What’s in a name

Names in Second Life have undergone a couple of changes in the last year or so, not completely for the good. The resulting issues serve as good examples of LL and the law of unintended consequences, although they were warned by many residents.

One of the busiest posts at the SL jira is SVC-7125 Bring Back Last Name Options! I understand why LL made this change. When they looked at new account creations that were aborted, picking a last name was a major stumbling block. Their solution, however, did not take into account the impact on the social fabric of Second Life. We now have an entire “class” of residents with the placeholder last name of .resident. Because not having a last name restricted the selection of non-duplicate first names, there is a proliferation of names that are not really names, like 1357Bob246. These things may be accepted in “Gaming” invironments, but they really interfere with the more social environment we have in Second Life.

    And then there are Display Names. I suspect LL thought these would solve the problems with not having a last name. The way they prioritize them in lists and such certainly leads one to believe so. If display names acted only like the titlers people used to use, they might have a case. However, the use of ansi coded characters has made them all but unusable in conversation and all of the potential for abuse is coming to pass. As an example, recently there was a case of someone setting their display name to the account name of a well known content creator and hanging out at her store. To my knowledge there was no attempt to defraud anyone, but simply being there and unresponsive to customers did harm to the business.

    Display names are with us to stay. The third party viewers are implementing ways for us to customize how we use and see them and these will find their way into the LL viewers. We will have to live with that and LL will have to live with policing the inevitable abuse.

    Something can be done about last names, however and the residents can help if LL creates a system for them to do it. The problem seems to be finding enough names and vetting them for suitability. A jira type system where residents can suggest names and comment / score them would give LL a list of names to choose from. Cycling names into the availability list for 3 months with the oldest being replaced on a regular schedule would maintain the sense of names being attached to rez date “era”. This could be implemented retroactively with current “.resident” residents having an opportunity to pick a last name based on those that would have been available on their rez date. Personally I think suggesting and vetting names could be a lot of fun.


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