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  ‘Second Life’ Surnames: $100 Setup, $50 Annual Fee  
Posted 2006-10-14 by Tony Walsh
Daniel Terdiman of CNET reports that Linden Lab, maker of virtual world Second Life, plans to make custom avatar surnames available for sale. Historically, registrants were forced to choose from a limited list of avatar surnames upon signup, but the list changed periodically. This has been a less than ideal situation for those wishing to use their own surnames in Second Life. My avatar name is Zero Grace because I couldn't choose Tony Walsh--I had to think of something catchy based on available surnames at the time.

Terdiman reports individuals will be charged $100 USD to set up a custom surname, and a $50 USD annual "maintenance" fee thereafter. Corporations will be charged $1000 for setup and $500 per year for "unlimited accounts" (which I assume means exclusive, unlimited use of a single surname). With Second Life increasingly referred to as a sort of "3D Web," it remains to be seen how closely Second Life's namespace will echo the internet domain namespace. The planned pricing for surnames is extremely expensive relative to domain names--I can understand some sort of a setup fee, but a $50 annual fee seems like price-gouging to me. If Second Life surnames are exclusive to individuals, but transferrable to others, I expect to see a lot of speculative name purchases made in a sort of namespace gold-rush (not unlike the rush on dot com domain names in the 1990s). As Chris Carella of The Electric Sheep Company put it: "The namespace in Second Life is becoming valuable and next year it may be as valuable as having your company’s URL."

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Comment posted by csven
October 14, 2006 @ 11:01 am
This makes no sense to me. My avatar is not my website. This effectively turns all avatars into URLs which seems counter to the concept of a people-centric social space.

Personally, I think they're messing this up. People should be able to give themselves any name they wish. Period. Where Linden Lab could charge a fee would be on custom names for parcels - since an avatar's land is more like their URL. So, for example, every parcel would be auto-named (e.g. patagonia 025301). If someone wanted to advertise in the classifieds, they'l likely want their business reflected in the parcel name (I always name my parcels "reBang" or "reBang extension" or...). So in order to get a custom parcel name, LL could charge for that.

The analogy would be that people who pay for webhosting and a URL (like I do with would similarly pay for a parcel name; and those who put their blog or forum on a public social space and don't purchase a custom URL would be content with Parcel #0213489.

This whole charging for avatar names seems screwy to me. While at the Chris Anderson thing yesterday, I couldn't help but look at his avatar name, LongTailChris Anderson, and wonder who might happen to have the avatar name "Chris Anderson".
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
October 14, 2006 @ 1:55 pm
I am mostly in agreement. I think any aspect of SL namespace is important, and therefore a potential source of revenue for LL. I think the model you describe is pretty good, but it seems like LL is just monetizing where it can. Everyone has an avatar name, but not everyone owns land. An avatar name is sort of an address--maybe more like an email address than a domain name.
Comment posted by Brace
October 19, 2006 @ 4:15 am
ugh just as long as they can't like sell the names we already GOT yah?

If you see any Brace Corals wandering around - ask em for ID: a cheese smacker and an authentic perv-stopper - they aint got either - KILL EM OFF

kthxgbye :D
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