Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Eight Years of the Second Life Newser

It was eight years ago that Second Life's best newsletter at the time came to a close, and a new one started. JamesT Juno had started the SL Newspaper three and a half years ago, turning it into a respectable blog, and under Dana Vanmoer as editor it blossomed into a true online newspaper. But events in their real lives became to big to ignore, and Dana made the decision to close the Second Life Newspaper. Four of the reporters, Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Shelly Sands, and myself, made a decision of our own, to start a new paper: the Second Life Newser. And as Dana wrote the Newspaper's final message, the Newser posted it's first article on Saturday June 5, 2010.

Our first few days, we were more than a little scared and uncertain. Were we up to the task? But it wasn't long before there was serious news to report on, with Linden Lab laying off nearly a third of their staff. Soon after, CEO at the time whom was disliked by many of the residents stepped down, leading to some impromptu celebrations, and Philip Rosedale would step up as interum CEO for several months. Then "Emeraldgate" hit the most popular third-party viewer at the time, followed soon by it's development team splitting in two, some founding Team Phoenix, which would develop what would become the most popular viewer while a few of team Emerald were banned from the Grid. Then Linden Lab made the decision to close the Teen Grid and merge the older teens with the rest of the population while the younger ones were left out in the cold and some older residents feared this would lead to widespread censoring and possibly legal troubles. Early 2011 would bring in still more big news, such as Linden Lab's new CEO, and the Redzone controversy in which the alt-detector raised privacy fears and was finally taken down and it's creator banned when it was revealed he was on probation for a criminal offense and shouldn't have been online.

In our first few days, our readership was tiny as most of James and Dana's audience had moved on. But as time went on and we proved ourselves up to the task, people began reading. We soon had our own office, courtesy of the Sunweaver/Angel community. And we soon had our first cash sponsor, the Podex Exchange, followed soon by the Steelhead community. And of course we had the praise of residents who saw in us an alternative to tabloids that concentrated on drama and "SLebreties," and fashion blogs that while highly useful to those looking for the latest outfits were of little to no use when looking for news about events, locations, and noted people. We like to show you where you can get a great deal or a very well crafted outfit, when we can. But there's a lot more news going on that affects your Second Life.

Over time, we've continued our mission, to report the news on the people, places, and events across the Grid, big and small. These have ranged from charities, such as the Relay for Life, various builds and builders, art exhibitions and artwork, various events such as the Second Life Birthday, various locations, games such as combat sims, and much more. While we have occasionally taken a look at the adult side of Second Life, most of our articles are about other subjects.

The bulk of what we have shown is how Second Life can be an enjoyable and beneficial place for it's residents. We've show many picturesque and well designed places from replicas of historic places, art displays, natural scenery, and more. We've shown many communities and groups from roleplay groups, both fantasy and sci-fi, to discussions, or just simply having fun at a club. But there's more here than just recreation. There are science discussions for adult education, memorials and memorial events to honor those who passed away, and charity events that raise many thousands for various causes to help people. While the Relay for Life is the largest one, there are many others such as Homes For Our Troops and Team Diabetes. And of course we try to be entertaining as well, showing music videos various performers have done, as well as our screenshot cartoons.

But like real-life publications, not everything is good news. Occasionally, we do report on controversy, such as Redzone, Voodoo, and more recently when someone tricked supporters of a diabetes charity into giving money to them. On occasion, Linden Lab has been the source of controversy, such as the Content Creator mess when a poorly worded change in the Terms of Service led to fears the Lab reserved the right to claim and sell the works of builders. The Newser has had neither the desire or the need to stir up unnecessary controversy or sensationalism. Eventually, real trouble shows up on it's own.

As the creators and owners of Second Life, Linden Lab is the source of much of our news. There's certainly no argument that they've done a great and fantastic theme in making our virtual world possible. But being human, they sometimes make mistakes. And there have been times in which the residents couldn't help but wonder about their intentions. As an independent publication, we'll hold them in account when making a questionable move. But it is also our goal to report when they do something right. And the individual Lindens we've talked to over the years have been friendly people who are happy to interact with the residents.

As we've gone on in time, sadly we've had to say goodbye to some people and places. Shelie Sands, noted for her poetry and articles on the then popular Ozimal bunnies, and Grey Lupindo, noted for her exploration articles on many great places, eventually had to depart the Newser. Podex would be our sponsor for many years, and the subject of a number of amusing adverts, until changes in Linden Lab's Terms of Service for Second Life meant it could no longer do business here. And we've had the sad task of reporting on the end of some good places and the departures, and worse - the deaths, of some good people. But as time has gone on, the Newser has welcomed in new talent such as Klaus Bereznyak and Deaflegacy. We've gotten new sponsors, Farshore Radio, Lorena Chung, Montecito Bay, and recently the Confederation of Democratic Simulators. We've had the pleasure on reporting on some great new places and talented new residents whom have appeared in Second Life over time. And over time, our readership has grown, one month this year getting fifty thousand reads.

So after eight years, where do we go from here? The time in which we started was one in which Second Life's glory days as the darling of the tech media had come to an end, and it's future was in doubt. Since then, the demise of the virtual world has been predicted time and time again. But thanks in part to the devotion of it's residents, it has endured. It's safe to say unless there's some calamity such as an economic depression or a shutdown of the Internet, Second Life will be around for years to come. And us? As long as we're able to, we'll keep on writing about the people, places, and events of this virtual world that has continued to be a source of wonder.

Special thanks to our sponsors, Farshore Radio, Lorena Chung, Montecito Bay, and the Confederation of Democratic Simulators, to the Sunweaver community that have given us a home for all these years, to Linden Lab which brought forth this virtual world to begin with, to JamesT Juno and Dana Vanmoer for showing us how a virtual newsletter is done, and of course to you the readers without whom the Newser would never have gotten off the ground.

Bixyl Shuftan
Editor, Second Life Newser


  1. Thank you very much. Your work is greatly appreciated by many :)

  2. You've done a fabulous job Bixyl I'm so glad you kept going and I still love to read what's going on even if I no longer visit. Dana Vanmoer