How To Get The Last Name You WantMarch 16, 2008 11:39 pm last names, policy, software development
As I discussed in my article LL Changes Join Now Page Again, on 2008-03-14, LL made an unannounced change to their Join Now page. No longer are all available last names listed in a drop-down. Instead, only 60 of the 1000-2000 currently available last names are given as choices. Why Linden Lab has made this change is unclear, and I won’t dare speculate. In any case, this new policy can make it difficult to join the game with a certain last name. You might want to do this if, for instance, you and a friend or partner want to create new characters (brothers, perhaps?) that share a last name. Or you might see a newly-born character with a cool last name in the game, and want to make a character with that name too. So, how can one create an character with a certain last name, given this new, frustrating barrier?
First question…let’s get this out of the way, since not everyone knows this. The last name you want… is it active? If it is not active, it is heritage. This means no further accounts can be created with this last name unless Linden Lab makes a drastic change in policy. Sorry, you’re out of luck. To determine if the name you want is active or heritage, consult SLNameWatch.com. Use the sorting and filtering options in the header row of the table to reveal your name. When you find the name you are looking for, look at the Status column. “heritage” means the name is not available to new accounts. “active-alt” means the name is available through the CSI:NY or the GossipGirl alternative registration portals. These registration portals are special because they have an exclusive pool of last names to offer (and because they cause me additional grief, to track, but that’s another story). If your desired name has this status, proceed directly to these portals and register without difficulty (save the difficulty of finding an acceptable first name to go with these already well-used last names). Finally, SLNameWatch’s last name status of “active-pub” means that the last name is generally available through Second Life’s normal Join Now pages. Well, it is listed on one or two of them, anyway… sometimes. Sometimes not at all. And that’s what this article is about.
If you’ve read this far, then your desired name is listed on SLNameWatch.com with a status of active-pub. Great! Now what? If you attempt to go to secondlife.com ‘s Join Now Page the normal way, you will get a random list of 60 last names to choose from. Odds are about 25:1 that your desired name will not appear on this page. You could load all 24 instances of the Join Now page (see the # next to “secure-web” in the URL), but you’d have to search through the list of 60 names on each page (1440 names total), and even then there would only be about 1000 unique names among them. Did I mention that the names listed in the drop-down are no longer sorted alphabetically? Obviously, this is an endeavor mired with frustration.
Well, serial alt creators — I mean new Second Lifers — I may be able to save you the trouble. After much research, I determined that the 60 names listed on each of the 24 instances of Join Now is not entirely random. They are random, but the list is only shuffled periodically. I believe the period is about once every 10 to 60 minutes. If you visit a certain Join Now # at any time within the period, from any location, you will see the same subset of last names to choose from everyone else does, as long as they are using the same secure-web#. With this observation in mind, I created a new feature for SLNameWatch, which I spent 12 seconds naming as SLNameWatch.com — Join Now Page Poll. This page is updated every 15 minutes, at 8, 23, 38, and 53 past the hour, but please give my scripts about a minute to compose the page. Each update completely replaces the previous version. Inside the page, handy links take you directly to the Join Now page where your desired last name was last seen.
Here are the instructions from the top of the page:
Use this page if you want to create a Second Life character and have a particular last name in mind. This page will tell you which last names were listed on each of the 24 official Second Life Join Now servers last time we checked. Use your web browser’s Find In Page function to search for a particular name, then click on the bold Join Now# link above the block of names. This will take you directly to the Join Now page where this name was last seen by my bot less than 15 minutes ago. The data on this page quickly falls out of date (how quickly, I can’t tell. it depends on Linden Lab policy). If the name you have in mind is not listed, but it is clearly marked as “active” on this website, then keep checking every 15 minutes. Sometimes a given active last name is not listed on ANY of the 24 servers, even though it is still generally active. Give it time.
Here is one last heads-up. When you click on the direct links on this page, you have a certain chance of being directly to the new account form you want. Otherwise, you will be asked to join a community. This is another “feature” of Linden Lab’s Second Life new account registration process. At this time, all of the communities list only the last names released in the last batch. Incidentally, you can use this to your advantage, if the name you want is a little older than the 2008-03-15 batch, but is still “active”. Check the “Days Active” column on SLNameWatch to find out which batch the name is in. Anyway, for the detailed protocol in this article to make any sense, you need to skip joining the community. Just look for the grey “Skip This Step” button at the top center of the page. Otherwise the list of names to choose from won’t match what my new feature said it would be.
I hope this new feature of SLNameWatch.com helps you get the name you want, in spite of the difficulties imposed by the new Second Life new account registration policies.
Beta Test Disclaimer: I have verified that the data on this page is accurate for at least 10 minutes after each update, from multiple computers. Feel free to comment if any of my assumptions turn up incorrect (in other words, if it doesn’t freakin’ work).
As is now painfully clear, Linden Lab can change this policy at any time (or even change it back to the way it was!), rendering the advice in this article inaccurate or totally pointless.