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.
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.