Home > Socially Mundane > PP #2: The Evil Second Life Freebie

PP #2: The Evil Second Life Freebie

I’ve been thinking about my favorite pet-peeves of Second Life for a while now. No, I don’t mean all the Linden Lab SNAFUs or the Second Life Viewer bugs or the general wonky nature of the Second Life Grid.

I’m referring to those things in-world, usually the cause of which are residents themselves. So I am going to work my way through my top-ten pet-peeves list. But rather than just plop a bullet lists here, I’m hoping to elaborate on each, so you know why it’s a pet-peeve. And that if any apply to you directly, you’ll understand why it’s a pet-peeve and so irritating not only to me, but likely many, many others who come into your presence.

Number two on my list are “evil Second Life freebies”.

Okay, so I need to qualify this because I know most, if not all five of you who read this blog enjoy freebies. And, there are a lot of quality freebies to be had, so I guess I’ll rephrase and state that freebies are not evil.

They’re just really, really bad.

Please indulge me a bit here. I’ll try not to be as verbose and long-winded as I usually am.

First, to get what you think I’m really talking about out of the way so I can get to what I’m really talking about:

There are a lot of awesome, high-quality freebies out there. They are just far and few between which makes the good ones hard to find. The freebie itself is not really evil or bad (except with regard to actually quality and usefulness in the majority of cases.)

What I am writing about is not the freebie itself, but rather the evil nature of what freebies do and the frustrating ripple they have caused throughout the Second Life grid.

Facelight-4Let’s begin with pet-peeve number one: the facelight. At the beginning of that article I point out that the example freebie facelight used is poorly constructed. it uses five of the six local lights your viewer is allowed to (or the system capable of) show. That’s just plain bad design. Did the creator know they were screwing-up everyone within sight of that thing? Probably not, but the ignorance of the majority of Second Life residents has been covered dozens of times already and will be again.

It’s not as much the quality of freebies that matters. Anyone with more than a few weeks of in-world experience knows to throw most of them away almost immediately upon inspection. No, it’s the culture they create. A sometimes nasty, rude, vicious culture.


When Linden lab opened up registrations with “basic accounts,” also ‘freebie’ by the way, they had created the roots for the ‘cheapskate’. Those people who won’t spend a single real life dime on anything.

The freebie thing started with simple good-will. Usually, they are failed first few attempts at building or scripting or something along those lines. We always are proud of our own creations so we don’t want to throw them away.

Even if it’s a serious piece of shit. But if it’s not really good enough to sell, even in our own biased opinion, drop it into a box and set it out as a freebie. Then we can feel good because we are helping the ignorant newbies and generating traffic for ourselves on top of that.

Random PortraitThe first freebies where horrible. But as a newbie we didn’t realize that until we had been in-world for a bit. When I say horrible, though sometimes it was the case, I’m not really referring to the look or appearance of the thing, but rather the construction. High-prim, wasteful resource-use, could use a lot of optimization.

But what this did was to cause a lot of those on basic accounts who absolutely refuse to spend that single dime to go about freebie hunting. Nothing wrong with this. Until they discover that the majority of freebies are a total waste of inventory space and even the time and effort it takes to click the box that gives them.

They want better. But better costs Linden Dollars. But they are accustomed to getting everything free. They don’t want to spend real dollars to get Linden dollars so they can buy the decent stuff. But they deserve the decent stuff. So how to earn Linden dollars without buying Linden dollars or taking the time to learn how to build or script or create anything?

Simple: resell the freebies! Grab a freebie, especially if it’s full perms, then turn around and resell it! Woohoo! This works great! Let’s put a truckload of freebies and drop them into a box and sell it as a pig-in-a-poke! Oh yes!

Wait – let’s sell the pig-in-a-poke of freebies with full permissions and…and… call it a Business in a Box! Yes!

[Note: The examples I am showing in the above links are only example. I do not accuse these people of doing these things. It is strictly conjecture and opinion on my part, even though both products work exactly the same, down to setting the boot age in the description of the prim. —Ari]

So, now when you shop anywhere, you often don’t know if what you are getting was really a freebie at one time or somewhere else. Then there are those who want to go legitimate, so they snarf-up a truckload of the “affiliate” vendors and set-up a shop with fifty of them. So the next time you do a search for anything, you get 30 hits and 29 of them are all the same thing because that location is selling it through an ‘affiliate’ vendor on commission.

Then there are those who find a full permissions version of something because the creator goofed and accidentally let it into the wild long enough for only a few unscrupulous people to get ahold of it and suddenly… these become low-priced illegal version or even freebies themselves.

And yes, there are the hackers and whackers that get involved, too.

It’s made the whole shopping experience like wading through “Mississippi mud.” It’s no wonder why people will find their favorite creators and often just stick with them. because their creations are a known quantity and the quality meets your expectations every time. it’s why word-of-mouth is even far more influential in second Life than it is in the real world.

All of this shopping and cultural muck in large part due to the Second Life freebie.

By cultural I mean this: when you create a high quality freebie and receive complaints about it.

Actual example: a friend creates one of those little shoulder-pets. You attach it and it hovers over your shoulder. It was cute, high-quality build. All it did was sit there flapping its little wings. She sets it out as a freebie.

Random PortraitThen she starts getting complaints — very rude ones — that her freebie doesn’t work. They set it on the ground and walk away and it’s doesn’t follow like other pets do. How dare you give this away when it’s broken?

She reminds them it’s a freebie and was never designed to follow you, but rather to be attached and that if you want one that follows you, there are many in-world to choose from.

“But those cost money, you idiot!”

So the biggest bitch I have about freebies and the evil nature of them is that they create entitlement attitudes.

Which brings me to pet-peeve number three…

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