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 EnhancementsHaving 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.