DEVELOPING COMMUNITY – THE BELLISSERIA CITIZENS CHAT GROUP
When I ask what people like most about living in Bellisseria, often they answer: “community.” Few places in Second Life® offer anything close to the sense of community that Bellisseria has.
How did this come about? There are probably dozens of things that went into it, such as the careful Linden/Mole planning of nice neighbourhoods, projects like BelliBin and BBB passports, resident and DJ-sponsored neighbourhood parties & events and — possibly most significant — community chat groups.
I would like to focus on one of those: the Bellisseria Citizens. It currently has 6,253 members, including Bellisseria residents, non-residents, Moles and Lindens. It has played a huge role in helping to establish community in Bellisseria. It has also been key to building a friendly bridge between residents and Linden Lab. It's not unusual to see Lindens and Moles interacting with residents in the group’s chat. It has also helped other projects and groups by advertising their activities and events in group notices. For example, when I publish one of my Parade of Homes Review articles, I send a notice to the group. So does Dave, when The Gazette is published.
The group was founded by Gingir Ghoststar and anyone is welcome to join, as long as they abide by the group’s rules. (If you would like to join this group, here is the link.
I recently sat down with Gingir and we chatted. She had a lot of interesting things to say:
Please tell me a little about yourself.
Hi! I'm Gingir! I've been in SL for 12 years now. I enjoy building, exploring, and chatting with folk. You'll usually find me standing in my yard working on something for my home.
What initially gave you the idea of forming the Bellisseria Citizens chat group?
Oh this one is easy! It was the first day of Bellisseria, and everyone was out exploring and meeting their new neighbours. I thought it would be great to have a group just so that we could all share the really cool homes and locations we were finding. We were all so excited about the new home area.
How did you go about connecting with the Lindens and Moles to get them interested in participating with the Bellisseria residents?
Really, the community did that. I didn't advertise it in the beginning. It was quiet for weeks, but people slowly kept joining. Eventually they were using the group to chat with each other more frequently. I'm guessing that, since many Lindens and Moles happen to live in Bellisseria on their alts, they joined to chat with their neighbours too.
How did the group goals/charter/rules come about? Did you figure that out up front before we started, or did it evolve as you went along?
I did not have any goals for this group. I still really don't. I just wanted a place to be social with my neighbours.
Everything evolved along the way. As with any group that gets above like 20 members, folks are going to bump heads, clashes of personality, and of course you'll have your trolls who join. So the rules evolved from there. It evolved from the original rule of ‘Don't Be A Dick’ to what it is today.
Eventually some of the early mods and Belli residents began requesting more fleshed out rules. The ones we have now were written mainly by a mod who has since retired back to mainland. But the entire mod team went over them, discussed them, and helped to mould them to what we felt would be best for the group. We did that before we published them.
Every now and then someone comes to us, either another mod or resident and suggests a change or an update. So they've grown organically from what the community wanted and needed.
When you first formed the group, how did you get the word out about it to the Bellisseria residents? How did you get people to start joining the group?
That first day folks shared it a bit with their friends, so they could all chat while out and about getting their homes. We know that the private ‘group’ chats you can make are inherently buggy AF; having an actual group chat is much more stable.
Folk started making things for the group. Shirts, flags, etc to give out in the group notices. I made a group sign for the yard. I figured that would be an easy way of letting your neighbours know there was a place they could come chat with everyone.
Where there any issues/problems that arose, and if so, how did you handle them?
Not really. The group has been pretty great. We've had trolls, like actual trolls, the kind that like to rez all those annoying flashy things that break regions and such. They tried to bring their trolling to chat. We identified the main group they came from. These folk are so bright. they advertise their youtube trolling channel in their profiles. They made it super easy to kick the ones that had joined and to ban all the rest of them at the same darn time. That was probably our first problem that came up.
There have been personal squabbles, but our rule is to stay out of them and for them to keep that to themselves and out of chat. We're all volunteers, we aren't paid, so we really don't want to get pulled into that conflicts like that. We're just your neighbours, just living our lives, same as everyone.
The Bellisseria Citizens group has a dedicated team of Moderators. How did that come about?
Volunteers! Folks who I noticed were taking a special interest in helping their neighbours, I reached out and asked if they'd like to be a moderator. We still have fewer than ten. Some faces have come or gone over the years but there are still some OG mods around who hold the fort down.
Can you please share a few memorial stories about things that happened in this group?
This is hard. I'm proud of the group in general. We've got some really great folk. As for the funniest moments? That would be any number of interactions with the Lindens and Moles, though I still think that Patch's ‘big deck’ cracks me up the most. I've seen photos, he does indeed have a rather large and beautiful deck.
Is there anything else you would like to say/share?
Bellisseria Citizens is less my creation than it is the community's. The mods and I just try to make sure we keep it a welcoming and fun environment for everyone. I couldn't be more proud and happy with how it has grown and turned out. I might have paid the group creation fee, but there have been so many people over the years that have helped nurture this place. I love that. I am so lucky to be a part of all of this and I cannot wait to see what comes next for Bellisseria.
Article & Photograph by Teresa Firelight
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
|If you have one of our stamp terminals at your place and you're having an event there or would like to make any other announcement, just let us know and we'll be happy to feature it here. Please drop a notecard on the Editor Dave (Lord.Junibalya) in-world or use the Email the Editor link in the sidebar to send us your information, posters or photos.
New article in Parade of Homes review
This article in The Gazette's sister publication features two more modular kitchens that go well in Bellisseria homes, includes a photo, and shares their pros and cons. It is the fourth of four articles on Modular Kitchens by our very own Teresa Firelight.
New acronym guide in the Sidebar
Our colleague Robert Rhodan noticed that, like many bureaucracies, we've developed our own jargon. In particular we are very fond of acronyms. Our own organisation - the Bellisserian Bureau of Bureaucracy is universally known by its classic TLA ("Three Letter Acronym") of "BBB", for example.
Our bureaucrats and diplomats come from all over the world. English is not the first language for all of us, so Robert helpfully made us a glossary of the acronyms in use. We think it might be of wider interest, particularly as he has added some more general acronyms as well. You will find his guide in the Sidebar to The Gazette under the heading Information & Resources. If you have suggestions as to further additions, please let Robert know.
Good take up of the StampsOnPP HUD
Last week's edition of The Gazette included a free HUD that allows users of our V3.00 passports to get an online report of the stamps they've collected, sorted in various ways. We were very happy to see that so many of our readers immediately loaded it up and gave it a try. We hope you continue to enjoy it.
Updated Edition of "25 Cutest BBB Stamps"
By way of a small celebration of our issuing our 500th unique passport stamp to "Bellisseria Bike, Drive & Scoot!" last week, we published an update to the 25 Cutest BBB Stamps collection published in January. We hope you enjoy the fun-to-read background stories from the designers, and wish you happy stamp hunting.
Our first new stamp this week is an event stamp. The event – at the Bellisseria Fairgrounds – does not begin until next Saturday, April 1st and the stamp won't be available until then. We just wanted to give you more advance notice of the event in question – organised by the Bellisseria Hamsters.
Non-Bellisserians may be puzzled by how much our dear Hamsters (universally known as "the Hammies") mean to us. They've been part of our community for a long time and are as active and community-minded as they are cute – and, trust us, they are very cute. Everybody loves them, but no-one more than we bureaucrats of the BBB. They have always been as supportive of our work as we have been of their events.
Their latest carrrot-fuelled extravaganza is Zoo-Palooza 4, which has the intriguing strapline "Hamraiders - the Carrot of Life." The Indiana Jones fan in your editor is intrigued, optimistic and awash with images of whip-wielding Hammie archaeologists. To be clear, these are not spoilers, just an old journo's fantasies. You'll have to visit it yourselves to find out. Whatever you do, give the Hammies a kind word and/or a carrot, please. Preferably both!
Our other new location this week is our first Linden Department of Public Works build for a while. Valmorel Rez Zone and Airfield is in the snow lands of Sansara on Mainland. It's a bleak, rugged spot for aviation and no place to mess up a landing, so please take even more care than usual if you fly in to check it out.
[Stop Press! At the time of publication, this new LDPW terminal had not yet been placed, but this has now been rectified and it's available. Our apologies to our keenest users who were disappointed in their attempts to collect it.]