Master accounts

This idea is not new. Indeed, even now, I’m coming to it later than others, like Ciaran Laval, who posted at the end of last month on the subject. But it is worth repeating here.

Second Life needs Master Accounts

This idea was first put forward a good while ago, under JIRA MISC 2222. Argent Stoncutter has revamped it under JIRA SVC-6212. This idea has significant benefits for personal security, and general SL use:

  • Accounts could be gathered under a single master account, which instead of logging you directly into SL, allows you to select which avatar you wish to use under that account, as Argent explains: so for example instead of logging in as “Argent Stonecutter”, I’d log in as “Argent007” or something that isn’t actually published… and then picked my “Argent Stonecutter” alt from a pulldown.
  • This master account would be far more secure, as the account name would never be publicly seen – once an avatar name is selected, the avatar’s name is all that is visible. Thus, accounts would be better protected from hacking (at the moment hackers already effectively have your account user name (avatar name) – and so are off to a head start. It’ll also reduce the overheads needed for overall account and password management for both the user and LL.

Potentially, the benefits go a lot further than this:

  • Linden dollars could be held in terms of the Master Account, regardless of which avatar buys them – and thus available to all avatars under that account, without the need to transfer funds between them
  • Inventory could be potentially linked to the Master Account, and also made available to all avatars under that account, with content creators capable of setting permissions so that items cannot be shared between Master Accounts
  • Age and account verification are simplified: verify the master account, and all avatars under that account are “automatically” verified.

The master account could be structured in such a way that there is a limit to the number of alts that can be created under it (perhaps, as a finger-in-the-air-figure: eight alts per master account), together with a limit on the number of “free” master accounts which can be created per user.

While this would not stop those determined to create mischief on the grid (griefing and copying), it could help reduce the need  / drama around sensitive topics such as “alt outing” as exemplified by the recent RedZone farrago: LL can ban by master account, instantly banning all avatars under that account.

Indeed, this could be extended into things like estate and land tools, helping land owners ensure, again, that a parcel / sim ban against one avatar is automatically (and invisibly as far as the land owner / sim owner is concerned) applied to the avatar’s master account, thus blocking all alts associated with it.

The idea is one, as I’ve mentioned, that has been raised before, only to remain in limbo. JIRA SVC-6212, however, seems to have traction in LL, with Yoz Linden commenting:

We would dearly love to have unified account ownership, for several of the reasons already outlined. However, do bear in mind that it would require significant changes to many parts of the infrastructure, especially in the billing systems. That’s not to say it’s not going to happen; on the contrary, we’re actively trying to move in this direction. Just saying that it’s noted, we agree because we’ve wanted something like this for ages, but it’ll take a while.

Given all the recent heartache and upset that has surrounded RedZone, I would strongly urge everyone to get over to the JIRA and support (watch) SVC-6212.  It stands to benefit every single person using SL.

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9 thoughts on “Master accounts

  1. Also, practically all commercial OpenSim grids out there work this way. Sure, in some cases, some of us will not wish to give even Linden Lab the exact details for every one of our accounts — I can imagine, say, politicians or top company CEOs not being interested in having their RL data associated with an account with which they have the weirdest cybersex experiences — but nevertheless it’s an excellent suggestion for the vast majority of users. (I didn’t even remember that I had voted for SVC-6212 long, long time ago!!)

    One indirectly related issue is detaching “land ownership” from “avatar accounts”. This is important for corporations, academics, and all community-owned regions, where money is pooled together to pay for commonly held land. In these cases, a silly alt has to be created just for that purpose; it would make more sense to tie the ownership to a master account and not to an avatar login. Master accounts would deal with accounting and bureaucratic issues, not directly with avatar logins and passwords. This is similar in spirit (not in the details, though) to the DNS system, where a “master account” for a company or organisation can hold several different domain names; each domain name may have specific data for technical reasons, but overall ownership belongs to the “master account” — at least that’s how many DNS resellers operate. Web hosting with multiple domains also works similarly: one entity gets billed, but several different accounts are created to deal with each domain, and those can have independent access to each hosted domain.

    So, yes, this might ultimately make some sense, and it’s good to see that Yoz has not exactly said “no” to it, just that it would be hard to implement.

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    1. Thanks for pointing out the OpenSim situation; a couple I’ve visited do indeed work this way, and I’d forgotten about that in my travels.

      I’m not sure detaching land ownership in the manner you describe would work for the majority of end users – although I can see a case for it on the corporate / educational / non-profit organisation use of Second Life.

      “Group” ownership brings with it all sorts of problems in terms of payments – and I don’t totally agree with your summation that it would prevent sims from being defaulted and taken back by Linden Lab, as is the case now if the land owner vanishes. To take your example of three joint owners – the sim is as much at risk if any one out of the three defaults simply because the other two may not be in a position to cover the outstanding $100, collectively or individually. Then there is the risk of in-fighting and who paid what and when, the risk of greater confusion, upset and drama.

      As it stands the easiest way of dealing with land ownership would be to detach land ownership at the individual user level from avatar accounts to the master account, so again, it doesn’t matter which of your allotted avatars you use to buy land, it comes under your main account in terms of billing. LL could then (if they have not already) implement a billing structure for those entities that are incorporated / registered in some way as (for example), companies, charities, 501(c)3, etc.

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      1. I do believe there’s potential in the shared ownership model for accounting, it is best tested on real companies first but I’ve seen sims that have gone under when the person running the sim has attempted to salvage a way of getting ownership when the owner has gone awol and it’s a hard slog.

        Yes if one person out of three defaults, the sim can go under and there would be issues regarding selling sims but I do believe it’s something LL should look at.

        There was talk at one stage of allowing people to use their 512M tier on estate land.

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        1. I can see it working on “real” companies and organisations that have a defined structure and genuine accountability (in both senses of the word). Extending that into the realm of private ownership to me seems to raise all sorts of massive issues that would make it a convoluted and confusing monster to handle.

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    1. Or they could simply make it more attractive by reducing the overall cost. $1000 set-up and $300 a month is an insane pricing pitch for co-hosted environments (which is really what sims add up to), even allowing for the ancillary requirements “unique” to SL.

      That gives two major wins: it reduces the burden on the individual; it makes sim ownership more attractive to those considering getting into the market.

      Third potential win: it starts a chance of revitalising the economy through renewed investment. Just look at the 47% of mainland that is laying fallow and acting as a massive cost centre on LL’s hands.

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  2. “Inventory could be potentially linked to the Master Account, and also made available to all avatars under that account, with content creators capable of setting permissions so that items cannot be shared between Master Accounts”

    Small example: You buy a skin. You have 50 alts. You share the skin designer work among 50 avatars who go around with a skin paid only one time. Nice thoughts.
    ROFL.

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  3. I think this is a brilliant idea. I’m trying to think if there would be disadvantages. I do like having alts to receive payment for various businesses just to keep track of accounting for those businesses, without constant in world notification every time a payment is made. Inventory sharing and alt banning would be huge benefits, along with security.

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