We can create a new style resident with an old style name – so why is Linden Lab reluctant to let us?

New Media Consortium: Welcome Area
New Media Consortium: Welcome Area

In the past, one of the residents greatest grievances has been the tendency of Linden Lab to usher in things that are announced as Great New Developments when, in fact, they are something that residents on the whole neither want nor need. The avatar physics that gave us boob and butt jiggle is a lovely example of this – and I’m sorry, but no matter how many people (usually male) argue that this adds to the realism of Second life, I will never be able to see it as more than a fifteen year old boy’s fantasy – “She has boobs! They jiggle!”

The same is true of Display Names. Yes, there were some people who would like to have the ability to change their names – to reflect new partnerships, for example, or to have a name close to their own for business reasons – and yet were unable to afford the expensive corporate option that the Lab offered.  But to force every new resident to come on to the grid with a single name is leading to the most appalling mess as people are forced into increasingly bizarre combinations of words and letters to register at all.  And existing residents, after the first rush of securing resident names for themselves, generally dislike the whole display names thing which just adds unwelcome clutter to their screens and turn it off.

Which means that poor Joe Bloogs (display name) will end up being addressed as ohmygodnoneof thesebloodynameswork Resident (user name) by three quarters of the grid.

My colleague Ceejay Writer wrote an impassioned piece on this about a month ago – What’s in a (sur) name? – which had a very positive response, and the jira pleading for us all to be spared this nightmare now has over twelve hundred signatures – and some very cogent comments, as well as some heartfelt pleas.

But, it appears, the Lab are reluctant to change back.  Well, not just change back – but even to allow residents the choice of the approved surname route.

What makes this reluctance particularly bizarre that it is perfectly possible to create an new avatar with an old style name without any difficulty at all – if you know the right places to look.

A new resident - with an old style name
A new resident - with an old style name

I did it yesterday. I went to a portal site (and many thanks to Whirly Fizzle, who flagged this portal on the Jira) and created a new Saffia from a rather nice (albeit short) list of approved surnames.  You can see in the illustration the new avatar, wearing one of the next new styles that I found in the Library, her name – Saffia Ashland – and the fact that she is just a single day old.

The portal I used (and there may well be others out there) belongs to the New Media Consortium, and it can be found here.  When you register, you choose whether or not to jpin the NMC Community – a group for educators in Second Life.  You enter as a male or female ruth (your choice) but you can equip yourself as any of the basic new style avatars from the Library (for those who don’t know, in the Inventory, open Library >> Clothing >> Initial Outfits and choose the one you want.  Well, that’s what you do in everything but Viewer 2. If you’re using Viewer 2, you’ll need to seek help elsewhere (perhaps someone could share in the comments).

New Media Consortium: Tutorials in a beautiful setting
New Media Consortium: Tutorials in a beautiful setting

And when you arrive, the Orientation Area is lovely, in the best style of Community Gateways, with a wealth of helpful tutorials, all beautifully presented on a well designed island.  And there are fun touches – at the end of the tour, you’ll find a very cleverly designed TARDIS.  When you enter, you’ll discover that it is indeed bigger on the inside than the outside (and someone PLEASE tell me how they did this!) and is preset with suggested destinations within the NMC (the yellow circles).

To be honest, if I meet someone who wants to try out Second Life, I’m going to be pointing them here as their starting point.

But my larger point is this: why is Linden Lab still insisting on something that a large number of existing residents hate, and which is causing misery and confusion for new residents – and landing them with something that may well prove a burden to them for much of their Second Lives?  Why can’t Joe Bloggs come in as Joe Hurricane or even JoeBloggs Hurricane, with a display name of Joe Bloggs, rather than ohmygodnoneof thesebloodynameswork Resident or, at best, JoeBloggs3300 Resident (if he understands the importance of getting the name you want in there somewhere)?

Why can’t there at least be a choice?

New Media Consortium: Inside the Tardis and making choices
New Media Consortium: Inside the Tardis and making choices

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  1. Perhaps the reluctance to switch back to the old system lies in not wanting to admit that this particular “next best thing” has been a flop for residents. Not many people, nor many companies, want to admit that a pet idea is not working according to plan, and that many people even hate it. Mr Humble seems to listen to residents more readily than his predecessors, and I hope he eventually comes to listen to them on this issue.

  2. The problem with the tutorials at the otherwise great NMC gateway is that they reference Viewer 1. New folks with Viewer 2 will be baffled.

    Back when LL still offered a list of gateways in the signup process, we sent all of our students to the excellent set of newbie tutorials at Caledon’s Oxbridge University. Does anyone know if -that- gateway is still available for new folks?

  3. I agree with all the points presented. In abolishing the surname system that existed for years, Linden Lab has accomplished two things: they’ve destroyed the uniqueness of having your very own name and the associated identity that over time, goes along with it and they have created an entire group of second class citizens. In Second Life, we aspire to be better human beings (or Otters, Vampires, Dragons, etc) than we tend to be in First Life and embrace everyone in our culture of inclusiveness-but if you force someone to take upon themselves a name that inadvertantly tells every seasoned resident that “I am a noob”, we will always be catching ourselves trying hard not to think of them as young, new avatars possessing few developed in-world skills, even after a lengthy period of time. Conversely, as time goes on and more and more “Resident” avatars are added, those of us remaining in world will be uniquely identified by our individual surnames that tell all the “Resident” avatars that “I am an anachronism”.

    When I tinkered with my screen name once a few months ago, my favorite sparring partner at Prim Perfect asked me bluntly “why would you want to write an article under a name that nobody knows instead of a name that is known by a lot of people and that has a good, established reputation with it. When I thought about it that way, I realized she was right and that I was throwing away a perfectly good name and a hard-earned reputation to go with it. I changed it back and have left it since. Giving someone the choice to pick their name in world is fine if that is what people want to do. Forcing them to have to do it by saddling them with a name that carries no respect with it and makes it difficult for the best and brightest to climb out of the collective pile and be recognized for their accomplishments is just plain wrong.

    Recycle old names that have not been used for years and come up with some new ones-or better yet, make it a perk of the paid membership to cut down on alt abuse. It’s only a matter of time anyway before people with named alts begin to sell those accounts on ebay to people desperate for a real name. I didn’t get the name I wanted when I came into this world but over the past four years, I have tried to make it the best name I know how.

    I will now climb down off my long soapbox.

    Ethan Westland

  4. So odd that SO many residents despised the new change to “resident,” for a number of reasons, yet the linden official forum shills screamed and said how wonderful display names were, ganged up on anyone who brought the subject up and literally ran them off the forum telling them to “embrace change”. That’s one reason why I no longer visit the “official forum” and spend very little time in SL these days. They merely got what the screamed for. It’s obvious the forums are populated by either linden employees in alts or simply heaps of linden worshiping sheep.

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