Names and Usernames

(Andrew) #1

This is a discussion, and isn’t intended to sound heavy-handed or micromanagy. I just switched the new user signup setting to require a “Name” in addition to “username”. Since all of you signed up before this convention, and didn’t add a regular name, I wanted to inquire as to your thoughts on the matter.

In general, the thinking is that this community is about fostering relationships that would hopefully turn into face-to-face relationships at some point. To that end, it seems like using names that we might call one another without digital mediation would increase community glue.

At the same time, I am sympathetic to privacy concerns. As well, it’s possible that some of you actually wish to go by these names in real life, and I am just imposing civilized naming conventions on the conversation. Would requesting that people add a “name” filled out be too muich?

For me, even having the Name match the Username in the event that people want to be referred to as their Username IRL would help.

I have long joked about creating an “anarcho-primitivist name generator” which would combine an animal name and plant name, and these discussions always remind me of that inside joke around camp.

@ragnar, @Moss, @thndrhead, @forestgardener, @Forestforager, @flapjack, @Ernesto

There are many many accounts in the forums in the same position as you all, I just happened to pick your accounts from those recently active.

Andrew, of the drowned land (Scots Gaelic: badenoch)

(BenSpiritbear) #2

I wouldn’t think it would be a problem. I doubt members here would have the same privacy concerns as one would on facebook plus I doubt you would require them to prove that the name they chose was their true legal name. I think the idea of knowing the name someone wishes to be called is very helpful when trying to establish real world communities.

Now if you’re going to require us all to send copies of our government ID’s then that might be a problem. Haha.


I use my real name on fb, so it doesn’t bother me to use it here as well. Having the option to use any old name is a plus as well. When it comes to face to face meetings however, I’d rather use my real name.

(Andrew) #4

Here is the current language for the Name field: “A name we could use face-to-face”

Screenshot-2018-1-4 Profile - andrew - Feralculture Community

Good? Suggestions for improvement? It doesn’t show it here, but the signup screen looks bad with sentences more than a couple words longer than this.

(BenSpiritbear) #5

I think it looks good like that. It gets the point across.


You know Andrew if you want to change your name to a plant or animal …thats cool too

(Andrew) #7

As soon as I finish the name generator! You know, following the axiom that one can’t give themselves a nickname.

(BenSpiritbear) #8



Yeah good catch…i would hate to go against any axioms

(Alexander Meander) #10

i personally really like the idea, but i also created a username that is the name i use in my “real life”.

also, i think the example field you gave is great.

also also, i like the username rabbitfern.

(joan underhill) #11

i think that’s a change for the better. it’s nice to have a secondary option for some of the folks whose usernames are a bit more obscure, & to get a sense for what that face-to-face communication might be like, as you mentioned. :heart:

@andrew, there’s a long-standing tradition at twin oaks community around naming that might be of interest. they’ve been hovering around 100 adults for many years now, and don’t ‘allow’ members to use the same first name. so if you were to go through the process there & become a member, if there were already an ‘andrew’, you’d be expected to go by something else.

if someone already has a nickname, or other first-name preference (or a different variation of their name, for example elizabeth>beth or eli), they often use that. but if not… sometimes they will hold a naming party, which may be open to the community at large, or only to a handful of friends. then, all present will brainstorm, throwing out names that they imagine to accurately reflect the spirit of the person in question (sometimes it gets pretty wild, with names like ‘bubble fiddle’). the new-name-seeker gets to narrow down the field as things progress, and hopefully, most of the time, ends up coming to a name they feel great about. they Technically have ultimate veto power over any unwanted names, but there has been the odd case in the past where the community at large simply got stuck on a Different name than the person wanted.

at any rate, naming parties are a pretty fun option, and are usually very effective. for ‘last names’ people go by the name of the residence building where they live (and all buildings at twin oaks are named after former communities, to honor their struggles). so, for example, some of my friends there were caroline morningstar and puck tupelo. one guy goes by purl, another by ghost, and yes, someone did actually go by bubble fiddle for some stretch of time.

given that i’ve been able to interact with dozens of people who used this naming system & have gotten a sense for how pleased they were with the results, i’d prefer its use over a random name generator any day, since any name chosen will inevitably be packed with memories of collaboration & creative time with friends. so - there’s another option for you, in case you get tired of working on coding a name generator and want to give something else a try :slight_smile:


im more partial to keeping open the option of not using your name.
I agree with the intent of working towards face to face relationships but id put forth that, that is also an acceptable time to begin using real names.

Im not fully opposed to the idea but i think some might be and it might affect some peoples desire to actually sign up.

(Andrew) #13

I guess at some point the question shifts. If someone doesn’t want to tell others in the community what they want to be called, how much do they care about us as humans?

There are multiple people in these forums who I met from the internet who gave me huge hugs when I first met them in person. It’s not like that’s an expectation, but imagine meeting someone at work or college or whatever and having as many conversations as some of us have had, asking the person for their name, and them saying no. Again, that isn’t the exact scenario here, just a thought experiment. One of the obvious critiques of technology is it’s structural tendency to dehumanize interactions. The medium is the message. Telephones made early efforts into changing people into numbers. Usernames and email addresses added an alphanumeric twist to it, then added a corporate brand by making everyone identify as then, et cetera.

Of course there is also the surveillance and doxxing and whatever else on the more sinister side of the equation.

To me, asking someone to treat the rest of us in the forums as loose approximation of humans isn’t unreasonable. Especially since nobody cares or knows if anyone is using their “real” names.


Some people might be trying to reduce their internet footprint.

But i do agree that if you are talking with some one for a length of time you should have learned their name …at least in private conversations.

(Andrew) #15

How does using a fake and/or generic name which is also not one’s “real” name also not decrease one’s internet footprint though? I don’t see anyting anyone has said which conflicts with the use of names unless we actually tried to enforce “real” names. We’re never going to enforce real names, so that’s not even an issue.

Maybe you would prefer to be called Moss IRL. Aesthetic preferences notwithstanding, that doesn’t seem unreasonable. However, if you don’t want to be called Moss IRL, why not list your name as {Preferred First Name} Moss. Unless you are, in fact, Kate Moss, you’re not increasing your footprint. If anything, you would be increasing the entropy of your internet footprint.


I go by Ernesto or Ernie in real life. It’s not the name that the state gave to me though. It was given to me by friends and coworkers over the years.