopkeepers Association. This (both the good and the bad examples I have provided), by the way, is just small potatoes compared to what some people who are public figures in the Steamlands get. It goes a long way towards explaining why people who try to serve our communities so often burn out or make mis-steps under pressure.

a-hunting we will go

All names and numbers have been fictionalized to protect the guilty.

Dear hunt organizer and store owners,

Thank you so much for your kind notecard explaining what you expect of me as a hunter. Please accept this in a similar spirit.

1. This is meant to be fun, so don’t be a dick when you hide the object.
2. We have wonderful hunters who are doing you the favor of visiting the hunt stores sight-unseen, so please be respectful and do NOT bother them with notecards, viewer dropdowns, dialog boxes, or group joiner spam.
3. Give clever, accurate hints. Make sure your blog is up-to-date. Don’t be a dick.
4. Make sure there is actually something in the hunt object. If there isn’t, drop that store from the hunt immediately.
5. Make sure every store is identified and provides a SLurl on your blog or in a notecard so that difficulty finding a specific object won’t prevent hunters from visiting all the following shops.
6. Do not just throw garbage into the hunt item. Be sure to put an effort into creating an item that will make the hunters want to return to your shop. This goes double if it is a themed hunt.
7. Do not have stores in Adult sims without letting the hunters know before they begin.
8. Please be respectful of the hunters. Yes, you are giving something away for free. It’s called a sample, advertising, or a loss leader. You are getting potential new customers to come to your store sight-unseen, giving you traffic and visibility while they are at it. If they don’t like what you are giving out, then you have picked the wrong audience to try to market your product to. Either that or you make crap or you ignored rule #6.

Dear stores 75 through 91,

I’m sorry, but I have absolutely no idea who you are, what you sell, or what you so carefully created for this hunt, because the owner of store #74 was a dick/I was frustrated by crap prizes/the hunt blog was useless/the organizers didn’t follow rule #5.

Dear store 49,

By putting out a long, twisty path of the hunt emblem, did you really think I’d see what I was passing by? Those emblems rezzed just fine from my cache, but I didn’t see any of your crap as I was walking by. And then having the hunt object swirling around in a cloud of similar objects, so I had to keep right-clicking at random to try to hit it? You are the reason I decided to blog about what dickwads several of the stops on the [insert any hunt name here] are.

Dear store 37,

Everything in your 1/2-sim parcel had alpha textures, rotation, and very high glow. Plus, there was a DJ when I visited who used the word c#nt in open chat. And as if that’s not bad enough, you don’t seem to actually sell anything, anyway. If only this hunt’s organizers followed rule #5.

Dear store owners who belong to 17 hunts,

At least it’s clear up front that you’re only in it for the traffic. I can respect that, but it does make me think the themed hunt organizers aren’t selective enough.

Dear store 52,

I didn’t appreciate going to a sim rated Moderate but then being exposed to sexually violent products, so I ARed you.

Dear stores 8, 11, 13-20, 33, 56-60, and 84,

Your vendor images were taking way too long to load, so I’m not actually sure what you sell, but if I like whatever it was you were giving away, I may go back to shop. I hope you followed rule #6 (as well as putting a LM to your own store in your package and having your store in the picks in your profile).

Dear stores 1-7, 9, 22-27, 35-55, 63, and 70-100,

Your prize was a dress/a man’s outfit/biggie sized, but this avatar is always a man/woman/tiny, so I trashed the whole folder as soon as I opened it. There were too many stores to remember yours specifically, so even if you have menswear/womenswear/tinywear/furniture, I don’t know it.

Dear everyone else,

I can’t wait to open your gifts. I joined a couple of your groups. I sent landmarks to some of my friends who might be interested in your products. I bought a few things while I was in your stores.

A reality rant

Miss Diogenes Kuhr addresses one of my favorite topics:

There is no difference between so-called “first life” and the unfortunately named Second Life.

If you are doing something…whatever you are doing and whatever context you do it in: it is life.

Do you enjoy it? Does it help you pass the time when you are not doing shit that someone else is making you do? Then it is valid. No one, and that means NO ONE has the right to tell you that you need to “get a life” or that you “have no life.”

That is the heart of her argument, but it is placed within a truly first-class rant (with exceptional cursing). Do go read the whole thing.

Someone thinks we’re stupid

Or else they are. And I don’t know which is worse.

This morning I, and other estate owners in Second Life, received a marketing email from Linden Research Inc. I have reproduced it below (click for a full-size version), and it is currently available online. (A similar message is linked to directly from the home page of Second Life at the moment as well.)

I’m really just apoplectic.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad for the people who are renting homesteads, either directly from Linden Research or from a landlord. It’s very nice that they have an unexpected additional year at this rate.

And it’s oh so generous of Linden Research to be offering to reinstate sims that were abandoned—even back to October 28! My, my, such corporate generosity. And such flexibility, to extend the recovery period back to their initial announcement!

But what about the complex communities that were totally upended by the initial changes last year? What about the businesses that made rational planning decisions based on the time frame outlined by Linden Research? What about the Linden staff who steadfastly rejected calls for any kind of grandfathering? And what about the people who sold their sims for a fraction of the cost, rather than abandon completely? Too bad, so sad, sucker! (Disclosure: My community was upended; I made irrational planning decisions, but they were based on the times and prices outlined by Linden Research; and I bought some of those sims sold at bargain-basement prices in order to make an unwanted conversion of my estate to full sims.)

On a much more basic level, what about the line they fed us about why they had to completely rework the open space sims because of their bad business model and their inadequate technical infrastructure? What about those still-unidentified script limits that are supposed to be part of the homestead sims in order to make it possible for the grid to sustain them?

There’s a new Homestead FAQ to clear up some questions people have. (None of the questions I have posed above are answered there.) But a few fascinating tidbits:

* Since we had to forego some revenue, we have to make it up somewhere, and charging full price to new Homestead owners is part of the way we pay for that. The rest, we believe, will come through additional features we think our customers will be willing to pay for, such as the AvaLine product released last week.

Right, right. Good luck with that AvaLine product. (My extension, by the way, is 472837 if anyone wants to leave me a voicemail. I rarely use voice in Second Life, so don’t expect me to actually answer the phone. And of course, I would never dream of paying for it.)

* We forecasted a revenue plan that included abandonment of Homesteads at the current rate, and based on that forecast, we think we’d have done better financially in the short term if we raised Homestead pricing for everyone. But we’re building a business to last, and we don’t want to think in the short term when it comes to you, our customers. We don’t succeed unless you do. So we took the step of doing what was right for you, placing a bet with ourselves that we could deliver more value and performance to you within the next year. We think you’ll be happy with what’s in the pipeline — and in the meantime, you won’t pay more for what you have today.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

“We don’t want to think in the short term when it comes to you, our customers.” Mmhmm. Right. Let’s see now, when did you make your initial announcement about the change in open space sims? Ah, yes, that would be all of seven months ago, almost to the day.

They are “placing a bet with ourselves that we could deliver more value and performance to you within the next year.” Good luck with that one, too. You’ll need it based on prior experience. Estate controls for windlight, anyone? You don’t really want me to link to the unresolved JIRA issues that are over a year old, do you?

“We think you’ll be happy with what’s in the pipeline.” Let’s see now, that would include the forced relocation of businesses because of their content, right?

I’ve been meaning to write about the “Future of Virtual Worlds” theme for Second Life’s sixth birthday, but really, I’ll just boil it down here: Unless Linden Research gets its act together, both as a business and as programmers, I cannot imagine the future of virtual worlds having much to do with Second Life, except as a fond (or not) memory.

Whither polite Victorian Steampunk society?

Both the Independent State of Caledon group IM and the Caledon blogosphere are bubbling with conflicting opinions about whether something is going wrong in Caledon, and if so, what to do about it. If you somehow read this blog but don’t already know about it (how could that be possible?), the Duke of Argylle has links to several posts as well as sharing his own thoughts. There is an active comment thread on Miss Orr’s most recent blog post, including a long response from Guvnah Desmond Shang. Meanwhile, Miss Callisto reminds us that things change (while also cleverly pointing out several old-timers who are still around and may be feeling dissed), and says she intends “to ignore you and your whole petty squabble, which I might venture to suggest has very little to really do with the Caledon chat, entirely.”

I quite agree with Miss Callisto on a number of her points, especially about Caledon chat not being the real point. (I must say that I doubt it is all attributable to fallout over a land squabble, however, nor that it is a petty squabble, as I believe the rest of my post will make clear.)

Here’s a Venn diagram for your amusement:

[unremembered diagram, image lost to data corruption long after the event]

This diagram is obviously not drawn to any scale—indeed, the actual and ideal relative sizes of each portion are part of what is at issue. The diagram helps to clarify for me that focusing on Des, Caledon, or Caledon chat is missing a major piece of the picture: We (those reading this blog, those who live in Caledon, those who visit Caledon, those who think something is wrong, those who don’t think anything is wrong, those who think the only thing wrong is that some people think something’s wrong) belong to and create a human community (a real community, not a virtual one, even if virtual worlds and electronic communications make possible the vast majority of our interactions), which is not synonymous with Caledon.

This community long ago ceased to be a single village, or a single conversation—and let us give thanks for that! Des, as a visionary small businessman, has nurtured a number of other fledgling estates as well as creating a community against which others can sharpen their own visions, creating their own attempts at Steampunk, Victorian, or “historical re-imaginist” and fantasy estates in Second Life. What an amazing eruption of creativity in just a few short months, relatively speaking, since Caledon began with a single sim on February 26, 2006. (Perhaps we are just experiencing the last bit of the Terrible Twos?) Anyone who looks only to ISC chat, or to the ISC membership, or to who rents land in Caledon, will inevitably miss a much broader context. And that larger context is one of change, growth, and the conflict that often accompanies (or even creates) both.

I would be remiss were I not to mention something that I don’t believe has been directly addressed elsewhere thus far: We don’t all like one another. Of course, you might say, of course we don’t. But it bears repeating, and really let it sink in: We do not all like one another. We are a real community: There is everything from simple lack of friendship to dislike to enmity to broken hearts to feuds. There is rivalry and competition, in business and socially. Most of us have learned to navigate these realities of the human condition in our daily lives. There are limitations imposed by the technology that makes possible our particular community, however, which make these realities more difficult to deal with. But deal with them we must, and shall.

I confess that I had been of the opinion that “Des should do something.” And there are times I still feel that way. Residents of Caledon are Des’s customers (whatever else we may be), and as a customer I have on occasion complaints about the way his other customers behave, or wish that he would take Caledon in a different direction than he does. In some ways, Des and Caledon are frighteningly parallel to Linden Research and Second Life. (If you have not done so, please go read the Guvnah’s comment on Miss Orr’s blog. This is a long post; it will be here when you get back.) Not only is Des disinclined to become a tyrant (or even an enlightened moderator), I’ve come to realize that it would be impossible for him to do so. The Guvnah did not create a community, and he cannot control it. He did create a wonderful seed-bed for community, and I have to trust his good business sense as a steward of that seed-bed.

Here are my woefully inadequate and incomplete thoughts about what has made us a community (with another nod to Miss Callisto for pointing out many of the talented people who have lived and live still in Caledon):

  • Gathering places: Where would we be without CrystalShard Foo’s dance machines, the venues provided by any number of generous landowners, and DJs of every stripe? Or the pubs and bars with their storytelling and poetry sessions?
  • Places of learning: The Caledon Library, now the Alexandrian Free Library (libraries of Caledon, Steelhead, Winterfell, New Toulouse, New Babbage, Amatsu Shima, & West of Ireland), with its ethos of service and a commitment to deepening our understanding of history, literature, the arts, and all fields of knowledge that might inform our Second Life communities.
  • The web, specifically Excalibur Longstaff’s forums and wiki, Gabrielle Riel’s Google calendar, and the many blogs and journals: Imagine being limited to the group communications channels provided in Second Life. (And there I reveal a bias; there are dozens if not hundreds of Second Life residents who are part of our community who do not extend that community beyond Second Life itself. They, of course, are limited to the group communications provided by Linden Research, most, I must assume, by choice.)
  • Who created your skin? Your clothing? Your hair? Your AO? Your house? Your gardens? Your armaments? Your sailing ships, riding horses, buggies, and flying machines?
  • Events: Relay for Life; Caledon anniversary events; balls; the Grand Tour; races; dogfights; regattas; duels; banquets; CaleCon; informal RL meetups.
  • Friendships: Let’s keep them strong.

These elements of being a community were and are created by us, by our friends—and by strangers, and by those we may dislike. (Notice that few of these elements of being a community were created by Des, although without him any number of them might not have happened.) In order to continue to enjoy these fruits of community, do we have the will to find our way through disagreements and conflict? Can we become better at building what excites and nourishes us now and letting go of that which does not, no matter how affectionately we may once have regarded it?

I hope that this very long post has more in it than “Can’t we all just get along?” But in the end, perhaps, that is exactly the greatest challenge for us as a community—the human community.

Tolerans, Civilis, Innovus, Laganum

So—is there anything I’m actually going to do? At this moment, I’m tending towards these things (not a prescription for anyone else, simply my thoughts on what might be best for me to do):

  • I’d like to be kind and to personally act with decorum. I will attempt to address people as they wish to be addressed, except when strangers ask me to use their first name in Caledon (because I do value that in Caledon; in Steelhead and Winterfell, not as much).
  • I will not put any effort into ISC chat. If it annoys or bores me, I’ll simply close it. My “communications” time and energy will continue to go to the Caledon Forums, Caledon Wiki, and the Aether Chrononauts Google calendar (which has a handy mnemonic:
  • The Guvnah and I have had conversations about coordinated events within what I will call the “Aether Chrononauts” world, or perhaps the “themed” estates, if one includes Raglanshire. I want to encourage distinct communities in Second Life and within Caledon to recognize and develop their distinctiveness, while also serving as I can to encourage cooperation and creative co-existence.
  • Last year’s Caledon Social Season was an uneasy marriage of role-play and community education. Like the Duke of Argylle and the Marchioness of Giggleford, I am interested in creating opportunities for non-RP but themed education, which might serve as one form of introduction to Caledon and its related communities.