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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Groups

What are Second Life groups, why should I join them, and how do they work? I’m glad you asked!

A group in SL can be as few as two people. In actual fact, it can be only ONE real person…with the group “members” being the person’s primary account, and at least one alt. Some groups really ARE that small…people just make them to be placeholders for clever group tags, or to take advantage of the 10% tier bonus that groups receive. Other groups have hundreds of members.

Groups serve many purposes.
  • Clubs and stores have groups that you can join. These are used primarily for advertising. Group members receive notices of club events, new products, and sales. To compensate you for putting up with the advertising, some store groups offer discounts, gifts, and specials for group members.
  • Roleplay areas have groups, to notify the participants of special events, rule changes, and so on. Also, there can be many sub-groups, such as vampire “clans”.
  • There are many special interest groups, for everything from knitting to scripting to philosophy and political debate.
  • Real Life entities such as universities and corporations that have a Second Life presence have groups for their students and employees. 
  • Landlords have groups for their tenants, to let the tenants have land privileges like rezzing objects or changing audio streams.
You can belong to up to 42 groups. After that, you must leave a group (“free up a group slot”) in order to join a new group.

To join a group, first find it…with Search, or by clicking on a group joiner in a club or store and then clicking the link it provides you in Chat. In the Group Info window, you can read about the group’s purpose. You may be able to see some or all of its members, or they may be hidden from non-members. In the main group info window, there is a JOIN button. If it’s active, the group is “open enrollment” and anyone can join. Note that some groups (not many) charge a fee for joining, and that will be noted here.

If the JOIN button is not active, the group is not open enrollment. It may still be possible to join! Note the group owner, and send them and IM or a notecard requesting an invitation.

Some group joiner gadgets make this process simpler…they send you a message that says “You have been invited to join the Kiddees group. Accept/Decline?” If you click Accept, you join the group and it is immediately activated. You’ll see a new group tag appear above your head in your nametag floater.

“It says ‘Apprentice Slut’ over my head! How do I get rid of that?” That’s a “group tag”. Every group has designated “group roles”, and each role can have its own tag. When that group is active, the tag for your role in that group is displayed over your head. You can get rid of the tag by:
  • Leaving the group (kinda drastic, unless you joined by mistake). Open your Contacts window, and look at the Groups tab, or right click your avatar and select Groups. Highlight the offending group and click the LEAVE button.
  • Activate another group. In your Groups window, highlight another group, or “None” and click ACTIVATE.
  • If you have more than one allowed role in the group, you can switch roles (and tags). You’ll see a box for this in the main information window of your group.
  • Ask the group owner to provide you with a different tag.


You must have your group tag active in order to do some things. Group-owned objects may require it before they will let you use them. If you are on group-owned land, you will probably need to wear your group tag in order to rez objects. You’ll need to wear your tag to take advantage of group gifts and specials in stores.

When you are a group member, you can (usually)
  • Receive group notices
  • Participate in group chat (which should really be called “Group IM”, because you don’t have to be physically near the other group members. It’s like a party line.)
…and you might have other powers, such as the ability to eject people from group land. You can see the abilities assigned to each group role in the “roles and abilities” tab.

Some group notices contain attachments. This can be simply a notecard or a landmark, or it might be an actual object. To receive it, click the attachment before you close the group notice by clicking OK.

By default, your groups appear in your Profile.  You can hide some or all of them (for example, you might not want everyone to see your Naughty Groups).  

You might also notice that you are occasionally billed a small amount by Linden Lab, like $L3. This is because groups that maintain a land listing in Search or a Classified ad have to pay for it. If the group owner has made all members responsible for “group liabilities” (the default setting), then everyone in the group contributes to pay these ongoing bills. If you believe the rank and file shouldn’t be paying this, take it up with the group owner. Politely, please…it’s often an oversight on their part.

“Can I make my own group?” You bet! In your Contacts window, click the Groups tab, then click CREATE. You’ll see a new window. Give your new group a name, pay the required $L100 fee, and your group is created. Be sure that at least one other person joins the group within 48 hours (you can use your own alt). Otherwise, the group will be automatically dissolved…and you can’t re-use the name.

Once you have created a group, give some thought to roles and abilities. A group Owner has ALL abilities…except the authority to remove other Owners from the Owner role and from the group. So be very careful about allowing co-owners. You may only want certain people to have some abilities, such as the ability to sell group land, subdivide land, or have eject and ban privileges.

If you decide to dissolve your group, don’t just leave it. An ownerless group has no way to change. Tell all the other members to leave the group, or remove them yourself. Sell all group land. Return all group owned or deeded objects. When you are the last one left, the group will be automatically dissolved after two days.




Here are some groups that a newcomer might find useful!
Caledon Oxbridge University Group - receive notices of upcoming classes on Second Life topics
New Resident Help Network - holler for help with Second Life questions
Fabulously Free in SL - get the word on the latest freebies 
Midnight Mania - find out where the boards are to sign up for Midnight Mania freebies
The Forum Cartel - a chatty gang of helpful people
Phoenix/Firestorm viewer support - live help with these popular third party viewers



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