Geography, environment and economy of Second Life
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 Costs and land ownership
Membership of Second Life falls into one of two categories: "Basic" and "Premium". Basic accounts are free to create and incur no monthly fee. If you wish to have more than one account however, secondary accounts (Alts) incur a one-off fee of US$9.95, which may be paid with a credit card, or a positive PayPal balance.
Basic accounts are subdivided into "verified" and "unverified". A verified account means that the user has submitted a credit card, PayPal account, or telephone number to verify their identity. However, users may create an account without any verification of their identity. This was a highly unpopular move that sparked protests. In response to this, Linden Lab added the ability to prevent unverified users from entering a parcel of land, and introduced an option to the LSL function llRequestAgentData() to return an agent's payment status as one of:
- No Payment Info on File
- Payment Info on File
- No Payment Info on File AND Payment Info Used (Only Beta/Lifetime users fall under this status)
- Payment Info on File AND Payment Info Used
The fears of "open registration" were that it would lead to an influx of minors on the main grid - both opening Linden Lab to potential lawsuits and its users; and allow griefers to quickly and freely create a new account as soon as one account is banned for their misdeeds.
Premium accounts come at a rate of US$9.95 each month, with discounts for paying quarterly or annually -- $22.50, and $72, respectively. The premium accounts come with the privilege of owning 512 square meters of land, known as 'First Land'. This is approximately 1/256 of 1 simulator, or "not much". They also come with a weekly stipend of L$300. The ability to acquire additional amounts of land bring an additional charge, called land tier.
- US$195.00/month: 65,536 square meters - Entire Region
- US$125.00/month: 32,768 square meters - 1/2 Region
- US$75.00/month: 16,384 square meters - 1/4 Region
- US$40.00/month: 8,192 square meters - 1/8 Region
- US$25.00/month: 4,096 square meters - 1/16 Region
- US$15.00/month: 2,048 square meters - 1/32 Region
- US$8.00/month: 1,024 square meters - 1/64 Region
- US$5.00/month: 512 square meters - 1/128 Region
These are the official Linden rates - it is possible to find island owners (see below) who will sell or rent land for lower rates, usually with some restrictions as to its use. It is also possible to get low-cost rented accommodation with no specific land ownership, and to own land without a premium account through a "group" to which the land is deeded. Many users own no land or accommodation at all - it is not required for object ownership, although object creation can be another matter.
Land, once purchased, may be traded between users at market rates. Large contiguous plots of land (or even relatively small plots of land in a busy place) can often sell at a hefty premium. Linden's tier remains the same whatever the selling price.
Each user who joins Second Life gets an unique referral link. Giving this link to people who have yet to sign up, and getting them to do so used to credit the user with a certain amount of Linden Dollars -- the in-world currency. Since late January 2006, only premium account signups will result in a bonus, of L$2500, staggered over a three month period, where you get L$500 on the spot, another L$500 after one month, another L$500 after two months, and the final L$1000 after three months, to prevent gaming of the premium account referral bonus.
Users can buy or sell their Linden Dollars (L$) from within the world using the Lindex money market run by Linden Research. There are also third-party exchange services.
Exchanges can be performed with any number of Linden Dollars. The Lindex calculator will give you an idea of what you'll be receiving as a result of your sale. The amount that you receive as a result of your sale gets placed into your account, where you may have it applied to anything you owe for your account if you are a premium user, or may have it sent to you via PayPal for a US$1 charge. For larger amounts, you may also have a check mailed to you for a fee - US$5 if you're inside the United States, or US$15 for locations outside of the United States.
There are some furs who extract do this with the earnings from their businesses (custom avatar creation, generic avatar vending, etc.), turning it into profit that allows them to do whatever they want to pay for, up to, and including starting their own islands. Historically-speaking, the L$ is a relatively volatile currency prone to bouts of inflation. It can therefore be a good idea to remove any significant sums from the world, unless they are to be spent quickly in-world.
Objects and avatars in Second Life are constructed from geometric primitives known as "prims" which are combined, manipulated and textured with images. A variation on this is the "flexiprim", which allows for more realistic movement of flexible objects like tails and hair.
 Buildings and architecture
The creation of architectural objects, particularly for the hosting of virtual "residences", enclosed meeting places and business establishments also constitute an important part of the economic culture of Second Life. Most are built on virtual "terra firma", although many have been built as floating entities which are either suspended just above virtual ground or are suspended in SL's rendition of space (this includes entire "space stations" which are also counted by Linden Labs as "islands").
A number of artists have used their own buildings as art galleries in which they upload their own artistic works. However, just as with uploading audio or video files for streaming on SL, displayed content can only be uploaded to one's own parcel on Second Life's servers, costing uploaders Linden dollars. In addition, the display of images or streaming video from Second Life's servers tends to result in a slow loading/buffering process.
A sandbox in Second Life is a place in the universe that allows public building of virtual objects. In many areas of Second Life, building of virtual objects is limited outside these sandboxes. They also tend to be gathering places where people can socialize and mentor others as they build. One such sandbox is located in FurNation Worlds.
Many sandboxes have a longer "return rate". In other words, building in the sandbox area is more beneficial for the builder because their items will be returned to them at a less frequent rate than if they were to take it out into other areas of the sim. In some sims it is common that any area outside of the sandbox has a return rate of around 2 minutes.
Sandboxes can often become crowded in the midst of newbies or players that are generally inconsiderate about "picking up after themselves". While it is less of a hindrance than if this were to happen outside of the sandbox area, it can still become rather cumbersome if done to often, too frequently or the landowners simply lack enough staff to prevent this sort of thing. To solve this some sandboxes are set to automatically "clean out" at a set time.
 Age policy
As with most social environments on the Net, there is no way to tell inside the world how old someone really is. The world's Terms of Service state quite clearly you must be over the age of 18 to enter the "main grid" of Second Life. If anyone is found to be under 18 in the main grid, they will be banned from the world and all money and inventory will be forfeit. It is generally assumed that almost all players in the main grid are over the age of 18.
Second Life rates the individual sections of the world as Mature, or PG, with other possible ratings. These ratings help moderate the behavior of people that populate the various sections of the world, as they won't tolerate someone breaking the PG rating by performing a Mature-rated act in a PG-rated zone. The rating system is not in place to keep children out of areas in SL; it is there because many adults don't want to be exposed to adult material during their time in the world or to take a break from it for a time by visiting a PG sim. Luskwood is a prime example of a furry PG sim, safe from displays of sexuality and nudity unlike a mature furry sim like FurNation Worlds.
 Teen Grid
Late in 2005, Second Life created a separate version of its world designed with teens in mind, strictly separating those 18 years of age or greater from those 17 and under. Server-side tracking differentiates teen users from adult users, sending teens to the Teen Grid instead of the main grid. The Teen Grid has different rating policies than the main version; being made for teenagers, none of the regions are rated Mature and nothing may exceed the general PG13 to PG17 rating spans.
- Website: http://teen.secondlife.com/
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Geography, environment and economy