Names Changes: rounding-up what’s known ahead of any launch

Name Changes – the ability for Premium subscribers to be able to choose their own first and last names – is due to be deployed in 2020, possibly as soon as February. I’ve provided two prior summary updates on what has been released about the capability already.

However, while much of what is already known is unlikely yo e news to many, I thought that now we’re almost on the cusp of the capability being made available, I’d pull all of what is known from those updates and via more recent Lab-led meetings to offer what is (I hope) a reasonably complete, one-stop summary of what is known, and what might be surmised fee-wise.

The Basics

  • Name Changes will be a Premium-only benefit.
  • Qualifying users will be able to change their first and / or last name as often as they like.
  • First names will be entirely free-form.
  • Last names will be selectable from a list (see below for more).
  • Both first and last names can be up to 31 characters each.
  • Combinations of first name + last name must be unique, and can never be used by any other user.
  • Subject to final confirmation, it should be possible for a user to change back to a first name / last name they have previously used.
  • There will be a USD fee payable for each name change (see below for more).
  • The ability for Premium members to change their first / last names will be via an option on their secondlife.com dashboard, not an in-viewer option.
  • Names Changes will not be replacing Display Names, which will remain available for any user wishing to use it.

Last Names

  • The list of last names will likely be around 20-30 names, and subject to periodic update.
  • Generally speaking, Previously used last names will not be made publicly available for re-use, but users will be able to re-use names they’ve previously had, per above.
  • Suggestions from users for possible last names may be taken by Linden Lab.
    • A Name Changes competition that saw the submission of 6,000 names closed on January 6th.
  • Two possible means for rotating names in the list that the Lab are considering are:
    • Replacing popular names from the list as they reach a certain number of people selecting them.
    • Replacing “unpopular” names if they fail to achieve a certain threshold of use over a period of time.

Fees

  • While it has yet to be officially confirmed, the fee for using Name Changes will likely be US $39.99 (based on Section 5 of the rules for the recent Last Names competition).
  • The fee will be charged whether changing only a first or last name, or both the first and last name.
  • When launched (at a date still to be determined) the new Premium Plus subscription will offer Name Changes at a lower fee (still TBA) than Premium membership.
  • The fee is being levied primarily to discourage users from making frequent changes to their user name, due to the potential impact on SL services (as everywhere a user name appears must be updated when a change is made).

Availability

  • It is hoped that Name Changes will be available in February 2020.
  • However, at the January 8th, 2020 Web User Group meeting, it was indicated that final deployment is dependent on the Lab finishing all remaining work on the capability and then testing it.

General Points

  • Name changes will be reflected across all of Second Life. This includes things like:
    • Other people’s Friends lists.
    • The Creator and Owner fields of the Edit / Build floater.
    • Group member lists.
    • Marketplace listings.
    • Chat and IM.
    • Plus anywhere else a “live” record of a user name is held.
  • Previous names should be retained by the system, so if you can remember someone’s previous name, you can search on that name and get their current name.
  • At the time of writing, it was still not clear whether a change of name will trigger a notification to those on a user’s Friends list or not.
  • It has taken a long time to implement because Second Life was never designed to support users changing their account name, and as the account name touches every aspects of the platform, the Lab had to go through all the places the user name touches and make sure that any updates correctly reach them without being missed / causing an adverse impact.
  • Incoming users will not be able to pick a last name when signing-up.
    • They will receive the default last name of “Resident”.
    • It they upgrade to Premium as part of the sing-up process, they will be able to change their name via their secondlife.com dashboard, just like other Premium subscribers.
    • Last name choice is not included in the sign-up process because a) it is a Premium benefit; b) it has been found to be a major blocker to users completing the sign-up process (which was a major reason last names were originally abandoned).
  • When using scripts to handle account / avatar-specific information, creators and scripts are strongly advised to use the Agent Key (avatar UUID) as their reference point, not the account name.

References

15 thoughts on “Names Changes: rounding-up what’s known ahead of any launch

  1. If you have any idea how a relational database works. You’ll know that is a breeze to change a “name” if the database is set up with a unique User ID that is used as the index. In SL there is the user UUID, that is essentially the User ID, but if they are using the user name to index other information (inventory etc.), then there is something wrong. Bad architecture of the system. A name change should be free, charging $40 is a rip-off, but I guess some will go for it.

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      1. What I’m saying above, is there is no reason why people can’t change their name as many times as they like with little impact on server resources if the database was set up right to start with. If LL are trying to deter people, it is an admission that the underlying architecture is badly designed.

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    1. SL isn’t a single system – it’s multiple systems stitched together around the idea (like many systems) that the user name will remain totally unique throughout its lifespan. Was it a mistake to leave some of those systems utilising the name, rather than the agent key? Perhaps – but c’est la vie. It doesn’t change the fact that, as Oz Linden is on record as saying, it’s has taken LL longer than expected to find out all the channels names touch, and determine how best to ensure changes are properly propagated across all services and are reflected at every point where they might surface. As such, and as per numerous Lab comments at UG meetings, Meet the Linden sessions, etc., they’ve opted to use the fee as (among other reasons) a means of discouraging people from making multiple changes (and possibly the frequency of simultaneous changes).

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    1. It is hard to see the option generating more than mild use, assuming the $39.99 is the actual fee. While I’m risking getting chased up a Linden tree and having people set fire to it behind me, I’d have been tempted to stick that fee on Basic name changes and brought in a lower fee for Premium ($20.00?). That way, and while it would not on its own be a sole incentive to up to Premium, it might perhaps add to the scales when people are weighing the benefits of subscribing.

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      1. Should they add such fees on premium members, then having to pay a membership fee to access a service only to pay another fee to use the service on top of the first fee seems offensive to me. I know Linden Lab have some economic difficulties at the moment, I understand that and I don’t think people mind a fair fee. With premium membership rates up, taking a commission on MP sales and now this possibility, it would not be right to put a large fee on top.

        It would not kill me nor anyone else to not access a last name change. The feel I’m getting from this just doesn’t sit right with me.

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        1. “I know Linden Lab have some economic difficulties at the moment”

          I’m not sure that is the reason per se in this case. While there is a degree of circumstantial evidence that might point to the purse strings being tighter (e.g. the cost of Sansar – although we don’t know what might have been achieved through the various partnership agreements the Lab has in place to help offset some of that -, the Sansar team lay-offs), I’m not sure these carry weight in terms of the Name Changes Fee.

          As I’ve noted elsewhere, the levying of the fee, outside of the Lab’s stated reason, would seem to be another (potentially modest) means of pivoting income / revenue generation away from land tier so the costs of lowering the latter can be offset.

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  2. You stated that, “Last name choice is not included in the sign-up process because … it has been found to be a major blocker to users completing the sign-up process ….”

    I am here to state that Linden Lab’s conclusion in this matter is erroneous, based on skewed numbers. I am the reason the sign-up process has such poor completion numbers. Yes, I and many others like myself [thousands? more?], who regularly checked on availability of new last names. How did we check on new last names? We began the sign-up process, checked the list of names, and exited the process.

    How were we to know that Linden Lab’s little bean counters were sitting there making a check mark on a list every time someone started the registration process.

    I, personally, entered the sign-up process and checked the last names list twice a week, for the three years I was in SL, before we lost last names. How many times a week did others do the same? Ask around, check with friends, see how many times a week/month they checked the last names list.

    So, yes, I am guilty of causing us to lose our last names …”(which was a major reason last names were originally abandoned).” Mea Culpa. But Mea am not the only Culpa. There are tons of other people [“tons” = “many, many”] out there who did the same.

    So, sorry, Linden Lab, did not mean to skew your numbers. We paid dearly for our mistake. We lost our last names, and those last names have been sorely missed.

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  3. So Linden Lab takes something that the users want and offers it in a ridiculously expensive and unusable form. When we hung signs saying “Bring Back Last Names”, we did not mean “and don’t make them available to new Residents”. The broken system of everyone’s default last name being Resident is exactly what the Bring Back Last Names movement was about. At the least they could *offer* new Residents the option of having a last name from a list or going with the default “Resident”. *headdesk*

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    1. In fairness, an attempt was made to return Last Names “as was” so to speak, was made under Rod Humble’s tenure as CEO, but that ultimately failed due to intervening back-end changes. This new approach has been aimed at making the capability a more “value added” proposition offering greater flexibility – although the price point does make its overall success in comparison with the effort put into making it available – nigh-on two years (although that might not be continuous effort, we just don’t know) – somewhat questionable.

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  4. Previously used names should be available for use again. Mostly ’cause there was a HUGE list of them, and many (like me) have created their avatar and its name way before giving it an identity, changing -display- name once achieved. In my case i am “Amarantha Lorefield”, but after some relationship with others with a Different last name, i’ve choosen “Danielle LeFay”, which is one of those previously used last names.

    Previously used lastnames should be made available, if that happens Many of us will surely make that change.

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  5. There is an accepted JIRA [BUG-227615 Case sensitive options for upcoming Name Changes] that should be made available in the system to allow the changing of letter case for an existing name. For example: if you currently have the name john Smith you could have it changed to John Smith. Would be useful to those who did not consider case sensitivity on their first name when originally creating it, but are now bothered by it.

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  6. I recently inquired about a first and last name change and was quoted $500 setup gee and another $500 charge and then a $500 annual charge. Talk about a money grab.

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    1. The US $500 is for custom business names, primarily intended for enterprise, etc., use (so to use the Lab’s example, if AT&T wanted all their staff who use SL to have the last name “AT&T”, they could purchase “AT&T as a totally unique name, only available to their personnel, and even tied into a customised registration process for their staff who join SL), or for those wishing to use the physical world name. It’s not a fee associated with this Name Change capability.

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