The case of Last Names

22 04 2006

So last week I was attending a little meeting lead by Cyn and Torley Linden about the planned possibility to be able to change last names. It happened that they wanted input from the community in order to decide what to do. So here’s actually my view on all this based on the meeting and some other input… Read on!

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First of all here is the announcement of the meeting and the corresponding forum thread.

So before going into details the first question is why people might wanna change their names. Here several reasons were identified.

Why to change one’s name

1. You don’t like it (anymore). E.g. if you sign up you don’t know what you sign up to and what your name will actually be used for. So after a while you might think you would have chosen another name if you would have know before what SL is about. Or you might just have enough of your name for some other reason after a while.

2. You have married. You now want to change your name to match your partner’s.

3. You get harassed in-world and you want to get away from this.

I think that might be mainly the reasons in which you might want to change your name.

Now the next questions come up: How is the process and which names to choose from. Lets discuss the latter first.

Which names can be chosen?

So there have been some proposals on which names can be used. One was to own a name and you will be able to give it to other residents and let them use it. It’s sort of a family. In other words: It will be a name market. In the discussion it came clear quite good that this would be a bad idea. Names would probably be collected in masses by some residents who then sell them. Nobody really seemed to be in favor of such an idea. It also wouldn’t be fair for residents joining late e.g. in a year from when it’s started. There might hardly be a name left for them to choose from (at least not the common ones they might want to use). And I personally think that we don’t need another market open (besides there also is no such market in RL).

Another idea was to start another name (right now you can only choose from the ones the Lindens define). This is certainly a good idea. I would go even further and say that the selection is totally open. So you just take any name you want as it’s the case in most of the forums etc. around.
I would even go one step further and say that it should even not matter whether that firstname/lastname pair exists already or not. In RL you also have lots of people with the same names and this is not supposed to be a problem.
Again if this is not the case late-joiners might have problems to choose a name they like.
This might lead into identity problems when you don’t know who exactly is behind a name but again, this might also be the case in RL and if you are able to change your name anyway it’s even harder to define one’s identity just about your name. Nevertheless it might be a good idea to add some unique identifier which is not the UUID (which is used internally anyway to define somebody) but something like a phone number etc.

So my proposal in short: Make it totally open!

How to choose a name?

More precisely this should probably be “When to choose it”. It’s certainly a bad idea to change your name every 3 hours as nobody will be able to recognize you anymore. This might not be a good thing. So it was quite clear in the meeting that it’s a good idea to have some time after a name change in which you are not allowed to change again.
There might also be a fee involved and people were open to that but how much it should be I leave to decide to the Lindens 😉

Various issues

Of course there are issues you need to think about. One thing is of course griefers. They might catch all the good names and leave us with the bad ones (this of course depends on perception ;-). With making the name range totally open this will not be a problem. So basically: Don’t do a market.

Then there’s SL Campus. Robin Linden explained it at that meeting:

Robin Linden: It’s a program we offer to university classes who want to study in SL for a semester
Robin Linden: we usually give the whole class the same last name
Robin Linden: we do this so they are recognizable within Second Life

So here I’d simply say that using a last name for recognition is maybe not the best idea. What should be used is simply a group. And saying that it might be nice to have sort of an address-book in SL. One with groups and so on like you have it in your email program. Then it also would be easier to define groups of people for yourself and it would not be the same group as the ones we have right now. Instead it would simply be ordered by you. I guess you can do that now with folders and put calling cards in there but there’s no real functionality to that and the UI is not intuitive.

How to trace name changes?

Next point coming up was how to trace if somebody has changed name. You still might want to be in touch with that person but cannot find him/her anymore because of that name change. In that case it was proposed to simply have a list of names used by that agent. As the agent is defined internally by an UUID anyway there should be no problem at all.

What about privacy?

So you might not want people to know that you’ve just changed name because the reason for the change is simply some griefing on you. In that case I’d actually propose to create an alt. But you should of course be able to transfer all your inventory to it. If no-trans objects are not transfered then this is no option. So in the griefing case one idea might be to make a complete one-time transfer to another agent possible.

How to handle logins?

As you now login with your name the question is what you use to login after changing your name. One idea at the meeting was using your email and password. But email also can change actually. Another idea was to use that smaller than the UUID number to login (your phone number so to say which can be 8 digits for a start or even 7 should be sufficient for some time) and the password. This again somebody said might be hard to remember.
I’d actually say I don’t care that much but I’d also be ok with just using my first name chosen. There might be of course a problem when two people have chosen the same first name.. So maybe we go with that number then 😉

Ban people from using their real names?

Well, this also came up in the discussion. I actually wouldn’t ask them to use other names (maybe different on the teen grid). They can use their SL representation as extension to RL and I don’t see a problem with that. I more see problem within keeping these two that different in some cases (but that’s another topic).

How to do banning and person based scripting anyway?

So in land based banning this should be done UUID based. If there are scripts involved then things will get more difficult. There needs to be a way for scripts to get the agent UUID which is even harder to look up by name if more than 1 person has the same name. So this will also affect access lists etc. One idea might be to use one’s unique phone number like ID. This would solve this problem as long as there are functions supporting it.


Fees might be involved in all this but I am against recurring fees. Changing a name can cost something but only once. This was also ok in that discussion I think.

So that’s actually what was coming to mind right now. I might keep this updated when some more comes to mind or I get feedback. I wonder though when such a feature might be implemented 😉




2 responses

11 10 2006
Rediscovered: The issue with last names « Tao’s Thoughts on Second Life

[…] A while back I visited some community meeting about last name in which Linden Lab was gathering feedback on their plans to eventually allow name changes. This was back in April and I also blogged about it here (I was so young back then… ;-). Since then we haven’t heard that much on any progress on these plans (although we all of course had great ideas :-). […]

7 11 2007
TheRedneckSon Offcourse

I have wondered myself what one is to do about this last name issue when it comes to factors as mentioned above… #1 being what happens when you get adopted by a nice family in SL as i have done and then #2 what is to happen when you have partnered with someone in SL which is my next possibility as I have started a relationship with someone SL and i have grown quite fond of this person. I was just thinking about this the other day. How and is it possible for me or my partner to take one or the other’s last name…?

Please help us O’ Great Linden Gods! 🙂 I love my SL world and this would just tie me into it eve greater! 🙂 (however, keep in mind)…. if this ends up being an option… What happens if and when people want a divorce…? Do they create an alt and then you have the issue of (I can’t transfer my inventory to my alt because it’s copy/modify but not transferable… 😦

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