Avatar Community

Almost two years ago, I received a pitch from Alexander Tigerström. He had discovered me when searching for interesting blogs covering Second Life. asked me to look into discovering his avatar community. Here is his message (June 3, 2008):

My name is Alexander Tigerström and I stumbled upon your blog as I was searching for interesting blogs covering Second Life. I am however writing to you as I am involved with something you might be curious in discovering.

Last fall a group of childhood friends of mine, passionate about immersive online worlds, gave up their jobs to start with a project focusing on virtual worlds.  I have since then joined in and together we’ve built a community strictly for online world avatars, Avatars United ( www.avatarsunited.com ) with a ban on real life content. It basically works as Facebook for virtual alter egos with no real life content at all. Having read your blog you strike me as a seasoned user of Second Life so I’m sure you’ve stumbled upon numerous similar projects. Still, I’d like to think that ours is a little different! 🙂

If you are interested I’d love to tell you more about it.

Best regards,

Alexander Tigerström

PS: If you do check out the community don’t forget to link your profile to your existing blog via RSS.

That way you will allow people within the community to discover it !!!

I did join the community, but not until January 25, 2009. I didn’t spend much time at all on it. There really weren’t that many people using it back then, and no one I had known was using it either. There really wasn’t much you could do with it back then if you didn’t have a network of friends.

The difference now is that most active residents have heard of it and many have tried it out since the lab has purchased the company. This has essentially put the second life community  straight into the platform. Since the community is now there, the tool becomes useful. On its own, it serves no purpose. I am now able to find most people who I know.

Many people are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what Avatars United offers. How will it improve my existing Second Life experience? Many of these people already use other social networking applications such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Plurk. These third-party applications offer the same features, or better and are well-known. I have run into this same problem and have also expressed a desire (like others) that the website does not offer API’s for blog posts and status messages. In turn, we are having to manually cross-post content that primarily lives on our preferred networks.

Avatars United has the benefit that it has exclusive communities for games. Other sites may have groups to which you can become a member of to carry out the same goal. However, it’s hard to find people by those methods. In the first few days of the Avatars United announcement on the Linden blog, I was getting tons of friend requests from people I did not know. Rather than start questioning everyone, I decided to follow the crowd. I ended up sending out unite requests to roughly 4,000 people this past weekend. Technically, I was not sending out random friend requests. I went through everyone alphabetically. I now have roughly 1,700 friends.

Now that I have a large number of friends, I can see status messages about what is going on in environment. I can see pictures, blog posts, and more as they happen. I can contribute to this network by updating my status message. I couldn’t do this within second life in the past, and social networks often had more than just second life updates. Having a “unite” on avatars united separate from “friends” in SL helps reduce clutter in the client, and I suspect it helps with lag as well about the notifications of friends coming and going offline. There is now a difference between friends and acquaintances.

Most of the applications on Avatars United are for EVE online and WOW. Once more of them become available for Second Life, I believe people will start to see the power of this platform. The client-side scripting capabilities of the 2.0 viewer may have a large impact on this as well. I’m waiting to see integration with XStreetSL listings so that each person can list items that they have for sale on their profiles. I would like to see status messages stating when they add new products.

In a sense, the community is there, but waiting for features.

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