On Organising a Second Life Event


What follows is not intended to be a howto guide. Neither is it intended to suggest that I have any special insight or any special experience. I write this mostly because a) I've been meaning to write this for my own benefit for some time and b) I wish I'd found something like this when I first got involved in organising a Second Life event.

First a little background, in case you don't know me (which seems unlikely if you're reading this blog but, just in case...). I'm one half of the team behind Z&A Productions. As such, over the past year and a half, I've been involved in promoting our work. For over a year of that time we've also taken part in many grid-wide hunts (as vendors) and have seen many different approaches to hunts. Also, in that time, we've been invited to and have taken part in a number of events that either seek to raise money for charities, or which simply aim to promote a community or sim.

And, of course, I was also part of the team that produced The Femdom Hunt.

What follows are my thoughts and experiences based on all of the above. What follows is what I've personally learnt about running an event where you expect the support of third parties.

Contact People Early

"Early" is hard to define and will, without question, depend on the nature of your event, but I'd suggest that the most important thing you can do is contact people as early as you possibly can. As soon as you have a concrete date for your event, get in contact with the people you'd like involved. There's a good chance that they're busy most of the time, both in SL and RL, so the sooner they know of the dates, the sooner they can put you in their calendar, the better.

Contact People Often

In my experience this one is vital. As a builder and vendor nothing is more frustrating than agreeing to take part in someone's event, or applying to be part of someone's hunt, and then have them go quiet. If the event is large it might be a good idea to create a group for it and ask all those involved to join it (now that the group limit is much higher there's less of a reason for this to be an issue).

Whatever system you use to keep in contact, use it often. Of course, you need to keep a balance between not enough and appearing to be annoying and spammy. I'd say that a good rule of thumb would be that you contact people whenever something important happens, when an important milestone is reached, when important dates happen (for example, you might want to give a weekly countdown and then, in the last week, count down the last few days) and when frequent requests for information come in such that it makes sense to let everyone know the answer.

If the people you want involved don't hear from you for a couple of weeks it's going to look like you've lost interest or you're not very well organised.

Be clear about what you want

Whatever the nature of your event, you're the one with the big idea, you're the one who sees the big picture. Be sure that you let everyone know what it is you expect from them. From personal experience there's nothing more frustrating than being told "do whatever you want". Zardia and I already do whatever we want: we build stuff that takes our fancy and we put it on sale in our shop. That's what we do, that's whatever we want. When we take part in someone else's event it's generally because we want to show our support, but we need to know the plan.

Of course, mostly, you don't want to appear to dictate to people what they should do. But if your event has a theme, be clear about it and the type of input you're looking for. If, for example, you're looking for people to make fresh builds for your event, tell them clearly the sort of build you're looking for (tell them that it must be on theme, tell them what the theme is, tell them how happy you are for them to deviate from the theme, etc...).

From a more practical point of view, if your event is a location-based showcase, tell them early on what the constraints are. Space and prims are finite in SL so there's a very good chance that your event will have very clear limits. Tell people how much space they have (ideally, make an object available that illustrates the space they'll have to work in). Tell people how many prims they have to play with. Tell them early exactly what their constraints are so they can be sure they're producing the right thing.

Tell people exactly what to do

Zardia and I thought and debated about this one a lot when we put together The Femdom Hunt. The issue was, exactly what level of detail should we put into any documents we sent out or wrote on the blog. The initial feeling was that, if we included too much detail, people might think we thought they were idiots. In the end we decided we were wrong. People generally appreciate too much information when it comes to SL events, we found. And, when we think about our own experiences, taking part in hunts, this makes sense.

In SL we often work with and interact with people in very different timezones than our own. This means that a lot of information exchange can be very disjointed. We have to rely on offline IMs (which can be killed by capping) or notecards (which can and do go missing) or trying to catch each other on at the same time (and when we're online we're often busy with something). As such I'd suggest that the more detail you include the better.

A case in point: hunts often kick off at midnight. It's as good a time as any to start a hunt. You'd think it would be obvious to all what you mean when you say a hunt starts at "midnight on the 15th". Turns out, that's not actually the case. We watched at least one hunt have a very chaotic start because what was commonly held to be "midnight on the 15th" (most people, myself included, take that to mean midnight at the start of the 15th) wasn't what the organisers had in mind. Things got worse when the organisers started getting visibly annoyed with the hunters, and even some vendors, because they didn't share the same view.

So, as simple and as obvious as it might seem to you (no matter when you think midnight is), it doesn't hurt to explain exactly what you mean when you say midnight. Be explicit. Say "midnight at the start of the 15th", or the equivalent for whatever item of information it is you're trying to convey. Remember, you'll be talking to people from many different cultures and many different backgrounds, their assumptions won't always match yours if an assumption has to be made.

Simply put: don't force people to make assumptions, don't put them in a position where they either have to guess or have to try and get hold of you, give them everything they need to know.

Be clear about when you want things done

This might seem obvious but it's vital. If you have a clear timetable, make it known to people as soon as possible. Have it readily available in any communication you create. If you're using a website or blog (see below), make it easy to find on there. If you send out regular notecards, always have it in there. If you have a group for the event (see above), include the timetable in the group description (not all people will read the latter, but those who do will appreciate the effort).

Use a blog or website

If your event is big enough to warrant it (this is almost always the case for hunts, for example), create a blog or a website for it. Two obvious services to look at using are Google's Blogger and Google Sites. Other facilities exist, of course, but I've personally used both of them to great effect.

Grab yourself one of those and update it often. It's also a great place to include the "static" information about your event (see above about providing general information and a calendar of events).

Also consider using something like Google Docs. For The Femdom Hunt I used Google Docs to maintain the location list and this proved very popular. It also meant I could update the status of locations very quickly and the change flowed through to the blog instantly.

Use a service like bit.ly

If you are using a blog or website you're obviously going to be sharing those URLs with lots of people, inside SL. The problem with that is, in most cases, the URLs are going to be long and unwieldy. Personally I'd recommend using a service like bly.ly to make short URLs. They better fit in group notices and in group chat, for example. The really nice thing about bly.ly is that, if you create an account (it's free) you can customise the URL. This means you're able to make URLs like bit.ly/FemdomHunt or bit.ly/TFHLocations.


That's it, for now. I doubt there's anything that surprising here, but having dealt with a lot of this for the past year or so now, and having learnt as I went along, I felt the urge to get this down in writing. Doubtless I'll expand on it at some point.

If you have an ideas for things to add to this, please do feel free to add them via the comments.