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Bobbie Faulds

A newly registered user's experience.

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Once upon a time, on an alt, I was a SL mentor. Mentors were at the initial help island to help new residents with any questions. There was also a freebie store with items donated to get a new resident started. LL then allowed private orientation hubs as well as the standard so that new residents could chose where they went through orientation,including many in languages other than English. There were people there to help as well. Then LL decided not to give the creators of these alternate orientation sites a break and they disappeared. LL also decided to disban the mentor program. LL pared down the orientation, but still gave a good set of instructions on how to do things.


Now, however, it's a disaster. You come in as a new resident to a room with doors marked with different interests that you might be coming to SL with. There is absolutely no instruction on how to do anything, just the doors; no idea how to edit your avi, how to walk, how to fly, how to talk in open chat, nothing. Once you walk through the door of your choice, you are randomly dropped into a sim or a location that fits into the topic you choose. A friend chose adult and ended up in a sex sim. Many new residents would see that, log out, and never log in again.

 

If LL is wanting to retain new registrations, an overhaul of how new residents are introduced to SL needs to be done, especially if SL is listed on Steam. Instructions need to return. There are several mentor groups in SL that are made up of former SL mentors that would be more than happy to be available again. The help islands, though they were a bit clunky, at least gave the new resident an introduction to SL and how to do things as well as a central point for some items to help them get started.


Anyone have any opinions or other suggestions?

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I’ve always disliked how new people are introduced to Second Life.
You are thrown in at the deep end, not a good thing to do with something that already has a rather steep learning curve.
Not only is a lot expected from new people, they are also almost immediately surrounded by experienced users and griefers.

Nothing is as off putting as standing somewhere, all new, and hearing people swear, argue, make fun of you or have people harass you and even attack you.
Not to mention that you will find yourself amongst scary, freakish, half naked and disturbing looking avatars.

This nearly turned me away from Second Life permanently after I first tried it in 2007, everything was rather horrible and only supported the rather negative preconceptions I had about this virtual world.
I left and only returned a few years later.

I’ve always felt that the best way to figure out how SL works is by trying it all out in a peaceful quiet area.
Ideally every new person would be teleported into a private place, lets say a tiny skybox.
Here they see some tutorials, basic instructions, etc.
They have to learn to walk, navigate, communicate, click, use and finally use search and teleport to get off the island.
But I realise that with thousands of new daily users, this may be impossible.

Recently this all changed with the creation of new Destination Islands.
Interesting stuff.
They found a way to keep out the experienced users and trouble makers (sort of) and send you on your way to a sim that is connected to a theme you find interesting.
This new system is not quite ready yet, but an improvement in some way.

Nevertheless, you no longer get any instructions.
SL is complicated, you need help when you first get here!

Recently I thought of another way of welcoming new people into SL that will help them a lot better, avoid giving them the idea SL is for kids or full of weirdos, before they even enter the virtual world.
I have no idea if this is even possible, but let me explain how I imagine it.

Currently, when you first join SL , you sign up on the website, download the software and enter the online world without knowing much about anything.
I suggest that we take care of a lot of stuff before we send these new freshly baked avatars into Second Life.

You sign up on the website, download the software and then you stay on the website…
You create your first avatar right there and then, online, on secondlife.com.
If you have played ‘The Sims’, you will remember how this works, as soon as you start a game you first enter a dressing booth where you get toe customise your avatar.
Shape, character and even your first set of clothes are put together here.

Imagine starting your Second Life just like that.
In stead of having to choose from a few pre-created avatars that identify you as a noob, that you may seriously dislike, that you may find very hard to change, you first find yourself in a dressing room with a basic avatar that you get to change and make like you want it to be.

SL creators  could offer free clothes, bodies, skins and other stuff for this part of the tutorial, so you should have plenty of stuff to chose from.
It may even work trough some sort of connection to marketplace.

Not only is creating an avatar a fun way to start your SL, it also gives you the freedom to start SL looking like you want to look in stead of having to choose one of the starter avatars.
No matter how well the current starter avatars are made, they will give some people second thoughts about joining up.
When people see a cute little Airship avatar or a giant bunny avatar as one of their choices they may think SL is a kid’s game  and may decide not to join.

More importantly, we take away freedom and creativity from new users before they sign up to a world that is all about freedom and creativity.

Is it really that difficult to give people access to the SL avatar creation tools outside of SL?
Let them play about a bit, give them basic (realistic scale please!!) avatars to experiment on.
But make some of the options fun, weird, unusual, so they know that being a bunny or a airship is one of the options, so they know it is possible to have a unusual avatar without it being one of the few forced choices.

Another bonus of this would be that new people enter SL with an avatar they already care about.
They have spend time creating it and have bonded with it, maybe not much, but more then just one of the random avatars they get to pick now.
Like many people who play ‘The Sims’ they may have made the avatar look like themselves or like someone they admire.
Joining SL with an avatar you already like increases the chances of you hanging around.

But perhaps there is more we can do before we actually travel into virtual reality.

How about the first basic steps?
Can we not give new avatars a chance to learn those things you really can’t do without before they run the SL software?

Imagine…

After you have created your avatar on the SL website (we’re still not inworld) you are transported to an deserted Island…
Yes still on the SL website.
It could be a flash game with the look and feel of SL.

I can imagine that after you have created your avatar, a screen loads showing your new you falling with a parachute and landing on an very small island in the middle of the big SL seas.
You will be there all alone, it can be very basic, no need for super graphics.

But this game will allow you to take your time to learn the important tutorials.
Walk, talk, use, click, sit, etc.
This can me made fun and entertaining by creating a little story around it.
After all, you are on a deserted Island and you need to get off.
So first use your inventory to find a machete to cut trough the vegetation,  walk across a improvised bridge, left click on a big branch to push it aside, etc, etc.
Every new step you learn brings you closer to escaping this island and learning how to navigate trough SL at the same time.
Eventually you arrive at the other side of the island and there is a boat, once you get on it, you go to the SL Search page.
You look for something you find interesting (or are given a few questions that help you in the right direction) and will get you some suggestions of sims you could visit.

And then, only then, the actual Second Life software will load.

You will set your first steps in this wonderful virtual world in a sim you’ve chosen, with an avatar you’ve created, arriving at a sim you have picked from search, with basic skills to get around, without being confronted by a bunch of scary people and with a better grasp of how you can modify your avatar, find other sims, etc.

Most of the work is done before you even set foot on virtual land and many of the old problems can be avoided.

Not to mention that all the portals, starter islands and stuff Linden Labs has been creating, replacing, redesigning and having lots of meetings about can be deleted and the land and servers used for something else.

(from my blog; http://joyardley.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/starting-your-second-life/ )

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I found the mentor programme a good thing too. When I first registered I joined up and got a mentor who taught me not only basic things but helped me figure out my purpose of being here, what I wanted to do for work, the basics of creating things and where to go to learn more, if that was the path I chose to follow. He introduced me to other people in SL who ran businesses and such to give advice and we became good friends.

I think the mentor programme was a HUGE reason why I continued to use SL for so long, because it gave me a standing and an idea of what to expect and what to shoot for. I think it's even more needed for people who might not have as good an understanding of computers as others as these are the people who are most likely to get confused and therefore not experience everything SL has to offer.

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I feel sorry for anyone that is really new to second life that is not coming with a friend. Really I have not seen a set up like this ever. First off the viewer is not intuitive so they need help with that. Then they load up the game and are sent through these doors wondering what the heck is going on. When they get there it just seems some random drop off point. I know LL likes to look at second life as a 3d webverse, but its far from that. I have talked with people in other online games I play that have said it was just too confusing to figure out so they left.

What was wrong with the old way? I can say for sure if I was making a new char and coming on here which I did for business reasons long ago, I would have skipped the meeting after the frustration I would have had. Everyone that reads these forums will know how second life works, it seems easy to us and second nature. Not to your new users, some of them have even told me so.

If second life is going to be listed on steam as Bobbie said, I cannot wait for the backlash on outside forums about how poor the documentation is set up. You need to go outside your office and grab someone off the street that has never heard of second life. Pay them 100 bucks and watch them fumble through attempting to start.

 

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Thanks to the new sign up process where new players don't have to go through the hassle to choose a second name the rate of people that go through is much higher.

Aren't we glad that LL was able to compensate that, and new users are gone for good once they have entered the world?

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Viewer 3 is quite intuitive, thank you very much. Of course the dinosaurs constantly complain about it not being identical to Viewer 1, which was terrible.

Most people don't read documentation anyway, so the wiki and other sources go unused (but true, some better organisation there would be nice). Having worked in customer support, 90%+ of questions and complaints were caused by an unwillingness to read documentation and/or follow tutorials and every new SL user starts in a tutorial sim, or should (sometimes when you crash for example right after account creation you start at a safe hub instead), where the controls are explained.


I'm a guide at 2 sims listed in the destination guide as newbie friendly, and on an alt from time to time help out at a third. 99% of new avatars coming there:

1) never bother to ask questions
2) don't even bother to say "hi" when you greet them
and or 3) are rude, abusive, and end up being ejected as griefers (luckily a small minority, probably repeat offenders coming back on new accounts every day or so).

So many don't seem to want help, even when explicitly offered to them. For some, they could just be shy or have trouble with their user interface preventing them from chatting (but see above, that would have been explained in the tutorial sims or documentation they didn't bother with), but not most.

 

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Once upon a time people had jobs and played SL for fun,

People did not sit around trying to convince them self they are not wasting their time just paying the bills sitting around their house .

While  most the people  lead a active life and would visit the internet as a past time not as a life.

Moral of this story.Nothing..im just joking..

As a noob I really did not pay much attention to help island and never used a mentor nor have any of my friends or really any one I know or met in SL.

Computers are able to track users time and what they do in some places,then they use what is call logistics to define what the mass majority of users do here and the best scenario to match the gather information...So every one stop making alts and running intot he grid!!

Am I just being a smart butt because it is Monday and well...me got to goto worky!!!

 

It dose seem like they just kind of stop caring about SL (LL that is) and it is on auto poilet.

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When I joined 3 years ago I didn't have the patience for help island or any kind of instructions and I never even met a mentor.

But when I bring friends to SL I do wonder if they would have managed at all without my help.

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Coco Pheocene wrote:

I found the mentor programme a good thing too. When I first registered I joined up and got a mentor who taught me not only basic things but helped me figure out my purpose of being here, what I wanted to do for work, the basics of creating things and where to go to learn more, if that was the path I chose to follow. He introduced me to other people in SL who ran businesses and such to give advice and we became good friends.

I think the mentor programme was a HUGE reason why I continued to use SL for so long, because it gave me a standing and an idea of what to expect and what to shoot for. I think it's even more needed for people who might not have as good an understanding of computers as others as these are the people who are most likely to get confused and therefore not experience everything SL has to offer.

Same here. My First attempt in Sl I came alone. I entered a sim with 5 people. No One talked to me. I could not really figure out what it was all about. So, I left... Didnt come back till about a year later which led to my second round. A Mentor invited me in from another website. After she showed me around and showed me what it was all about and that I could do the same things. I was like  "HELZZ YEAH!" this is awesome. .

I was totally re-routed from the welcome centers. I didnt even know there were a such thing lol. I guess that was a good thing.

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how to do the basics like walk fly run mod your avatar instructions are in the viewer now

some people need mentoring. some dont. most dont. those that do and wants to hang on in SL usually end up looking for help on the Answers forums here

if linden did put a Ask A Question Get An Answer option in the viewer Help menu which puts you into the Answers forums then that be pretty good i think

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I remember when I was first starting out at the tail end of 2007, I was dropped in a noob island and a pop up on the corner said YOU CAN WALK WITH THE WSAD KEYS and I remember thinking "Oh, so like Oblivion / every other fp rpg". Then the subsequent pop ups started to piss me off after I realized the hotkeys for various tools were pretty obvious (F for fly, pg-up/pg-dn, scrolling in to go to fp pov, hitting 'enter' to start talking, etc). I ignored the instructions and fiddled around on my own, noticing pretty quickly the edit shape screen was very much like Sims (though a bit awkward), and dressing was just a matter of double clicking or right click wear. I didn't spend much more than 15 mins on that first island because I felt like it was talking down to me.

I'd probably be one of those noobs nowadays who doesn't ask questions or say much of anything when prompted simply because I just GOT it pretty fast and felt like anything else I could just click around till I figured it out.

HOWEVER, that being said, I know not everyone comes into SL knowing much of anything, and I'd really love to see an updated version of the noob island or have something like what Jo said. I know of a few sites that have orientations via flash that are pretty helpful to new users before they even enter the main site or go in world, and I'd love to see something like that (or hell, even a simple 'you must watch this video first' deal).

Also I very much agree that new users should have an opportunity to customize their avatar how they want it before even setting foot in world. I HATED my first avi and had to work so hard to find anything that would make me feel better about it, but it was so difficult at the time to change anything so I had to resort to changing to a female avi just because they had a far greater amount of free items and customization options more readily available. That was certainly a low point of my SL career. xD

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Don't force noobs to go through orientation. They need the option of skipping it.

I was a noob years ago and left SL but came back recently. When I came back, I already knew most of what I needed to know and only needed a refresher or an update. Noobs appreciate the opportunity to direct their own education, to skip what they don't need and focus on the help they need. Help should not be linear forcing you to have to learn how to walk before you can learn what a sculpt is.

When I came back to SL, I didn't stay long at the portals. The only other people there were other noobs who knew less about the game than I did. There was no one to ask questions. So I stuck around long enough to redesign my avatar (after flying over the trees to find some privacy). Then I went straight to places where I knew I'd find real people to ask questions that the tutorials didn't cover.

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Compared to my first 5-minute stint in SL a long time ago, things have improved. That first stint was a typical case of "install, launch, laugh hysterically at the 1990's tech, get frustrated with the sorry excuse of an un-usable UI, log out, delete, tell friends what a piece of dung SL is".

When I re-joined a few years ago there were nifty little resident run starter areas. Even so, the UI was still pretty much un-usable. It reminded me of something some basement dweller had pooped out of his rear while high on some drug. I wouldn't have stayed, except work required me to. A RL friend then patiently explained to me how the "client" ~cough~ works ~cough~. So I stuck around because of RL friends that were already in SL. Otherwise I'd never have stayed.

I've since helped a few people (in RL) to get started in SL. The initial experience has, IMO, gotten better. The client is still a pile of steaming doo, but at least it looks vaguely familar even to curmudgeons who rarely use their computers for anything but emails and browsing por...er...cooking receipes.

To me, the biggest hurdle to SL is, ironically, its versatility. "What do I do?" is a question I frequently see on the forums and in SL. From the few that actually bother to stick around that is.

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I was lucky enough to find the Virtual Abilities Welcome Center right off, and I also went through the learner's path at Caledon Oxbridge. Many absolute strangers have offered valuable help and advice. The Forum has been invaluable. The Caledon Quest taught me about maneuvering my camera, and I've taken many classes at different locations (The people who offer their time as instructors should be sainted), but I'm still learning.

I would like to help other new people, but it is awkward to know how to go about it. If anyone has a good plan I would be glad to get involved.

 

 

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If you want to help, there are several organizations. SL Help Desk group, Helping Hands, Mental Mentors is still active and actually trains you to be a mentor to new residents. The majority of MM were SL mentors. In fact, that was a requirement to be a member back in the day.

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I pretty much quit SL because of how bad the user experience is, and how bad LL is as a company.

 Well, that and being accused of being someones alt for a wrestling class in a rp school. I think I made the user quit doing classes at the school, also.

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When I first logged in, I knew a few friends who were in SL and was able to contact one of them via another means and get tp'd off help island and get quick introduction to the controls as well as some landmarks of places to start exploring from them. The biggest thing that contributed to my sticking around was finding a friendly group to be part of. As many really nice areas as there are in SL, exploring solo would have gotten boring very quickly. The group I found didn't give noobs a hard time, they helped them out and answered questions. One of them who I'd only just met bought me my first AV. I've done that for several noobs since. SL becomes much more enjoyable when you aren't stuck in an AV you know both sucks and brands you as a noob. LL has neither the personal (anymore) or the apparent desire to give anything resembling user support. It's pretty much up to the rest of us residents to try to help newcomers have a bit of fun when they are first learning how things work.

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These threads about new user experiences always remind me of a quote by Philip Rosedale in a speech to Singularity University on trying Second Life: "...if you have any questions about it, or are, you know, feel like you are crawling over broken glass trying to figure it out, as one person said the other day, which I thought was just, just a great description of the Second Life new user experience..." 

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