(updated 07 February 2010)

Success Metrics
. Sign boards are located on 35 Member and 45 SL Help Island and Welcome Area sims.
. Data show increases in the numbers of new registrants on all member sims.

Resident Management Team
. Sitearm Madonna - Development
. Annie Milestone - Membership
. Spook Maroon - Operations

Resident Support Team
. Biancaluce Robbiani - Help Islands and Welcome Areas Sign Support
. Cher Harrington - Interview Candidate Members / English
. Eria Ziemia - Interview Candidate Members / Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, English
. Joja Dhara - Interview Candidate Members / Dutch, English
. Esmay Rand - Network Teleport Sign System Advisor; Italiana
. Mini Wirefly - Check Current Members Quarterly for Membership Requirements
. Kaimi Kyomoon - Marketing Imagery Advisor
. Smitty Boyau - Security Advisor
. Teresa Ewing -  SL Mentor Advisor
. Cyberpiper Roeolfs - Deutsch, Français
. Dai Paz - 日本語
. Elwe Eldrich - Premium Account Advisor
. Ham Rambler (Dublin in SL) and
. Ivo Krupinski (Groningen in SL) are instrumental providing support from the earliest stages in working with the program, encouraging the team, and providing the first two members

Linden Lab Support
. Blondin Linden (Help Islands and Welcome Areas)
. Katrin Linden (Community Gateway Program) and
. Blue Linden (New User Experience Program) are instrumental in working with the program, encouraging the team, maintaining a Help Island Testing Presence, and referring additional candidates for membership.

Press Release 4Q08


Themed build owners in Second Life are finding a new option to network and promote awareness and growth of their work: Sister Cities and Friends in SL.

Guests benefit by becoming aware of other quality, themed sims in Second Life; and having direct teleport access to many different types of entertainment activities.

Owners benefit by providing broader exposure for their designers, artists, venues and events, especially for new residents.

"Sister cities membership supports continued growth and success," says Sitearm Madonna, who started the resident-managed program in 2007. "New theme builders coming into SL are like new musicians: some are very savvy and know just what to do; some are new and are good at some things but not at others. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. All of us benefit from opportunities to learn from each other."

Lislo Mensing of Munich in SL agrees: "Being a part of a strong network is better than working alone. It is the notion of being connected to people with a similar mindset. Creating high quality environments like a real town and enjoying the community that chooses to live in these environments."

Bibi Bayliss adds, "There are instant benefits - increased traffic and visibility and access to a great marketing team in Sitearm Madonna and the Sister Cities personnel. Longer term, I think it helps to focus on the continued need to welcome and engage the SL community, both new and experienced."

What does "Sister Cities and Friends Online" mean? Groningen in SL is a "city" because it is a themed, realistic recreation of a real-world urban location, including structures, plazas, and roads. SS Galaxy in SL is a "friend" because it is a themed recreation of special interest - a luxury ocean liner spanning three sims.

Sister Cities and Friends Online started with three members: San Diego, Groningen, and Dublin. The idea for the program occurred in a conversation in May 2007. Madonna recalls, "That was the day we opened San Diego City in SL. Ivo Krupinski was there and IM'd me, saying he liked my construction office with schedules, prim budgets, and scale models. I knew right then, this must be a smart man!"

Krupinski says, "I liked the forward-thinking approach to planning an entire city, not only for the building phase but also for the events phase. I was building my own city, Groningen in SL, at the time. The scale models I saw included terraforming, roads, and structures. The prim budgets I saw allowed room both for growth and for performance buffers so that crowded events would have less lag."

Madonna and Krupinski discussed the idea of networking the cities that they knew about and worked with. So when Groningen opened a few months later, in September 2007, the Sister Cities network began: Three teleport sign boards, each featuring one of three cities, were placed in San Diego, Groningen, and Dublin.

Ham Rambler of Dublin in SL explains, "You could see pictures of other good locations in SL and, just by clicking, teleport to them immediately. Because these signs were posted on our sim, our Regulars knew we recommended these other locations as having similar high quality activities and themes."

Cher Harrington adds, "I saw a new-to-SL visitor reading the Sister City sign and teleporting to the different sims. I envisioned the friendliness and the great introduction to SL they must have had. This, to me, is what the project is all about."

But aren't all these cities competing for traffic for events? Won't they lose their communities to other locations? Not so, explains DBDigital Epsilon of SS Galaxy in SL: "Sister Cities and Friends in SL is a network of locations that are interested in sharing traffic.

"There is plenty of traffic in SL to go around and it is to our mutual benefit to steer visitors who like our work to locations of similar standards of quality and community. The old saying 'united we stand' is very accurate in this regard."

Growth of the network created administrative overhead early in 2008. Madonna explains, "We had grown to a total of five cities (Zurich and Cologne had been added) and two friends. I discovered that maintaining seven different teleport boards, each on seven different sims, was getting to be a burden for updates and adding new members.

"So I began experimenting with a networked system from Esmay Rand and found that it was much simpler. However, now the growth constraint became the time needed to interview new candidate members."

New factors led to renewed growth in mid 2008. "I am in the Second Life Solution Provider Program, like many other developers in SL," explains Madonna. "In June I volunteered for the Solution Provider Council, created to provide improved communications between us and Linden Lab.

"I met Katrin Linden, who manages the European Community Gateway program. She explained the increased emphasis that Linden Lab was placing on 'positive first experiences' for new residents in SL. She introduced me to more great residents and cities and I felt renewed to take the program larger."

Madonna met Joja Dhara, the newly-hired Community Program Manager for Groningen in SL. "Joja is irrepressibly cheerful and a master networker," laughs Madonna. "She peps me up. I invited her to help manage the program and she agreed immediately. Madonna also met Blue Linden in the New User Experience and Help Island Testing program. "Blue counseled us on how to adjust the signs for optimal use by new registrants. Esmay immediately updated the code for us and we rolled it out."

"Then we recruited three more great people, Annie Milestone, Eria Ziemia, and Cher Harrington. Suddenly we had a resident management team, resident technical support, and the good counsel of Linden Lab. Things really accelerated!"

Dhara elaborates, "The operations team offers advice to owners in operating efficient, sustainable sims. This is of course optional and at no charge, and it is offered for as long as an owner is receptive and finds it helpful. Also, there is no charge to be a member of Sister Cities and Friends in SL, but eligibility requirements must be maintained."

Can anyone become a member? Dhara explains,
To be eligible a sim owner must:
a) Be established with a themed sim build
b) Maintain a weekly activity schedule and growing community base
c) Provide new residents a friendly, safe, positive "first experience" of SL
d) Sign a confidentiality agreement
e) Provide sim promotional materials
f) Allow placing a networked teleport sign board in a public location on the sim
g) Meet from time to time with an operations team member.

The team meets weekly to identify new members to invite and to discuss ideas:
. Joja Dhara, Netherlands
. Eria Ziemia, Denmark
. Annie Milestone, Germany
. Cher Harrington, US
. Sitearm Madonna, US

Milestone explains, "We want to reach a total of 30 members before the end of the year. We want to focus especially on cities first. It is aggressive, but there are many great locations here.

"We want to make hometown locations and hometown languages easy for new residents to find. We want to make exciting new places easy for tourists to find.

"And we want to make great locations easy for companies who want to invest in SL to find." Newest members include three cities (Munich in SL, London in SL, Berlin in SL) and one friend (Poseidon's Port).

Madonna concludes, "We all have interest to bring our special ideas and talents into virtual reality. And we all have a stake in virtual platforms like Second Life continuing to evolve, succeed, and stay in existence.

"This is true whether it's for a business or for recreation. Sister Cities and Friends in SL gives us an intelligent way to network and cooperate so that each of us benefits."

For more information see the website at

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Courtesy of:
Sister Cities and Friends in SL, Siterma VWP, Seminal 3D, JEVN, Linden Lab
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