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Things You Must Know Before Exploring SL

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There are lots of interesting places to visit and things to do in Second Life (SL). Just about any interest in real life can be found there. The search button can help you locate just about any topic for a group you might like to join, location to visit, or person.

Before you leave the University of Delaware's island, or any of the other educational islands, it is important to understand the rules that apply to your behavior in SL in general (read UD's policy), and the rules set by the individual sim that you are visiting.

Types of Sims and The Rating Systems
Once your SL software is open, look at your menu bar. Along with the text menu items you will see some icons. These icons will change depending on the type of sim you are in. The icons will tell you if flying has been disable, if you can build, or run scripts, if voice is enabled, if weapons are allowed, etc. If you hover your mouse over the icons, text will appear to tell you their meaning.

Following the icons, you will see the name of the sim and its rating. There are a few ratings here to be aware of. Many sims are rated for general use, some are rated mature. In mature sims you can expect to see explicit materials like very detailed skins, and sometimes the mature rating is X rated because it may include X rated activity.

Notecards and Codes of Conduct
Many sims have official entry points where incoming avatars are forced to land. Often a blue Dialog box will appear on your screen and you will be offered a notecard. You must accept or decline the card before it clears your screen.

If you have never visited the sim, or are unsure about it, accept and read the card before proceeding any further in to the sim. This card will include information about your behavior in that sim. This is extremely important especially if visiting a role play sim.

Griefer and Griefing
This is what someone is called when they intentionally cause a disturbance. It can be as simple and annoying as someone constantly bumping into you, or showing off their newly purchased personal "stuff," to something more troubling like insulting or derogatory language, putting you in a cage, blasting or stabbing you to death (not permanently) or they may even try to bring down a sim or SL altogether.

Often when you are a Noobie, you spend a lot of time bumping into and landing on people as you learn to move about in SL. Noobies can often be mistaken for a greifer. It is good form to offer an "excuse me" when this happens as it can easily clear up the situation. A common practice that Oldbies use when someone keeps banging into them is to take a look a the offending person's profile to to check the birth date. If that person is new, they are often given a break and not reported, unless it is clear that they are griefing no matter how old they are.

Griefers tend to like to harass Noobies. Since the SL world is so new to them, newbies are not aware of what is acceptable, or how to report a serious griefing. The best course of action is to ignore them, move to another location, or TP away altogether. If you get put in a cage, don't panic. TP anywhere or just tp home or use control, shift H, (on a Mac that is command, shift H). If you do not have a home you will be sent to the nearest telehub. It is a good idea to set somewhere as home so you will have some idea of where you are going in cases like this.
Check the "What To Do About A Griefer" page for how to report a griefer.

Not reading a notecard and not abiding the rules contained within it, could potently cause your behavior to be interrupted as griefing.

Weapons and Role Play

Role Play
Some role play sims have no problem with causal visitors and ask only that you respect the people who are in character. Others do not like random visitors, and may in addition to the notecard have a greeter there to advise you. Still others may see you as fair game, and you could be shot at, taken captive, or killed without any warning. Except of course, for the information on the notecard that you may not have read.
Their actions would not be considered griefing.

There are a number of sims that are combat enabled, where weaponry is allowed and encouraged.
Also combative behavior and language that would be considered griefing elsewhere is expected in these areas.

There are also a few Sandboxes, where you are allowed to build and test weapons.

If your avatar wears a weapon as part of its persona, most sims will want you to keep them holstered at all times. Some will not allow them at all, and you should take them off.

Noncompliance with the rules on notecards, or posted signs can get you banned from a sim or SL altogether.