Spread A Smile: A Guide to Making Others Happy
I've been a proud Neopian for around ten years now, and I can truly say being on this site has made me a very happy person. The games are fun and it's cool to make awesome pets to cherish for years to come, but making great neofriends and running into generally kind members has probably had the most impact on me. Whether it's a random acquaintance who has offered their time and energy to help me out or my greatest neofriend (words cannot describe how thankful I am to this site for bringing us together!), I often ask myself what I can do to spread happiness to people who have helped me out, been there for me in general, or even people I don't know at all.
You might ask yourself the same questions sometimes: Who can I be kind to? What can I do to return a favor? What kind of gifts do Neopians enjoy receiving? What kind of things can I avoid doing to be a kinder Neopian? Even in real life I sometimes find it difficult to express my gratitude or find the perfect gift for someone who means a lot to me, and that difficulty can spread to Neopia.
Who can I be kind to? -- There are tons of users on this site! Since the late 90s, lots of people have realized how fun it can be to create a virtual pet, play thousands of games, and chat with likeminded people on a regular basis. Are all of these users worthy of a kind gesture? Certainly! You could soothe even the hardest of hearts with a random act of kindness. Here are some other ideas for people you could spread a smile to:
Your neofriends! These people care about you enough to add you to their list of friends, and hopefully they keep in contact with you on a regular basis. If you appreciate their friendship, why not return the favor?
If you're in a guild, sending gifts or offering kindness to your fellow guild members would be very nice of you. Offer to help out with a guild event, or just send gifts to other members! Let them know you appreciate being in a guild with them, and that you enjoy their company.
Users who have helped you out recently. For example, those who have given you advice or a gift of items/NPs might be good candidates. Keep in mind that it's not a good idea to pay for a creative service (art, layouts, etc.) using neopoints or items, but you can always return the favor with creativity of your own.
Random users who are showing kindness towards others. They might not be directing their help or kindness towards you, but kindness deserves applause either way. Not everyone takes the time to help others out!
What can I do to return a favor? -- Good news for users who are low on neopoints: There are other kind gestures you can perform that don't involve sending expensive gifts! There are all kinds of things that you can do to make another user happy.
When people say "it's the thought that counts", they mean it! Even cheap gifts can be appreciated, especially if it reflects something that the user can appreciate. I was feeling down in the dumps one day and one of my neofriends sent me a Cheery Plant; it's worth 1 NP, but the fact that she used that item in an attempt to make me smile was effective. In fact, I did smile pretty big and I thanked her graciously! I've held onto that gift as well.
What does the person you're wanting to be kind towards need? Do they have a gallery, a wishlist, or any goals that they're working on? Don't be afraid to ask what they're seeking if you can't find anything on their lookup. Gallery items are always a good idea if you can't think of anything else, but if they have a wishlist or any goals listed somewhere, those gifts might be more appreciated since they're of a higher priority most of the time. If you can't afford something that they're looking for, it's never a bad idea to donate some of your neopoints. This can be done by buying items from their shop, or asking them to set up a junk trade. If you want to give more than 800k, you can also have them set up an auction if you don't feel like offering on more than one trade. Every little bit helps, especially for users with more expensive goals.
You don't have to spend your neopoints at all to spread kindness. Simply complimenting something of theirs (a pet, their gallery, their avatar count, etc.) is enough to make a person smile. Helping them out with a problem, or even simply asking if they need assistance, is also a kind gesture. Going to different topics, such as those on the Help boards, is a great way to help others. Show others that you care! A little kindness can go a long way.
If you're creative and talented, why not offer your services to someone you appreciate? Some users seek layouts from those who are good at coding and web design, while others might want a drawing of one of their pets to show off. Be creative! Think of ways you can use your talents for a friend or someone else.
What kind of items do Neopians enjoy receiving? -- You've decided to buy a gift for another user, but you don't know exactly what to give them. What do they need? What's the occasion? There are many factors that can be taken into consideration while shopping for someone else.
Easy to sell (ETS) items are always appreciated! They make great generic gifts if you don't know what else to get someone. These items include codestones, dubloons, bottled faeries, nerkmids, map pieces, and even paint brushes. Some people use these items for training, painting, or collecting but most appreciate the gesture because they can sell the items for quick neopoints. If all else fails, resort to these kinds of items!
Scratchcards are fun for many users! They could either sell the card for some easy NP, or they can test their luck by scratching the card at a kiosk. Either way, this kind of gift is generally appreciated, especially if someone gets lucky and wins a nice prize!
Seasonal items are a great idea for holiday gift-giving. Neopets has a wide variety of items for just about any occasion! You can ask the Shop Ads or Trading/Auctions boards for ideas on what items to get, or do a search to find those kinds of items.
Aside from items they want for a gallery or a goal, there are other kinds of items someone might appreciate if you can't afford anything too expensive. Ask them for a list of favorites! Find out things such as their favorite pet species, petpet, paint brush color, real life favorite color, or real life favorite animal. They might also have an interest in a real-life franchise that is referred to in an item on this site: the Red and White Toy Ball and The Female Nimmo Ranger are two great examples of items that reflect other franchises.
What kind of things can I avoid doing to be a kinder Neopian? -- Someone can perform as many kind gestures as they want, but that's not the only important thing to do when thinking about being nice to others. In fact, kind gestures can be overlooked if you don't avoid rude gestures.
It's very important to read the official Neopets rules! Even if you've already read them, it's not a bad idea to re-read them occasionally so you don't miss updates. Rules are often explained in further detail on the Neopian Times Editorial as well. Not only is this important for your entire Neopets playing experience, but the rules point out things you shouldn't do towards other members.
If you don't like something, be nice about it! People take criticism very seriously, and insults can hurt their feelings, especially if they've worked hard on something. Instead of saying something like "Your Chia is so ugly! I hate how you customized it! You should just give up!" you could offer helpful advice. "Instead of this background, I think your Chia would look a lot better with this background. That's just my opinion, though. Good luck with your customizing!"
Fighting with another user is never fun. Instead of resorting to insults or foul language, both of which can lead to being punished for harassment, you can try to talk things out maturely. Ask questions to make sure you understand the situation, be open to other opinions, and most importantly you need to remain calm and kind, no matter how hard it might be. Sometimes it can be hard to reason with someone else. If you've done everything you can within reason to settle your differences with that user, it's best to let TNT handle the rest or drop the situation altogether. Feel free to block them if they do not stop bothering you, too.
If someone doesn't want items sent to them, respect their wishes. Some users don't accept gifts from other users, especially random ones, for a number of reasons. Don't keep sending the item back if they reject it. If they neomail you, you can simply explain why you sent the item. If you wanted to thank them for something, tell them what they did and be very kind about it. It can be frustrating to have your kind gesture rejected, but don't lose your cool. That will just make the situation worse.
There are a few other things to keep in mind while being kind to other users. Be sure to brush up on the rules before being kind! For example, it's against the rules to announce a giveaway, so if you want to give gifts to random people, you might want to do it silently. There's no need to announce it; not only does TNT frown upon this, but other users might take advantage of your kindness if you let everyone know what you're up to. Also, if someone you have been nice to doesn't seem to appreciate what you've done for them, don't let that discourage you! Knowing that you've done something kind and selfless should be enough to keep you going. There are many other users who will appreciate even the smallest gesture. Who knows? You might even make someone's day brighter just by saying hi to them! Even if you haven't received any kind gestures or help lately, you can still choose to brighten someone else's day by doing something nice for them. It's also a great way to make new friends if you're feeling lonely, no matter what you decide to do. There are so many kind users who take the time out of their day to show their appreciation for other users, but if everyone can take the time to spread their kindness, it will catch on to many others and soon Neopia will be full of even more smiles!