Second Names for Second Lives! the second simple step to make Second Life residents happy

A few days ago, I talked about one area that Second Life residents would desperately like to see improved – support.

But another thing that is causing a number of problems is the question of user names.  I have written about this before, and about the Jira that is pleading for the Lab to address this issue.  But, despite the fact that 1306 people have votes on this, and 366 people are currently watching it, there has been no response whatsoever from the Lab,  and it is still unassigned.

Second Names for Second Lives! Image designed by Toady Nakamura
Second Names for Second Lives! Image designed by Toady Nakamura

So, today, Prim Perfect is launching a campaign to get people to read the Jira, to vote on it (if they wish) and then to watch it (this is the REALLYimportant figure).

We are making available (to all our subscribers and group members) a poster containing a notecard that explains the issue, explains what a Jira is and asks people to go and show their support. The poster also contains a further poster which you can display in your store, club or any other area where it might attract attention.  You can collect a copy from the Prim Perfect offices in Costa Rica, or from the Second Life Marketplace.

Let me make one thing quite clear: we are NOT asking for display names to be abandoned.  There are definitely problems with display names – but what we are asking is that new residents have, once again, a choice of second names, as the universal “Resident” is widely disliked (just read the Jira).  We want residents – especially Residents – to have a choice.

And if Second Life DOES re-introduce second names and feels they are struggling to find suitable surnames, I sure residents would be happy to add ideas to a suggestion box!

Some Background
Why people want Second Names
Once upon a time – and not so very long ago – Second Life residents could choose their own last names from a list of approved names when they joined Second Life.  Periodically, the lists would change, so residents could be recognised (roughly) by their age.

Then Linden Lab introduced a new policy: all new residents would have just a single name (and the addition of “Resident” as a last name).  This would give residents more freedom, it was argued, and make the registration process simpler as people were being put off by being required to choose a second name from a list that they did not like.

And once registered, residents could choose a display name that could reflect their real life name, or a roleplay name they wanted.  If they partnered in Second life, they could share their partner’s name.  It would no longer matter if two residents wanted the same name – they could both have it as display names. And they could change their name every week if they wanted.

But this new system has proved unpopular, for a variety of reasons.

  •  The new system is destroying identity. Once, everyone entered Second Life with a name that was uniquely theirs and fixed. Now, anyone can be called anything, and that sense of identity is lost.
  • New names become harder to find as every resident now has to enter with a single unique name.  As a result, the user names are forced to become more complex and cumbersome
  • Many people dislike display names and turn them off – and can only see the cumbersome user + Resident names
  • If residents change their display names, it becomes hard for their display name-using friends to keep track of them in their friends’ lists. Some people keep user names enabled to avoid this problem.
  • Some Residents feel they are treated as second class citizens.  While we wish for all residents to feel unique, equal, and respected, the blunt truth is that Mary7365 Resident will not be as warmly welcomed by some longtime Second Lifers as, say, Mary Sprocket or Mary McLeod. For some Residents the generic surname “Resident” has become a burden, under which they feel that they will always be thought of as less than the rest – as some have stated publically.
  • Whether residents use user names or display names, a wealth of created content in Second Life is tied to user names – for example, trivia boards, contests, sploders, etc, where the scripting pulls their actual name. So, Penelope Poppycock answers a trivia question correctly and the trivia machine tells the room that “Penny42747573 Resident” has won. Quite the downer.
Second Names for Second Lives!
Second Names for Second Lives!

In fact, it has ALWAYS been possible for people to register ‘special’ names that they wish to be called. They can do this by creating a group and then creating names within the group – a married couple, for example, can create a group that will show their hyphenated names so that Trixie Florabella could wear the group title “Mrs Trixie Florabella-Jones.” Alternatively, they can wear ‘titlers’, freely available in the Marketplace, that allow them to wear a fully displayed name.

But we are not suggesting that Linden Lab should abandon the display name system for people that really want it. What we are asking is that Linden Lab should let people CHOOSE whether they want to be Residents, or whether they want a full user name.

In fact,  it is still possible to have a chosen second name. Certain educational portal sites still offer this, usually behind a firewall.  How much people want surnames was shown when one of these was publicised recently and over the next three days, 4,000 new avatars registered there.  These were, we suspect, mainly existing residents (and Residents) seeking properly named alts.

For more information, please read these articles in the Prim Perfect blog:

And elsewhere:

Second Names for Second Lives!

Second Names for Second Lives!

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19 comments

  1. This issue of being able to have last names in SL, again, “like the old days” is a classic example of groupthink among a tiny yet vocal minority. In the grand scheme of things, it’s totally irrelevant.

    Please move on to interesting things, like, say sharing the fantastical creations of SL residents (i.e. “prim perfect” creations). I’m tired of getting a bunch of whining in my RSS feed. Show me the magic.

  2. @Troy. I completely agree. This a meaningless issue, and the complaint is backed by supposition and assumptions that minority opinions are universally shared. If you are going to run a campaign like this, I want to no where I can register my vote against it.
    But like Troy said, I would much rather read about what makes our virtual world great. #showmethemagic.

  3. Well, we plan on continuing to show you all the magic – I hope you enjoyed the recent heavily illustrated posts about UWA Art challenges and the artists chosen for Burn2, Solkilde Auer’s amazing Tower, the Steam Dragon Festival on the Isle of Wyrms and the celebrations at the lovely Garden of Dreams. I hope you’ve been able to visit some of those too – they’re well worth it!

    And we’re planning on bringing you a new issue of Prim Perfect with a decidedly nautical twist – you’ll find a great set of eyecandy there – just as there was in our last issue, with all the RFL builds – did you enjoy that? Do you want more very image heavy issues?

    And don’t get me started on some of the awesome places we’re going to be visiting in the new series of Desiging Worlds. The trailer (http://youtu.be/xERnLmA9ACk if you haven’t seen it yet) shows just a little taste, but it doesn’t even come close …

    So no shortage of eyecandy from us.

    But Prim Perfect has always said what we think too. We want all residents in virtual worlds to have the best possible experience and so we raise issues that concern them – because they concern us too: homesteads, event issues, sim closures for reasons that could have been seen and prevented, the names issues and the perennial problems with intellectual property rights for creators. We’ve raised these issues before and – where we think it justfied, we run campaigns.

    You don’t have to read these posts. You don’t have to act on them – but surely giving people a chance to exercise their voice is a function of democracy? Just as choosing NOT to vote is a democratic choice too. People can, after all, go to the Jira and express their opposition to it. Or know about it, and choose not to vote at all. Or, indeed, as Bear wants, make a Jira asking that things stay the way that they are. This campaign is all about choices.

    And if you make such a Jira, Bear, I’ll cheerfully publicise its existence on this blog, if you’ll allow me to take time off from writing about the pretties!

    Troy, this may be “a classic example of groupthink among a tiny yet vocal minority.” Or it may not. It may be that many residents feel strongly about the issue and yet are unaware of how they can register their feelings. I know that many people I speak to are unaware of what the Jira is in general, let alone one specific one relating to this issue. So, we’ve decided to heighten awareness. If people aren’t interested in the issue, then they won’t vote and they won’t watch. Simples.

    But Prim Perfect will continue to raise issues we think are important – as well as sharing the amazing creations that make up our virtual worlds.

  4. I just put up a poster, I can understand that individuals might think not think this cause worth while, there are more important issues, after all starvation rape and war still haunt the world, and even within second life people might consider other issues more pressing, copyright say or griefers, may the lack of an accurate life size replica of the Deathstar, or the poor quality of some genital attachments.

    What I can not understand is active opposition to this, it might rate a meh in some peoples opinion, but a counter rant? seriously?

    For myself I see the lack of second names something that has changed the culture for the worse.

  5. It almost certainly took a lot more effort on your part to post your -own- whinge here, than it would have, had you simply decided to close this post out and move on with your day.

    If you want to draw more positivity in your life, maybe it would be a good idea to start by paying attention to your own attitudes and then adjust accordingly.

    I personally found this post to be informative, well researched and balanced in it’s approach to highlighting the question of reintroducing Second Life Last Names.

    Thank you to the Prim Perfect team for consistently presenting a publication which IS more in depth than “ooh, look! Shiny!” I, for one, appreciate it, and think it makes the blog more appealing.

    Why did I choose to comment here? Because it boggles my mind, that with all you do to highlight the beauty and potential contained within Second Life, that anyone would be so petty as to publicly criticize your choice of content.

    Rock on, PP. ❤

  6. Im lucky to had joined Second Life before this Resident stuff, that really makes not only feel them 2nd category citizens (as i cant avoid, but as i see a ,, resident with a good look i already know its an alt), but lacking of personality!
    Still i must say that for me, much worse, as i only use display names only, is the characters some use on their display names, with freaking unreadable display names, no matter how fancy those fonts look, they really can’t be read at all.
    But the magic of Sl is also being able to be whatever and dream your fantasies, so if one wishes to be addressed or nobody cant read his’her name, well its in end user choice.

  7. Pingback: Anonymous
  8. This is an issue that has been in the back of my mind ever since display names came into existence, but you have presented it brilliantly and sharply focused. On the surface it may seem like a trivial thing, but it continues to mar the overall SL experience for a lot of us. And considering how easy it would be to continue with something that is already available on other portals, it makes no sense no to do it.

  9. I talked about this on plurk a long time ago, and I know Ceejay wrote about it as well. There is an inherent identity in the name itself, as well, which I think is key to this. I very specifically picked Derryth for the cultural tone of it. The names were, to me, very cleverly selected to reflect a wide range of socio-cultural implications, from ethnicity to creative interest (fantasy, steampunk, and historical names amongst them). Take, for instance, the many artists who selected the last name ‘Oh’ (Bryn, Selavy, SaveMe, etc…)

    I rather enjoyed flicking through the selections when I created my avi. I think someone in their market research dept. made an error.

  10. The trouble with the compulsory “Resident” surname is that it forces people to become “Joe9115” or whatever – when I signed up there were about half a dozen other “Firehorse” first names registered – it didn’t matter because we all had different surnames – and I am (or was) the only female. Now I would have to be Firehorse_6 or whatever – and really not many people want to be a number. Yes, in the scheme of issues in SL it might seem minor – but surnames did have a cohesive effect to the SL community – on all sorts of levels.

  11. Names have value. Literature from all over the world, written and oral, going back to prehistory, remembers names of important people. In Real Life, they help define who we are, we identify with our names, whether we like the ones we are give or not. Some people are so famous that one need only to say his or her given name, like Cher. In Second Life, names have value as well. As residents traditionally chose them, names often took on a very special meaning; names may be humorous, a reflection of a person’s personality in Real Life or Second Life, or even a tribute to a lost loved one. Now, people who sign up for Second Life end up being John1333Smith or something like that. An important defining characteristic is no longer available, outside of a possible few portals. Linden Lab would do well to return to the residents of Second Life the ability to return the ability of residents to define themselves by name.

    As for the appropriateness of PP choosing to take on this issue, I don’t see why it should. Resident names are commonly used in branding and marketing in SL. Too, it is a media outlet that reaches many, and the issue is a timely one, with many residents questioning the Lab’s current naming policy. And finally, to have an opinion in such on such an important issue is PP’s right.

  12. All they need to do is allow an underscore in a user name, and have that underscore display as a space with a following capital letter, and hey presto, you have “make-up-your-own-surname”. Easy.

    I think the most important change they need to do immediately is make it very clear during the sign-up process, in big red flashing letters, THIS USERNAME WILL BE VISIBLE TO EVERYONE AND YOU CANNOT HIDE OR CHANGE IT EVER.

    As it is, the signup process misleads users into thinking that the username is a secret log-in only, and the display name will be what is visible. Linden Lab need to clarify that this is not the case. That will eliminate 99% of the ridiculous names with numbers in them.

  13. People who vote “against” the return of Second Life Surnames are NOT, and will NEVER BE, banned out of a land because being a “resident” means to be a noon of sh*t. My main avatar is over 3 years old. I recently built a builder avatar to share the load of my work. And I didn’t like to have my alt banned from my favorite shops (not only one), be ig clothing, hair, or sculpt maps. Residents give the SL creator some money too, but it is like receiving money from mafia or traffic or something. They make us feel small and dirty if we are a “resident”. Vote against those american righteous who think they are the best and f*ck the rest. Avination, here I come.

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