Last Names: don’t over-cook the baking

Daniel Voyager pointed me towards a Profile feed post from Rodvik on the situation relating to the return of last names. On his feed, Rodvik writes:

Quick update on last names. Just fyi the team here has been working on solutions for this and it is taking longer than we thought. identity is important so we want the ability to have that wonderful shared experience the old last name system had but also not lose sight of the fact that many people really do not want a name given to them, they want freedom to define their identity, finally we want to consider adding meaningful things like titles etc that can be awarded by the community or some other methods. Anyway bit more complicated than initially thought but progress is being made. Will have a baked plan sometime in February we think.

First off, kudos on looking to make the system as free as possible to allow people to define their own name & help create their on-line identity – or indeed, for those established elsewhere with the freedom to bring their established on-line persona into SL if they so wish. Excellent move, and what a lot of us had been hoping for.

However, I have to admit to going “tilt” in reading the middle part of the update, specifically: “We want to consider adding meaningful things like titles, etc., that can be awarded by the community or some other methods.” From both the responses to his post  and the discussion thread started as a result of it, it seems I’m not alone in this reaction.

To be fair, it is far too soon to comment in-depth on the idea of “community awarded” titles as we have no idea as to what LL are considering – and it should be noted that there is also the get-out clause of “or some other methods” within the statement. However, one cannot help but feel something of a cold shiver of dread on reading anything to do with titles, etc., being conferred within Second Life. Many are already disheartened by what they see as the “gamification” (hideous word) of Second Life over the last 12 months – and something like this, if not handled very carefully could well end up pushing people towards even greater disillusionment.

As it is, Groups, etc., are fully able to confer titles, etc., upon members, and people themselves can opt to take a title for their own through the mediums of either their own group or through the use of Display Names. As such, one has to wonder at the value of broadening this to a “community-based” experience – and precisely what “community” we’re talking about here.

I’d still like to hear more on the subject – if only to feel some of the iciness I feel towards it thaw a little. As it is, and granted I have nothing more to go on given the lightness of detail in Rodvik’s comment, I cannot help but nod when I read Innula Zenovka’s reply, vis:

To my mind, the people considering this would do better concentrate on how to sort out what happens when several people want the same name.

This is not to say I think the folks at LL aren’t considering such a situation; rather that I’d just rather they consider it in preference to hanging a lot of gaming-like bells and whistles on what should otherwise be a “relatively” straightforward task (please note the quotes, I’m not underestimating the technical elements, titles or no titles!) that otherwise stands to gain LL a lot of user goodwill once reinstated.

In other words, Rodvik – it’s good to hear you’re all busy baking plans, but please, don’t go and over-cook things for the sake of it, OK?