While there are many different social networks available for Second Life® (SL) users and their avatars, there are a few that stand above the rest in style, navigation, news feed and friendship networks. Here I will be reviewing those that I have connected with and my take on how well suited they are for avatar networking.
Linden Labs has its own social networking system under My.SecondLife but it is highly underused since it works more like Twitter. So, for the lack of other uses I do not recommend this for social networking.
As many people know, Facebook does not allow extra accounts for avatars but you can have as many avatar pages as you like. The lack of instant messaging through the page itself is a huge setback in comparison to a normal account, which is one of the main reasons many try to stay under the Facebook team’s radar. As a page, you can still comment on other pages but not on accounts. Accounts can send you a message which you can reply to but you cannot initiate that communication. Having an account also puts that account at risk of being revenge targeted anonymously where even just one report can force Facebook to close it completely or convert to a page. Finding other accounts and pages related to fellow SLers can be tricky when they use a mixture of or their full real life names and photos unless you have a good starting point from a friend’s Likes and Friends list. If you do wish to use Facebook, I highly suggest having it as a page so no one could hold a potential report over your head as blackmail.
Google+ is one of the few places where one can have multiple profile accounts. In fact, it is encouraged to have them linked together so you can switch between the two easily for viewing email, messages and conducting regular business on the web. Most SLers use Google+ to post links to their blog entries or photos with the details in the post. Finding friends can also be tricky if you do not have their email address or a friend to start out with. Many times I found myself connecting with existing friends by looking at a fellow SLer’s Friend list. Businesses can also have their own page but I found that many do not utilize this feature and use their profiles are part of their business. Communities are basically like Facebook groups which is very handy for bloggers.
AvatarBook.org is a fairly newer avatar social networking platform that is continuously updating with features. Their overall appearance is pleasing to the eye and organized in a logical fashion. Their front page features a free profile ad space for all users to enjoy for 24 hours at a time and their normal ad space for businesses is of a decent size; not too distracting but there to show. All of their internal features for blogging, posting pictures, calendar events, polls and forum posts are all on the front and center as the main centerpiece of the network. You can even see who’s online and who’s recently joined to find new friends or reconnect with existing ones. Instant messaging through the browser is also a plus as well as offline messages. One of my favorite features is the dashboard where the feed is only from friends, rather than everyone on the front page but there are many other less important features that make it a fun site to navigate through.
Second-Friends is not one that I can recommend. Aside from the tremendous amount of ads on the front page and the aesthetics, I cannot for the life of me really connect with it on a social level like I do with the previous networks. While it is customizable, it reminds me more of the old MySpace pages.
Youlizer, while having a tremendous backing by Miss SL’s CEO, it unfortunately did not seem to pick up in popularity. The site is very aesthetically pleasing with a touch of the latest Google and Microsoft styles and is easy to navigate. It too has an instant messaging feature and is geared towards a network for SL avatars in the modeling community.
SecondBook.ca is similar to Youlizer but has more to navigate through which can get some getting used to.
Avatar Social Network is another contender and while it is decent in aesthetics, it is very basic. Their actual web space for the feeds, profiles, and etc. are a tad small in width, even if you adjust your browser.
Moolto is chaotic in my eyes and a pain to navigate through. Again the front page is full of ads where you have to scroll to the very bottom just to see the latest activity. In comparison to those above, I do not recommend it as a social network.
SecondHub is a mimic of MySpace. The two big issues I have with it are the lack of security while signing up (NET::ERR_CERT_DATE_INVALID, which by the way is NOT something you want to see on any website.) and the inability to sign up at all (New registrations are disabled at this time.)… really? I did have an account once before but deleted it after a short while since the website was too clunky to navigate around and was a pain to find friends with. It does not seem to have changed since so I do not recommend it.