#SecondLife Display Names Revisited

Image by: Randy Son Of Robert @ Flickr

I use a display name, Nal. Simple, easy to spell, and solves the problem of my being called Natalie, which I don’t mind that much unless a Natalie is in the area. So, I don’t care that much about Display Names (DN) either way. I just read Avril Korman’s article, The Name Game: Display Names and the Law Of Unintended Consequences. This is a well written piece on the subject of Display Names. I recommend it.

I am a great believer in the idea that if one is going to complain they complain to someone that can do something about the problem and offer a solution, preferably more than one solution to the complaint.

Avril explains the problems with Display Names. This is not a simple they suck. But, a good analysis of what was intended verses what the results have been. I can’t find any point where I disagree with Avril’s thinking.

I do have my personal annoyance that Avril didn’t touch on. In SL Viewer 2 or 3 it is not possible to copy names in chat. Previously, when I was typing responses I would often copy-pasted names into my response. There is no easy way to type extended characters or upside-down text. Plus getting the spelling of long names correct is a problem. So, Display Names has made it much harder to deal with names in chat.

What To Do?

I encourage you to take the time to read Avril’s article. If you agree that Display Names as currently implemented are more of a problem than a solution, please visit the JIRA SVC-7125 and click WATCH. You can click Vote too, but the Lindens do NOT take Votes as seriously as they do WATCH. So, please click WATCH.

Please send your like minded friends to this or Avril’s article and ask them to consider Watching the JIRA.


I do like the solution that Avril puts forward. I think having an option to enter two names, first and surname, would solve many problems. For ease of signup the last name could be optional. But, allowing one to enter the last name rather than selecting from a list is a good idea.

I also think it really important that some means of changing names be allowed. I understand the possibilities for griefers to change names. But, new users starting out will make mistakes. Especially since no one can tell them what SL really is… they have no clue whether a real name or a fun, rude, or sexy name is more appropriate for SL.

I really don’t like seeing sucky names like bob14253649247593.

While Firestorm has provided a way to keep friends names in a useable order, no matter how many times they change their DN, it is just another annoyance.

I would hope that some better naming process could be devised. With all the pseudonym discussion going on I think it is obvious some sort of Circles style solution is needed for names. Could I have a DN for my RPG/Combat game? Another for my PG circle of friends? Another for Business contacts? I mean this is SL, which should reflect our RL personas, which we do  keep separate.

UPDATE 8/19: It seems the old naming convention is still in use. Hamlet at NWN’s posted: How to Create a Second Life Avatar With a Last Name (If You Hate SL’s New Naming System, Which Many Do)

3 thoughts on “#SecondLife Display Names Revisited

  1. I hope that Linden Lab won’t waste too many time and resources about this. I feel that the “Display Names problem” is being overestimated.

    Ugly names with numbers and names with too many or unreadable Unicode characters: that’s user’s fault. People in a hurry don’t bother to think a better name.

    Ability to change our own actual username: easy to think, hard to implement. Like most solutions to Second Life issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t technically unfeasible-yeah, even if other online services allow you to do that. SL is not a blog platform.

    Ability to sort friends list by username: probably due to developers limited time/resource, not to mysterious Linden Lab decisions. If it’s fixed in other viewers, it can be fixed in SL Viewer too. There’s a process to request new features. I wonder how many of the users who voted SVC-7125 bothered to check if such feature request even exists.

    Finally – I think https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-7125 is the wrong JIRA, or at least its title should be reworded, because it’s misleading. To reinstate the suboptimal First Name / Last Name approach wouldn’t be a good solution.

    • We see this a little differently. I think most of the code to deal with two names is still in place and would be easily restored.

      I think the Lindens missed a great opportunity to move user ID and logon concepts forward. The predefined last names were a problem and obstacle in registration. I remember how long I took to find a last name I liked. If I had not been determined to see what my friends from Myst-Uru were talking about, I might have given up. I think a user entered last name would have been better and removed most of the obstacle. But, I also know that each thing a person is asked to do during registration lowers the number of registrations completed.

      I realize changing user names can be a problem. Technically in SL I can’t see where it is that hard. Users are identified by UUID’s. So changing the login name and maintaining the ID of who is who from the Linden side should be easy. One is just changing a field in the database. I can see changing the UUID would be complex. But, we just open new accounts and create alts now. I think allowing user name changes is a better solution and allows the player more freedom.

      I agree with you on sorting names. Its just a matter of time before the Lindens get that fixed too. You and I make it to many of the same user meetings. I think you understand the Lindens and many of the problems they are up against very well. Also, I agree that the JIRA item’s title could be worded better. But, we deal with what we have. Since others started the movement to get a change made, I’ll stick with just supporting their effort.

      I think there are many unintended consequences from the Display Name change that are negative. I think Avril makes good points. While I would like to see DN changed, I think there are many things with more priority.

  2. Pingback: Second Life Player Retention 2014-21 | Nalates' Things & Stuff

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