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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Where Is Everybody?

A lot of newcomers who have done a little exploring of SL express surprise and dismay that SL “seems so empty”. Indeed, most regions are empty, or contain only one or two avatars, much of the time.

The reason is simple mathematics. Second Life consists of more than 30,000 regions, or sims (the squares you see on the Map). At any given time, there are maybe 60,000 people in world. That works out to an average of about two avatars per region. But of course, people aren't distributed entirely at random. Groups tend to collect in certain places...sales, events, popular spots. And the end result is that SL has a lot of empty places.

This is not entirely a bad thing. Anyone who's been in a region with 20 or more avatars has seen how a crowd can slow things down. In fact, normal regions have a maximum of 100 avatars (though for practical purposes, about 40 is the limit). If you try to enter a region that already is at its maximum, you'll get a “Region is full, try again later” error message.

But lots of people want to go where there are other people to meet and talk to. How do you find a crowd of people in SL?
  • Use the Map. If you don't know what you want to do, but just want to do it with a lot of other people, this is one way to find crowds. Green dots on the Map represent avatars. Look for clusters of green dots, then teleport to them to see what the excitement's all about. This can result in surprises, both good and bad. Be sure to keep your wits and your manners about you when teleporting blindly into a strange place.
  • Use Search. The Search function can help you find places and events and products that interest you. You can even search for Groups that share your interests.
  • Join Groups. When you find a Group that looks interesting, join it! Groups send out notices or group chat to their members, notifying them of events and happenings. There are Groups for just about everything imaginable in Second Life...private groups, tenant groups, store customer groups, club patron groups, and thousands of special interest groups for everything from accounting to zoology. Many groups are free to join and have “open enrollment”...you can just click the Join button in the group's profile to become a member. In some groups, you must request an invitation. For these, send an IM to the group owner or other person indicated in the group's information. A small number of groups cost money to join. This will be noted in the group's information. You may belong to up to 42 Groups at any one time.
  • Look at Events. You can find ongoing or upcoming Events of all kinds. Events are listed on the SL website, and in the Events tab of Search. In addition, Events are shown on the map by a star symbol.
  • Use the Destination Guide. This is a subset of SL locations chosen by Linden Lab to provide a sort of “cross section” of Second Life. There are categories for shopping, entertainment, help, and others. Since Destination Guide locations are quick and easy to access, they tend to attract larger numbers of visitors.
  • Ask a Friend. Calling up someone on your Friends List can lead to a good time. Perhaps they are doing something fun and you can join them. Or maybe the two of you can come up with an idea of some places to check out.
  • Follow SL blogs. Lots of residents have Second Life related blogs, and many of them are a LOT older and bigger than this one! Tap into the knowledge of these people and find out about great places to see, great fashions, freebies, and much more.
There is always something going on somewhere in SL! All it takes is a little effort to find it.

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