Even now that the September 15th deadline for rating land as Adult in Second Life has passed, people are still confused. Mostly this comes from people confusing “age-verified” with “adult-verified”. This is Linden Labs fault for using confusingly similar terms. And what’s worse, there are still documents hanging around from the first failed attempt at requiring age-verification that talk about how you’ll need it to enter Mature rated regions. Further more, documents describing restricting access to age-verified residents sometimes refer to them as residents who have “verified their adult status”.
First we’ll define the terms and talk a bit about them.
Ratings: PG / Mature / Adult
These are set region wide. It is set by going to World->Region/Estate->Region->Rating and selecting from a drop down box. You can not set these on a per parcel basis. These are intended as a tool for the general population, not land owners. They’re intended to be used to ensure informed consent to the sorts of activities they’re likely to encounter when entering an unknown region. That is, it is intended to protect residents. They allow for a more predictable and consistent Second Life experience. While there are restrictions on who can enter an Adult region, that is not it’s primary purpose.
Adult regions can only be entered by avatars that either have given payment information to LL, or have gone successfully gone through the age verification process.
Parcel Restrictions: Age Verified / Payment Info on Record
These are set on a per-parcel or per-estate basis by going to World->About Land->Access->Block Access By or World->Region/Estate->Estate->Restrict Access To and checking either Residents who have not given payment info to Linden Lab or Residents who are not age verified adults. These are intended to allow the parcel owner to keep out people they view as undesirable. These exist to protect land owners, not residents. There are no circumstances under which either of these ever must be set. They are entirely optional. If you use either of these, you will be cutting off a significant percentage of the SL population.
Land Options: Mature Content
And to add to the confusion there’s also a “Mature Content” land option, that’s independent of all of these. It’s in World->About Land->Options->Land Options->Mature Content. The wiki has this to say about it: One of the region maturity ratings is “Mature”, but parcels are not required to have mature content on Mature rated land. This item is intended to indicate that there is mature content on the parcel. Further, the knowledge base has this to say: If your Region is listed as Mature and you would like to show mature objects in search, check the Mature Content box in the About Land window’s Options tab.
LAND OWNER FAQ
Q. My region is rated Mature but my parcel has Adult content. Can my parcel be rated as Adult without effecting the rest of the region?
A. No. You’ll either have to get the region’s rated as Adult, or you’ll have to move to a different region (or the new Adult mainland, Zindra). (Or of course, you can drop your Adult content.)
Q. My parcel is on a Mature island but has Adult content, but that’s ok if I restrict the parcel to age-verified only right?
A. No, that’s wrong. Adult content can only be on land that is rated as Adult not Mature. This means either the entire island is Adult, or you’re on Zindra, the Adult mainland. Simply restricting access to your parcel does not meet the Linden Labs requirements.
Q. My region is marked as Adult, I also have to flag my parcel as age-verified if I want to allow explicit sexual activity on it, right?
A. No, you are never required to restrict your parcel to requiring either age verification or payment info. Those are entirely optional and left to your own discretion. They’re intended to allow you to exclude people you view as undesirable. Remember that many people outside the US (and even inside the US) can’t use the age verification services as they either don’t work with international credentials or are incomplete or incorrect regarding even US credentials.
Q. My parcel sells primarily non-adult items, but does sell some adult items as well. Am I required to be in an Adult region?
A. No, you are only required to not have any Adult search terms in your parcel descriptions, or the items flagged as showing up in search (or in your classifieds). If you’ve received a “your land has Adult keywords” mail from LL, look for objects that are set to be indexed by the search engine. It’s easy miss some of these.
Q. My home is on Mature land but I have a sex bed inside, do I have to move to Adult land?
A. No, you only have to move to Adult land if your activities are in public or are publicly promoted. What you do privately with someone (or someones) close to you is your own business (unless you make your walls transparent =p).
Q. How do I become “adult verified” and gain access to regions that are rated Adult?
A. If it works for you, the easiest way is to age verify. However, a significant minority in the US and many many people in other countries can not use this method due to the service provider’s database being incomplete or incorrect. The other option is to add payment information to your account. Please note that there is no need to actually spend any money. Either you can add a debit or credit card to your account. Or, if you have a verified PayPal account (this means you’ve associated a bank account or a credit card with the paypal account), you can use that as well. I suggest you read the LL Article on this.
Q. I’ve been told that if I don’t become age verified that I won’t be able to access Adult rated content, is that true?
A. No, you only need to have payment information on file. Some parcels do restrict access to people who aren’t age verified, but this has nothing to do with the mandatory Adult rating and has nothing to do with LL’s policies. This is a restriction that is entirely the doing of the land owner. The land owner may believe they had to, in which case I encourage you to point them at this FAQ.
Q. I can’t age verify or put payment info on file, what about me?
A. You’ll be stuck to Mature and PG regions then. This certainly isn’t much of an excuse for anyone in the US, as age verification works for most people, and it’s hard to imagine a Second Life user who doesn’t have at least a bank account. You may not feel comfortable giving your info to PayPal or Linden Labs, but that’s a “won’t” not a “can’t” issue. You’ll have to balance your desire to have access to Adult regions against your distrust of these institutions.
[Edit: The Second Life Wiki has a good article with further details. Help save more people the same confusion, vote for the jira ticket to remove the age-verified restriction on access. I also posted this to the official forums. Added discussion of the Mature Content flag. Put September 15th in the past.]