Second Life’s New Naming Policy

by Alphaville Herald on 03/12/10 at 2:22 am

What’s In a Name?

by Justine Babii

Justine Name Change

Back in August, when the rumors of a change in the naming system were first starting to ripple around the metaverse, it didn’t occur to me that Second Life would be doing away with surnames. Protagonist, Murphy, Money, Serpentine and all of the other original 2003 names have been, in my mind, a mark of distinction. Especially “Protagonist,” the name taken from Hiro Protagonist in Stephenson’s Snow Crash. To see one of those ancient names in-world has always been a thrill for me.

Surnames have been a lot of fun and have been a nice conversation starter over the years. In fact, just the other day the esteemed Herald reader and Post 6 Model Senban Babii made reference in the comments section to the fact that we share the same last name. Your surname is like your clan, and it’s always interesting to see the names that people have chosen for themselves. Back when I made my avatar, we could choose the last name and then see if the first name we wanted was available, so the process in those days literally started with the surname.

I’ve also gotten a lot of laughs out of the creativity people have shown in their name selection- OMGWTF Barbecue, Wockin Woller, Celebrity Trollop, Delicious Sorbet, Feedme Coleslaw, Makes Magic and countless other friends and funny names I’ve seen have made Second Life a more enjoyable place. Most of those names, I suspect, were made around the time when I made my avatar and residents started with the last name and then put their clever hats on to come up with a first name. Later, the Lindens changed the process so that people would type in their desired first name and a list of available last names would pop up. This was the way it was for quite some time, until recently.

If you go to make an avatar now, you will see that you only type one name. That’s it. It’s a username, and it might not have any relationship to the name that you choose to appear on the screen in SL. I understand the reasoning of the Lindens- if a newbie selects comes along and uses their Yahoo screen name of Honeybubbles123 for their first name when they sign up for Second Life, under the old system they were stuck with that as their name. Under the new system, they can use Honeybubbles123 as their username and choose an entirely different “Display name” as their in-world name.

Justine Name Change2
who are you?

There are other advantages too. Because we will be able to change our Display Names on a weekly basis, if I’m a roleplayer and I want to play an evil dwarf named Wrinklebutt one week and a fairy Princess named Gwendolyn the next, I can do so without the trouble and expense of outfitting multiple avatars. The Lindens are hoping that they will retain more of their new signups with this system, I’m not sure that this will achieve this goal, but it’s a nice thought I guess.

Currently, display names only work in the beta version the viewer (2.3), but since the new avatar sign-up system has changed over to the one-name system, I’m guessing that the official release is imminent. I downloaded the beta version and took a spin around the metaverse in it. I also did the diva thing and created a one-name newbie- I went with Velcro, which is not so cool as Madonna or Cher but far more useful- and was able to make her look like an oldbie by giving her the display name “Protagonist.” Oh, the horror. For the record, as you can see in the screen capture taken in the “old” viewer, the last name of Velcro, as with all the new one-name residents, is “Resident.”

I realize that none of this is “news” to most of you, Herald readers, but I am hoping to hear your thoughts. As I feel you are, collectively, among the smartest and best informed of SL’s population, I would love to hear your comments. Is this a good thing? Am I the only one that will miss the last names? Will this help SL get new people and retain them? What do you think?

48 Responses to “Second Life’s New Naming Policy”

  1. Orion

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    I HATE the new naming system. It ruins the whole concept of Second Life as well duh, a Second Life. As in a world / life / reality simulator. Its now officially become nothing more then a 3D chat room for all the myspace / facebook / first lifer idiots to hang out in.

    As for roleplay, display names are useless unless you only play one character name across all of the sims you frequent.

    I’ll say this much. When or if this crap ever makes it into OpenSim as an update I swear upon the ghost of Phillip Linden I’m ripping that code right out before it even touches my setup!

    Megh! *spits over his shoulder*

  2. Espresso Saarinen

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    moving the deck chairs on the titanic while the creators/builders who made SL have been sucked out the hole in the bottom of the boat.

    LL lost the vision and the will long ago, actually fired a bunch of it. i just hope it keeps working/alive long enough that a competitive platform arises that has what it takes to support producing ballet pixelle before this platform implodes from stupidity.

  3. Axel Oakeaf

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    That is what i’ve been trying to prove,i think someone in Second Life impersonated me and got me in trouble.

  4. Nelson Jenkins

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    inb4 unrelated SLocalypse commen- aw, shit.

    Useless SL-is-dead whining be damned, I think display names will help get rid of the horrid numbered and lowercase names I’ve been seeing in SL for years. I don’t often see users with numbers in their name that do anything productive, and lowercased names aren’t that much better. So it’s sort of a noob label – hey, this guy doesn’t understand the concept of an SL name, so he’s probably a bit dim in the head. Getting rid of that might help merge noobs into the general population a bit quicker.

    The roleplay aspects of display names are immense, as well. Perhaps we can get rid of those damned laggy titlers.

    Despite this, Orion is right in that people will undoubtedly just use this as an opportunity to use their first life name. While it won’t be that bad for actual celebrities, anyone could see the social and legal implications of people passing themselves off to be who they’re not in real life.

    As for last names, I don’t see much of a charm with them. Most ye-olde-tyme names have a bad apple associated to them (Stroker, I’m lookin’ at you) and finding someone with the same last name is sort of a creepy idea for me.

    Nonetheless, I’ll stick to my non-cancerous Viewer 1 interface, thank you.

  5. Kinoko

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    I hate the new name system too. I think that they should have keep the last name system, or that they should allow us to create our own last names which we can’t change once created, and such. I think that the current new naming system is stupid because now you see people with names like


    Bob521, and many other spellings.

    I hate this system, and think it is the wrong direction for LL to go. The new naming system just makes it more confusing for residents too who are new to SL, and people who dont use viewer 2 and such as well. I like the in game name system display names, but I think residents should be able to create their own unique last names, or select from a list.

  6. Senban Babii

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    Hurrah, I got an mention!

    I should correct it slightly though. “Esteemed Herald reader” should be “opinionated cow and occasional troll” and “Post 6 model” should read “Oh gawd, I was young and needed the money and have done a hell of a lot of other things since then that are vaguely more memorable such as Herald reporter, stage manager, performance artist, dancer, blogger and general tangopants” 8P

    Seriously though, it’s a good point you raise about names. As Fruffy-san is always telling me, I maybe hold onto the past a bit too much but some things are worth holding onto. These names are a part of SL history, just like many of the places we pass through have histories that are passing from memory. I mean, who was the Gulf of Lauren named after, does anyone know? See what I mean?

    What we’re being herded towards now is the idea of disposable avatars, just like Yahoo accounts or MySpace pages. And when your identity is disposable you don’t invest anything in it. And when that empty shell moves around the world you don’t invest anything in that world and that’s one of the reasons why SL is less rich in social content these days. I don’t know why they don’t just rename it IMVU 2.0 and be done with it.

    The other problem of course is that we are all generally polymorphic even if we don’t choose to use that ability. But the one constant was our name, it was the only anchor to our identity. Now that our name can be changed at will, there is no anchor left. Our avatars will become mere shells, perhaps in more ways than one.

    But Linden Lab aren’t to blame, we are. They gave us the tools, we’re the ones who chose how to use them.

  7. Pappy Enoch

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    We am all kinfolks now.

    Welkum to Hillbilly Life, y’all.

    I plans to bekum Enoch Enoch, and like that-there song said, I aims to be my own Grandpaw.

  8. Pappy Enoch

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    I aims to prove it, too, and them Muppet Racals gots all the proof a poor boy like me needs. Here am the future o’ SL:

  9. Just Me

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    The names chosen by SL residents have always been fun to see. Names like:

    Icanmakeyousay Oh

    Fook Noe

    Candy Kane

    and many many more !

  10. Tux

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    This new naming method has me in stitches. For one reason . . . these ‘noobs’ don’t realise we (the 1.x viewer users) can’t see their chosen names. So when we try to speak to them like ‘ hey mynamesux123, stop rezzing karts over my work.’, they don’t realise we are speaking to them because they only see their chosen name.

    /me wonders how many self appointed anti griefers will be claiming to have extra powers by seeing login names as opposed to chosen names.

    Also, how can they possibly AR someone by name now?

  11. Darien Caldwell

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    I don’t believe SL ever lost anyone for the sole reason that they didn’t like their name. That idea is silly.

    I think the current system is probably the best compromise LL could come up with given their goals and the desires of the population.

    But to me, the ‘account’ name will always be the only real name that matters in SL. Display names are just an artifice.

  12. Rawst Berry

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    I was very happy about display names until I learned that last names were being removed. LL should have encouraged the regular Firstname Lastname usernames, and then allowed display names in case someone wanted a nickname or to change a bad name. Now, people RELY on display names which shouldn’t be the case.

    Also, saying you need multiple avatars for roleplay is retarded. You can easily get a scripted object that replaces your name, for example you would type /2 blahblahblah and it speaks with the new name which is even more efficient than using /me when you consider that most rp sims also require some sort of title with your characters name and stats.

  13. had enough

    Dec 3rd, 2010

    I personally like the display name feature. There were a few names taken already when I signed up for SL. This lets me have those names now.

  14. Samantha

    Dec 4th, 2010

    I prefer residents having a last name for all the reasons you stated and more.

    To me, the ‘resident’ last name just spells out ‘noob’ differently. I think a stigma will be attached to that last name.

  15. Little Lost Linden

    Dec 4th, 2010

    The new display names are a clusterfuck. And yes the old naming convention will be missed.

  16. At0m0 Beerbaum

    Dec 4th, 2010

    Wow. Fail.

    I approve of this, however. Now it opens up the possibility to create some hilarious names.

    or pull the “I am sparticus” thing.

    Either way, LL took one of the few things that was still somewhat good about SL and ruined it too.

    At this point I’m convinced they’re trying to sink the ship on purpose.

  17. marilyn murphy

    Dec 4th, 2010

    i have not uploaded a new viewer in the last several years. i don’t even know what version i use. when i log in, the world looks like it always does and i never saw the point to loading up new viewers that people always, and i mean always, find fault with.
    so, not being a whiz at programming or scripting or any of that stuff, does this really have any impact on someone like me at all? will i not see the log in name just like i always have? would really like to know.

  18. lolol

    Dec 4th, 2010

    I am having fun with the new names. Take a person that I do not like and wear their name. I then go do some hilarious stuff and the persons name I am wearing gets the rap.

  19. Dread Judge

    Dec 4th, 2010


    If you log in with the old viewer the only difference for you will be that you might notice an unusual number of people with the last name “Resident.” This is also true of the current version of the “new” viewer.

    This is because anyone that signs up for an account now only selects a username. The last name “Resident” is automagically assigned to them.

    In the as-yet unreleased viewer Justine is talking about, all of those people would be shown on-screen as having just one name, the username they signed up for.

    I don’t know why the lindens think a true newbie will be savvy enough to understand that they can change their settings to hide their username of and replace it with a name of their choosing.

  20. At0m0 Beerbaum

    Dec 5th, 2010



    Good job LL, you just opened your userbase to some hilarious trollan gaems.

  21. Axel Oakleaf

    Dec 5th, 2010


    This is what i’m been trying to say,i think someone impersonated me and got me in trouble for something i didn’t do.

    Plus the fact the only evidence Kalei Vankman has is classifed as Hearsay. Because he claimed he heard someone claim that i was claiming to me JLU,but the evidence cannot be used. You have to have direct evidence,not circumstantial evidence.

    I know Black’s Law Dictionary,but i’m not a lawyer.

  22. Wyrdwolf Legion

    Dec 5th, 2010

    Axel, I really don’t think anyone cares.

  23. Tux

    Dec 5th, 2010

    Actually . . . . . no, your right Wyrd, I really don’t care XD

  24. marilyn murphy

    Dec 5th, 2010

    ty dread judge. i appreciate that tutorial for us puter tards.

  25. had enough

    Dec 5th, 2010

    Cool with this new feature I could change my name to Stroker Serpentine and sell full perm sex beds and not be doing anything wrong.

  26. Gundel Gaukelei

    Dec 6th, 2010

    Linden Lab reminds me of someone who is trying to cure a lethal disease by rubbing in an anti aging lotion. How about something thats not completely useless for a change? Like finally enabling lightshare which would help cover up the eyesores of your mostly untalented and unskilled userbase?

  27. marilyn murphy

    Dec 6th, 2010

    @gundel: hey now! i resemble that remark!

  28. W

    Dec 6th, 2010

    If second life was just like first life then there’d be no point to SL. Yes the old names had some charm, but if you liked them so much you could always give yourself a first and last name in your display name. That’s what nice about this, you can either make your name more like real life, or you can be a magical elf named blarghwizardwhatever from the planet nibiru.

    And all the worry about impersonation is mostly coming from self-important ignoramuses who are so arrogant to think everyone wants to be them who don’t even know how display names work and refuse to understand how they work, read the wiki or try them. I highly doubt there’s gonna be someone impersonating EVERY SINGLE person who bitched about impersonation on the blogs. If so, then SL has worse issues than display names, if it’s THAT full of griefers.

    Since display names came out I haven’t seen a single case of impersonation. Not even one. Most people who use display names simply use them to be rid of a last name they don’t like, or they change it to a name they wish they could have made at sign up. In other words most people are using them as intended.

    Display names isn’t dooming SL any more than it doomed any of the other internet services that use them. It adds more versatility to what you can be in SL, and that’s a GOOD thing.

  29. Takari

    Dec 8th, 2010

    This has got to be the worst idea on so many levels. But one thing I have yet to see anyone else mention:

    I have an old viewer, as many of us do. I decided to make a new character the other day and to my chagrin, I can’t log in! My viewer requires two names. This new character only has one. So basically, in my circumstance at this point, LL is forcing me to update to a viewer I don’t want, a viewer that likely will cause my computer to die in agony.

    Every update I’ve been forced to bend over and take has only caused SL to lag and crash more than the last one. LL perpetually cause me to make the OMGWTF face, and it will probably stay like that after this nonsense.

    It would have been so simple, as others have suggested: Let people choose a unique last name, which would leave most programming mechanics fine as they are. Instead, they’ve taken a horribly misguided naming system and made it so much worse.

  30. Just Me

    Dec 8th, 2010

    Takari .. try using “Resident” as the last name in your old viewer. I’m guessing that it’ll work .. not sure about that, tho.

  31. Hillingsly Hollinsworth

    Dec 8th, 2010

    Yes, you can log the new accounts in using the old viewer if you use the last name “Resident”

  32. Mony Markova

    Dec 9th, 2010

    Will we loose our last names?

    I mean… Why? Why not just adding the display name feature if they like it so much…. LL don’t have a clue… Perplexing, I like my last name, means a lot to me, its part of who I am in SL. For ppl in many countries your last name is very valaible…. this is so LL. Plain ignorant…

    Fail, again. Sad, sad….

  33. Nelson Jenkins

    Dec 9th, 2010

    @ Mony Markova

    If I understood correctly, you’re upset over losing your last name?

    That isn’t going to happen. New accounts won’t have the last name option at signup. They can choose whatever name they want using their display name when they log in. If they don’t, then the viewer just shows them as their login username.

    Old accounts still retain their names but have the option to add a display name. Our usernames have been set to [first].[last], so mine would be nelson.jenkins, which is displayed along with the display name if we choose one. The new Phoenix release still handles chat using usernames, so I show up as Nelson Jenkins in chat, and new avatars show up as [username] Resident. Not sure how Viewer 2 handles it.

    Of course, if you do nothing, your name still shows up as it was originally (Nelson Jenkins for me, because I like my name as well).

  34. Orion

    Dec 9th, 2010

    @Nelson – There’s one little glitch… Say you’re a fan of the series 1 UI and you decide to log in with series 2 in order to try these display name things. After setting a display name, even if you reset it – from then on you’ll be known as Nelson.Jenkins Resident. There’s no way to change it back.

    So just a fair warning, if you’re up to trying this crap out – use a disposable alt else you will loose your original First / Last name.

  35. Orion

    Dec 9th, 2010

    *Gach – sorry for the double post. Forgot to mention, but from then on with the series 1 viewers you’ll have to log in with First.Last Resident instead of First Last.

  36. Millennium Sands

    Dec 14th, 2010

    @ Orion

    Thanks for the warning. It will save me from walking into that trap and ruin my name.

  37. Dread Judge

    Dec 14th, 2010

    I’ve logged into the old viewer, the new viewer and then the old viewer again and my old-style name was fine. Perhaps what Orion is talking about only happens if you change your display name and log out, I don’t think I tried that, but I had no such issues.

  38. Myranua

    Dec 16th, 2010

    Weel at the very least it would be great if LL told you you still essentially had a last name. I invited a friend to try SL and gave her the Pheonix viewer, only it still asks for first and last name. When looked up in search she did indeed still have the last name “Resident”,

  39. Dr Fell

    Feb 20th, 2011

    I think they did this to stop greifers but it still doesnt really help. This new system breaks the registration APi and makes all 3rd party registration useless. Way to go Linden Labs for fucking us up yet again.

    I hate it. I liked the diffrent last names. now when you make a new name you have much limited options which is stupid but whatever

  40. Jaxus Resident

    Mar 25th, 2011

    I can see plusses and minuses to this. I just don’t want to see RESIDENT attached to my name. I really fucking don’t. RESIDENT is not part of the name I chose for myself. It’s fine if it’s appended to me in the system for LL to do identify me but I DONT WANT TO FUCKING SEE IT ON THE GRID AS MY USERNAME…ya know?

  41. Nelson Jenkins

    Mar 25th, 2011

    @ Jaxus Resident

    Yeah, maybe if you read the article it would be pretty obvious that your nametag wouldn’t have “Resident” behind it.

  42. Takari

    Mar 25th, 2011

    For those of us who choose to not use Viewer 2-point-whatever, we continually DO see “Resident” as a last name for all these new avatars. We have no choice. It doesn’t matter what they decide to pick as a surface paint for a name in the new viewer. Our viewer will continue to show “Resident”.

    Linden Labs, please provide a fix/update to the older viewer, even if it isn’t the at the same level of functionality but just some work-around so we don’t all hail from the “Resident” family. It can’t be that hard. This is a joke. Not all of us can use the new viewer. I’m not going to buy a new computer just so I can, either.

  43. Nelson Jenkins

    Mar 25th, 2011

    @ Takari

    Are you some kind of an idiot? Why are you using LL’s 1.23? Use Phoenix.

  44. swift

    Mar 25th, 2011

    @Nelson jenkins

    I would never use phoenix again after recent events.
    That viewer is a godawful example of bloat and they cant even build the linux version so that sound works “out of the box” in ubuntu or mint or any other variety of linux.
    The coding is a godawful mess compared to other better programmed viewers and i dont trust the phoenix developers one bit

  45. Nelson Jenkins

    Mar 25th, 2011

    @ swift

    What “recent events”? Emerald is not Phoenix. If you’re really daft enough to use vanilla 1.23, which doesn’t even get SECURITY updates anymore, then you don’t get to complain about missing features.

  46. Yep

    Mar 25th, 2011

    Go Tiger!!! Go Tiger Go!!!!!!!

    Go getem Tiger :P

  47. Vegas Lilliehook

    Apr 21st, 2011

    So get this.. I play tiny empires and just bribed someone who was 11 days old and had a last name that was NOT resident… wtf?!

  48. [...] There is clearly some precedent here. The Salt Lake Tribune reported in 2009 that President Barack Obama's mother was baptized posthumously into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so even if Paul Ryan isn't personally involved, it still might work. Could proxy baptism and retroactive truthing be why Linden Lab granted Second Life players the ability to use display names? [...]

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