How Cool Is Your Avatar's Name?

Sunday, June 22, 2008 Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mine isn’t. Let’s get that straight right from the top. But yours might be, and let’s find out.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about names, having subjected myself to such a terrible name. If I could do it all over, I’d consider the following characteristics when selecting a new name.

No matter how beautiful a name might be, if it’s too long it is difficult for others to type. Names should be no more than ten characters, and preferably less.

  • Good Examples: Amy Stork, Moto Gaffer
  • Not So Good Examples: Hibbabalibba McMahon, morenoandaluz Hax

Some names are simply difficult to spell, regardless of length. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it must have something to do with the similarity of the name to common words or whether the spelling matches the pronunciation.
  • Good Examples: Carm Benigni, Jimbo Goalpost
  • Not So Good Examples: Mtmike Cao, vincenzobrescia79 May and those two lengthy ones above

You can spell it, you can type it. But can you say it? Is the correct pronunciation obvious, or are there multiple possible pronunciations?
  • Good Examples: Chase Bade, Farley Runo, Vint Falken
  • Not So Good Examples: Eibhleann McMillan, Arminasx (sigh)

Will you remember the avatar’s name tomorrow? Was it something that caught your attention, or was it a generic name that is easily lost in your memory?
  • Good Examples: Imnotgoing Sideways, Washu Zebrastripe, Ancient Roar
  • Not So Good Examples: Buddy Aaron, Doc Baker

Look, if you have digits hanging from the tail-end of your name you obviously just moved over from AOL, right? A definite no-no.
  • Good Examples: too numerous to mention
  • Not So Good Example: Burdin7658 Daniels, m4D McMillan

Unfortunately you cannot adjust the case of your name after its registered. Some have capitalized the first letter, some have not. Some used mixed case, and a few use caps ALL THE WAY THROUGH. I prefer first-letter capitalization or mixed case. However, I must say one friend who uses an ALL CAPS name is very easy to locate in busy chat logs.
  • Good Examples: , LordRingsMottoEatMore Food (but fails on a few other counts)
  • Not So Good Examples: DOLLY Descenna, mAlice Mauvaise, MANDALANDA Allen

The rhythm is the audible fit of the first name and the last name. One theory of naming says you should combine single syllable names with multiple syllable names. They just sound better when you say them. Often this means ending the first name with a vowel and beginning the last name with a consonant, or vice versa.
  • Good Examples: Zoe Connolly, Lovely Person
  • Not So Good Examples: Manicexpression Beebe, Nardok Corrimal

Can the name be quickly abbreviated for use in chats in a way that it is still unique? What 3-5 characters can be readily identified as the avatar’s name?
  • Good Example: Tym (Tymmerie Thorne)
  • Not So Good Example: Nathalie Defiant (Nat could mean Natalie, Nathan, Natasha, Natassia, Nathaniel, Natu, etc.)

Linden Lab has done a paramount job selecting unusual and interesting last names. Our job is to select a first name that somehow matches the semantic qualities of the last name.
  • Good Examples: White Noel, Dakota Blackmountain, TreeSong Moonbeam, mannafest Destiny
  • Not So Good Examples: HannahLeigh Hotshot, Kenny Tempura, RAFTWET Jewell

Did you know there are 1546 people with the name "Aaron"? It can be confusing if your circle of friends have people with identical first names: "AaronB", "AaronP", etc. A good name would be completely unique, with no possibility of confusion with others.
  • Good Example: Arminasx (but alas, fails miserably on several other counts...)
  • Bad Examples: Aaron, Charles, Rob, Pablo, Adam (see more at Obijan's list of most popular names)

You may disagree with these factors, as they are only my personal opinion. Perhaps we can make name analysis more interesting? Next week I will try to post a scoring system that you can use to check your own name against these factors.


Anonymous said...

Best name, hands down, is razzap snookums. i personally think chugabug Goodnight is a good name too :)

Unknown said...

Although I do wish I had picked a simpler spelling, I love the name I chose. I like that it has so many nicknames and that people are comfortable using them - like Tym, as in the example you gave. I have a friend who calls me Tyms and several who call my Tymmie.

I do wish more people would put in their profiles if it is ok to use a shortened version of their name - I'd feel rude shortening it without asking. My profile gives the go ahead to call me Tym.

Eladrienne Laval said...

Most people mispronounce my name or give it "Ela" or "Elad" when I go by my nickname "Elle"--which is my RL nickname. My name is pronounced "El-Adrienne". I like other folks' clever names though. I actually chose the last name "Laval" to fit the first name, which I picked before signing up.

Web Mistress Julia said...

When I started out there weren't the plethora of other Madames. There was MadameUnderhill Thespian, and MadameG Zagato. And then me.

for at least a year or so. Now, there's a mess of Madame's. But still only one "me"! ;-p

Web Mistress Julia said...

Oh I'm Madame Maracas in SL ... hehee forgot that wouldn't show!

Peter Stindberg said...

I'm always surprised how many people try to shorten "Peter" with "Pete" - whoaw, a full letter saved!

The choice of name is the thing the Lindens made us do first, but which has the farthest reaching consequences. I for my part would have signe dup with my FL name had I had the opportunity. But my second life took so many unexpected turns, which it probably had not taken had I sticked my own name to me.

I think the Lindens should allow ONE single name change within the first - say - 3 months. Don't tel me they could not :-)

On a sidenote: I recently did a lot of business with the owner of BREACH. She goes by the name of "Eata Kitty". It took me several days to realize the pun in her name. And I had to point it out to other ppl as well. However she is rather unhappy with it, and said if she would have known she makes a living from SL she would have chosen another name.

Anonymous said...

OK, you have got to admit that my name is pretty memorable too :) . When I signed up for SL Geico was running a car insurance commercial featuring Speed Racer. The name Racer was available and 'Voila!',GoSpeed was born. With announcement, production and subsequent release of the Speed Racer movie I saw a LOT of hits on my blogs :).

beladona said...

for 1 1/2 years, I was the one and only beladona in world. My name got shortened to bela, but was still pretty unique. Now there are 9 - Beladona, BellaDonna, and other variations, not counting a slew of Bela's and Bella's

but there is still one and only one beladona Memorial!

Dale Innis said...

I remember looking at all of the juicy last names available when I first signed up, but on considering all of them deciding that I would probably regret being a Muskmellon or Wuffersnooze or whatever someday, and deliberately chose the most neutral (and short) one I could find: Innis.

Then "Dale" is taken from the name of the admin-god character in a private Tinymud that I was running at the time, as also short and unpeculiar. The fact that it's sort of gender-neutral wasn't even in my mind at the time. :)

I think I do pretty well on all of your criteria except memorability...

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think I did well on all points. You forgot one: if you feel strong about your gender, make your gender clear in your name.

Many people still think 'Vint' is male, and you would be surprised by the amount of 'oh, you're female' reactions I get after a) using voice or b) showing snapshots of myself. =D

(More clarification, Vint is a short for Vintagedept and I used it on travian for a second account (a different server, no alts ;), when I already used vintagedept. Vint is also close to the dutch 'vent' which is dialect for 'a guy'. :/ vint is also a misspelling of the verb 'to find'. it is 'ik vind' (I find) in dutch, or 'hij vindt' (he finds), so 'vint' is a 'dt' error, one that is made frequently in dutch. Falken I picked because I thought it had a nice sound, and remind me of falcon in english & valk in dutch.)

You'd be surprised how many possible pronunciations for 'vint falken' are possible though. I am 'tendered' each time I hear someone with a different accent pronounce it. For reference, my pronunciation of it is close to the ones Germans would give it. I guess German is more familiar to most than Dutch.

But overall, I'm happy with my avie name. =d

Anonymous said...

Oh, peter, my last name is available (wuyts) once in a while, but my first name (ann) is not. it always says 'already taken' although when i search for an 'ann wuyts' in SL i can find none. :(

ArminasX said...

Oh Vint - you are correct! Gender should definitely be included. Next time I write about this, I'll have to include it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I think I do well in general. Though it seems I fail on 'others being able to spell it'. Though I blame the people who can't spell.

Seriously ... is Daman really that hard to spell?

ArminasX said...

Yes! Damon is hard. But I am not a good speeler.

Anonymous said...

Raul Crimson... I like my SLname, maybe becuase my name is Raul too IRL, so it was easier to use the same here (ok... now you can say i don't have imagination, hehe).

Anyway, about second names i always wanted to be an Electricteeth (i just know one person with this second name in SL and i find it cool and funny).

Peter Stindberg said...

There's some "laws" if you intend to become a bestselling author. Generaly a very short first name, and an about twice the size last name are considered good: Dan Brown, Tad Williams, ...

Regarding lastnames: among the masses of Hax and Oh and Kidd (and funny enough Aurbierre) I never ever met another Stindberg. Ich check Search every now and then - they are supposed to be out there, I simply did never run into another one.

Anonymous said...

The running joke is that just about everyone calls me Thelma at one time or another. It drives me a little bonkers since my RL name (not Thema) gets messed up similarly. If I had known people would say Thelma, I would have picked a name I loved instead of an obscure name no one has heard of before. All that to say, I am happy to be Thema, since it encompasses my SL identity after 2 1/2 years. Oh, and Felix is a fantastic surname.

Heather said...

What a great topic! I have a "thing" about SL names too.. And it makes me crazy that people sometimes think they are choosing a username when choosing their avi name, and therefore use numbers. And in 1.5 years I've only seen 1 other Muggleston. BTW, I think I followed all your naming convention rules... ;)

n8k99 said...

i really like my avname, Mystical Brotherhood, because it meets all your points which was my intention when i named myself.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I'm no longer the only "Erbo" in Second Life, but I am the original; accept no substitutes. :-)

I've been "Erbo" for many years in other places on the Internet (it's a clever abbreviation of my full RL name), and I picked "Evans" for its Colorado connections. The name seems to fit all your qualities for "coolness." I liked the name so much, it's also the character name I use in EVE Online. :-)

Anonymous said...

Someone once said they though my name meant sex in another language... I wonder why....

Vroom Vroom!


Anonymous said...

Length: Short & sweet!

Spellability: Yeah, baby, it's spellable.

Pronunciation: "Mohr-ris Vigg" - that seems easy enough...

Memorability: Hmmm....I chose "Morris" because it was a silly name. Perhaps that makes it memorable.

Digits: None, thank you...

Case: Upper AND lower cases used, thank you...

Rhythm: 2 syllables, 1 syllable. Check.

Abbreviation: I'm generally called "Vig" or rarely "MV". Both seem to work OK.

Match: I think "Morris Vig" matches well...

Uniqueness: Ummmm - not like "Beyers Sellers," but I'd like to think that mine is somewhat unique in itself.

Summary....Morris Vig ain't bad. Could be a lot worse!

Anonymous said...

I picked Coronet because of the car - the Dodge Coronet - and not because I have royalist or Miss World-aspirations.
Laetizia... people have a hard time pronouncing that, but back then there was no voice so what the hay? I tell them to say 'Lay-tisha' or just 'Tish'. I hate it when people call me 'Lae'.
Yeah, I'd have picked a different name if I had to do it all over again. I like my alt's name, LZ Loon. It's sexless and it's a reference to the Vietnam War.

Shockwave Plasma said...

I think I did well with my name, most people seem to remember me.

The reason for so many Aarons, is the bots making accounts and trying to use them for fraud. Then deleting them.

I had this once confirmed by Meta Linden

@vint Probably the same reason for no Ann.

Sin Trenton said...

What a delightful wee conversation. Just the right one to tip off work with for the week.

I had some idea what I was to expect when I first signed in to SL.. this time. I did a very short stunt a year and a half earlier, but didn't stay around due to RL reasons.
So I knew it was a pretty big and diverse place. Which meant I wanted something international, neutral and not too corny. Sin is my RL nickname, from Sinclair, so that was a no-brainer.

Only fear I sometimes had was that Sin Trenton was a too mundane and dull name. Now, I rarely bother, since I like the name and often even use it in other (incl RL) situations.

Anonymous said...

I picked my name, well I can't remember exactly why I picked myname but I created my account in Feb 2007 but didn't start playing until Dec 2007. (I didn't realize how important rez dates can be so I just decided Dec 15 would be my 1 year SL anniversary).

There are a lot of Beatrixes in SL oddly enough though I rarely run into other Beatrixes and have only occasionally seen other Noels.
May name is probalby not as memorable as some but I like it. It fits me

Faerie said...

GoSpeed Racer is the coolest name I can think of at the moment. When I found out it belonged to a dark-skinned female avatar I was even more impressed. Go GoSPeed!

On the other hand I treat people with numbers in their names with great suspicion (and invariably it turns out that I was wise to do so too).

I chose Faerie for a number of personal reasons and for a while I found it a bit limiting as (initially) I worried how I would go as a Neko with a name like Faerie. But with a bit of encouragement from my partner I overcame that inhibition.

The only issue I face now is people who call me by my second name (Hax) as if there was a "The" in front of Faerie.

Unknown said...

Woot! I got used as bad example!
(mAlice Mauvaise)
I have been using mAlice for years and years--well over a decade. I have never had a single person have trouble remembering it, and it actually does flow nicely with my last name (both spoken and in theme), better than my real name does....which just happens to be Alice. Would I change it? No way! I personally hate alternating case & all caps, but the second letter cap is pretty common....there's even a director where I work that uses it in the corporate world.

Unknown said...

I took Charlemagne Allen-- great first name, horridly common last name. C'est la vie.

Skinkie said...

I've been Skinkie (shortened to "Skinks") since I very first dialled up onto the "interweb" many moons ago and it's stuck, so when I joined SL it was merely a choice of surname. Winkler just seemed.... right :-D
I think I score pretty well on your analysis apart from ease of spelling - I get called all sorts: Skinnie, Slinkie, Stinky... but heck, I answer to them all too :-p I love my name.

Peter Stindberg said...

/me thinks he never mispelled your name :-)

The Desperate Writer said...

You've got to go with a palindrome name. Same backwards and forwards. I have a few cool avatars here, and each one is named like that. EMOSEWA!

Seikatsu Koba said...

How Cools is Your Avatar’s Name? – Very cool ;)

According to your examination I meet many of the criterion:
S e i k a t s u K o b a

Length – 8 characters, pfew barely met that one. I give myself 8 out of 10

Spellability – my name can be spelled by the Japanese, of course, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian, and most English speaking people. This is mostly due to their alphabet and phonetics. I give myself 5 out of 10

Pronunciation – I know for a fact that it can be pronounced by the Japanese, Spanish, French, Germans, and most English speaking people. I give myself 8 out of 10

Memorability – this one is difficult to assess and not be biased, most people remember, but then I don’t know if it’s because we become friends or have a business relationship. I won’t rate this one.

Digits – no digits in my name, I don’t like that, I’m not a computer. I give myself 10 out of 10

Case – I was very careful to use the proper case. I’m a pain in the neck when it comes to the proper case for names. I give myself 10 out of 10 here.

Rhythm – yes! Japanese name and last name they flow when pronounced together. Again 10 out of 10

Abbreviation – I couldn’t be happier with the abbreviations of my name: Sei, Seik, or Seika. I have learned that the abbreviation depends on the speaker’s first language. For example, French speaking people always say Seika. I have to say 10 out of 10 here too.

Match – again Japanese name and last name a total fit. Again 10 out of 10

Uniqueness – as of today there are only 5 Seikatsu’s in SL, and I got two of them. Again 10 out of 10

There is one criteria that I took into serious consideration when created my name, and which you didn’t mention, and that is Meaning – Seikatsu means lifestyle in Japanese, and Koba, well, it’s a long story that one, but together Seikatsu Koba means TO ME a lifestyle that is a lie.

I am very vain about my name, but it is the one item of my Second Life that has been most important to me.

Coughran said...

ArminasX, as you know from meeting me at SLCC this year, we BOTH suffer from the pronunciation dilemma. Everyone likes to pronounce my first name as if it rhymed with Hoffman, when of course, it rhymes with "foreign" :). Well, the Irish don't have that problem! Still I am happy to be, after more than 1.5 years, the only Coughran in SL.

Now if I ever can get up the nerve to walk around as one of my alts, named Minstrel Sicling, life will be really good!

Thanks for the interesting article, my friend.


Skinkie said...

Skinkie blushes as she realises she's been pronouncing Coughran wrong despite working with him for over 18 months..

Anonymous said...

I'm the only Arwyn on the Teen Grid, which makes me pretty unique. I don't know how many there are on the Main Grid, but it doesn't seem to be very popular. The TG seems to have more violators of the rules - I know a guy whose first name is 1000, and at least 15 out of every 20 newbies have broken numerous naming rules, with names like "ilikubabi21" and "dfwofni1880" and "0supahunkk9". One of the most memorable that got banned rather quickly was a girl named "Cum Sorbet". I got a giggle out of that one.

Widget Whiteberry said...

Well said, Armi, in both this post and the previous. I chose Widget because it was my father's pet name for me... and then I began searching for a last name that would sound right. Doubtless if I'd begun with the 'A's I would never have found Whiteberry. I've certainly second guessed my last name choice but never my first. And now of course, it's done. All that social capital anchors us to our SL name.

For Virtually Speaking (both the sim and program name) we encourage our guest authors, scientists and policy wonks to use their rl first and last as their SL first. Makes sense for them. I suspect we'll see more and more of that. It's the social capital thing, again.

Anonymous said...

If only I had known on the day I was born that Ancient1 Aeon was going to acquire all these assets and not be able to change his name, I could be any of the names of my alts and be happy with my name. Geez....

Manicexpression Beebe said...

Hmm just like mAlice, I've never had someone say that they disliked my Av name. Many people actually tell me they think it's nice. Yes, it's long but that what nicknames are for: Manic.

Another point; many names have specific meanings and are made with disregard for all your little rules. -smiles facetiously-

Unknown said...

Ginger Rodgers is a good name and easy to remember, but i'm sick of people coming up to me and asking "Where's Fred"..just shows how old some people are..oh and some ask "Where's Gilligan"..LMAO a name is important for a number of reasons. Choose carefully :)

Widget Whiteberry said...

Ginger, you also forget - or didn't know -how many people love old movies, and the iconic nature of your namesake's persona.

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