OK, you’re new to Second Life and you start exploring, you drop into a location that sounds cool to check it out, and seconds later you find yourself ejected– sent “home”!!! A cryptic message probably tells you something about your avatar not being old enough, you need to have been a SL member for a week, month, or even a year perhaps, before you are allowed to visit the area! That REALLY sucks, and if you are like me, you are seriously pissed about it. What do they have against “newbies”?
Well the answer is that it isn’t really about newbies at all. It’s about a practice called “griefing” which is something a newbie is not likely to be familiar with, much less doing. Unfortunately one of the methods that sim, property and club operators use to slow down griefing is blocking newbies. To understand why, you need to know a little about griefing and how Second Life enforces the rules against griefing. If you already are familiar with griefing and want to skip my stories of grief (pun intended,) scroll down to the heading “Why Block Newbies.”
What are Griefers?
If you aren’t familiar with griefers yet, you probably will be soon. You don’t need to look for them, they’ll find you! Griefers are people who get their fun by harassing or annoying other game players. In Second Life they may insult and curse you for no apparent reason, repeatedly bump into you, or worst of all, use malicious scripts to attack your avatar. Malicious scripts are often built into “gifts” offered to you by strangers, they work similar to computer viruses that are hidden in other files. This is why you should never accept gifts from people you don’t know in Second Life. Jewelry or anything you wear are popular carriers for malicious scripts as they can seize control of your avatar’s animation. They might simply make your avatar dance around like a drunk chicken… but they can also do much worse things. Like computer viruses, new griefing scripts are created all the time as hackers find new ways to exploit the system.
Not everyone who bumps into you is a griefer. We all accidentally bump into each other. That’s how I met some of my best SL friends! Most will say “sorry.” If you’re into flirty responses say “my pleasure, I’m sure!” Ha ha! Classic line, old as the hills, but who cares? Just like that you met someone new! (What? No honey, I wouldn’t do that. Just suggesting it for my readers who are here to meet people!)
Griefing tools. Sometimes griefers will leave items that contain malicious scripts lying around (often at sandboxes.) These malicious scripts may be set to attack any avatar who happens to be nearby. Most likely the actual object containing the script will be invisible, very small, or both, so you won’t even see it. Sometimes the malicious script will shout out inappropriate statements, insults or noise, sometimes they display ads. The most common attack method used is to throw things at your avatar. None of this will actually hurt your avatar, but it is annoying. Often the griefer who placed the malicious script is someplace nearby watching, they want to see your reaction! Sometimes the griefer has a grudge against the owner of the sim or property, their goal is typically to get revenge on the owner by planting a malicious script that makes the property unusable.
Fortunately the damage to avatars done by most griefers is almost always just temporary. Simply logging out of Second Life resets everything and you can log back in and continue on from there.
So hopefully now you can understand why the owners of popular clubs and sims work hard to keep griefers out. A griefer can quickly make a club or sim unpleasant for everyone. I was at an event once in SL where a griefer managed to use a rogue script to teleport everyone at the event to another sim, piling us on top of each other in a big heap of squirming avatars. I’m sure the griefer found this very amusing, and I must admit it looked rather amusing with all of us trying to figure out what the heck happened. But at the moment we did not find it amusing at all.
RLV: An optional Second Life feature called RLV or RestrainedLove can potentially allow a griefer to do some really bad things to you that could cause permanent damage. Fortunately for newbies, it is set “off” by default. You should leave it off until you really know what you are doing and understand how it works.
Why do griefers do this stuff? They enjoy it. Go figure. It’s not my cup o’ tea, but whatever rocks your boat. I guess a psychologist could offer more insight into this than I can.
What can you do about griefers? Not much. Just ignore them. Teleport away from the area where they are. It isn’t easy and yes, it’s not fair that they are ruining your fun. But anything else just encourages them, since most of them get their kicks from your response. Do not fight back! Cursing or abusing them back can get you in trouble and honestly, they are probably much better at abuse than you are! Remember if you grief them back you are violating the SL Terms & Conditions. You risk having your account closed. Resist the urge, just walk away. You can report them, but it’s not an easy process for a newbie. I’d just move along to someplace else. There’s plenty else to do in SL and you can always return later.
Why Block Newbies?
So what does blocking newbies have to do with griefers? The answer to this is that griefing is a prohibited activity in Second Life. When the folks who run Second Life catch a griefer they close their Second Life account. The griefers then open a new account using a different name. A new account instantly makes them a “newbie” again. (It’s not quite that easy, but I don’t want to turn this into a how to manual.)
All this means that the older an avatar is, the less likely they will be involved in griefing. Which means that one method that the clubs and sims in Second Life can use to try to keep out griefers is to ban newbies. It’s not 100% effective, most clubs also have “monitors” who watch for griefers and ban them from the sim as soon as they are identified.
So there is the answer to the question, the club and sim owners don’t dislike newbies at all, every one of them was a newbie once too! They need newbies like you to replace the older users that get bored or lose interest in their sim. When you have a few days, weeks or months of “age” they want you to come back and visit their sim! Please don’t get discouraged. There are plenty of places to explore that allow and encourage newbies.