Below, you will find my review policy and preferences. Yes, I’m kind of wordy, but that’s because I want to be as specific as possible so as not to waste your time as well as my own. I’m not here to beg for any free handouts that I can get; I’m really damned picky about what I feature on the blog, and you’re probably really damned picky about who features your items. So I’m being as detailed as I can, in the hopes that you can identify whether Virtual Bloke is the right fit for your products.
Update: This post was updated on 24th April 2015 to include information about views and stats, for creators who require certain numbers of those.
Update: This post was updated on 16th June 2017 to include information about mesh bodies and heads.
I reserve the right not to blog items that don’t suit my personal style. I’m a multi-polygonal peg, and I’m afraid I can’t squeeze myself into any specific hole, no matter whether it’s round or square. That said, I am open to almost anything, but I will not blog the following:
- dropcrotch pants or anything from the current hipster/geek/nerd trend
- anything fashionably-ugly (spotty skins, etc)
- bright colours (there are exceptions; see my preferences, below)
- items that require drastic shape adjustments
- items that will drastically adjust my silhouette (exception: full avatars that include a shape)
- mouth accessories – only 4 things go in my mouth: food, drink, cigarettes (inworld only; Skell smokes, I don’t), and dick ;-)
- anything kawaii/cute (seriously, do I look cute?!)
- loli fashion (while I accept non-gender-biased clothing & sometimes do drag, I don’t do loli)
- genitalia (only my boy gets to see that, not my blog readership)
- animal items (anything from full furry avatars to neko ears/tails etc)
- sportswear (fashion sneakers a la Rick Owens are an exception)
I will not write ‘advertisement’ posts for items. Whereas I will mention if (for example) your store has a sale ongoing – because my readers may be interested in that – it’s rare for me to focus entirely on one thing in a single blog post. If your store really stands out to me, then I may write a Store Focus post, in which I take several items from one place and showcase them, but those are rare beasts on this blog!
I will be honest about your products. I will not, however, be rude about them. I will note where seams show or don’t quite join, where alphas are really not up to the job, or where the product only looks good from a certain angle, or if certain animations distort/break the items, but I will also do my damndest to find a workaround for my readers (use a belt/jacket to cover the seam, or try an alpha from another item, etc). My readers are told the truth about the items that I blog, and that leads on to my next point, which is…
I don’t use a great deal of Photoshop – read this post for an explanation of what I do and don’t edit. I’ll smooth out the occasional lumps and bumps in the avatar mesh, but I try to be as honest as possible in my photography. I will often use Windlight as an atmospheric tool, and sometimes make use of filters etc, but where it really matters there will usually be a full lighting studio shot to show the items as-is. This is especially so in the case of skins, where there will be at least one completely unedited close-up shot of the face in a full lighting (eg: AnaLu or Caliah, etc) scenario, to show any issues as well as good points.
Full credits will be given, including full store name
and creator name. Links go to creators’ inworld profiles and not to their stores. Stores frequently change location in SL, so it’s easier to link my readers to your profile, where – I hope! – you have your store(s) listed in your picks, than it is to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of store landmarks and shuffles away from inworld and onto Marketplace. If your store is Marketplace-only, then I will link to that as well as to your inworld profile.
Addendum: I am currently not listing (or linking to) creator names. The reason for this is that it was taking me so long to dig up the links for each creator for each post, it was putting me off blogging! My plan is to create a separate page on the blog for all the stores/creators I have featured, but that will take some time to put together.
If your store name is un-searchable—usually the case when a store name is a simple initial letter or two—then I will include your avatar name so that potential buyers can find you on marketplace and inworld. For example: if your avatar name is Joe Bloggs and your store name is ::J:: then I will describe you either as Joe Bloggs for ::J:: or ::J:: by Joe Bloggs (or something similar to that, depending on whether it’s part of the post text itself or the image credits).
Any items given to me will be marked with an asterisk * in the credits and noted with the keywords “review copy” after the credits.
I rarely feature colour in the blog (scroll down to my preferences for the main colourways that I use) so, if sending me samples or review copies, I will be much more able to make use of black or grey items than I would, say, red or blue. (That’s not to say I don’t use colours; if it comes to accessories then that’s where most of my colour lies!)
If I note a serious problem with your item, then I will contact you first; I will not go ahead and blog it without letting you know. Things I regard as ‘serious problems’ include (but are not limited to):
- Pieces missing from the folder or box
- Missing textures (usually arises when creators use temp or local upload to check their texturing, and then forget the ‘proper’ upload)
- Anything that stands out to me as potentially misleading advertising (eg: your ad for a coat shows it with a fur collar and doesn’t include the collar in the pack, but has no notification that it’s sold separately)
- Bad alpha layers (eg: they show in every single pose)
- There is an issue with your packaging (eg: extremely high-prim rezzable box to open)
Following on from that, I will blog the item once I’ve let you know (unless the issues make the item unwearable, such as missing textures), and I will mention those issues and also mention that I have contacted you about them. If they are corrected, then this will be prominently noted in the post (at the very top). For an example of how I’ve dealt with this in the past, see this post. I try to be honest but kind, as it’s usually more of a disappointment to me rather than something that makes me angry; an, “Oh damn, really? Wah!” rather than a, “For fuck’s sake, I wanted that bit!” And I figure that if I’m disappointed, then so will general shoppers be disappointed. I’ll contact you to let you know that and give you a chance to head off at the pass those that may be less polite about this stuff if it goes on general sale ;-)
Posemakers? I credit you as much as is humanly possible, you poor unblogged creatures ;-) I know you often get forgotten, so I do my damndest to remember to include you. The only time when I don’t include poses is when I’ve used so damn many that I can’t remember which ones they were!
Styles that I cover include (but are not limited to) –
- Rocker (leathers etc)
- SF/cyber and Futuristic
- Casual (see limits in previous section)
- Clubwear (oh god, please, no bling, though!)
- Drag (I’m very specific about this; please IM or email for further discussion)
- Formal (there’s only so much one can do with a tuxedo, though…)
- Roleplay (again, I’m very specific; please contact for further discussion)
- Glam rock and genderqueer, androgyne and all that glorious stuff!
One thing I am specifically looking for is designers of mesh items that straddle the gender line. I have a whole ranty post here, if you want much more information about that, but if you make high-heeled footwear for women and include an unrigged or male size, or if you make any clothing (minus the big boobs and curvy hips) or resizable accessories or long mesh hair without big built-in breastbumps, that are ostensibly for women but which could be worn by freaky boys like me, then I want to see your stuff! There’s a huge market out there for this kind of thing, as we freaky boys (and the butch girls) are being increasingly edged out of our gender-blurring happiness and into gender-restricted normality by the limits of mesh clothing. For example: I know of only one designer who is specifically making mesh corsets for men. If you create that kind of thing, get in touch, because I’d love to get the word out that there are more creators out there catering for us fashion freaks!
Colour. Ah, colour. You may notice, if you’ve perused the blog or my Flickr fashion set, that I wear a shitload of black stuff. Monochrome is my thing, and while I do occasionally branch out into colour, it takes something special for me to do so. Here are the main colourways that I wear:
– Black or grey (accents: silver, gold, red)
– Brown (accents: gold, copper)
– Red (accents: black, silver, gold)
– Teal (accents: black, silver, gold)
– White (accents: silver)
– Gold (accents: whatever works!)
– Silver (accents: whatever works!)
Accessories, makeup, nail appliers – all are welcome here. I’m an accessory-whore, I’m rarely without some form of slap on, and I love my mesh hands and nail appliers. Bring it on! XD
Home items are things that I do occasionally blog, but again I have preferences. These include warm colours (lots of ochres and autumnal/jewel tones), with emphasis on genres such as steampunk and gothic, and regional influences such as Moroccan and Turkish. I’m happy to look at other items, and I will sometimes feature homewares as props for fashion posts. The homewares will usually be mentioned (always, if there’s only a couple of them, but less frequently if I’ve shot the photos in one of my many homes, as those are furnished from all over the place!).
I will modify my shape (within reason) to work with certain clothing items (eg: Skell may be androgynous, but he has broad shoulders. I’m happy to tone those down for more femme or bishōnen-style looks) but I will not change my face in any way. The exception to this is full avatars that come with a skin and shape. Those will be featured as-is (and, if the skin works on my usual shape I’ll show it on that as well, to highlight its versatility).
The best way to get a handle on my fashion tastes is to peruse my Flickr fashion set. Scroll quite a way down, as my style is very eclectic, and a few mouse scrolls won’t be enough to cover it ;-)
How I blog
Bit of an odd sub-section to this page? Well, I guess so, but you probably don’t have the time to scroll back through four or five pages of posts to get a feel for me and my blogging style, so here’s a quick summary.
Posts are relatively frequent; sometimes one a day, but at least one per week. I have a busy RL job and my day begins between 3 and 4am. To that end, I’m often tired and not always at my best. Those are the days when I don’t blog. Very occasionally I need a break, so the blog may go quiet for two or three weeks. However, if I ever decided to quit I would announce it, and not just let the blog go silent.
I mix fashion with memes, diary posts, music recommendations, and general musings. I also create things myself, and occasionally feature those.
Many of my looks/characters are inspired by a single item, around which I build and layer until I’m satisfied with the result.
I’m currently syndicated on the Blogging SL feed, and have applied for listing in the Blogging Second Life directory under the male bloggers category. The reason I’m only syndicated at Blogging SL? Most of the other feeds don’t allow profanity, and I refuse to change the way that I write. So, caveat: I swear quite a lot, but it’s usually positive (“I fucking love this outfit!” etc). It’s a Brit thing ;-)
I’m pretty candid and I say what I think. I’m never rude (I’m too polite and English to be rude!) but I’m not afraid to write negative reviews (though I do always try to temper them with something positive). I highlight good customer service, but I also highlight bad customer service. For example: I may note that I contacted a creator to ask about something, they were online (no autoresponse sent), but I received no reply from them, not even hours later. My readers are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions from things like that.
I will usually note things such as ease of modification and extras such as how simple a HUD is to use, etc.
I’m a one-man show, so it’s doubtful that I would be able to blog every single thing that may get sent to me, however I will do my best to include as many things into varied looks as possible. It may be that your item – unless it really catches my eye or inspires me in some way – could end up waiting a few weeks, but again; I will try. Can’t promise any more than that!
This blog’s subtitle is Queer Eye from the Pixel Guy. Expect that your item maaaay be paired with something fabulous like silver lamé hotpants, or something (I jest… well, partially). I may well do things with your fashion and accessories that you didn’t even consider (I have a habit of turning belly rings into earrings, for example) so expect the unexpected, and don’t come bitchin’ at me if you think my post featuring your item(s) is “too gay”.
Views & Stats
Some creators require a blogger to send proof of a certain number of regular views on Flickr, or a certain number of readers in the form of stats for their blog. I want to re-iterate here: I will not do this.
I blog solely for the love of it, and I will not post my fashion images to 500 non-relevant groups just to ensure that I get 500+ Flickr views per image. Nor will I re-upload the same image again and again in order to do so. Nor will I add 5000+ people on my account so that they notice me and auto-add me back. I have had my Flickr account for far longer than I’ve been blogging SL fashion, and I use it as a way to keep up with people I’m interested in, not solely as a marketing tool.
I can tell you that, by just posting to around 15-20 groups, my Flickr fashion images usually garner between 150 and 850 views (the difference there is arbitrary and I can never predict which images are going to ‘take off’ when it comes to views) and—after a week or so—even the images that are at the lower end of that number of views settle at around 250.
Likewise, I do not run a stats plugin on my blog. That may cause some raised eyebrows, but I have absolutely no idea how many people read this blog. Why? Well, the only reliable stats plugin for WordPress is Jetpack, and that is so bloated with other (non-removable) options that it overloads my shared server with disk writes. And when that happens the server automatically kills my site for a short time.
So, in short, I blog fashion because I love fashion. If you only want me to blog for you because I can show you that X amount of people read my blog, as opposed to wanting me to blog for you because you like what I do, then I’m probably not the blogger for you.
Mesh Body Parts
I currently wear the following as standard:
- Head: Catwa – Daniel (1st preference) and Catwa – Shaheen (2nd preference)
- Body: Slink – Physique (1st preference) and Belleza – Jake (2nd preference)
- Hands: Slink – Dynamic Bento hands (1st preference) and Vista – Prohand Bento hands (Slink male fit) (2nd preference)
Therefore, when it comes to appliers I would prefer Slink/Belleza/Catwa/Omega compatible ones, and for mesh clothing fits I would prefer Slink or Belleza (although Signature fit clothing also works for Belleza, even though I don’t wear the Signature body).
If you send me a restrictive note about exactly how I should blog your items, then I will politely decline. If, for example, you require that I show every single item in every single colour (or every single tone of a skin) then you have clearly not bothered to check out my blog, because that’s not the way I work. I’m not a promo blog; I’m (mainly) a style blog. I will pick the items that work best for my style and my avatar from any samples that are sent to me, and I will include those in a post.
If you require that I feature something from every pack that you send out, please consider that your sample pack may not contain anything that I can use. I have had designers send out female-only items, which—though I try as much as possible to straddle the gender line sometimes—I simply cannot wear because they have mesh breasts or they are heels made for (female-only) Slink High feet (and, believe me, if Slink made high feet for men I would be first in the damn queue for them!) If one of your requirements for being on your blogger list includes something that I simply cannot do, then I would prefer not to be added to your list, as opposed to receiving notecards or IMs from your ‘blogger manager’ asking to know why I haven’t featured anything from you lately (when all you have sent out are female things).
I don’t write this blog (or create the Flickr-only images) just to ‘get free stuff’. I do it for the love of style and SL fashion. I will quite happily visit your store (if I am made aware of it) and purchase the items that I can feature, without being added to a blogger list that has very restrictive rules. (In fact, that’s how I’ve been ‘doing SL fashion’ since 2009, so…)
Contacting me/sending samples
An inworld IM to Skell Dagger will always reach me (my IMs go to email), or alternatively you can email skell.dagger (at) gmail.com
If using inworld IMs, PLEASE compose your IM in an external application, such as Notepad, and then paste it into a single IM window. If you send me half a dozen IMs that begin with, “Hi,” and move on to, “Are you there?” etc, then… I won’t be very happy. If your request is long or detailed, please email instead.
Please put all relevant samples into either an unpackable box or a single folder, with a notecard containing any relevant info and drop it onto my profile.
And (you’ll be relieved to know) that’s it. Thank you for your consideration.