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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


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Suella Ember

There is a lot of unnecessary drama surrounding this with people not reading the FAQ for it correctly (that's par for the course with anything though!)

Having said that however, I do think there is one very legitimate concern. That being someone choosing to have, for example, my resident name (usnername)of Suella Ember as their display name for griefing purposes.

There seems to be a very simple solution to this that would address most concerns straight away. Simply prevent the ability to have a display name if it is already a user name unless you are the owner of that user name. So, for example, no-one can have a display name of Suella Ember or suella.ember.

It was pointed out by Meta that there are issues here. For example both suella.ember (Suella Ember) and su.ellaember (Su Ellaember) could both be legitimate, unique user names and that there are cases such as this. However, as long as the two variations (Suella Ember and suella.ember) are reserved to me only for display names, it get's rid of most problems. Yes Sue Ellamber (su.ellaember) could have a closely matching display name, but then she had a closely matching username anyway so it makes no difference!

I hope that all makes sense! It really does just seem logical to prevent someone form using a display name that matches an exact user names (with a dot and with a space) for the user name owner only!

Ann Otoole InSL

I put forth the suggestion in the comments that LL make display names appear in the Linden Lab green color. Another resident added to that suggesting the font used for display names be different to accommodate those that do not perceive color the same way as the majority do.

I suppose I should go learn how to write a wiki book so the feature can be presented in a manner acceptable to Oz since LL has decided the pjira is not how new suggestions will be handled anymore and instead you have to write a wiki page or something. LL is simply increasing the difficulty of the path to making recommendations while saying they are making it easier.

Anyway this name thing is like viewer 2. It is happening. LL had the code ready before the announcement. There is no point demanding things in hostile posts. If people want to ask LL to make considerations then they need to just make the suggestions without emotion or get behind and support the suggestions presented that make sense.

Of course if this feature causes damages on a large scale then it will be LL that must absorb the liability. But overall the idea is to accommodate certain use cases that involve new resident retention and that is a good use case. As for all the bad things LL will need to put specific language in the TOS about avatar impersonation and add the relevant abuse report categories. And then enforce the policy. In world I expect security orb makes to provide options to penalize people that choose to use display names. And I expect other enterprising developers to begin marketing services to identify alts and display names so the truly paranoid can feel like they are cool with info power.

Nat Merit

I propose that for the first week of this system we all change our display names to 'Spartacus'.

1, It would be funny.

2, Everyone can get used to checking the username of everyone they meet and not trusting the display name.

Toxic Menges

How confusing is this going to be for new residents? this is another layer of WTF'edness that may well turn them off. Easier to let people just have free reign on last names.

Ghosty Kips

I think a better idea, which I'll post to the thread shortly, is the actual changing of avatar names, and not this confusing display name thing at all. A function which should be applied for through support, cost quite a few lindens, and be allowed *once*.

This display name thing is only going to cause more confusion. No longer the good idea I initially thought it was.

Lucius Nesterov

Combine this with the fact that you can change your appearance as quickly as you change your name, and even copy somebody else's appearance (to a certain level of precision).

I agree that colouring alternative names, or maybe just prefixing with "aka" should be enough.

comoro Infinity

There is not a single action LL is able to implement and explain in a way that everybody is beyond any doubt able to understand and or support. What is the priority scheme on this? It seems to me it was ready to go live. As always when LL has something ready to happen they ask for resident's support two days prior. This again confirms SL is beyond recovery and on a path to irrelevance.

Little Lost Linden

"How confusing is this going to be for new residents? this is another layer of WTF'edness that may well turn them off."

That has to be the best word of the year "WTF'edness". :)

Completely applicable in this case. This display name debacle just fits in perfectly with the whole Viewer 2.x debacle.

I understand the good intentions of the lab but they keep pissing everyone off with every move they perform lately. Whatever they are doing, they need to do it differently.

Hitomi Tiponi

Just to comment on "The change means that Residents are no longer forced to choose from a limited set of last names (which has scared off new users in the past)". Maybe they are looking at statistics on how many users quit the process and have found it is a lot. I have done it numerous times - but then gone back in later to try and get a better name for my alt. It does seem like Linden Lab is adding another layer of confusion and complication to the process for little net gain.

CyFishy Traveler

My first thought is "Aw, man, I gotta rewrite the newbie guide AGAIN!"

My second thoughts are various. It may wind up becoming one of those things like Voice where old-school residents scream blue murder, refuse to use it . . . and it winds up only catching on in certain areas because it turns out to be more inconvenient than people expected.

I rather liked the charm of picking out a last name out of a limited list. Creativity flourishes when there certain boundaries to be worked within, and there was a lot of creativity that resulted from that odd little boundary. We wouldn't have names like AM Radio, GoSpeed Racer or, for that matter, Beginning Thursday if we'd been free from the start to pick anything we liked.

So it's the end of an era, in a way. When you met enough avies, you could learn to gauge what "generation" they were by the last name. Now that's on the way out as we deal with murky unique usernames and variable 'display names'.

On the other hand, I can see where there would be certain advantages for things like roleplay or partnerships. Child avies who get adopted would be able to take their parents' names. You could construct a whole other persona without having to fire up an alt--just change appearance and name and off you go.

Still, despite our ability to wildly change our appearances, most resis I know wind up settling on one particular shape the majority of the time because we prefer a stable sense of self. I suspect names will be similar.

Vax Sirnah

While I am looking forward to the rename function (I had come to dislike my last name), that statement in the FAQ makes me all sorts of worried. The potential for confusion, griefing and more is enormous, especially when identity in Second Life is such a big deal.

Buckaroo Mu

The problem with preventing people from using Display Names that match existing User Names is, in a word, Unicode. There are unicode codepoints that look an awful lot like pretty much every "normal" ASCII letter. This technique has been used for years to get around spam filters. There would be no effective way to block Display Names that *look* like User Names.



Not only do I agree with you, I'll go one further- LL has missed what people wanted to begin with. They weren't ASKING for display names. They were ASKING for name CHANGE tokens. That is to say, an actual, permanent name change.

On top of that, LL is missing a chance to raise a little cash. Offer name change tokens at 1KL per shot. People will pay it. A LOT of people will pay it. Limit them to one every month or something.

This display name business is a *mess*, and it doesn't even do what people were *actually* asking for.



Mark Young

Names are not unique in real life so why they be unique in virtual life? Identity involves other signals besides a name - SL should allow for enough signals to be shown (e.g., profile) so that identity can be scrutinized and disambiguated as needed. Of course people should be able to choose any name they wish but perhaps there should be some cost so that names tend to be stable, not changed so willy nilly.



2 things.

1. Because you cannot drastically change your looks IRL, but you can in SL. I may be able to cut and dye my hair and change my glasses IRL, but I can't suddenly make myself 7 feet tall and a different gender in the space of 5 seconds. Your name has more value attached in SL because the other things we use as identifiers IRL are so easily and quickly modified.

2. Identity theft, IRL is one of the single fastest growing crimes. Right now, because we have unique usernames in SL, that is a failsafe against identity theft. Why on Earth would we want to eliminate that failsafe for SL?

(and actually not everyone's RL name is common. Some of us have unique names IRL too.)

Adeon Writer

Absolute visual opt-out of display names will be an available feature Emerald Viewer. (In fact, any TPV that doesn't explicitly support display names will be doing this already when the feature goes live.) I only hope LL will be wise enough to include it on their own viewer.

Dimitrio Lewis

It will be sad to see the end of the last name system. Part of Second Life's charm has been that we all pick an avatar name, something new and unique for our new and unique second life. Each of the last names is connected with a specific era in Second Life history and tells you instantly what kind of a world that person was born into. There are the pioneering Omegas, the Nerds, the Haxs (who are all griefers, you know ;) ). It's sad to see an end to something that helped Second Life to feel like such a close-knit community.

This feature will be appreciated by many users though, and it does sound like an exciting prospect to have greater control over identity. If this helps to win over more converts then I'm all in favor of trying.

Ajax Manatiso

Image this -- the hostess at the Club you are dancing at asks you to tip DJ Awesome -- but EVERYONE in the club is named DJ Awesome!
You are out of town and make a new avi with Display Name of Bob Jones, your RL name. You go to meet the avi who is your RL wife and -- OMG -- she is having sex with .... Bob Jones!
Its presidential election time and 50% of the avis are named one candidate or the other. Grrrrrr-- logging off for the next 3 months.

Wonder what Phillip and the rest of LL was smoking when they came up with this one?

nexus burbclave

Hopefully there will be enough precedent to keep some of the naming whimsy alive. I hadn't even contemplated the change this may cause in the naming landscape. There is a lot of SL history told through the various last names. I ran into a few other avatars named Nexus, but never really ran into other Burbclaves. I suppose joining in 2006 made me somewhat late to the party for a Stephenson fan.

Arcadia Codesmith

I see this as being extremely confusing if display names are visible in 2.x but not in 1.x, given that the majority of users are still using 1.x or third-party viewers based on 1.x.

I see applications for roleplaying sims, but those would be contingent on being able to change alias at will. Similarly, it might be useful for theatre and other performing arts, but only if you can change back after the curtain falls.

I'd be satisfied for counter-spoofing purposes if the real name was always displayed in parenthesis beneath the display name;

Lady MacBeth
(Arcadia Codesmith)

There should be a mechanism for permanent name changes, but with a lock on retired surnames. Like, for example... Codesmith :)

Onyx Plutonian

You've asked a great question. Is there a better way? I think there might be. Other virtual world platforms allow users to have both unique account ID's and display names. One way to do it would be to permit a "Main" account name and a limited number (4 or 5) of display names that can be activated whenever one chooses, a la SL groups. This would then allow for such scenarios as Partnered individuals to wish share an SL last name or Roleplayers who want to display their character's name when IC and to use the Main ID Name when OOC. Perhaps making display names appear in italicized font would help as well.

Daniel Smith

Well, first off, this is a profoundly disturbing bit from FAQ:
>>Display Names are not meant to be unique
>>identifiers. Instead, if you notice that
>>others are using a similar Display Name,
>>feel free to change your own name.

"feel free to change your own name"???
You must be joking, LL. Zero in on
the words "own name" for a moment, and
consider what that is supposed to mean.

What if I dont want someone to use my username as their display name?

This seems like a reasonable request. I shouldn't have to be a celebrity, etc. I just want to avoid confusion. Not to make a pun, but it's my namespace.

I would propose that we get an account setting: AllowMyNameForDisplay
Have it set to "no" by default. If I feel like turning it on so that others can use my name, then fine, that would be me "opting in".

This really feels like the "Dazzle" of 2010. Aren't there 100 items to fix that are way more important than this?

Ann Otoole InSL

My recommendation:

Make the display name render in a font that is visually distinctive (visually different from the SL system font) and does not lend itself to being fooled by Unicode imitations. Default the display name to the LL green color. Allow the resident to select display name color in preferences as long as the color is not close enough to the standard account name color so as to mimic that color.

Little Lost Linden

I wonder if anyone will change their display name to Hitler?

Galatea Gynoid

Everyone seems to think newbies will be horribly confused, but I suspect they're going to be the least likely to be confused. They're frequently going to pick display names like "Becky", "John", etc. Then they'll be forced to get into the habit of looking at the username because they'll need to to know *which* Becky they're talking to. All this hand-wringing about people being fooled by display names... I'm not saying it won't ever happen, but it's not going to be that big of an issue. Newbies will be looking at usernames from day one, and old-timers will pick up the habit fairly quickly I expect.

Oddly enough, it might be helpful, if you're worried about people mistaking someone else for you, to actually make your display name non-unique. Sounds counter-intuitive, but if you simply change your display name to your first name alone, and it's not too terribly unique a first name, it will get everyone into the habit of checking your username to make sure they're talking to the "Ann" or "Mark" or "Hamlet" that they want.

"I am Spartacus!" XD Great idea. What's the plural of Spartacus? Spartacae? lol

Little Lost Linden


Tonight we dine in SL HELL!!!

and afterwards, at the Olive Garden!


Caliburn Susanto

I'm all for the Spartacus idea. Brilliant!

"NO, *I* am Spartacus!"

At the end of the week they could line the SLRR route with crucifixions.

Timo Gufler

I think, that the following things would make the upcoming username drama smoother:

1. high enough price for changing your visible name

2. limitation how often you can change it

3. possibility to register one visible name, that would prevent anyone else using them. By default all the old names must be allocated by the current owner.


Why can't the system be setup so that I can purchase a lock for my display name so that no one else could use it, thus protecting my trademark (which is my avatar name)? I can do that for domain names, so why not for my SL name?

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