This has become increasingly relevant and just too pertinent to put off any longer. I continually am asked “Auntie! When do we get to register our names?” – And what they mean is register their roller derby names on the widely recognized national roller derby registry at twoevils.org. I’ve been putting the question off because I have a personal beef with the name registry and am kind of at a loss about what to do. But now I have to make a decision as a league president, on behalf of my team and in their best interest, as to how we are going to handle names. If it were a perfect world, every roller girl would be brilliantly clever and no duplicates would ever occur. And as we all know, all roller girls are not brilliantly clever. Err… I mean, it is not a perfect world. So the time has come for an alternative to the current method to be introduced.
The way I see it, when you’re good enough, you don’t follow the rules, you make the rules. This may sound like a tall order coming from a brand new league but humor me. If East Bay Roller Derby were good enough, athletic enough, entertaining enough and innovative enough, it wouldn’t matter if the national roller girl name registry said my name was too much like someone else’s. WFTDA wouldn’t matter. None of it would…because we’d set the standard. I’m sick of doing it other people’s way, I’m done. No one is going to try and tell me I’m not good enough to make the rules, because their rules suck.
If you don’t know, the Two Evils Name Registry was created by Paige Burner of Arizona Roller Derby, Soylent Mean of Minnesota Roller girls and Jelly HoNut also of Arizona RD, and is maintained on a “volunteer basis.” Its purpose was designed to “ensure that all rollergirls feel rewarded for their creativity by maintaining exclusiveness for their names.” The two evils site has a list of “rules” they ‘enforce’, for example: “Similar names are strongly discouraged, and not allowed without permission from the original skater(s). WRITTEN permission is required, as it is common for skaters to claim they have permission when they do not.” In addition, “the following will be rejected:
- Names that are too generic (ie, "Rollergirl", "Skater", etc.)
- Names that begin with possessives (ie, "Your Worst Nightmare", "Her Bad Day", etc.)
- Names that end in verbs (ie, "Speed Skater" is okay, but not "Speed Skating")
- "First" names where First Name / Last Name combos already exist. (ie, no plain "Anne", "Betty", "Cherry", etc.)”
If all these rules are not enough, your name can still be rejected just for the hell of it. Yep, that’s right. They have a We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone disclaimer. It comes in the form of “Even if you meet all name requirements, rejection is still at the discretion of the roster maintainers.” And I find it irony in its truest form when they have the foresight to mention, “It's OK to have a common team theme, as everyone understands that there are only so many appropriate themes to go around” but then seem incapable of going a step further and realizing there are only so many viable roller girl names to go around. Keep in mind there are 631 registered amateur roller derby teams (www.derbyroster.com) and the number is constantly growing. With at least 12 skaters per team, that’s 7,572 registered rollergirls. Tell me, with roller derby being the fastest growing women’s sport in America, how sustainable is this registry?
Can someone come up with a 40,001
best ROLLER DERBY names plz? Kthx.
I have always felt this registry was sort of malarkey, but I tried to jump through their bureaucratic hoops, you know, to make things easier on everyone. I even had my name plea created all ready to send to Ann T. Social. But they didn’t respect my individuality they screwed me. I am not being rewarded for my creativity; I’m being punished for their disorganization and lack of professionalism. First, let’s back up a little bit; let me give you some history of Auntie Social. I was originally registered on the National Roller Girl Registry in the spring of 2006 with the NorCal RollerGirls. Believe it or not, I don’t care, at the time, there were no other “Auntie” themed names, I was the first. I was under the impression I had made up “Auntie Social” on a long car drive with my brother, (the memory of which is now very near and dear to my heart). By 2008 NCRG re-registered their roster and I, no longer on it, dropped off the National Roller Girl Name registry, but I have been skating under the name Auntie Social with several leagues for 5 years straight. The registry doesn’t dictate whether or not I’m Auntie Social, I do. (Not to mention my documented history as Auntie Social with say, this blog, my several pieces of artwork claiming this intellectual property, [including all my uniforms] and a facebook page, among other things).
Nonetheless, I tried. Ann T. Social apparently skates with the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins and was registered in March of 2006, around the time I was first registered as Auntie Social. Despite the fact that I was not contacted by her at that time, the registry now tells me my name is far too similar to hers, warranting written permission in order for me to register mine. I have tried repeatedly to get in contact with the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins’, those maintaining the name registry, and Ann T. Social herself, all to no avail. I was quite frustrated that after I e-mailed the registry on August 9th and the 15th with detailed information regarding my name and league, I did not receive any answer back. I did however receive automated responses explaining the registry was backed up and they were still working on submissions from February 15th-28th, (it was mid August). However, when one of my skaters e-mailed the registry on her own, asking to submit her name, she got a very speedy personalized response explaining to her that her league president needed to contact them, (ie. ME). Coincidentally, they actually recommend on their website that you “please archive the emails that you send in. This will help in the case of possible future name disputes.” Ha. I’ll say!
And I’m not the only one who sees there is a problem. Because the registry recommends that you “make sure that your skater(s) are really committed to your league before putting their names on the roster” AND explains that because “updates are processed on a first-come-first-serve basis…a name that wasn't on the master roster when you submitted it…might be rejected because somebody sent the name in a day earlier”, time and time again skaters go months under one moniker before being informed they must change it. And like I mentioned, the registry could take 6 months or more to get around to processing your name request. Roller girls get very attached to their alter egos, and it’s a very emotional ordeal once one realizes they have to retire that side of them. As a ref and previous Ewen What Army exclaimed: “I have just received the news that my alter ego has met its demise!” And a disheartened would-be Belinda Scarlisle said, “Why try? It seems too many months go by and they just get taken…wasted money on shirts, everything …sigh. –wonder WHEN exactly my name was ever entered”.
my name is, ..my name is..
It’s a big blow and crushing reality to have to ask permission or worse, change your name all together. Complaints about the name registry typically come in the form of disappointed skaters upon discovering their name is taken, but most still respect the nature of the game. One skater said, “It does suck your shirts are made- I totally feel you! So just don’t have shirts made again until whatever name you choose is accepted.” Ya. Way to have her back there, friend. Some skaters do recognize the general air of inequality about the whole thing. A fan chimed in to the name conversation coming to our entire defense saying, “With so many leagues popping up something is going to have to be done with duplicates. We will run out of good names!” Skater Wrath Child however tells it straight: “that whole name process seems ass backwards”.
Tesla Turbine, another fellow skater and one of my co-founders, whose name was snatched up and registered after she skated with it for nearly a year, joked that we should just start our own website called “ThreeEvils.org” and simply start registering our own lot of skaters. Now, we would NEVER do anything that vindictive. It just illustrates the point that, well, …anyone, (and no one) has the authority to do so.
I get sad when I hear of my friends’ disappointment over and over again that their name was “taken”. And it just doesn’t seem right. After all, who do these people think they are? So upon much deliberation, I have chosen to justify in writing why I’m not going to hold my skaters to their arbitrary rules.
Dear Two Evils Name Registry,
I don’t TRY to stir things up. I will go with the flow if it seems reasonable. But you have gone too far and I have to put my foot down. In the beginning I gave you the benefit of the doubt and played your game. I was going to jump through your hoops and I did try repeatedly to contact you. I assumed your legitimacy, as does everyone else, respected and “appreciated the spirit of the roster,” as you so unjustifiably request despite the fact that you have no authority to do so. I am hereby letting you know that I AM USING THE NAME AUNTIE SOCIAL. If you take issue with that, you can contact ME.
For the sake of my league’s reputation and to keep the peace amongst other roller girls I tried to play by your rules. But you are not professionals. You are not anything. Roller Derby’s popularity and success has blown up and the number of leagues is growing exponentially since you have started the registry and now you are all in over your heads. You need to relinquish your duties as heads of the roster because you are no longer able to perform the tasks required. It is unreasonable to ask me to wait up to 6 months to get a response from you. I understand that I am not currently affiliated with a registered league, but in my opinion, if you have your organization together you could check your database, see the history and realize I am a 5-year veteran of the sport who is a legitimate free agent.
Just an FYI: No one can issue a copyright or trademark but the U.S. government. Oh sure, but your website never MANDATES skaters follow your rules, you only ask kindly to “make sure that none of your skaters appropriate the names of the hard-working skaters who are trying their best to make roller derby a success.” That’s all. But as roller girl Chrome Molly says “be respectful, but demand respect”. In all honesty, I was merely going along with it for so long to be PC, but your inaction has forced me to take matters into my own hands. I am not respecting your arbitrary names list. I’m telling you right now, you have no right to strip me of my name. It’s mine. I AM AUNTIE SOCIAL. (©Copyright 2010, bitchez.)
I have included suggestions for you as to how you can remedy some of the recent problems that have arisen due to the sport’s growth as well as accommodate your registry’s original intent to reward skaters for their creativity. However, I do not know how to help you with your time management problem and inability to return e-mails. You’ll have to work on that.
A little on saying what you mean and meaning what you say - (in other words, how your system could work but doesn’t). Some helpful hints:
1) Keep up to date with the registry at all times if you are going to demand the respect and legitimacy of a reputable organization. In the beginning you asked people to cut you slack because the list was maintained on a volunteer basis, but now your registry simply does not meet the needs of our increasingly popular and ever evolving sport. Get with the times.
2) Now that the sport has grown so big that keeping an accurate registry has become unmanageable, perhaps exclusivity should be based on skating ability or region. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be the only skater who has the name or anything remotely similar to Auntie Social, but that’s just not reasonable. And a better point is, if you are going to insist that only ONE skater in the entire nation be registered under a name, shouldn't skating ability dictate and not ‘first come first serve’? Believe me, I would gladly skate Ann T. Social in a duel for the name. OR, how about splitting the U.S. into four regions, or even more- and allowing one of each name per region? In the unlikely event that a Punky Bruiser from one region shall say meet with another Punky Brewser of another in competition, one can simply bow down and change her name for that bout. Or god forbid, they do nothing, and the audience gets a kick out of the additional on-the-track rivalry. It wouldn’t be that bad. Honestly.
This of course, is just my two cents, and clearly my opinion is of no consequence. After all, I’m going to keep using my name regardless. I just thought you could use the help.
As much as I take issue with the name registry, obviously some skaters disagree. I mean, I could still keep trying to get my name registered, it’s not like there is another Auntie Social, (yet). But it’s futile, and I don’t believe in it. One of my long time friends Loose Cannon of NCRG however, completely endorses the registry. She recently received an e-mail from an aspiring Lucy Cannon asking her for permission to use the name and she declined. She said No Way Jose. I was pretty shocked and when I asked her about it she said something to the effect of, “Are you kidding me? Of course I said no. I don’t want someone mistaking her for me! I’ve been skating with this name for FIVE years and what if she goes to RollerCon or something and someone thinks she is me? Uh-uh, No way. Hey man, this sport is cut throat.” And she is right about one thing, the whole derby name persona/alter ego thing IS pretty cut throat. So I’m telling you right here, right now: what you think is protecting your intellectual property isn’t really protecting you at all. And being that this sport is cut throat, you best go and get legal rights to that shit before somebody else snaps it up. Hey, cut throat.
Have a Derby Day,