Evolution of the SL Camper

After the Rain

When social areas in Second Life began to discover ways to boost attendance, they recognized that the higher their average traffic rate was, the higher placement their arenas tracked in SL Search.  As SL grew, these business owners realized that this was quickly becoming a mode of survival – if they weren’t on the first page or two of SL Search, they probably wouldn’t get seen at all – regardless of how clever or inventive their establishment was.

SL Merchants came up with a new invention, the “Camper.”  They would create (or buy) devices that avatars would hop on and farm anywhere from 1-3 lindens every thirty minutes or so.  It created perpetual traffic since SL’s traffic counter algorithms were more interested in time than number of avatars.

Some actually used them for more than one purpose.  In a retail store, a “camper” might also be wearing recently released clothing (and have a more attractive title, “model” or something of that nature).

Over time, campers were mostly replaced by a much cheaper solution: bots, but that doesn’t mean those that parked on benches for hours ever left … they just evolved into something else … the Linden Lounger.

The main source of income for these former bench-bots has been for some time to go from club to club in search of paid-contests and linden bombs.  A few years ago, they practically ruined the themed-contests at many LGBT clubs … all they had to do was enter, then plop their alts in one by one during voting to cash out the top prize, whether they were dressed in theme or not.  Savvy business owners retaliated by requiring group membership to enter, a certain amount of time at the club to enter or vote, and were forced to evict people from the contest who weren’t in costume.  Many stopped contests all together.

Don’t get me wrong … the themed contest isn’t extinct, it just hasn’t been worth the hassle for club owners interested in growing their clientele.

As linden bombs began to replace contest boards, these ex-campers found a way to maximize their wins with this new system.  True, attendance had replaced voting … but their new hack was to front-load parties with as many of their alts as their PCs, laptops, and smartphones would allow, stand them in the floor, and come back two hours later to count their earnings.

This has created a conundrum for many establishments:  How do I create exposure/traffic for my club in a way that benefits clientele, and doesn’t alienate them?

First, we have to look at who these loungers are.  In general, they are:

  1. SL residents without an external source of income
  2. Aren’t really interested in the club/party scene
  3. Generally have poor internet connections, and low-end computers
  4. They’re only present to farm lindens for roleplay or to cash-out (there is a higher distribution from emerging countries than occurs in overall SL population)

Top 8 signs that one (or more) of your attendees is a linden lounger:

  1. Generally present for every “funded” party at your establishment
  2. Generally only absent for unfunded parties, or when a higher-payout party is happening at the same time.
  3. Wears the same outfit for weeks or months (sometimes years) on end
  4. They generally dress shabbily, or are less likely to have mesh body or wardrobe components.  More likely to be in system bodies with very cheap clothing.
  5. Enters the venue clumsily, without direction, often bumping into other patrons
  6. Will center themselves close to the stage, or known linden sentry pathway.  These loungers will usually cluster close together in the center of the party area.
  7. Usually won’t dance, tip, or participate in the party in any other way
  8. Will sometimes TP in other avatars who meet the same criteria, sometimes having variations of the same name.

Pros and cons of allowing Linden Loungers to participate in your venue:

  1. The only positive is that they add to your traffic count (and this is the big positive).  While traffic isn’t the main component that drives search results anymore, it still is a psychological enticement for weekend parti-goers who want to attend a “happening” party.  A crowded floor encourages that assumption.
  2. Cons:
    1. They reduce prize earnings for preferred customers,
    2. They tend to hog prime dance-floor space, creating an ugly “newbie” looking clump right in front of your DJ,
    3. They are perceived as rude since they will “click to enter” right onto their preferred “lounging” space, often bumping, landing on, or moving into the personal space of your preferred customers.  This creates a negative perception to your preferred customer who may elect to TP to a club or party without a contest or linden bomb.
    4. They create artificial validation for the “success” of a party since they only attend for the linden bomb.

Whats a reasonable solution?  Getting rid of them altogether is counter-productive to traffic.  I have also seen some of these loungers start to participate minimally to create goodwill (and prevent getting kicked off).  Some are beginning to tip, although this is still minimal.

It can be a symbiotic relationship, but not without active effort.  If you’re a Linden Lounger, you should immediately do the following to disguise your efforts, and to give a little back to the club you’re reaping from:

  1. Spread out.  You’re just as likely to win 10m from the stage as you are right under the DJs crotch.  If you’re going to TP in 5 alts, spread them out, too. Fill out their profiles so that it looks like they actually participate in SL.
  2. Try to fit in to your environment.  Look at what other people are wearing.  Try to emulate that.  Ask people at the club where to buy the items they’re wearing – and spend some of your earnings on 2-3 outfits that you alternate.
  3. Wait until you’ve fully rezzed to enter the club.  It’s just frigging rude when you don’t.
  4. Develop relationships with people in the club.  Make friends.  Pay attention to at least part of the party.  Don’t be such an obvious gold digger.
  5. Tip your DJ, host, and dancers, unless you don’t win anything, of course.  Spend 25-50% of your earnings on this.  It will create the perception that you’re not a nuisance.

For club owners/workers, here’s a few things you can actually do as well:

  1. Make a list of presumed “linden loungers.”  Make it official when you’ve validated this with other club workers.  Share your list around the club. DON’T ban them or call them out, but use it to interact with them during the party.
  2. Remind those that are stalled and slumped over to wake up and dance.  If you know the “main” lounger – make sure that’s who you’re talking to, especially if you’re having to discuss several of his alts.  If they don’t start dancing after three warnings, kick them out.
  3. Ask them nicely to spread out.  The club is for everyone, not just the obvious feeders.
  4. Encourage their evolution and growth.  Some of these people actually can transform to preferred customers, but not in environments that are condescending or uninviting.  Ask them what music they like to listen to.  Invite them to go shopping with you one day.

Did I miss anything?  Let me know your thoughts about “linden loungers” in the comments below, and how this issue should be managed.

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