The Tao of SL Volunteers – in Words and Video

by Alphaville Herald on 08/10/07 at 8:48 am

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

Fat avatars with spikey green hair, red lipstick, and Linux t-shirts look like trouble

Sunday, I visited Mia Linden’s office hour to try to learn what policies – if any – cover removal of Second Life citizens from the “Second Life Mentors” group. The Mentors act as volunteer labor for Linden Lab, helping explain some of the fine points of the metaverse to new players. This presumably cuts support costs for the Lab, and it is no surprise that game gods such as Mia frequently sport “I <3 volunteers” tags. Good free labor must be hard to find.

Unfortunately, Mia Linden couldn’t provide any guidance for the potential ejection of volunteers from the Mentors group – I was directed to ask support about policy. This suggests players running basic accounts may have some trouble learning about policy, since the Lab’s support is severely limited for players running freebie accounts. But we all appreciate a good game of catch-22.

On the other hand, there ARE guidelines for the volunteers – and yet another hyper-kinetic-twirling-camera-Torley-Linden-soundtrack video to watch in addition to some written advice. I’m starting to think that the signature twirling camera pans of this genre are simply a way to disguise the low frame rates for Second Life itself – but we’ll leave that for the machinima studies people to ponder.

As best I can determine, other volunteers cannot remove a fellow mentor from the group – only the Lindens decide who can and cannot be a volunteer. If any game gods are displeased by someone’s actions – even actions outside the game – a volunteer can be quietly removed, and the Lab need never discuss this action. Instead it is implied that the former mentor must have been griefing or guilty of some other virtual crime.

One might imagine this breeds a certain mindset into the mentors, as Linden game god controlled natural selection takes it course and vocal critics of Lab actions are removed. The only problem for the Lab is a platoon of yes-men trying to retain their mentor positions may not be the best way to help residents or the metaverse at large. But is there really much cost to the Lab if they alienate some of their most invested customers? There is always someone else to volunteer, right?


-Vision and Mission-

Our vision is to lay the best foundation for volunteerism in Second Life by offering knowledge, assistance, and encouragement to residents in need. We believe volunteering in any world has the potential to enhance our character while reaching out to those who need us. Our mission is to reach that potential through our individual triumphs as well as team cooperation.

-Volunteer Behavior and Attitude-

Set The Standard

Each Volunteer has the opportunity to create an unforgettable first impression of Second Life for new residents while also helping more seasoned residents with quality assistance. We do it because we want to. We do it because we enjoy it. We do it with a smile. That is how we want such unforgettable moments to be remembered.

Our personal conduct and style sets the standard:

-We will maintain civility when faced with controversy.
-We will be as empathetic and helpful as we can be in difficult situations.
-We will give respect to those we help, despite knowing it may not always be returned.
-We will seek and emphasize the positive in a situation.
-We will work as a team and help each other solve problems.
-We will be reliable, committed, and trustworthy.
-We will participate and share our ideas to improve Second Life.
-We will keep a sense of humor and volunteer when we know we are in good spirits!
-We will keep this labor of love fun!

-Volunteer Goals-

Promote and Grow

As Second Life continues to grow as a global platform we have the ability and responsibility to increase our Volunteer team’s strength and numbers. We should actively speak about what we do and why we do it. While volunteering we should always be open to learning new solutions as well as teaching what we know. We hope to create an open, collaborative win-win situation, one resident at a time.

12 Responses to “The Tao of SL Volunteers – in Words and Video”

  1. Uccello Poultry

    Oct 8th, 2007

    Your article implies that you had a problem with a Mentor. If so, i’m very sorry to hear that. Every Mentor I have talked to has been fabulous. Perhaps if you file an Abuse Report (with documentation, of course) that would get you somewhere.

  2. Greefin Oh

    Oct 8th, 2007

    Wow.. that was the worse looking griefer I’ve ever seen in my SL. Griefers who look like that get laughed right off the grid.

  3. neon

    Oct 8th, 2007

    recently mentors were asked daily in group notices (for two weeks, my gawd the spam!) if they had not taken the mandatory orientation session and had been invited into the group after july 17th to please do so within 2 weeks as october 2nd would be the cut off date. group notices were also sent out to those mentors before they were removed with a notecard explaining how to be allowed back in; it was up to the active, participating mentor to read the notecard. it’s also been said what you do on your own time is your business as long as your mentor tag is not activated when you are doing what you are doing. it’s pretty clearly stated at the volunteer portal.

  4. DaveOner

    Oct 8th, 2007

    What kind of journalist does less actual research than some random guy posting in the comments?? SLH journalists, that’s who!

    If you’re going to go into Prokofian conspiracy theories at least do some snooping first! Don’t write the article if you have to say “As best I can determine…”, “it is implied…” or “One might imagine…” to connect your baseless conclusions! Find a small factoid and assert that this means what you are saying is true!

    I would think you of all people would know the formula!

  5. Cocoanut Koala

    Oct 8th, 2007

    I like the directive to stay respectful even if respect isn’t returned.

    But the principle of “seek and find the positive” in any situation is rather childish.

    In many situations, finding something to be vocally positive about is decidedly unhelpful. It can be perceived as indicating a lack of empathy or a Pollyannaish attitude, as being silly, and as not taking people and their problems seriously.


  6. Cicero

    Oct 8th, 2007

    All very well.

    Except the ex-mentor in question had booked into one of the ‘mandatory orientation sessions’ as requested in the relentless spamming of the group. And attended the meeting they had booked into.
    While they may not be a public fan of the Linden’s policies in many cases, they are definitely not a griefer, neither have they abused the Mentor tag in any way.

    It just looks like yet another example of the Linden’s aggressive stiffeling of any form of dissent within SL.

    Curiously, the Lindens can’t seem to understand that mentoring is something people do in order to help others. A Mentor’s views concerning Linden policy have no effect on this. Indeed, most residents in need of mentoring know so little of the ins and outs of Linden Lab and Second Life that they have no interest in, or understanding of, the ever changing complexities of Linden policies. Raising such issues, if one had an axe to grind, would be an exercise in futility.

    So, the utterly pointless loss of a willing volunteer – simply to satisfy Linden Lab control freakery.

  7. David Brinkley Jr.

    Oct 8th, 2007

    DaveOner – you mean JUNIOR Journalists, Dave.

  8. neon

    Oct 8th, 2007

    so let me get this straight.. instead of talking to a linden who runs the volunteer program, the volunteer in question (i’m glad we now know we’re talking about some hurt individual) they went to the herald to talk to a linden to write an article? right the story isn’t getting much better no offense

  9. Second Lulz Vigilante

    Oct 8th, 2007

    @Greefin Oh

    A lot of griefers try to look as ugly as possible. It’s almost a point of pride with a lot of them. I’ve seen uglier than the griefer in that video. So for real, they don’t get laughed off the grid.

  10. Cicero

    Oct 9th, 2007

    Email and IM to ‘V-Team’ Lindens were and remain unanswered. Can you recommend a method of communicating with the V-Team Lindens that works when the ex-Mentor no longer has access to the Mentor Group?

  11. lulzedtosleep

    Oct 9th, 2007

    Whine whine whine, assume assume assume.

    Classic Herald.

    @Coconut, finding the positive, whether it comes from Linden Lab or anywhere else, is anything but childish.

  12. Cocoanut Koala

    Oct 9th, 2007

    Finding the positive is fine. But not when it comes as a directive, to be checked off in sort of a checklist.

    There are bad things that happen in SL, and tops on my priority list is not having some Linden or volunteer focusing on making jokes or coming up with some lame positive.

    I mean, I GET it. I just think that kind of thinking ends up pissing off more people than it helps. “Blowing sunshine up my ass” is one phrase for it.


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