Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Looking Back: The Podex Exchange

By Bixyl Shuftan

Over time, the Second Life Newser has had a number of sponsors. Farshore Radio and Lorena Chung have been with us for a few years, and more recently Montecito Bay and the CDS. But our first and longest lasting one was the Podex Exchange. Sometimes called the Podex Bank in it's first days, they were a virtual currency exchange service, exchanging Linden dollars with US dollars and other real-life currencies such as British Pounds, Euros, Japanese Yen, and others. Early on, one could both buy and sell. As they were faster than Linden Lab's Lindex, many who used Second Life as a source of real-life income saw Podex as a good alternative as the official Linden exchange service could take days to complete a transaction of Lindens for real money.

The owner of Podex, Jacek Shuftan, approached me in Fall 2010. Although the Newser had done an number of advertisements since it's founding a few months earlier, it had yet to find a cash sponsor. Jacek had done business with our predecessor, the Second Life Newspaper, and hearing about us was interested in this higher level of advertising. The deal was done, and their banner soon appeared on the Newser's front page near the top just underneath the banner for the Sunweaver Estates, which was our land sponsor.

Soon after that, we had a short article about them on November 30, describing who they were. In January 2012, we interviewed Jacek about buying Linden dollars from Podex. “We can describe buying Lindens and the risk with it as a pyramid,” Jacek commented, one with levels of safety, “At the top is Linden Lab, there is no risk buying from them. The next level are third-party exchanges. They are usually registered real-life companies with real-life addresses and telephone numbers, operating on the market. There is a tiny risk as they are not Linden Lab and not as large as they. However, most do not have prices as competitive as Linden Lab." Podex was competitive with it's prices, and had more options in what real life currencies to use and how to make the payments, such as credit the payments, such as credit cards and Paypall.

“Finances are not the sexiest part of Second Life,” Jacek once admitted. And after the first couple articles, I wondered how I could write more about him as I was interested in doing some free adverts for him as a bonus. Then I had an idea: do a fictional story as a commercial of a satisfied client. So on February 2011 came the first of our fun adverts. For the one next month, I had the idea of a dumb bank robber who failed hilariously and it turned out there was no chance of success even if he was competent. I went ahead and asked Jacek ahead of time, and he told he to go for it. And that would be the first of many of the misadventures of "Clumsy Cooper" as the raccoon bandit came to be known. Later on, Jacek would do a "Bank Robbery" video of his own.

So for a few years, my "Polish Cousin," as he called himself as we had the same Second Life surname, continued to do business with us. In April 2013, they moved their inworld location from Moonburry to Coda. But also in April 2013, the US Treasury Department published a paper about guidelines for the regulation of virtual currencies. Jacek thought it was potentially good as "if (Linden dollars) were virtual currency, it would be more trustworthy, and (Second Life) will have more investors."

But instead the following month, Linden Lab announced the biggest change in Second Life's economy since the ban on gambling: third-party Linden exchange services were no longer authorized. Jacek called it a "Really strange move of LL. … I really do not understand (their) motives." He tried to keep Podex open and tried to contact the Lab to talk to them. But instead they suspended his accounts and by doing so shut Podex down. But thanks to an outcry of the residents, some whom were saying they couldn't use the official Lindex and were talking about leaving Second Life for other grids, Linden Lab did a partial backdown. Third-party Linden exchangers could operate, but they had to register with the Lab, and could only sell Linden dollars. Linden Lab would insist on a monopoly of buying Linden dollars for real money. This was satisfactory for most residents, though a couple people from outside the United States would complain to me they couldn't use the Lindex and had a pile of Linden dollars they could no longer sell for their country's cash. Linden Lab would not authorize Podex to resume operations for almost three weeks after it reauthorized others, possibly because they saw his wanting to talk instead of shutting down right away as defiance.

Despite it's rough treatment by Linden Lab, Podex resumed business as a top Linden exchanger, and even hosted an art gallery in it's new building. The commercial articles featuring satisfied customers and more of the misadventures of "Clumsy Cooper" resumed. All went well for a couple more years. Then out of the blue, Linden Lab announced in June 2015 that as of August 1, they would no longer allow third-party Linden exchangers to operate, claiming improvements to the Lindex were satisfactory of the needs of "the vast majority of Second Life users." While some residents were highly critical of this, "it smacks of bullying for LL to usurp those income streams by fiat." Jacek remained hopeful at first,  "Linden Lab is not stable in it's decisions, as history taught us before, so I do hope that their decision would be changed in the future, as it happened before with 3rd party resellers closure." He was quoted as saying, "the Lab is only shooting itself in the foot ... Payment methods wich they offer are not accessible in many countries, so they will not only lose profit but also their best clients who invest real money in (the) grid, and now will not be able to do it."

Despite a petition to the Lab for them to change their mind, Linden Lab stubbornly stuck to it's decision. Then in late July 2015, a few days before the Aug 1 deadline, Podex closed operations in Second Life. On their website, they used the words "temporarily suspend," suggesting they were holding out hope. I would check by the office building in Coda every so often. When I dropped by on November 1, 2015, the office itself was gone. After five years, our first and longest-lasting sponsor was gone from Second Life. "Clumsy Cooper" would make one more appearance at the end of the month in the last of the fictional articles about Podex.

While the loss of Second Life as a market for Podex was bad, it wasn't fatal. Starting with the InWorldz grid in 2014, they had been moving to a number of smaller virtual worlds. Today, they boast services in over two dozen. While there is no doubt they don't make as much money as before, they are still around. Just outside Second Life.

The closing of our longest-lasting sponsor was bad, but for the Newser, it's misfortune was compounded by the closing of our other longtime sponsor at the time: Steelhead. Although it's owner then, TotalLunar Eclipse, had a number of real life troubles, it was Linden Lab locking out his account in a dispute that pushed him into making that decision. 2015 would see other questionable moves by LInden Lab, such as locking the account of Flea Bussy and almost closing Grendel's Children, one of Second Life's best known malls, if not the best known. And then there was the closing of the SS Galaxy, the largest build on the Grid, that had been doing well until hit with a series of griefing attacks that the Lab was little help with. It was, from my point of view, "The Year of the Linden Screw-Up."

Eventually, the Newser would weather the storm and get more sponsors, Farshore Radio, Lorena Chung, Montecito Bay, and the Confederation of Democratic Simulators. But we never have forgotten our first, and so far our longest running cash sponsor.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, May 21, 2018

What Happened With the CDS Elections?

By Bixyl Shuftan

It wasn't quite "Suppose they gave an election and nobody came." But the number of people who did was, less than expected.

On May the Fifth, the campaign for the Confederation of Democratic Simulators election was supposed to begin. But there was a problem. There were five open seats for the Representative Assembly, but only five people announced they were running. It was the same story for the Chancellorship in which there was only one declared candidate.  Lilith Ivory announced the news in the community's group.

Usually at this time campaigning starts, but with only 5 RA candidates for 5 seats and only one chancellor candidate there are no real elections necessary.

The members of the 29th RA are:
Bagheera Kristan
Lady Kiki Whatever (inekeb)
Laura Azalee
Rosie Gray
Tanoujin Milestone

Chancellor for the 29th term is:
Hannah Marie Bloodtempestwolf (han.held)

Congratulations and thank you for your willingness to serve.

I had a few words with the Chancellor-elect (by default), Hannah Marie Tempestwolf (Han Held), ": Hiya! Sadly, we only had one candidate for each of the open seats (5 candidates for 5 RA slots, one candidate for Chancellor) so we wound up deciding the election and giving it to the folks who offered to run for office. ... Trying to increase participation is an on-going issue we deal with. We have roughly 64 people but a lot of them don't run for office."

Hannah wondered if perhaps there was simply a lack of interest in politics by the local residents this time, "A lot of people come for the scenery and the quiet, I think, which is both flattering and vexing, especially around election time (smile)."

Hannah stated she would have more to say later on once she's officially in office, " I don't want to step on Rosie (Gray)'s toes, and she's still our Chancellor."

Current Chancellor Rosie Gray would also have a few things to say, "This time we didn't have an actual vote, because the numbers of people running for election were the same as the number required for the RA and for Chancellor.  So, this means everyone is acclaimed. ... it's in many ways similar to getting people in real life to participate in elections, to run for office, and offer their time (in) municipal elections, that sort of thing. It is a giving back to your community, without reward, at least in the CDS that's essentially it. And of course, many people aren't in SL to do anything like that, they primarily want a nice place to live and let other people figure out how to manage it. So in the last number of years there have been quite a few times when people have been acclaimed."

Rosie reminded that she might be stepping down as Chancellor, but not out of CDS politics, "I am until the end of the month, then I am on the Representative Assembly (smile), because I'm one of those people that likes to participate! And I also believe that if you don't participate, then you get what you get, and really can't complain about anything"

When asked to sum up her term, Rosie answered, "This term has been quiet. We've had a fun event each month. We've initiated a new building project that will make a big difference in the Neufreistadt region. And other than that, it has been a day to day administration of people's comings and goings. So not a particularly eventful six months." And what did she anticipate of Hannah as leader? "It will be interesting to see what Han brings to the position of Chancellor," the current leader answered, "as she hasn't done it before. I know she has some different ideas that she'd like to initiate.  Of course the Chancellor needs to have the RA ratification on anything that is really different. It will be a learning curve for her, but I'm sure she is up to it!"

 And so this round of elections in the CDS this month has become a formality due to the small number of people stepping up for public office. Will the public of the community be satisfied with the work of those getting the position by default, or wish others had also stepped up so the candidates would have to explain their intentions and how they planned to carry them out? Time will tell, and in six months they'll have another chance.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, May 11, 2018

News and Commentary: Is Second Life's Population Not Growing in Numbers Because It's Growing Older?

By Bixyl Shuftan

In late December, it was reported that in the past year the number of private sims had gone down by 667 from 16,783 to 16106 in 2017 or a loss of about 4%. While this is lower than the 4.4 percent of 2016, it is still a continuation of the long slow decline Second Life has had in the past several years. This is in spite of that thousands still sign up for an account every day. So why don't they stay? Chic Aeon, when commenting in a post by Hamlet Au in New Worlds, had one suggestion: Second Life wasn't really designed for Millenials.

Chic described how she found the place, and her observation that most of those who were doing things were Generation Xers or Baby Boomers.

... I was drawn to Second Life because it was listed as the world for CREATIVE and TECHIE folks. I am undoubtedly both of those things. The techie attribute has cause plenty of problems over the years; SL is simply NOT easy to learn. Items came in boxes that needed to be unpacked in an area where people could rez things and open them.

Think about that sentence and all you had to learn just to get some free clothes to try on your avatar.

It takes a real interest to stick around and learn all you need to know to navigate these virtual world waters. For many years, my theory has been that the peak of SL's popularity gathered up all those techie and creative folks -- those in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60 and a few beyond; they stayed and became the baseline populous of our world.

While some young folks do come and participate, most all of the people I know -- the creators, land barons, educators etc. -- have a few decades or more under their belts. They were willing to put in the time and effort so that they could enjoy the world on a daily basis. I am certainly one of those folks that make up the 90% of inworld hours. I am here about sixty hours a week, creating, blogging, helping others in the forums, chatting with friends --- pretty much in that order.

Yours truly came in when I was 39. So adding 15 to 10 years means those who were in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, are now in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. While some might have more leisure time after their kids go on to college, others end up getting too sick to get on. And of course heart disease, and other ailments of middle and old age can mean death, and the end of their time in Second Life as well as their real one.

So Second Life has a problem that earlier electronic entertainment products such as the Atari 2600 never faced, a declining number of users not because of them leaving to a better product of the same kind, but that the users are getting older and there are fewer signing up than those dying. It's not that there aren't any in their younger 30s, 20s, and late teens coming in, there are. But the numbers are smaller. Which leaves the question as to "Why?" To Chic Aeon, she felt the idea of an open-end virtual world where it was up to the users to make most of the content just didn't appeal to Millenials, "They want things NOW, not later. They want their fun handed to them, not earned." Personally, I have my doubts as to this theory. Daniel Voyager stated the Teen Grid, when active, had it's own content creators.

Something else I've heard is that younger people want their own place, not the same one older adults are going to. I've heard some players on the Grid with teens say they're not worried about their youngsters logging in, saying they've heard them grumble, "Second Life is for *old* people." The response of many teens and young adults to older adults getting on Facebook was to stop using it and go to other social media such as Snapchat.

So could Linden Lab try to advertise Sansar as "The choice of a new generation," a slogan that helped Pepsi Cola increase sales in the 1980s among young adults then? It could, but so far Sansar's user base remains tiny. If any of the next generation virtual worlds is getting much of a population, it is VR Chat. It could be that while young adults do have a taste for virtual worlds, but many are looking to VR Chat instead of Second Life. So we could have a situation in which Second Life is inhabited mainly by Gen-Xers while VR Chat is the choice of Millenials. While this generational divide might help Linden Lab keep an audience for a few years, an inability to attract younger customers will hurt it in the long term. Such customers would need to be those Millenials who don't fil the stereotype of "Here we are, entertain us." But that shouldn't be a problem.

Sources: Daniel Voyager, New World Notes

Image Source:Turbotax

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, May 4, 2018

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey Dies

By Bixyl Shuftan

Some sad news for Burn2 fans in Second Life, and for all fans of the Burning Man festival in real life. Larry Harvey, one of the founders of Burning Man, passed away on Saturday April 28. The cause of death was a massive stroke earlier in the month. He was 70 years old.

Burning Man has significance to Second Life in that in the early days of Linden Lab before the virtual world was developed, a number of the staff attended one of the festivals, and were influenced by it. Linden Lab would also sponsor an inworld version of the festival, "Burning Life," for several years. Eventually, the Lab would end it's sponsorship, and the festival became known as Burn2.

I had a few words with iSkye Silverweb, one of the Burn2 participants. "He had an influence on a lot of things and a lot of people," she told me, "you didn't even have to be part of Burning Man at all to feel his influence." She mentioned the Smithsonian had recently made a Burning Man exhibition., "Larry Harvey had a hand in this."

iSkye would write a tribute on the Burn2 website.

By now, many of you have heard that Burning Man founder Larry Harvey passed away on the 28th of April at the age of 70. A man who eschewed labels, he was affectionately known as the Man in the Hat.

Since the first Burn on Baker Beach in San Francisco, Harvey saw the development of a movement inspired by his vision of a free-spirited world of creativity and collaboration. With each year, increasing numbers of like-minded people were gathering with him on this beach; in 1990 the practice was shut down by San Francisco authorities. Undeterred and with the help of friends, the event reloated to the Black Rock desert in Nevada as Burning Man.

Every year since then, the event grew still larger, and has spawned 85 officiial Burning Man regionals, of which BURN2 is one. The Ten Principles of Burning Man were written down by Larry Harvey in 2004, a crystallisation of a guiding ethos that developed organically within the Burner community. 

Thanks to his foresight, Burning Man will continue into the foreseeable future; may we always burn the Man.

When the news first came out about his death, some virtual Burners put out memorials of Larry Harvey on the BURN2 virtual playa; if you have an avatar with Second Life® account, you are welcome to visit, to remember the dreamer and Chief Philosophical Officer of Burning Man, the Man in the Hat. The SLURL to the BURN2 playa is

Heading out to Deep Hole in an alt, I would see one tribute in the middle of the sim, a wooden man that someone had set to burn. There would also be tributes to him on the Burning Man website.

If you bring a little soul to the encounter, maybe you'll see something you didn't look for; maybe you'll open your heart a little, and see things you didn't imagine.

Burning Man is an annual art and music festival in the Black Rock Desert about 150 miles northeast of Reno Nevada. Having it's beginnings on a beach in San Francisco in 1986, in 1990 the event was moved to it's present annual location. Over the years, the number of participants has grown from just twenty to almost 70,000. The sheer number of participants led to some rules and changes that a few felt compromised the spirit of the event, and there would be a split with one other founder. A couple people whom were repeat attendees told me while good, the real life Burning Man is not like what it used to be. The event has also attracted some controversy from outside due to public nudity. In 2017, a man died when he ran into the flames. But even with Harvey's death, the event goes on. And no doubt Second Life's Burn2 will too.

Sources: Wikipedia, BBC, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Burn2, Burning Man

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Reader Submitted: My Banning From Faery Crossing, And Beyond

By MajikVixen (bluevioletvixen.lorefield)

“The Faery Crossing Kool-Aid Tasted Much Better Than The Red Pill”- MajikVixen Reporting

When I got banned from Faery Crossing, it really hit me close to home, literally.  In retrospect, it might be viewed as some type of psychological warfare, as I was cyber bullied, and robbed socially as well as monetarily.  It's not fun to have everything that you worked for, for so long, be rejected to the point where you end up feeling like you are not even a worthwhile being.  This consequently affected my real life health and welfare, and still occasionally does.

This is my first and only ban.  I am one of two people banned from The FC main group, and I was banned from the 10 "newcomer friendly" fantasy sims, on the Winter Solstice day of December 21rst, 2016.  Aside from being motivationally thwarted with my Second Life, another reason why I took so long to write this, was because I wanted to make sure I would present facts, and not raw emotions.  I had even considered dumping the article completely, as "even bad press is good publicity."  However, in the end, I decided to go ahead with this so I could educate, advocate change for the better, express to everyone that there is such a thing as a (Second) life after being banned, and to finally get some closure to move on.

To start at the beginning, my Second Life journey did originate in 2008.  However, I did not find what I was looking for, and left for five years.  When I returned, I searched desperately to figure things out, and ended up finding what I thought was this unseelie fairy's niche at FC.  I wanted to learn, I loved the fantasy aspect of being accepted as a fairy, I felt a kin to the druid rituals, plus I yearned to be a part of something wonderful and give back.  I spent three years living in the Wildefleur sim while working my way up the FaeWay Academy of Education from the role of Grasshopper (someone who explores and understands the lands), Brownie (cleaning up and logging prim litter), Merry Meeter (joining others to the main group), Events Committee member (I had a writing class, "Conjuring Voice Carvers"), to Gateway Guide (helping newcomers), and was one day looking forward to perhaps becoming a Protector (a team of sim managers that guard against drama) and a part of the High Faery Court (a team of leaders for FC).  Nevertheless, it was never meant to be.

What started the issue was an arch decoration in my backyard which led to the neighboring parcel that had gone up for sale.  I hadn't changed my decor in three years, and my home was featured in the "Faery Crossing Grand Tour" in June of 2015 (where Faery Crossing celebrated some remarkable places via descriptions, landmarks, and even a HUD).  My backyard had significance, as a secret pathway led to a special artistic skybox build.  I thought I was being neighborly with this arch that I had displayed so proudly from one of the renaissance hunts.  The Faery Crossing covenant also references that each parcel should be accessible via gates or openings in walls or hedges.  However, in the event of the neighboring parcel sale, Silver (silver.evensong), the High Faery Court Decorator who has since left, placed a wall along the border of that parcel (so that when someone walked through my arch, they would walk right into her wall).

I asked Silver about her wall possibly being modified or moved, and she passed the buck by telling me it was up to the parcel owner.  At the time, that coming from a HFC member, meant to me that the parcel hadn't gone up for sale yet.  Additionally, the parcel description still had someone's name in there as per owning it.  However, contacting that person and inquiring about the wall was in vain, because they explained that the parcel was already out of their hands.  I was even more confused when Qim Toxx, the Head of the Protectors, quickly contacted me and informed me that, "it is not the responsibility of a steward to make sure your flow is not disrupted from one parcel to the next."  That was just the beginning of my troubles with Qim.

In my efforts to rearrange my backyard and keep the arch decoration, Qim did call my new castle wall prim ugly, and said that she suspected no one would want to visit my place because of it.  That conversation ended badly when I explained I could always make the wall a notecard giver revealing why I had to build it to begin with.  She insisted all would be fine as long as I didn't break the covenant.  I didn't realize it then, but that is when Qim zeroed in on every move I made.

As an early real life birthday present to myself, I bought the neighboring parcel with intentions to sell it, and returned the wall to Silver.  I then stayed up all night building a cute oversized night stand house as an example of what could be done with the parcel.  I didn't even get any time to breathe before Qim insisted I was breaking the covenant with this build.  The covenant states this for the theme, "Wildefleur is an abandoned English countryside garden taken over by the Faeries.  Attracted by the foxglove, fairy primroses and briar rose, they have taken up residence in old clay flowerpots, empty birdhouses, and a hollowed out gourds or beehives.  Garden-related structures are encouraged."  My old real-life roommate used to grow flowers and vines out of things like barbeques and dressers.  Qim then insisted it was too big, when it was actually smaller than my pumpkin house, and it fit the specifications of the covenant, "Please keep the size of your build in relationship to your surrounds, with room for landscaping appropriate to a country or small village feel.  Homes should be no higher than 20M."  The night stand house got to stay.

The next thing Qim picked on were my "for sale" signs and plushie bat greeters on top of them that periodically said informative things into nearby chat about the sale of the parcel.  Julius Forwzy, Qim's partner and the Ambassador of Faery Crossing, asked me to revise the signs for a more medieval theme, and I of course obliged.  Thinking that Julius had seen all this, I thought I was now up to code.  However, Qim didn't waste any time in then returning my plushie bat greeters, as the 20 page covenant somewhere references, "Objects that give out inventory or messages automatically (i.e. by proximity) are not allowed."  I was also confused because my friend who used to live in FC had a talking parrot for the longest time in Wildewood.  I can only imagine how a newcomer would have felt in this situation.  However, I apologized, and Bugs Larnia, the Head of the Merry Meeters and Scripter, did help me make the greeters have pretty and unobtrusive floating text instead. 

Because I got physically ill from all this, I decided to block Qim to give myself some relief.  Following the next HFC meeting, Qim took away my Brownie role.  My Merry Meeter role was threatened too, but Bugs convinced them that probation would be best.  I eventually unblocked Qim, and even wrote about Bugs's Conflict Resolution class to show that I was trying, and to help spread that valuable knowledge.  My husband, (joncernunnos), became a Brownie and helped make up for what I could not do.  Three months went by and I passed probation.

A few months later, I bought my Zamargad sim.  I proposed to the HFC that my dark fae themed place be added to FC's 10 sims.  There were a few concerns as to if I were to ever sell the sim and the next owner not following the covenant, but I made additional offers to pay the fee to have the sim moved again upfront, and to enter a legal binding contract to never sell it (as this was an artistic investment for me, my "baby," so to speak, no sweat!).   While waiting for the discussion of my additional offers to take place at the next HFC meeting, Qim even made her Milis Muirnin sim available for lease to me.  I thanked her of course, but I had already bought Zamargad, and that was just not in my budget.  Things seemed to be going well, I had high hopes, but my proposals would never come to fruition as shortly after this, I got banned.

The final straw was when I moved my pumpkin house to Zamargad.  I set FC's 1181 Cheshire Smile parcel for sale and placed a "We've Relocated" object on the ground.  When touched, it offered a landmark (Zamargad was not open to the public yet, but this was for everyone's records) and a NC.  The NC basically stated why Jon and I were moving to a sim, that everyone was welcome, and that we hoped to one day join our sim to FC.  I was so proud, our dreams were coming true.  In my exuberance, I had listed our ^v^/<|;) (Bats Out Of Hats) store's links to our Marketplace and to our Avatar Social Network (now ASNers) page in the NC, under my name in the signature.  It was meant as a professional title.  The intentions were something along the lines of, "look how successful we are, you can do it too, we started off in FC."

Next thing I know, Qim said, "For a Meeter, you sure are having trouble following the covenant," and with that, she returned my object and banned me.  I asked her why, and she made gruff reference to the skyboxes clause in the covenant.  The covenant stated this:
" 2.3.4 Skyboxes

"Above ground objects or builds must adhere to the above zoning regulations unless they are above 512 metres.  Discreet private business transactions can be conducted in skyboxes above 512 metres, but no exterior signs or landmarks advertising the skybox are allowed on the parcel.  The following activities are not allowed: clubs, casinos, malls, bars, and other mainland style businesses or rentals.  Contact the High Faery Court before you make your purchase or begin your lease to ascertain that your transactions are of an acceptable scope."

I still did not understand, but she ended the conversation.  In the FC market, on the FC sim, are shops that have LM givers (and they pay way less in tier for their space).  I sent Bugs a copy of the object, and she clarified that it might have been seen as advertising, which was obviously not my objective.

I was devastated (especially financially, as the tier paid, as well as the sale of the FC Terra Firma and 1181 Cheshire Smile parcels were irrecoverable, per the covenant.  And I lost out socially, too).  I was beyond heartbroken.  In trying to help me communicate with the HFC and friends, my worried husband was stripped of his Brownie role for "causing drama."  He helped me turn in my first ban appeal (which one is only allowed to send to Qim or Julius), but come the next HFC meeting, Julius "had not received anything to discuss," despite the transaction history records.  We resent it, and after the following HFC meeting, all I got in response was a NC from Qim explaining, "The appeal to your ban was received by the Faery Crossing High Faery Court.  Your appeal has been denied and you are permanently banned from the lands of Faery Crossing.  FC Protectors.  FC High Faery Court.  January 8, 2017"

With no detailed explanation or feedback on my ban appeal, I inquired why the banishment was so harsh as to be permanent, and I was answered by more silent indifference.  This got me thinking, I wondered if other avatars that had also been banned, had been victims of a similar witch hunt.

In my search for relations other than FC, I reconnected with a friend, who wants to be referenced in this article as "Deep Throat."  Deep Throat had tragically been banned from FC several times, all in their similar hopes to simply just be a part of the magical dream.  One of their alternate accounts was most likely being groomed for Protector, as they had the ins and outs explained to them in great detail.  There are several security leaks, but one in particular was inside the FC Castle (at ground level, available for anyone to see).  It was a set of Protector Logs (book objects), sitting on shelves, textured by year, built by Qim.  If you edit-linked those books, you could see in their contents, NCs titled by names of avatars and acronym codes.  The codes specified avatars as to having specific minor infractions, warnings, or banishments.  From only the years of 2014 - 2016 of FC's much longer history, there are about 160 names.  This piques curiosity as to why a place that so strictly enforces rules and scrutiny, would expose defaming information, to the public of SL.  Likewise, why is FC so strict, when they pride themselves as a newcomer friendly community?  One would tend to think a place of this nature would be a little more forgiving. 

(Screenshot of NC with codes, supplied by Deep Throat)

When asked about their experience, one of these 160 avatars that were promised anonymity for this article explained, "Honestly I visited there a while back and I had just got a new magic HUD.  I was still kinda new and tested it in the wrong area.  Sorry for any inconvenience.  I would love to be entrusted to revisit those beautiful lands again, sincerely."

Another, older avatar, who owns and manages a huge role-play sim, and is a part of Linden support for new players, says they got a warning and kicked out when one of their friends teleported them during a sim restart.  In their friend's efforts to show them something interesting, they started sword fighting and were booted.

A FC member, revealed this, "Well... after much hesitation, I decide to speak out, even though I risk being permanently banned from that place, but...  I had a few incidents where a few individuals accused me of entering their house illegally, which never happened, but I felt I was badly mistreated by a Protector at the time and I even had my staff tag revoked for a while.  I had to fight like hell to prove my innocence and I eventually got my staff tag restored, but the damage was already done and after that point, I completely lost interest in The Faery Crossing and I hardly ever go back there, except to satisfy my vampiric urges for faery blood and visit a few friends, that's about it."  In response to how they were discriminated against, they also added, "Well... in short, they treat their staff members like they are second class citizens, as if they are expendable.  People, like me, who have contributed an enormous amount of their time, effort, and dedication to that place don't get any proper treatment at all.  Instead, they just throw us under the bus so to speak."  "Basically, any staff member who isn't part of the High Faery Court is considered second class."

One fairy followed the love of their life into FC and tried to follow in their love's footsteps to support them in their roles.  They ended up getting a warning and suspension for being in a text only viewer and accidentally being naked in their own house at ground level, because "someone could look into the windows and see them," even though privacy is something all stewards have, per the FC Guidelines embedded into the covenant.  In another instance, this same fairy, excitedly teleported to their friend in FC, to show them a typing AO they had been very proud of acquiring, and then fell asleep at their keyboard while accidentally still wearing their BDSM tag from the previous location.  When they woke up the next day (the day before Thanksgiving), they were banned.  Aside from some other heartbreaking consequences that were stricken for purposes of anonymity, they added, "The other thing... that does really still piss me off... is that yes, they did have me on some things.  But others made up events... I didn't even question them because they were thrown in... i.e.... on a neighbor's house, I was accused of camming in while the other avatar was in there.  And I swear, I never did that.  I think the avatar that said that, did that to promote their rise to being a Protector in training ...which they are in now."

Another avatar simply stated, "I was banned and for having fun.  Which is why many people won't visit the fairy land.  Because it's boring."

This was said, when another avatar was asked why they had been banned and what happened, "Putting it mildly the Faery Crossing members do enjoy their little semblance of power.  I was banned for not complying with some mod's request.  Funny enough I was in an M rated area using the sandbox to try testing a mesh clothing item I just uploaded, on my male avatar.  Apparently that was too offensive and I quote, 'not in the spirit of a sim.'  Funny enough that's what got me banned, not for harassing like would be trolls.  Plenty of sandboxes around, and a few of them are not even administrated by self-righteous a******s."

Not all responses were negative, here's one that ended on a much happier note, " I really don't know my actual status in Faerie Crossing and honestly I could care less.  I think it might be important, though, so I'll take some time to explain.  They (I'm assuming is a group of people) had a justified reason to act in the way they did.  I was very noob when that happened.  The thing was that someone gave me a scripted object in a beginner friendly area and I stupidly accepted.  It was a box that exploded and I teleported to Faerie Crossing thinking that teleporting to wherever I could, would shut off the thing when changing areas.  I learned the hard way that's not true.  I was banned from the place and later I explained this to, I don't remember who, a woman, if I'm not mistaken.  And honestly, she was ok, she understood.  I think she saw my profile and my lifespan and it was obvious that what I did was not on purpose.  I was allowed to enter again with some warnings and that's it."

The members of the High Faery Court and Protectors were also invited to anonymously answer a few questions about fair treatment versus favoritism and discrimination.  These are some of the questions that were asked, but have all been responded to with silence:

"What is the purpose of Faery Crossing?  What is Faery Crossing's main goal?

"Do High Faery Court members and Protectors treat newcomers fairly?  Do they treat long time residents fairly?

"How do High Faery Court members and Protectors tell the difference between someone getting their bearings in SL, someone with a disability, or someone that is a griefer?

"What are the offenses that are cause for a ban?

"Was the Covenant written extensively simply to accommodate loop holes for Protectors or High Faery Court members to ban avatars for any reason?

"If an avatar is banned, are they ever able to come back?  Is the banned person treated fairly?  Has anyone ever been successful in coming back to Faery Crossing after being banned?

"How do the Protectors or High Faery Court members determine if an avatar is an alt of a banned avatar?  Is this scrutiny fair?

"Can anyone become a High Faery Court member or Protector?  What does it take to become either one of those roles?  When did the last advancement to High Faery Court member or Protector take place?

"Do members of the High Faery Court and Protectors discourage or encourage others from advancing to Protector or High Faery Court member?  How?

"Is Faery Crossing a cult or clique?  Why or why not?

"What is the lasting impression you want to leave with others about Faery Crossing?"

During the investigation, a FC member did reveal pertaining group notices.  At first, the notices were requests for FC members to ignore the inquiries.  Qim insisted that this was "an attempt to undermine the covenant and the Protectors who try to keep the lands drama free."  She threatened that the request for opinions were not authorized by the HFC, and claimed that no Protector Logs were ever shared.   She furthermore stated that there was strong evidence that a banned ex-member of FC was behind all this, to attempt to harass the folks of FC.  Then another notice was sent to encourage members to talk to the Protectors in handling any troublesome folks, and to direct all questions to them, to further understand the situation.  Yet another notice was an apology from Qim, ironically maintaining that she was only trying to do her best to keep the lands drama free.

The last notice regarding this Streisand effect was from Sempervirens Oddfellow, a now previous member of the HFC, written in a confirmative matter that may remind one of novels about government conspiracy, with an attached statement from the HFC.  The statement reinforced what Qim was trying to assert, in a more professionally written matter.  It also accused the questions asked to the 160 avatars as being "leading questions," that "presupposed an abusive relationship between the various managing bodies of the FC and its folk" (when in reality, they were simply open questions, inviting avatars to speak out about their experience, freely).  The statement was also trying to convince members that the procurement of these 160 names was an act of theft, but that the security vulnerabilities that FC had would be addressed.

Since then, the edit-linked Protector Logs in the FC castle thankfully no longer exist.  However, with everything that has transpired, this tends to leave more questions than answers.  For instance, what good is a Protector if you need protection from them?  What exactly is it that the HFC is trying to hide by omission after they baited the public?  Why would they have anything to hide if they played fair?  Why do they assume avatars cannot think for themselves in their natural progression (and why are visitors and members not encouraged to do so properly)?  Is FC newcomer friendly, simply to mold avatars into what the HFC needs, to fit some seedy desires and issues about control and power?  ...One thing is for certain, though, "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts, absolutely."

Since 2016, FC has undergone some remodeling.  Some of the full sims have become homestead sims, some of the HFC member have left, and a couple of new ones have been added.  The Queen has retired her reign completely, and passed her lands explicitly into the hands of Qim (and Julius).  Which makes sense with regard to Qim's teaching credentials (as there is a tier price reduction for that).  FC is also being given a new user destination sim.  With regard to all the issues of power, I'm sure this is not what Linden Labs had in mind when it came to their vision of Second Life.  I realize, being a sim owner myself, there are times when it's necessary to ban avatars that are trouble makers.  However, perhaps FC has been a bit harsh here as they are more concerned with their regime, rather than long-term solutions that work for everyone and promote proactive learning.

I notice that every time I tried to contacted the HFC, the items in my MP store got flagged for something.  I suspect this will happen with the publication of this article too, but my Abuse Reports are at the ready.  I was also not allowed at the FC memorial for my dearly departed friend, Bakki Beeswing (however, there is a memorial site on Zamargad for her).  Recently I turned in my 3rd and final ban appeal, which several friends and other avatars did help me write.  On April 13 of this year, Qim responded, "Your appeal was considered by the FC High Faery Court and Protectors, and denied.  The decision is final and any further appeals will be ignored."  In that very conversation, I still tried once more to resolve any issues Qim and I had, as I sincerely wanted peace and understanding between us spiritually before we departed this life.  But of the few words she spoke, she contended that in banishment of my avatar, "the issue had been resolved," and that I "was just not accepting that."  The history of my ban appeals and experience with FC is available for anyone to see, at the FC bridge, on Zamargad.

Meanwhile there have been several other things in Second Life that have kept me sane.  If I were to leave you with a lasting message, it would be that there is such a thing as a (Second) life after being banned from your community.  In this case, and many others, a ban like this is like a badge of honor, please wear it with pride.  You don't need to waste time and millions of L$ on alts.  Just pick yourself up and start over with a place that is worth your time.  You are NOT alone.  Second Life is HUGE, and there's bound to be other, better opportunities out there!  Just don't put all your eggs into one basket.  The only constant is change itself, as this is the natural evolution of things.  And eventually Linden Lab will do something about repeated ARs from enough avatars.

My activities outside of FC started with breedables.  There are several communities of them that are quite vibrant.  From my experience, I can recommend KittyCatS!, Amaretto, and especially EVO.  I've found them all to be quite caring, honest, and passionate people.

The thing that helped me the most was acquiring a family.  I owe lots of my ambition to my mother,  Pixiedust Darling - Napier (pixiedust.xia), who Skypes with me all the time about RL, SL, and other platforms and games.  She also inspired me to get a cat in real-life as a pet.  She even sent me the most delicious homemade cookies all the way from across the country!  Our family is a very decent size.  I have grandparents, an aunt, sisters, nieces, a nephew, and even a son!  From my involvement, I can recommend adoption places like Heritage and Next Gen Inc.

I have also started helping newcomers at a more reputable and professional place.  Treacle Darlandes, of New Resident Island, has been very good to me, and there are several helpers there that are quite wonderful!  NRS has 0 banned avatars in their group, has expanded to the "You Matter" group, and features a "You Matter" spot.  It makes me feel very fulfilled and proud to be a part of a team of leaders who genuinely care about the residents of Second Life.

Lastly, my friends of the Treasure Quest SL game, who just recently celebrated their two year anniversary, came through on something especially fun.  A new "Off With Their Heads Mega Coin," worth L$500, has been designed from inspiration of my, and at least the 160 avatars', memoirs regarding FC.  I guess you could say it started with StormyDaze15, Chris (chrs1969), and Jenni Witherspoon's banishment from the Linden Gold Hunt SL games, and their "Ugly Terry Mega Coin" response.

At any rate, my being banned isn't an isolated case in SL.  It happens all too frequently.  Love is the answer to everything here, not inequity.  We are all in this together.  Let us take this as an opportunity to contemplate how our behavior affects others, and remember that even what seems like the smallest incident, can devastate or inspire another person's life.  With every action, please consider how you would like to be remembered.  Have fun in Second Life, and like my favorite male musician of SL, Vinnie (acoustic.rhapsody) of the Vinnie Show, says at the end of every show, "Be good to each other, and yourselves!"

Additional Information:

"Give me your world weary, your idealists, your winged dreamers yearning to be fae.
"Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
"I lift my lamp beside the golden veil."

Reference URLs:

    Gateway to the Faery Crossing
    The Faery Crossing
    FaeWay Academy of Education
    Faery Crossing Events Committee
    The Faery Crossing Events
    Druids of the Second Realm
    Faery Crossing Merry Meeters
    The High Faery Court
    The Faery Crossing Protectors
    The Faery Crossing Seelies


The headlining title of this article references the poisonous Kool-Aid the Jim Jones cult from Jonestown drank, and the red pill from the 1999 science fiction action blockbuster, "The Matrix," "After this, there is no turning back.  You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.  You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.  Remember: all I'm offering is the truth."

Preferred Contacts (starting at 2016):
High Faery Court:
Gypsy Tripsa  - Faery Crossing Queen - presides over the High Faery Court
Julius Forwzy - FC Ambassador and in charge of agenda and minutes, real estate and market manager, steward representative for The Faery Crossing and Wildefleur (interim)
Bugs Larnia - Head of the FC Merry Meeters, steward representative for Faery Mere
Meadow Copperfield - Gateway Coordinator, steward representative for Madrigal
Qim Toxx - FaeWay Academy Administrative Dean, steward representative for Aetheria, interim head of Protectors
Caryn Eleonara - FC events coordinator
Bear Hird - Head of Protectors (on temporary leave of absence)
Sempervirens Oddfellow - Steward representative for Wildewood

Bear Hird
Qim Toxx
Meadow Copperfield
Julius Forwzy
Sempervirens Oddfellow
Joanne Pevensey


Sunday, April 1, 2018

ApRiL fOoL!

Happy April Fools Day from the Second Life Newser!

May your April Fools Day be filled with joy, merriment, and general foolery.

For previous April Fool jokes, check out 2017, 2016, 2015, 20142013, 2012, and 2011.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, February 26, 2018

Help For Mental Wellness in Second Life.

By Kimiko Kanagowa (FoxytheJamie Resident)

All across the web, these days, you don't have to go very far in, to find anything about depression, suicide, or mental health. I for one suffer from it as well. However, what most people don't realize, is that a good, and free, way to help them out, even slightly, is staring them in the face.

Nearly 350 million people suffer from depression all across the world. Depression can be anywhere from minor, to severe. The textbook definition of depression is, feelings of severe despondency and dejection. However, the condition can be far worse than just some definition, bed-ridding some of its sufferers. However, this reporter is one of many, who have found ways to combat it. Some of these ways include hanging out with friends, others include traveling. But what if you don't really have friends in the real world? What if you don't have enough money to travel? What happens then? Do you just sit and despair? Well worry not, for Second Life could be your treatment.

Second life has nearly 37 million players. There are nearly 25000 sims all around the grid. These sims range from arts to music, to roleplay, to shopping. Second Life has been described as the largest online virtual world. Being that, it can easily be seen how there is literally anything for anyone, and everyone. A lot of people have used this to their advantage, and have even made progress, in combating their own mental disorders. And even if you're just looking for support, you can find that nearly everywhere you go. There are even hundreds of groups, simply designed, for the sole purpose of giving people support for anything they have.


Editor's Note: Besides the Survivors of Suicide, which the Newser wrote about a few months ago, there are other places which say they offer mental health services. The only 0ther one I've talked to is Tranquility Health Care in Sorens (87/120/21), which has only recently come about.

Friday, February 2, 2018

News and Commentary: More Information on Team Diabetes' Question About Missing Money

By Bixyl Shuftan

After the apology came in, I thought that would be the last time I would write about the topic. But more people had something to say.

The issue started on December 31 When Team Diabetes posted on their blog that someone spammed their group chat saying his breedable group was doing an auction in which the proceeds would go to Team Diabetes. The Second Life charity was doing a fundraising event at the time with another breedables company at the time, so this may have caused a little confusion to the donors. While the man stated he had raised over 100,000 Lindens, about $400 USD, going to charity, Team Diabetes never got any of it, and asked people to start making inquires where the money went. The Newser talked to Vee Tammas Shocker (Veruca Tammas) of Team Diabetes, and was told Oenneo Resident was the one whom had spammed their group chat. I messaged him about the issue, but didn't get a response so went ahead and published the story on January 8.

The response was messages from Oenneo's partner at the time, LoriLynnGrimes Resident, some an outpouring of anger, and the more cordial one saying we should have contacted her and that the money had gone directly to the American Diabetes Association without going through Team Diabetes. I would also get two angry messages from supporters from her. As they were just minutes apart, I wondered if they were alts. Then later on Lori would send a note of apology to Team Diabetes, saying Oenneo confessed that the money never went to charity but to pay for a building, adding the breedables company she and "Neo" were in was dissolved along with their partnership and she planned to somehow make amends. But when the Newser wrote about her statement, she angrily responded that the message was intended to be private.

Some days later, I would get messaged by two people about the issue. One was a supporter of Lori, but in contrast to the earlier people whom were hostile, she made an effort to be friendly, though did ask to remain anonymous. She claimed Lori was no swindler but had been swindled herself by Neo and his supporters. She told me Lori was starting to pay the money to the American Diabetes Association over time in segments, though didn't have any proof as it would mean revealing her real-life identity.

I wasn't sure if this by itself warranted an update, telling her I probably wouldn't do one yet. Then later that evening I was contacted by Lady Digs Jewel (1x1x141 Digfoot). Digs told me she was the builder of the building mentioned in Lori's statement of apology, "The Ark." Lady Digs felt she was "dragged through the mud" by the insinuations she was involved in a charity fraud by association, "I did not receive embezzled funds, because it was paid for well before the event." She sent me a picture of a page of Oenneo's transaction history, which was dated several days before the incident with Team Diabetes and labeled "Final Payment for Ark."

She then told me Oenneo was there with her on the Ark, still under construction, and offered to TP me over. And so I was face to face with the man whom had caused Team Diabetes so much concern. Neo would only converse with me in voice, so the only records I had were the notes I managed to type. The bare-chested man claimed he never got my messages, saying his messages were likely capped, "I have only this to say, I never touched any of the funds. ... The Ark was paid for my money and my money alone."

When I asked about Team Diabetes saying he spammed their chat about his event, he at first told me, "That is completely false, that never happened. ...  I only IMed one person. ... I never spamed any chats, period." I then handed him a copy of the picture that had been earlier sent to me by Vee Tammas contradicting his story, showing he had messaged their chat. He then tried to backtrack, "I did send notices during the event ... but not the 100,000."

Later on, Digs would contact me again. We chatted for a while, and she stated she wasn't trying to imply that she thought I was unfair to her, only that the statement I published could be seen by some as implicating her. This wasn't my intention, and the evidence I've been shown points out she was paid before the incident in question.

I emailed Vee Tammas about the two contacts. She responded that even though the builder had evidence she was not involved in the incident, she felt there were no reasons to take either Oenneo or Lori at their word, "Neo" having been caught in a lie and Lori having a history of responding angrily when confronted and having no evidence of her wanting to make amends. While Neo might not have paid for the building with the money in question, he still collected it from Team Diabetes supporters.

The Newser has written about controversial topics before, such as Monkey Wonder and Voodoo's threats to the Greenzone group. But seldom has information kept coming in about one like this. So what happens next? Time will tell.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, December 22, 2017

Frisky The Snowman

By Bixyl Shuftan

When Christmas comes to Second Life, many decorate their areas with snow and a Christmas tree, or other simple decorations such as wreaths and candy canes. And then there's Nydia Tungsten, the owner of the "Happy Vixen," the beach club of the Sunweaver/Angels community. While gift-giving is fun, the crass commercialism and stress can take the happiness out of the holiday. So she tries to have a little fun with her "Twisted Christmas" music set every season, filled with parody songs from mild to wild as an answer to "Fa-la-la-la" played 24/7 in every other shopping center.

But this year, she did a little more. She decorated the beach club with some off-kilter Christmas decorations that were definitely not for child avatars. There was "Santa and the drunken reindeer," which had the not so jolly old elf and his sleigh having wiped out, and the reindeer were all splat on the ground or on the fence, except one that was taking a piddle on Kris Kringle. There were a couple reindeer on the rooftop "romantically engaged." There was one outhouse labeled "Santa's Office: Knock First" where Santa was having to answer a call of nature, "Ho ho ho! Could I have a little privacy?" About the only thing that looked G-rated at first glance was one snowman on the side of the dance floor. But before long, you'd hear cheesy pick-up lines from him. This was "Frisky the Snowman."

"Frisky the Snowman" wasn't something she had a friend do, but had bought it from a store owner. Taking a look at the Marketplace page, "Frisky the Flirty Snowman" was sold by a Connor71, "For many, me included, holidays... particularly Christmas can be a bit depressing for us at times depending on our given situation. Frisky was my answer to add a few smiles, and I certainly had several ear to ear grins making him.  I really hope he can spread some cheer to everyone."

Connor had boasted Frisky had "Over 100 come ons." And he never seemed to run out as at events, he relentlessly spouted one after another, "Do you have a quarter? Mom asked me to call her if I ever fell in love." "Look at you, with all those curves, and me with no brakes." "Is God missing an angel? You look like you fell from Heaven." Some could be a little creepy, "If a fat man puts you in a bad tonight, don't worry. I told Santa I wanted you for Christmas." "You can take me home, or I can follow you home, your choice."

The reaction from the women was what one might expect in this day of news headlines of sexual harassment stories. A few laughed, some groaned, some growled, and a number made jokes about how to dispose of the perverted snowman. Frequent ideas were shoving him into the water or grabbing a flamethrower and blasting him. One girl posed in front of him with a couple lightsabers, red and green to match the Christmas season. They couldn't of course. Only the Happy Vixen staff had the power to do anything about him.

So what did I think? As a guy, he reminded me of the examples I had while growing up of how *not* to ask women out. But as the years went on, and I remained single, guys (in real life) kept telling me I needed to be more pushy, "You need to start reaching out and grabbing some ***s." I sometimes wonder if they were seeing if I'd had a mental lapse and actually do it. Then again, they had reproduced (or rather a number of them had), I hadn't. So maybe there was *something* to the strategy of one lame pickup line after another. And then there was the story I read years ago about a woman whom claimed the ghost of a guy was not only haunting her house, but going after her. The exorcist she called to get rid of him told her he was a lonely soul who never had luck with women and in death was continuing what he was trying in life.

Eventually came the night of Nydia's "Twisted Christmas" set, in which she played her parodies for two hours, from mild, to wild to, "Oh my God, what was he thinking?!" And Frisky was relentlessly giving out one pickup line after another so cheesy one could smell the parmesan. One girl commented they were more like limburger. As usual, they joked about how to melt him, but the snowman didn't notice, or didn't care, continuing his lame lines, "Hottie alert! I'm melting!" "I put your picture up at the post office, 'cause you're wanted by me." Like that *one guy* at certain parties, you weren't sure if he kept hoping some girl would finally answer his love calls, or he wasn't doing it to get entertainment, but that the cat-calls were entertainment in themselves.

The following day, the decorations Nydia had put up for "Twisted Christmas" were all gone. This included Frisky. A few girls acted happy that the snowman was gone. When I asked Nydia what happened to him, she answered, "I melted him, with a flamethrower." So what cheesy pickup line drove her over the edge? She wouldn't say.

The snowman is gone, but no doubt he'll be remembered.

Frisky the Snowman,
Was a perverted skirt-chasing soul,
With a candy-striped cane, and a stovepipe hat,
He cat-called with a leer made out of coal.

Oh how the women,
Hated each cheesy pick-up line.
They talked about how to melt him down.
To him, he was a load of slime.

As for yours truly,
I too felt he was a butt.
But you have to admit, he wouldn't quit,
For his passion, he never gave up.

Then one morning,
Frisky the Snowman had gone away.
The women cheered, but I was a little sad,
Deep down, I'd hoped he'd get one chance to play.

Bixyl Shuftan

Image Credit: Connor07

Friday, December 15, 2017

My Last Article For SL Newser

By Wesley Regenbogen,

Dear readers and SL Newser staff,

I joined Second Life Newser in July 2014 after searching for a virtual newspaper to write for in Second Life.

My virtual journalism career started around the year 2000, when I was member of a virtual world called ( it doesn’t exist anymore nowadays ). At the time I saw an ad where they were looking for writers at CVN ( Cybertown Virtual News ). I decided to send in an article that I wrote and I thought by myself “here goes nothing.” But after a while, the editor emailed me back that the article was good enough for publication. I must admit that I was a bit blown away by the fact that my article was accepted anyhow.

But in the year 2003, the virtual world had new owners and they decided to make it a subscription based website. I decided to leave CVN and thus the virtual world of After that I wandered around the web in search of other virtual worlds like, but I found none that gave me the same “feeling.” Until in November 2006, I saw a video about Second Life and decided to join in and created my account.

After a few years of learning the basics of Second Life, I found out that SL Newspaper, owned by James T. Juno, was looking for writers. I then made the decision to join his team and write articles for them. But I lost interest in Second Life a while after that and decided to leave Second Life for a while. I briefly came back in 2012, but I didn’t find any virtual newspaper again and I learned that SL Newspaper was no longer existing. 

In July 2014, I found out that SL Newser, owned by Bixyl Shuftan, was writing about Second Life. I decided to join them and I have been writing for them ever since, until now.

Today ( December 13 th, 2017 ) I wrote my goodbye article and I will move on. I hope this career switch will be a good one, we will see what happens.

I would like to thank the crew of SL Newser, and especially Bixyl Shuftan, for letting me part of their team and write with them. I sincerely greet you, the readers, for reading my articles and enjoying the things I have written about.

So, I say farewell to SL Newser and I hope that the virtual newspaper SL Newser will continue to grow and will expand in the near future.

Yours truly,

Wesley Regenbogen

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Reader Submitted: Mourning in Second Life

By Alura Messing
Death.  We can't escape it in our first lives or our second.  If you have been in any type of gaming community, you know how close an emotional bond you can build with people.  You talk to them almost everyday.  You hear about their families, their problems, and their successes.  You often know them better than most of their families do.  But once in awhile, you log in to get the news that something terrible has happened.  One of your friends has passed away.

In my years of gaming it has happened more than once.  One was very ill and just never came back.  I can only assume that they passed on and their family didn't know how, or felt no need to tell their gaming friends.  One was very young and died suddenly in a house fire with his mother.  I was lucky a real life friend was able to pass on the sad news.  Which brings me to my current gaming experience in Second Life.

I am part of a family here.  We all live on the same land and see each-other daily.  We go shopping together, attend special events the someone is in, and just talk about life.  I logged in the other day, to find out that one of my family had passed away.  Even as I write, we are still waiting to learn the cause.  He was young and no one saw this coming.  We were all devastated and needed to find a way to mourn.

I believe many people in Second Life are faced with this.  They don't know what to do, or how to honor the memory of someone they cared for.  For many years, the Lindens themselves hosted a memorial garden that you could go to and have the name of a resident who passed away added to.  Sadly in July of 2011 they stopped accepting names to add to the memorial, though you can still visit and see existing memorials.   

Residents now have to devise their own ways to memorialize their friends.  We can't rely on the Lindens to have a common in world place as a memorial.  Over the years I have see many ways that people have attempted to find their peace and remember the light and life of a lost soul.  In my early days I happened on a small shrine on the main grid.  It gave me a texture when I clicked it and lit a candle for a time.  On that texture, was the following poem.

     An Uncertain Memorial
     By: Calliandris Pendragon
     Beyond time and space
     I met a fellow traveller
     And we journeyed for awhile.
     Then, I lost sight of them.
     I cannot tell where they have gone,
     Wether they vanished back
     Into the throng of life,
     Or slipped across the threshold
     Into another world,
     Turning from time, to eternity.
     All I can say with certainty
     Is that there is a place in my heart ❤
     Into which that other fits
     Which is empty now.

A beautiful expression of coming to terms with the loss of someone close.

We don't always know how to express what is inside and some people simply place a picture in their profile with a few words about the person. Others, like Noel (Ixinoel) have building skills and build something in world to spread the memory of their lost friend.  Noel owner of Dust Bunny, built a Memorial Garden with her friend Amy's (Scarlet Chandrayaan) favorite things.  She gives it out for free to anyone who comes to her store.  In doing that, her memory is shared by many who display the item in their personal space.

But if you and others would like to gather someplace and take time to remember them in a more "Earthly" way, there is Living Memories Memorial Garden.  There you can dedicate a tree to your missing loved ones.  There is no cost to do so, but donations are welcomed to help cover the cost of the land.  It is a beautiful location that you can visit and and hold a memorial service on your own or with others.

We may not be able to just ignore the grief of losing someone in Second Life, but as you can see there are many ways to honor a memory.  Be sure to take a moment to visit the memorials to remember someone you might have lost here or to pay respects to the others who have come and gone that you may not know.  We each contribute to this wonderful verse and when even one of us passes away it is a loss to the community.  Safe and healthy paths to each of you.

Shrine of Remembrance, Linden Memorial Park (146, 88, 7)
Living Memories Memorial Garden, The Sardar (6, 101, 21)
Dust Bunny New Mainstore!, Dust Bunny (118, 200, 16)

Alura Messing