As a community gateway, Ajuda SL Brasil (“Help SL Brazil”) has a long history. Original founded in 2009, it celebrated its ninth anniversary in May 2018, and primarily – but not exclusively – serves Portuguese speaking users. Located on a single region, the gateway has been through several different variations over the years, including a major make-over in 2011, and then acceptance into the new Community Gateway Programme beta in 2016, prior to becoming a full member of the Programme following its official relaunch.
“We are entirely self-funded as a non-profit group,” Roth Grut, the gateway’s founder,informed me. “Which, given the value of the real against the dollar, hasn’t been easy” (at the time of writing 1 BRL = 0.268 USD). He continued, “Since joining the new Community Gateway Programme, we’ve had a lot of practical support from Linden Lab in transforming our work into an official gateway programme partner.”
I can personally attest to the warmth of the greeting on arriving at Ajuda SL Brasil, with the team there both friendly and inviting, encouraging me to explore and find out more. They were also quick to guide genuine newbies to the learning centre and to help them refine / customise their look.
The region itself is informally laid out in a design that works well in encouraging exploration. From the landing point on the south side, it’s a short, clearly marked route to the learning centrally located on the region. This presents a series of familiar self-learn lessons about the viewer and getting around in Second Life and essentials such as inventory use, etc. This area also features an auditorium, providing weekly lessons. In addition, there is an information broad displaying the Caledon Oxbridge two-week class schedule for SL-related lessons and events presented in English. Alongside this is a board offering information on other gateways and resident help groups.
Around the learning centre on the remaining three sides of the region sit, the aforementioned freebie centre, a sandbox where people can learn about building in prims and practice their skills, an events area for music and dancing, changing rooms, table-top games and various interactive elements – such as a “hydro-bike” for pedalling around on the water, a rezzing platform where people can learn to fly a helicopter. There are also some humorous little touches – such as a dollar bill innocently stuck on a manhole cover, inviting people to click on it – the result both demonstrates object / object interactions and how objects can be used to animate avatars.
“There is also a photo studio up in the sky,” Kon Magic, a gateway volunteer told me. Set out like a New York street scene, it offer people the opportunity to experiment with the viewer’s snapshot floater, using the provided poses or their own animations from inventory.
“We get an average of about 500 visitors a day,” Emma Floresby, another volunteer informed me. “Sometimes it might be 350 a day, others about 1,000.” I wondered how many of these were new arrivals as opposed to returning users. “A lot of people come for the freebie store,” Emma told me candidly. “They account for some of the higher numbers.”
Emma continued, “While we are Brazilian and Portuguese based, we also cater for all languages, and get many non-Portuguese speakers. We try to provide a good place to welcome people and help them at basics, and also provide help and support to established users as well.”
Support is offered in a number of ways – in-world at the region itself (obviously!) and via the in-world group, Amigos Ajudam Group. There’s also the gateway’s supporting website,. This is a rich source of information for incoming new users: hints and tips, information on features and capabilities – such as Bento and mesh bodies / heads -, notes on viewers translations of SL documents such as the SL Terms and Conditions, can all be found, and those interested in joining the team can discover more about being a volunteer.
In particular, the website includes a link to a Portuguese-specific sign-up process, which will deliver incoming new users directly to the Ajuda region. While this is a capability offered to all the of the Community Gateway Programme partners, the language-specific nature of Ajuda SL Brazil’s approach helps maintain a contextual feel for incoming new users, starting in Portuguese and them delivering them (post viewer installation) to a Portuguese-speaking region.
Now into its tenth year of operation, staffed by dedicated, enthusiastic team and providing a service not just to one of SL’s larger ESL communities, but SL users in general, Ajuda SL Brasil continues to provide a valuable service to new and established users alike.
- Ajuda SL Brasil Gateway SLurl (rated: General)
- Ajuda SL Brasil website
- Ajuda SL Brasil on Facebook
- Ajuda SL Brasil YouTube channel
- Community Gateways in this blog
- The new user experience in this blog
Are you running a new Community Gateway? Want it featured in this series? Contact me in-world, or use the Contact Me form on this blog and drop me a line.