Most Second Life users that have talked with me about the topic of the large number of new Second Life user registrations lately are of the opinion that the majority of the extra registrations are due to signups to reserve account names, either as vanity names or as trademark or anti-fraud protection.
It’s hard to get any real sense for what’s going on without actual data, though, so here is some.
I went to the grid today, and asked it for a list of the account names registered under the new system. It’s a bit of a moving target, since many were registered while the grid was giving me the list. So I asked a couple more times and merged the results.
The product is a list of 58,880 account names registered since Second Life shifted from the old FirstName/LastName system to registration of an account with a single name.
And yes, there’s absolutely a ton of registrations there with familiar names, though it isn’t clear whether any given name is for defensive use, for harassment, or just a coincidence, along with the usual smattering of trademarks. Most of the rest seem to be the sorts of things people pick when they don’t expect anyone to ever see the name – which would be the default expectation for new users.
There are already some incidences of in-world prejudice against users whose account names are all lower-case or all upper-case, which is a predictable sort of reaction, people being people. Some of this extends from new users to old users whose account-names now all appear in lower-case.