No return for Second Names in Second Life

No to Second Names for Second Lives
No to Second Names for Second Lives

After several months of the fastest growing and one of most popular Jiras ever seen on Second Life, the campaign for the return of second names in Second Life has had a definitive answer from Linden Lab, in the form of a forum post from Rodvik Linden – Last Names Roundtable. Actually, Roundtable is a slight misnomer, as comments are disabled there – but interested parties are able to continue the discussion on the thread on Rodvik’s Profile thread.

I will say in passing that it does seem a little odd that attention is focused here, rather than on the much more detailed discussion that has been taking place on the Jira.  I’m not quite sure why that is … is it that the sheer length of the discussion on the Jira is off-putting?  Is is part of a Twitterisation of discourse that means there is a belief that anything worth saying can be said in a short paragraph?

Anyway, to the point.

The essence of Rodvik’s post is that Second Names won’t be returning.

The only concession to those people who argues strenuously for the return of Second Names is that the Lab will be introducing the possibility of having a dash or possibly other special characters that will allow residents to create something that is a closer approximation to the name they want – for example Fred-Williams as opposed to fredwilliams (or by now fredwilliams3006).

However, there doesn’t seem to be any help for people who have signed up with Resident names that they hate but are stick with. It looks as though they just have to create an alt to get the minimally improved names.

Seond Life names get a no!
Seond Life names get a no!

I think, on the discussion, Allegory Malaprop put it best, asking if it would really have been so hard to give newcomers the choice between a second name, OR coming in as resident.  As she points out, the continued existence of portals show that both systems are in fact operating in parallel.

Rather worrying, Rodvik talks of taking steps to remove places where the Resident name appears.  I am assuming by this he means not the actual virtual places like Clubs with announcement boards that see user names rather than display names, but the scripts that render these names in the announcement boards.  However, as many of these are resident-created objects, I’m not sure whether he’s proposing to remove the objects, break the scripts or … do something else.  Can something else be a possibility, scripters?

What makes this all the more sad is that, in his post, Rodvik acknowledges at some length the bonding created by last names, and the shared “frontier” spirit that older residents express.  He talks of looking into ways of trying to bring these back … and there will be more discussion on this, he promises.

But the comments in response to his announcement are, at the moment, largely just disappointed and sad – in a few cases bitter.  I must admit to feeling rather disappointed myself.  And worried – because his current suggestions for bringing back the earlier spirit – new mainland, better mainland, new Linden Homes … these are all predicated on residents spending money.  And at the moment, Second Life is not the shiny that people are spending money on.  Will a revitalised community spirit reverse this? It could – but in order to do that, the Lab needs to find ways of engaging people without asking them to spend money (that can come later).

And the Lab has just blown off one way that could have given a greater degree of engagement and building community – without costing residents money.


  1. thanks Prim. You’ve said it all already. It’s just confusing why something that (seems like) it wouldn’t “cost” them anything is denied… perhaps it’s a small thing compared to getting servers that really perform… but exactly as you’ve said, fredwilliams3006 just isn’t immersive the way Fred Williamsish was… for me it’s all about immersion here… American Apparel and ATI and Obama who had such a presence here in ’07 aren’t coming back… the business teleconferencing thing still seems weird to me… it still isn’t (thankfully) “a game”… so that leaves immersion… RP… and “Resident” is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. Honestly, if they’d had “Resident” back when I joined… I wouldn’t be the person I am today… and there’s a decent chance I wouldn’t even still be here.

    Of course, to me, FAR MORE troubling than this… is their new restrictions on TPV’s that they have to, paraphrasing, “be as shitty as the LL viewer” — OMG — this just kills me 😦

  2. Using group titles and display names gives us the ability to have pretty much any name we could want, but I am constantly amazed at how many people don’t know how to change the way that names are displayed, have never gone into the preferences menu or even that they can. For that matter there are a whole lot of people who don’t have any idea that there are any third party viewers. Taking a new resident under your wing and giving them a few tips makes it a better experience for all of us!

    1. It’s not just that people don’t know how to change display names; quite a large number of people (I suspect) don’t want to see them. I’m one of those myself. There are three reasons why display names don’t work for me.

      1) I have a lot of ‘friends’ on my list. Not all are friends in the old-fashioned sense – many are people that I do business with. I need to be able to recognise a core identity – if they change their name once a month, they will slip from their place on my friends list and it will be much harder to find them quickly when I need them.

      2) This problem is compounded by the unusual characters that people may choose to make part of their display names.

      3) If I am seeing user names and display names, as soon as I go into a venue with any number of avatars at all – such as the TV studios – my screen becomes horribly cluttered.

      Those are just my reasons … but a more significant point is that many scripted objects in Second Life cannot recognise display names. So again and again, people using display names will be confronted by their user names.

      I am all for helping newcomers and improving their Second Life experience. Encouraging them to rely on display names is, sadly, not one of the ways I’d choose to do it.

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