Friday, October 18, 2013

What I Know About Tails

What I Know About Tails by GraceSWF Wrigglesworth

This blog post is definitely an opinion piece. Everybody is unique (that is what keeps life interesting!) and I recall how difficult things were for me when I first started in Second Life. Over my five years in Second Life (SL) I've learned a lot, but also found that my skill set is such that there are activities and skills I am pretty sure I’ll never develop or grow into. For example,
  • I am not a builder (builders make things for the virtual SL world – think of them as designers),
  • have a very small memory bank (you may need to remind me), and
  • open water swimming frustrates this mermaid (I’m dyslexic and find I can swim in circles easily but following someone or heading somewhere)
I handle these dis-abilities by coping with various strategies. The point is that you can learn a lot about yourself in your SL time. It’s fun and invigorating for me. So my opinions and approaches often come with a bias towards doing things in ways that work for me. I do not claim to be the expert – am just trying to help. I thought that perhaps you would have interest in hearing my basic level understanding of how mermaid/man tails work and some of the options available. You can get along well without being a geek or expert computer programmer! Here are my thoughts on mermaid/merman tails in Second Life.

1. What we think of as a “tail” is actually an outfit that you put on the avatar you have. You can keep your same shape and face, put on the mer clothing, wear an AO and magic – you are a mermaid/man!

2. Becoming a mermaid/merman is reversible! If you’d like to change back into human form or some other species – just take off the mermaid attire and put on clothes from another inventory folder.

3. Appreciate Diversity! As you meet and become friends with other merfolk – you will see the great variety of tails available now. Just visit an inworld mer mall or go to and search under key word “mermaid” and you will be amazed at the diversity available. Yes, most of the drop dead gorgeous tails you may see in world cost money (lindens are the SL currency) but there are a LOT of free tails out there now.

4. Discover the world of free tails: Many of the designers have put out free tails to encourage people to try out the mermaid option, and to encourage you to visit their store of course. Consider going to Safe Water Foundations resource center – look at the ad boards and go visit a few of the designers’ stores. Safe Waters Headquarters’ location also has a few free tails in the gift pools. Look around and you are almost always going to find a free tail. Once you get the tail – you can wear any part of it.

5. Mix and match tails: It is so much fun to wear different parts of mer tails together or to add some human attire to your mer tail. Shirts, belts, jewelry, and weapons can all be added. You end up with a truly unique look! I started SL without much money and still try to be very frugal with my lindens. I have over the years put together multiple outfits that I feel fit my personality. Hair can give you that unique look too. As I type this, there is a radio ad running that has this people proclaiming “MIX AND MATCH! MIX AND MATCH!!”  It is exciting when you discover all the possibilities using this mix and match approach. It takes some time, but if you are conservative with your linden spending, this can be a great option!

6. Learn how to edit your attire – you want things to fit and look like they belong together on your avatar. Many of the vendors have free stands (it is so hard to edit a mermaid as she bounces in the water!) and stand on it when you are editing. I edit either by right clicking on myself and choosing “edit appearance” in the circle that pops up OR by right clicking on the item that needs to be fitted, choosing edit and then play around with moving it or stretching it (assuming the item is modifiable). Always keep a back up of an item before you edit however – nothing sadder than editing a favorite tail you purchased, really messing up the balance and flow and then finding out you didn't make a back-up. Most designers will ask you to purchase another one – so don’t count on them replacing something you have destroyed.

7. Explore all the free stuff. Mermaids and merman can mix and match with all creature’s attire. Read more here.

8. Some tails come with an Animation Override (AO) and some come without. You need to wear an AO if you want to swim like a mermaid. I think everyone experiences the disaster of first putting on a mer tail and then walking like a human with this odd tail fin flopping about . It can be very frustrating and it isn't obvious how to resolve the issue when it happens. What you need to do is find an AO and wear it.

9. The AO can be in any mermaid outfit folder in your inventory. If you don’t have an AO in your inventory, then you need to find one. I suggest finding a free one and later do some research to purchase a more advanced AO. There is a price range for AO’s. Generally the free ones are basic but give you a taste of swimming in the SL waters. As you advance in your abilities you may want to purchase a commercial AO. If you purchase a good AO, the strategy is to wear it with any tail outfit you've put together. They don’t have to be in the same folder. There are a range of prices for AO’s – it really depends on your preferences or style in the way you want to move about.  I chose my AO by watching other merfolk, and when I saw one swimming the way I’d like to – I asked them what AO they were wearing and where they got it. Most will pass you a landmark to the store or you can do an SL search to find the retailer they recommend. You will find that most merfolk are quite helpful and used to getting this request.

10. Options! There are a lot of items which may come with the mer tail or that you can purchase and integrate into your favorite outfit. I've purchased some mer tails just to get the belt that comes with it for instance. There also are some high tech options you can find – not my area of expertise but I've added the ability for people to touch my tail and get text responses automatically and I’m currently learning how to use a “swim aid” which allows a merman/maid to swim at the surface of the waters or different depths.

You may want to explore Selby Evan’s blog, Virtual Outworlding, to get a lot more very accurate and current information on exploring the virtual world! I also suggest you explore another blog aimed at mermaids specifically: Cynthia Mermaid. Reading past blogs is really fun for people passionate about mermaids – from real life to digital mermaids!

Please come back to our Digital Mermaid blog for more information and ideas. Our goal is to get something out several times each month. If you have some ideas or questions that we could address here, please email May your digital mermaid experiences be awe inspiring!

Author: GraceSWF Wrigglesworth, SWF Founder and CEO

Second Life, Linden, SLurl, and SL are trademarks of Linden Research Inc.
This blog is not affiliated with Second Life or anything else.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

SL Communication

SL Communication by GraceSWF Wrigglesworth

Let me remind you of our context – the audience and environment intended for this blog post. You are a fairly new user or brand new user to Second Life ( – shorthand is often just SL) and have “taken the plunge” to try out being a SL mermaid or merman. If you haven’t “taken the plunge” yet, please go back and read the past blog posts – they should be very helpful. There is also general help (not aimed at mermaids specifically but for all SL users) on the web. Because there is so much to learn about getting around in SL, these general sites can be very helpful. Check out Virtual Outworlding Blog and Second Life Support – both are easy to navigate and have great content. If you’ve already had a lot of experience in SL but are discovering or renewing your underwater part of it – you may find some of this post to be oversimplified or even redundant. Please scan the contents of this posting to find the content that is helpful to you.

Communication is such a delicate and complex task in any environment, and I wanted to share my perspectives on how to communicate and avoid some of the barriers that prevent effective communication. I’m sharing my opinions and suggestions; there is a much deeper description of communication in SL at Communication Overview.

If you take anything out of this posting, there are two things that I really want you to know and remember. First, it is quite normal to have SL chat has gaps, lag or silent times. That is, when in an Instant Message (IM), many people carry on multiple conversations or may need to step away from the computer for a time (afk = away from keyboard). It happens, so there can be good rewards for being patient and watching for the return message within the IM conversation. Its an acquired skill, but I know that I often talk this way and return back to an IM window, even if the gap has been fifteen minutes or more. Especially if someone is trying to help you, realize that there may be short “gaps “ in the conversation but it still very much alive and continuing. Yes, sometimes the person forgot about the conversation and fallen asleep, so you’ll need to decide yourself how long you are willing to wait for someone to continue there part of a communication. My rule is roughly 15 minutes, and if they haven’t responded, I type in the IM that I had to go and hope we could talk another time.  That’s my general rule, if I know the person well, I have a sense for how often they typically do this “gap” type of communication. If you are looking for instant results and keep typing rapidly while waiting for them to respond, you may be viewed as an impatient newb and limit how helpful the other person will continue to be. So my number one rule in SL is to expect some gaps in SL conversations and deal with it.

The second thing I’d like you to take away from this post is to never jump to conclusions. If you are offended by something said to you, ask some questions to find out what the person meant. If they are trying to be rude and disruptive – there are ways to report such problems to the SL administrators (complete an abuse report). Click here for more information. But many times I have found that there are either cultural differences, or the message has been misunderstood. What you are hearing and reacting is not related to the message they were trying to send to you. Maybe they stated things unclearly. Clarify, clarify, clarify! Ask for more information by asking questions like “why do you say that?” or “I am not sure I understand you, can you explain (specific topic) to me more?” You may also be talking with someone from another country that doesn’t quite understand your language.

I’ve found many fights in SL are started because of a misinterpretation. In SL communication is so instantaneous and can travel to multiple people with very little effort (The appropriate idiom is “spread like wildfire”). A disagreement can quickly become complicated and when that happens, it is very hard to get back to the simple good conversation you that started initially. Proceed with caution if you feel your emotions getting involved – that is my second rule of SL communication. Prevention is the way to go – use all your communication skills.

Some other good things to read about if you want to become a good communicator in SL are: 
4. Seek first to understand, then be understood:
5. Miscommunication happens all the time; use damage control:

This post has been written about things that apply to all users in virtual worlds – but definitely applies to mermaids. We are rare creatures and for the most part are known for being gentle, well-behaved, and good communicators. Join in the fun and keep our reputation strong. You may want to explore Selby Evan’s blog, Virtual Outworlding to get a lot more very accurate and current information on exploring the virtual world!

Please come back to our Digital Mermaid blog for more information and ideas. Our goal is to get something out several times each month.  If you have some ideas or questions that we could address here, please email Best wishes on becoming a mermaid in the virtual world!

Author: GraceSWF Wrigglesworth, SWF Founder and CEO

Second Life, Linden, SLurl, and SL are trademarks of Linden Research Inc. 
This blog is not affiliated with Second Life or anything else.