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Official policy on registered names

by Paul Wheaton, sheriff

All JavaRanch users are asked to use a real name as their display name, with a first and last name, and maybe more, separated by spaces. Obviously fictitious names may be locked out. By "real name", we mean either your own actual, personal name, or a name that at least looks like it could belong to a real person. No names of celebrities or fictional characters. No cute nicknames like "javarulz" or "Hacker King". No joke names like "Adam Baum" (atom bomb) or "Justin Case" (just in case). No names with embedded numbers or other unorthodox punctuation like "Mike505" or "John_Smith". No names of companies - just people.

This does not mean that if your formal name is Michael Jingleheimerschmidt that you cannot use "Mike Schmidt". In fact, one of our own sheriffs is "Mahalakshmi Annadurai", but you know her as "Maha Anna". You can even use an initial or initials for the first name if you like (but not the last).

It is possible that you are uncomfortable about using your real name on the web. This happens. In that case, feel free to display a fictitious name. Just make it look like it could be real - like "Al Swensen", "Roberta Cheeny", "Anand Singh" or "Xiao Wu". And if you do use a fictitious name, don't announce that it's fictitious. We want to encourage use of real names as much as possible here, so please don't undermine that goal.

If you are currently using an account that uses an inappropriate alias, you may be able to change this by editing your profile. However, it is possible that you won't be able to simply change your display name for a variety of reasons, so you may need to create a new account.

I understand that in some cultures there is no such thing as "first name and last name" - there is just one name. If you are one of these people, I would like to humbly ask you to sacrifice a piece of your culture to help me build this culture. In the past, permitting single names has inspired less wholesome "creative" aliases. The job of keeping names professional grew exponentially. The result is that exceptions to the naming rule are no longer permitted.

I hope that the value of participating on JavaRanch is worth following this rule.