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Changes to Display Names Based on Your Feedback




Along with many other services across the Internet, Second Life needs to separate the unique identifier you use to log in with from the name you are known as inworld. By insisting that the two needs be served by one name, we make it nearly impossible for anyone to use their real name, nickname, role-play name or their social Web identity within Second Life. Our new Display Names feature will finally make that possible, as well as allowing a greater freedom of expression inworld.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve received a tremendous amount of Resident feedback, based on two blog posts -- one announcing Display Names and the other announcing the open beta and Project Viewer for that same project, giving all Residents the opportunity to get hands-on experience with Display Names today. In fact, we received more than 63,000 views and 1,600 comments on those two posts alone, which is very cool! Also, we’ve had thousands of Residents download the Display Names Project Viewer and test out the feature on our test grid which is providing invaluable feedback and enhancement suggestions.

We’ve read every single one of your comments and Jira submissions and as a result have been rethinking certain aspects of the feature with your comments in mind.

Display Names Enhancements
Having taken on board the concerns, here are the changes that I have asked the team to make in response to your input so far:    
  • We will change the default behaviour to show both the Display Name and the unique Username if the two names do not match. If they do match, we will show just one (Display Name). Residents can still change this behaviour in preferences.
  • Increase the visibility of the Username throughout the interface. As the Usernames are unique to each account we’ll make this more prominent in the Profile and elsewhere so that you can easily check who someone is. We’ll also label the two names clearly in the Profile so that it’s obvious what they are.
  • We will make it more consistent so that where you need to see both both names, you will.
  • Improvements to chat so that you can see username if you wish to and so that chat logs include notification of any display name changes by anyone present.
  • As often happens with password creation, we will require Residents that are changing their Display Name to enter it twice, to ensure they do not misspell it and end up stuck with a name they can’t change for a while.
  • We’re looking to add a simple one-click way to copy a Display Name to your clipboard - because unicode can be incredibly tough to type.
Other Ideas being considered

We also received two very good suggestions to help mitigate the impersonation and griefing risks. The first was to use colour coding for Display Names to bring more clarity to names. The second is charging a nominal L$ fee to change a Display Name. The thinking there was that it would deter new Alt accounts being used to misuse the Display Name feature. We are considering both ideas; I will get back to you with the outcome of that discussion soon.

Some of you have suggested disallowing the Display Name from matching any previous Username, but as we have used many millions of names for accounts already that would make Display Names very hard to use as most names would be blocked.

Rethinking Identity in Second Life

The Display Names project is about the freedom to express yourselves inworld -- including using the tag above your head. As people live out their Second Lives their needs for the name above their head may change -- perhaps they meet someone and fall in love, or they make a new professional affiliation or decide to roleplay. This is why an important principle behind this change is that Display Names not be unique or limited.

The Display Names project also allows us to simplify the registration process. In the past, name choice has been a point at which many potential Residents abandon the process.

Display Names is also about the ability to use Unicode characters for our international Residents, something that is increasingly important as we grow.

We recognise that we need to offer this capability in a way that best preserves your unique inworld identity and protects you, as much as possible, against the risks of impersonation and griefing which are the areas where a large bulk of your concerns lie. We are listening and will continue to do so. We will soon provide a revised Project Viewer so that you can see the changes we are making as they take shape. We may have several such iterative releases so that you can see the results of your feedback.

On behalf of the entire Display Names team, we want to thank you for your passionate and thoughtful responses. You are at the heart of our business, and we really value the dialogue because ultimately it results in a better Second Life experience for all. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts as we continue to improve this Viewer 2 feature and others coming soon.



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Yes I am one who was early in the call for color identification of display names. I hope you research this in depth. More fonts to pick from would be really cool for role play purposes too.

Question: What happens with third party viewers that elect to override these choices in order to negate this display name policy/decision?

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One of the saddest things about this whole Display Names thing is we are throwing away our culture.

Fistname Lastname has been the way it's been since the beginning. As new Last Names are made available, old ones are retired. Whenever you see someone sharing your lastname you know they joined SL around the same time as you did.

I'm going to be sad to see this go, just because some people are too lazy to choose a last name. The system worked very well to let people use pretty much any firstname they want, with the neat side effect of creating these "family names" based on when you join.

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A new idea I just had: How about keeping a recent history of display names used?  There could be several applications:

  • As a list in the profile - it could potentially get clumsy to navigate, but a small L$ fee would probably keep the list wieldy.
  • Enable the viewer to show something like "Joe Doe (aka John Doe)" for people that have recently changed their display name - could be helpful socially, and also another hoop to jump through for any impersonators.
  • If someone switches between a bunch of names often, you'd have the option of not charging for going back to a name that the user's already been using recently (making the feature useful for that case, again)

reorganize into bullets

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Zorin, your opinion is your own, but please don't generalize it as we are all different.

For those who do not like to choose from a last name list, this in no way, shape or form, means they are lazy; and I dislike that generalization.

You have your valid point of view; you do not want to see things change, for your reasons.

I have my point of view and I do want to see things change; I am certainly not lazy for wanting it so.

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And as evidence of that, your last name, "Frobozz" is awesome.


-Someone who used to work for Infocom, before they were bought out by Activision.

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Well this will be interesting

Specially since part of one of my user names is ©, ®, and that would make any one using it in violation of Trademark laws.... wonder how LL will handle those situations?

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The default behavior is very important.

We will change the default behaviour to show both the Display Name and  the unique Username if the two names do not match. If they do match, we  will show just one (Display Name)

This is very good.  If someone is trying to spoof my name, it will be obvious unless the person already understands the feature and elects to not see it.

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Thanks for listening Jack. Display names was a giant disaster waiting to happen and I'm glad to see these changes.

It's also good to see the renewed "hey what do you guys think? we really are listening" attitude at LL being shown to actually be true. Way to go! Hope to see more of this attitude in the future!

@ Scott... come on man, when they don't listen we whine, when they do we say "too little"?

@ everyone about to flame me over that: Yes, I know, they've not listened before, blah blah... well this time they did and that deserves something. Is it perfect? not yet. Did they listen? Yes. Give them credit for that at least.

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Thanks for listening - this is very encouraging

Colour-coding seems (to me) the most obvious solution to these problems ... so obvious I'm not sure why you are still just "considering" it.

I hope LL are listening this attentively to people's very valid concerns about teens arriving on the MG.

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A few more suggestions to throw in the hopper:

First: While I agree that disallowing existing usernames as display names would be too restrictive: how about when someone sets their display name to an existing username, the owner of that username is sent some kind of notification (which they can choose to turn off)? That would allow the flexibility you (correctly) say is needed, but would deter a lot of scamming attempts.

Second: I can see some use cases for display names centered around weekly events that would be needlessly limited by the once-a-week rule -- for instance, a roleplaying gamer group that meets weekly. Please consider adopting a slightly shorter window, like five or six days, to give weekly-event applications some flexibility.

Third: Let people revert to their previous display name at any time, or within 24 hours or so of changing. Again, this would be useful for roleplaying games. They could still be restricted from adopting *new* display names more often than the weekly (or whatever) threshold.

Fourth: Give estate owners -- and if possible, parcel owners -- some ability to bend the rules: temporary display names and unlimited changes while on the estate, or estate-owner specified rules for name changes on avatars that are restricted to the estate.

Finally, I hope you will look into extending RegAPI to support display names. RegAPI has suffered from long-term neglect, and could use some love from the developers in general; but a major change like this calls for a significant update to that interface.

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I have great emotional problems accepting this project. I won't leave SL because of it, since such "threats" are just silly.

@Jack: Please answer the following question I have seriously.

The Display Names project is about the freedom to express yourselves  inworld -- including using the tag above your head. As people live out  their Second Lives their needs for the name above their head may change  -- perhaps they meet someone and fall in love, or they make a new  professional affiliation or decide to roleplay. This is why an important  principle behind this change is that Display Names not be unique or  limited.

Historically SL had a unique name-given system. In fact when I joined SL something went wrong and I ended up with a different last name than the one I wanted. I learned to love it. I fail to see how changing my name is about expressing myself? Like I and many other pointed out, lastname-changes in marraiges and RP-names can be solved by other means without destroying our identities.

You call this "rethinking identities", but in fact all our true identities remain in our user-names. Because that is at the end of the day what identifies us. Consider a simple sign that says:

Here lives John Doe.

Who is this John Doe? is it a user name or a display name? There is no way of finding out since signs do not automatically link to profiles. And neither do notecards.

The display name is useless as an identifier in SL just because it can change. A new user may well have a username like hhh4673g and then sets his display name to John Doe.

Now after a while he starts building stuff and begins a small shop. At some point he starts becoming popular. By which name do you think he will be known to the public? If it is "John Doe" then he needs to compete with all other John Doe's in search and he open to major griefing (since his username is less known) and he will never be able to change his display name again. If he gets known by his username then he will start wishing he had chosen his username better and probably starts filing a jira asking for the ability to change it.

In the end display names do not identify us. They will be used for nothing more than fancy tags over our heads. New users will not know that to begin with since they will assume that their display name is what idetifies them. Thus resulting in stupid user names (= identities) that they will hate having.

Look, this is not another post about "did you think about that LL?" I am seriously asking you.  I am assuming you thought this through. You keep saying it is about expression of freedom. So please explain that to me (and please don't start with couples and RP again, since that could have been added much easier and less obtrusivly).

Thanks :-)

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This change solves one problem, but it eliminates the ability of people to effectively "change their name" with a display name. It becomes nothing more than a floating titler.

Let's see, how to really fix it? Maybe something like this?


  • Don't change anyone's existing "username".
  • Allow new users to pick unique non-existing user names, with the  same character set (upper and lower case and spaces) as current users.
  • If you don't have a "display name" you get the same appearance as in current V2.
  • If you pick a display name that's unique using characters legal in a user name, you get "display name" in blue.
  • If you pick a display name that exactly matches an existing user  name, you get "display name" in blue (or maybe amber or red), and "username" beneath it.
  • If you pick a display name containing characters that aren't legal in a user name, you get "display name" in yellow (similar to the appearance in current V1).
  • Existing users can choose a new name (including a "facebook  friendly" single name) for their user name if they want. This is a  one-time deal and costs US$10.00.
  • Anywhere in an input field where "First Last" works, "first.last" works as well.
  • Finally, existing users can "correct the capitalization" of their existing user name, again, one time.
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Thank you Jack, its realy good you are listening, thinking and changing because of our comments.

There are two points i am missing, and i think it can be possible to add this to your changes:

1. Give region owners the option to switch off displayname usage on their regions.

2. Protect Premium members name to be choosen as a displayname.

I know with unicode you can use special letters from other languages to create i.e. Linden as displayname and its near impossible to control that. But for me it would be enought if nobody can easy change to my name with normal ASCII code. Its a little bit harder to search unicode characters to copy a name and only those will do it, who realy want that name for their personal needs, hopefully.

Premium members not only pay for their account, they pay for their name!

This way i am sure your number of premiums will raise, and you show us you care about what paying members need.

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The problem with it as I see it is the design. This implementation is attempting to solve multiple disparate goals with one packaged solution. The goal of allowing a person to use their real name in SL is far different than the goal of allowing a user to play with temporary names for role playing or anything else.

IMHO complying with a new directory structure, use of Real Names and use of Temporary Names could have been approached differently.  By designing each function into the overall system in the best way for each goal separately. What I mean by "best" is the most elegant and seamless way possible. That is by finding a way to avoid having to check multiple ways to identify someone. As well as multiple names above a person's head. This extra layer of complexity that is externally showing just seems to point out the problems with the design. This combined approach seems to me to be the reason for all of the forced overlap of affects on the users.

If you must proceed with this approach perhaps there is good cause for a third category of names such as "Role Play Names". These would be names that a member could change anytime they wanted but would not need to be included IM and Chat. Whereas then Display Names could be a more permanent option per time frame like six months or a year before a member could change it. This could be implemented during the display name creation process options.

This would reduce a great deal of clutter and confusion as well as the temptation to impersonate others. By forcing users to commit to the more permanent name for longer time periods. This would make Display Names for more distinct in separating them from the more frivolous and often changing Role Play Names. If a person is using a Role Play Name it would be obvious to others as it would not appear in IM and Chat.

I also do not understand the insistence on the non-exclusivity of display names. I really do not think it is inconveniencing people that much to have something whether a middle initial or number after a name to continue the ease of use we currently enjoy in finding people inworld.

Quite a few people have suggested that the reason that this feature needs to affect everyone is because of the way it will display information on the internet about SL users? Could you guys confirm if this is true? And if so what precise information will it make available to internet search engines? As if this is the case is it not extremely important to let us know about this in a transparent way? And will we have options for whether we want information to be made available on the internet? Like privacy controls? I am concerned by articles like this one, check link.


And this one-


The problem is that Bowes didn’t have to use his hacking skills to break  into the Facebook site to compile his directory – he simply harvested  publicly available data from Facebook’s open access directory. The  affected users all have one thing in common – they hadn’t changed their  privacy settings to make their pages unavailable to search engines.  However, visiting an user’s profile from this directory would also allow  you to click through to their friends’ profiles, even if the friends  had not made their profiles searchable.
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The stupid blog ate my original post. Grrrr!!!!

Why these things were not planned and implemented in the first place is difficult to see. I'm convinced all of this came up internally at LL when the feature was discussed and planned.

I do think it is too little, too late. While the suggested changes are both necessary and good, given the way this will work, I believe it is putting lipstick on a pig when the best thing to do is to get rid of the pig and buy a puppy in stead. That is, given that display names will go ahead as planned, we will see changes like this in the future that only deal with small problems - fixing little things so that the feature almost works - caused by implementing what I see as a flawed feature in stead of redoing the feature itself to make it work well for everybody (you know; Fast, Easy, Fun). The fact still is that they thought it necessary to protect the Linden name, but not anyone elses name.

Display names will cause confusion if for no other reason than the fact that it moves the one and only unique way to identify others at a glance - the name above someones head - one step away from users. This is not the way to make things easier.

And how is the registration process related to display names? Why are the two talked about in the same context? It is entirely possible for LL to change the registration to allow users to choose both the first and last names themselves without introducing display names.

- Luc -

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As I read these responses, I get a distinct impression that those who don't want change is because they think it will change the "identity," of the citizen using it.

I remember, when I first signed up, I thought it was stupid that I had to choose from a list of last names when for every other web presence I have I was free to choose a complete first name/last name title. I chose a last name without going through the entire list of choices as I was eager to get the sign up stage over with so I could see what this "Second Life," was about.

Having a name does not create my identity. It is a label that identifies an avatar that represents me. I think display names will give me the opportunity to display a name that I would have chosen in the first place, if I had had the choice. I also see Unicode giving other folks from around the world that do not use the simple alphabet Americans use. Whether it be German, or Chinese or any other regional name, it gives more freedom to Second Life Citizens to choose the label they wish.

Those who do not like the idea find justifications for their stance and use dire predictions of chaos and failure if the system is implemented against their wishes.

I do not see Display Names causing confusion. Plain statement. I suspect display names are a compromise that allows existing citizens a choice to use the name they wanted to in the first place, and it will allow new folks to just put in the name they want to. I see no reason why it should be a complete revamp of allowing citizens to just change their names.

I disagree with, "too little, too late philosophy because it is, as I see it, a change that has been desired for a long time and a lot of people tried to come up with some solution that would work. Display Names became that solution. I think it is worth giving it a try. Especially if you don't think it is a good idea. All the theorizing in the world means little; The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

I do not concern myself with privacy issues, ala, someone culling names and such from Facebook. Our registration information is not on a web page accessible like Facebook is.It comparing apples to oranges; it doesn't fit. As far as someone wanting to use their real name in Second Life, that is a personal choice.

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Although I'm glad to know that 'both names' are now planned to be the default, you seem to be saying that those using a Display name that differs from their Username will be able to hide this fact quite easily (in Preferences).

I think you're misunderstanding. There is currently an option to show or hide other people's usernames. This currently defaults to hiding usernames. What I believe Jack is saying is that this will default to showing other people's usernames... but you can still hide them and see only display names for yourself. This won't change how other people see you.

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 I suspect display names are a compromise that allows existing citizens a choice to use the name they wanted to in the first place, and it will allow new folks to just put in the name they want to. I see no reason why it should be a complete revamp of allowing citizens to just change their names.

But just allowing people to change their names would be easier to implement and less disruptive, and would actually allow people to use the name they want - Display names won't do that, because the old user name will always be there.

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All great changes, it's good to see the issues being addressed.

One thing that worries me is it seems your display name will just be another title with the defaults the way they will be now. I suggest using the alternative coloring method you say you are also investigating instead.

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@Jack-   Thanks for the excellent update on the project!

It sounds like several of the concerns I shared with others are being addressed... even if several are still unresolved.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks in the new project viewer.

Due to the changeable nature of display names, if you haven't already...   please do consider making this jira part of the display names project so that gifts/acquisitions from people who then change their display name can be more easily tracked back to an existing resident rather than to an abandoned display name.

VWR-4199 user interface: add a field "Received From" to an item's properties

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Just in my humble opinion, the Name Change feature should be a premium service offer. It would cut down on greifing and people stealing names or trying to impersonate another resident. LL needs to make a better and greater distinction between "Free Basic" accounts and premium accounts and this is one of those times it should be done.

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So its true, I heard inworld but did not, could not believe it.  Anyone who feels like it, really will be able to set their display name to be the same as mine.  My identity, built up over close to 4 years, flushed down the toilet, just like that.

O tempora, O mores.

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