Back in the day, on my first avatar, I was a Second Life Mentor. I would often spend time on what was then a private island where newcomers where would land. These islands could only be accessed by newbies, Second Life Mentors, and Lindens. It made the entrance into Second Life a non-threatening experience for newcomers, free from griefers, spammers, and general idiots that might harass them. As a mentor, I also had the ability to ask for help in the Second Life Mentor channel when I was too outnumbered by newbies, and others would come to help.
Then, a couple years ago, that all changed. Linden Lab disbanded the Second Life Mentors group, and newbies began to rez into Second Life on publicly accessible land. What's worse, they are even dumped into locations like Waterhead and Ahern when the Help Island Public sims are full.
What's Ahern? What's Waterhead? Welcome Areas. What's wrong with them? They're in inhabited largely by people with zero interest in helping newcomers- and would rather spend their time making fun of them. This, of course, is when they're not busy acting like foul mouthed 12 year olds in local chat or screaming at each other in voice.
When I was on a Help Island Public last night, I had Tweeted what sad shape it was in. Within minutes, Wizard Gynoid landed after seeing my Tweet. Her response?
[00:49] Wizard Gynoid: this is a lot like the ahern sim.
[00:50] Theia Magic: I know :(
[00:50] Wizard Gynoid: people hassling noobs
The truth is, Help Island Public isn't any better than Welcome Areas these days. These are PG regions, where it's not at all uncommon to land in the middle of scantily dressed chics and a lot of foul language in local chat. I've seen wannabe content creators standing near the landing zones, spamming their group tags to every newbie that rezzes in. I've seen particle griefing, and last night was I even griefed by a blue drop down box spewing obscenities. I've seen newcomer after newcomer laughed at and berated when asking for help, and I'm quite certain more than a few decided that Second Life wasn't for them because of it and never logged in again.
Did I mention this also where Linden Lab finds it acceptable for the Teens to log into Second Life?
Something desperately needs to be done about the way newcomers are introduced to the Second Life experience. Had I landed in Help Island Hell as it is today five years ago when I joined Second Life, I can honestly say I'd have said "screw this" and never logged in again. The Second Life Mentors may not have been perfect, but at least they tried to help newcomers in safe areas that the general public couldn't access.
I'm going to make the same challenge others have in recent weeks- go to Help Island Public and help a newbie. While you're there, take note of the chaos newcomers are being dumped into and then make it known. If Linden Lab wants to draw more people into Second Life, let alone make it a safe place for teenagers, then they have A LOT of work to do.