Idiocy regarding names

I am actually broadly in favour of the Names of Residents in Second Life being a bit easier to deal with. Poor souls who signed up with "luckiboiii238" as their first name, and who then discovered that the Grid was really not quite the same as a Yahoo chatroom, should really be given some way to compensate for their previous mistakes.

Creating a new, supposedly unique username, and having a "Display Name", though, is Not Good. For almost all intents and purposes, the arbitrary "Display Name" will appear whenever speaking to someone, for instance in Group Chat (whenever that happens to work). Certainly there will be facilities to obtain the username of whomever you are talking to, but that makes almost no difference - seeing the name "Ordinal Malaprop" appear in chat results in the instant assumption that it is one single Ordinal Malaprop who is speaking. Only experienced residents will think to look for usernames, and they will still be annoyed, if not, hopefully, fooled.

Furthermore, this takes away the main advantage of the current surname system - to whit, surnames changed in availability over time, and nobody could now register as "Ordinal Malaprop", since the "Malaprop" surname expired some years ago. Oh, nobody can register with their username as "ordinal.malaprop", but they can come in as "ordinalmalaprop" or "ordinal_malaprop" etc etc, which again may perhaps not fool the experienced but in general is just going to cause confusion. (Correction: Apparently, such cheap trickery will be disallowed: see the comments on this entry.)

If a "username" is to be created - and there is already a unique identifier for every avatar, their key - it should be displayed at all times. Names are supposed to be identifiers. Allowing unrestricted arbitrary changes of names eliminates that value - no matter if hovering over the name in group chat might hint that the name is a fake (an irrelevancy). If one wishes to only see fake names, one should have to deliberately opt to do so.

Still, it is nice to hear that the Laboratory is concentrating on real issues of import.

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Cubey's picture
17 Aug201023:20
Cubey (not verified)

I, too, am concerned about the dual levels of names. It seems like a gift to griefers if the real name is hidden behind a couple of clicks. As well, scripts will still refer to people by their "true" name.

All they had to do was come up with a mechanism, even a slow one, for correcting poorly-made name choices. Now we have layered names and difficulty knowing who we're even talking to.

The possibility for identity theft, as you alluded, is likely. How long until someone changes their "display" name to "Cubey Terra" and starts griefing sims?

"No, no, that's wasn't me!" I'll shout.

"Shut up, griefer. Banned."

Rhianon Jameson's picture
17 Aug201023:35
Rhianon Jameson (not verified)

The feature sounds most useful - for legitimate purposes, anyway - for role-playing. At present, one has to either create an alt with the desired RP name or use one of those awkward signs above one's head that, while one's Linden-approved name might be "Ordinal Malaprop," one is known as "Lash LaRue" in this sim. (Or one can proclaim that one is "Reggie's Sex Toy" or other pieces of Too Much Information.) The latter solution certainly diminishes the immersive nature of the RP environment, while the former has its own drawbacks.

Still, I agree the whole thing seems both potentially awkward and not exactly a top priority.

Whatcha Eaton's picture
18 Aug201007:16
Whatcha Eaton (not verified)

While I have only been able to see what the Lindens have shown to us all, it occurred to me that being able to set the display name is a Viewer 2-only feature. Worse yet, it would seem the only way someone could confirm the actual "username" of an avatar would be to run Viewer 2. Versions 1.23 (and the third-party viewers based thereon) will not have a mechanism for "sanity checking" displayed names.

Perhaps I'm wrong. I hope I am wrong.

Karin McElroy's picture
18 Aug201008:37
Karin McElroy (not verified)

I think the new display name function is a key component of the new attempt to bring Second Life into the "mainstream", since it would allow representatives of educational institutions and businesses (not to mention the now heavily courted social networking crowd) to use their real life names. I am not an enthusiastic fan of this recent SL as social networking service trend in general, to say the least. But that's a discussion for another time. Obviously, roleplayers can get some use out of this functionality as well, but that's not really what's motivating the change. I don't think LL set out with the intent to cause headaches for their current customer base with this idea, but I don't see that they have fully considered how it would impact those users either. I looked over the FAQ much, much earlier today, and I was a little concerned that there were more hoops to jump through to see an avatar's uniquely assigned identifier than it would be likely for a newbie to navigate (or even think to look for). I'm not too terribly concerned about rank and file hobbyists being put out too much by this. It ought to be obvious enough to close friends and lindens following up on ARs who is who. But I do see one big problem with the system, particularly for especially well known residents. This would be a fantastic tool for scamming the uninitiated (i.e. those who haven't yet figured out the intricacies oh the display name system). Say, a scammer decides to use the name “Desmond Shang” and start taking deposits for land in Caledon from the unwary. That is going to cause huge headaches for Mr. Shang, the newb in question, and the Linden support team. There really does need to be some sort of extra layer of protection or support for large inworld business owners before this goes live. On the other hand, I've always regretted not choosing a more colorful name when I created my account. If they can address the potential for scamming in some meaningful way, then I look forward to a more colorful name in the near future.

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
18 Aug201021:28
Ordinal Malaprop

Let us hope that should this become Live, issues such as this will have been addressed first. (The "issues of import" part was I admit somewhat cheap - there is always something else needing doing after all, and it is far too easy a criticism.)

yoz's picture
18 Aug201021:40
yoz

ordinalmalaprop and other usernames formed by concatenating existing SL names are explicitly blocked: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Display_Names#Are_there_any_rules_for_ch...
Underscores are not allowed either; the character set allowed for usernames is the same as currently allowed for first names.

@Watcha: Viewers that don't support Display Names will all display usernames. Most will display them as "$USERNAME Resident"

(Incidentally, I got this message when attempting to login with OpenID: The username yoz has not been activated or is blocked. However, I was using the OpenID already associated with that account. It was only by going through a password reset that I was able to authenticate. Furthermore, attempting to post or preview results in a CAPTCHA error, despite no CAPTCHA having been initially presented. I hope this report is useful.)

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
19 Aug201008:33
Ordinal Malaprop

Ah, obviously I did not read things properly on that point (it was something that really only occurred as I was writing and should have been researched before adding). I shall add a correction, thank you.

Whatcha Eaton's picture
19 Aug201020:10
Whatcha Eaton (not verified)

@yoz. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

yoz's picture
19 Aug201022:38
yoz

@Ordinal: I must confess that it was a clarification which we added to the FAQ after had first been published, likely after you had read it. (We are still in the process of adding and clarifying in response to questions and comments.) However, this username limitation had already been implemented.

Ordinal Malaprop's picture
20 Aug201010:52
Ordinal Malaprop

Oh well, at least I feel a little less dim now (and have re-corrected).