The username is dead?




I read it earlier and then discovered that he has disabled commenting.

I interpret his article as being another slam against using pseudonyms. He tries to make the case that people won’t know who you are unless there’s some real life information included, most commonly, your RL name. Well, whenever someone see;s my devilishly handsome purple self and the name Sarge Misfit, they know its me, no RL info included.

Basically, the username system isn’t broke so it doesn’t need fixing. Yeah, it sucks when you can’t get that nifty handle, but big deal. Get over it.


As your friendly local IT department, I am happy to inform you that each and every one of you is a unique and special user object to us. Sure, you are a unique and special flower that blooms in a form that looks something like “{4F90ED00-A8C2-42E5-B0DF-224880823DF3}”; but you are all special in our sight.

If you would prefer to be secure in your unique and special identity, as well as unique, you could try something a bit more assertive, yet approachable, like



His first point was that it’s a bummer when you go to sign up for something and your username is already taken. This is true, but the alternative (Facebook method) is having a bunch of people with the same name on the service, which has its own flaws.

The upshot is: choose a handle that nobody else is likely to use so it isn’t taken when you sign up for a service.


Wait… here’s how to fix it? He seems to think Facebook has the answer, and here’s 10 reasons it sucks. I’m not sure I would call that a solution.


I’m just always annoyed that I can never get my preferred username:
a’; DROP TABLE users; –


I always think of Facebook as the anti-answer to everything.


I use (short versions of) my real name, and have NEVER encountered that problem. Maybe its time for common naming conventions to change? Not just because user names- In the digital age, naming you child ‘John Smith’ curses him to a life of accidental credit mixups, arrest warrant snafus,etc.


I had a very very unusual maiden name, and I suspect that part of the reason so many old friends have found me on FB is because they remember my maiden name and can easily find me because of it. I have had the issue, however, of having friends with pretty generic names that I cannot find to save my life. The Michael Smiths and Jennifer Jones are really tough to track down on FB. But then a unique identifier wouldn’t solve that search issue.


It’s a bummer and a bad first impression for a new service.

It’s a bummer, yes. But not being able to get your preferred username leaves a bad first impression of a service? Since when? For a casual user, they will just add 6969 or something to the end of their username. For a hardcore user who absolutely MUST have their given username, they almost certainly have previously selected a username that is unique enough that it won’t be taken. In short: I don’t know ANYBODY who thinks it’s some reflection of the SERVICE ITSELF that somebody has already taken their precious username.


The flip side of that is a very uncommon name. It’s gotten better, but at one time, if you could spell my IRL name, you could find my home address and phone number in about 5 seconds. My last name is very uncommon, paired with a not-very-common first name, and I think I might be the only one with my name in the US, at least the only one with any sort of web presence. Even in real life, I tend to stick with first-name-only unless someone has an actual need for my last name. Some people think it’s weird or like I’m being a diva, and I do not care. I’m just not that interested in being found.

It is only when it comes to web handles / usernames that I have ever run across the situation of sharing a “name” with someone. It was a weird feeling, and it made me wonder if I had already signed up with the service, I’m so used to being unique (name-wise).


I would think it would be a mark of potential quality that enough people have registered on a service already that they got your username.

Either that or their service lacks or has a crappy CAPCHA and there are already millions of spammer accounts on it.


Rob’s only real competition is Bruno


Hey, that’s the combination to my luggage!


Simple solution for the U.S.: A unique ten digit username should be assigned by the government at the same time as one’s Social Security Number. Use of that name for all online transactions should be mandatory.

Edit: this was proposed entirely in jest – not as any sort of “real” solution… Thank you, that is all…


Not that difficult, I’ve found a million of 'em! :smiley:


You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

If only there were some distributed / federated way of creating unique identifiers that was under users’ own control… and if only such a method had been around since before the web… Perhaps we could give people unique user IDs at each domain name. We’d need to separate the user part from the domain part with some sort of delimiter. Hmm, perhaps an “@” sign would do? /snark

I grant that using email is just pushing the problem to domains, but at least those are long-lived and somewhat under your control. There were some smart people back in the early days of the 'net, before everyone handed over their identities to @gmail and @facebook.


The weird thing is that he doesn’t like how Twitter does this, but I think Twitter handles this perfectly by showing both the name and the username.

So, I know that Brian Carnell @brian_carnell is not the same user as Brian Carnell @ass_monkey123

Honan’s Facebook model relies on the fact that people who use Facebook generally use it to communicate with people they have a high likelihood of having met in some context or another previously. On Twitter, and many other services, however, people are using the service with people they’ve never met and often don’t even know the genuine identities of.

There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the username at all.


Why not the world?


Facebook has the consequence of self-censorship. It’s the site where my relatives and in-laws and potential future employees can find and identify me.

A username offers both identification and anonymity. Having different usernames on different sites lets you compartmentalize. I would really rather not have people on a gaming website connect my identity to a forum for transgendered people for instance.