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Online Pseudonyms

Good magazine has a post entitled The Eternal Shame of Your First Online Handle, in which people share how they selected their first internet pseudonym. In the last few years, more and more people are using their real names online instead of anonymous identifiers.
Those of us who came of age alongside AOL must contend with something even more incriminating than a lifelong Google profile: A trail of discarded online aliases, each a distillation of how we viewed ourselves and our place in the world at the time of sign-on. The dawn of the Internet was an open invitation to free ourselves from the names our parents gave us and forge self-made identities divorced from our reputations IRL.

Here at Neatorama, every author either uses their real name or a made up name that sounds like a real name so they don't have to explain it (except for me, which means I am a dinosaur in internet terms). However, the majority of our commenters use pseudonyms. Would you like to share with us the story of how you selected it -or the story of some abandoned name you once used? Link -via Metafilter

I used the alias "Onslaught" back when I used to play Counter-Strike religiously. I eventually changed it to "Lightfoot" and then "Animus" and I've stuck with "Animus" pretty much ever since.

animus : courage, vivacity, bravery, will, spirit, soul, character, intellect, memory, consciousness, often mind.

The term was also used by Jung to mean the inner masculine personality of the female, and its modern English definition means "Hostility, or ill will".
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Back in 1983 I went to a friends house, where he showed me a BBS he connected to via his Apple ][. He explained to me that users typically didn't use their real name, but instead used aliases. I chose "Blaise Pascal", after the French mathematician that invented the first commercially made mechanical calculator. It seemed appropriate.

After signing on I found out that aliases like "Danger Man", "Captain Crud" and the like were much more common, but I decided to keep using Blaise Pascal. I tend to use it as a username whenever I can, excepting local policy. Although I have occasionally been called "Blaise" off-line, I don't use the handle offline very often.

Curiously enough, my real name is so unusual that I was kicked off of a BBS that had a real-name-only policy because the guy running could not believe my real name was real.
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The honest truth... I used to call myself Neaterama, way before this blog. My ex girlfriend used to say "neater" and my favorite book series was the Arthur C. Clarke "Rendezvous with Rama" trilogy. Thus, Neaterama. It wasn't even till I read this article that I made the connection and realized now why this site always felt so familiar to me.
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Old AOL screenname was "Rezpect": "Rez" for Trent Reznor, because I was a huge Nine Inch Nails fan. I still use "Rezpect" to comment on a lot of sites. You'll know it's me if you see the Cheshire Cat Gravatar.
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In the Apple II days, I went under the handle The Concerned Citizen(seemed like a playful twist against the pirate/hacker bbs days), then in the IBM 486/p5 days, I was Spark Plug(huge car guy), and when EQ1 came out(1999) I was Grouchie Grumbles(Cynical pessimistic humor that everyone thought I was a grouch).

Since then I utilize Voodoochili(a combination/modification of the jimi hendrix song(voodoo child)/rudy rucker book character Manchile, which gave me the evil concoction of VoodooChili)! I also use BadHoochy for female game characters, but that doesn't really need an explanation...
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Back in the early days, I usually used my real name, or some variation thereof. It wasn't until much later, when the Internet got more popular and acquired more weirdness and dark places, that I started using aliases so I could comment semi-anonymously. I usually just pick something quick and silly, something few others would care to saddle themselves with (and names like BigSexyGuy are already taken and I don't want to spend 20 minutes trying to come up with some unique that still says something truthful about me).

For Neatorama, though, I went back to the old ways and just use my real name...
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I've been using this same one since the very beginning. More years ago than I care to remember. It's short for A Girl From Home, the girl guys always remember fondly. LMAO!!!
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First internet name from 97' when I first went online? Gryth. How'd I get it? I fist mashed the keyboard during a highscore section of mine sweeper....

I soon later changed it to various versions of wolfe, wolfe is my middle name.
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I use my real name now but a decade ago and since 1992 I went by "Spanky." Always Spanky. Sometimes Uncle Spanky, sometimes Darth Spanky, sometimes Spanky, Lord of the Pants, but always Spanky. I adopted it after a paladin I played in a D&D game - I named him Spanky after I rolled him but the DM was pissed - wanted to play a serious game - so I called him Alden Perth. But everyone called him Spanky anyway. Nothing is ever that serious when your name is Spanky.
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My first AOL name in 1994 was AnnaPerenna (the name of Dido's sister in The Aeneid and a minor moon goddess), my second was FinaleofSeem (a beautiful line from Wallace Steven's "Emperor of Ice Cream"). I didn't adopt Amanderpanderer until later when my really real name was taken. One of my childhood nicknames was Amanda Panda, also taken. So, Amanderpanderer by default? I don't keep my real identity a secret though. And I might have a few aliases out there, secret super-spy stuff.
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My name is Marc and I use Macintosh. And I love a good portmanteau!

I used to use 'Crillee,' which combined my love of typography, computers, sci-fi, and television. (Crillee is the name of the font used for the credits of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation') I stopped using it cause guys kept hitting on me in chat rooms.
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My first online name is one I still use frequently: sgruthie, which is short for Supergirl Ruthie. It was the name that the Ouija board spelled out for my mom when she asked the name of the critter currently gestating happily inside her. So the Ouija board was right! Kind of.
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I've used the same name for about 15 years. It started because there was time in my life when I used to do far too much of the drug ecstasy (haven't touched it, nor do I have any desire to, for well over a decade). Ecstasy -> XTC -> XsTatiC. I've stuck with that name mostly because I like the way it looks.
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I'm happy to say I can still Google my (fairly common) real name and not find myself, which is how I like it. My former SCA title and name was my first AOL handle, and now a shortened version of the same is my current alias.
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I picked this name back when I first got on the internet around 1998 or so. At the time I was big into Warhammer and played as the Skaven. There God was known as the Great Horned Rat or the Great Horned One (if I remember correctly). I have moved on to Warhammer 40K now, but kept the name; I kinda like it. The number has changed periodically though.
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When I first started online, eons ago, I used the handle AG925. At the time, I worked for a company that maufactured Sterling Silver jewelry. AG is the periodic table abbreviation for silver and 925 is the purity designation of sterling.

These days I use tottergirl because my family name is Teeter (goes with totter) and I am a woman and I just kinda like it. It's me, but not me exactly.
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I suffer from frequent online alias naming remorse. My "original" ideas turn out not to be so original and I keep trying to come up with something that means something to me, and end up feeling very silly in the end. I'm influenced by the most recent thing I've been watching or doing, piffany coming from the Nodwick comics. The one I regret the most is "simgelf". While trying to come up with a handle for the Sims 2 website, I had been watching Red Dwarf reruns. G.E.L.F. = genetically engineered life form, frequently used on the show. But I feel like I need to explain it, so I don't like it anymore.
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My sister was helping me create an email account and she told me to pick something funny or clever that I identified with in some way. I thought of a fridge magnet that said "My mind works like lightening—one brilliant flash and it's gone!" and so I picked theflashisgone. I generally use that for the names of actual accounts (eg, email,, etc) and I'll use some variation of "the FLASH!" for my name when I comment on stuff or if theflashisgone is too long for whatever it is. If I need to give people a serious-sounding email address, I use my college email, which was assigned based on my name and the age I'll be when I graduate.
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My first screen name was OOLA55 on AOL. I was maybe 11, and my dad set it up. I was a big Star Wars fan, and I wanted to pick a name that was a Star Wars name, but not obviously so. So I picked Oola, the slave girl from Jabbas palace. I wanted it to be Oola16, but my dad accidentally set that name up as the main user, so it became his, and he made me a new one (the all caps was his typing too).

When I met my husband online, I was 17 and using the name Poptartcutie, because I live in the town where Kelloggs is.

My name has been, for the longest time, is Mibelle816. My name is Michelle, so it refrences the Beatles song. I spelled 'My' as 'Mi' because I live in Michigan.

Now that I'm an adult, I use Mhende. My first initail and the first 5 letters of my last name.
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My name too comes from the days of local BBSes. (I've had this nick for literally over half my life.. from 12 to 35!)

first time I ever logged into the local BBS was with my father who had a strict "no shoes on the waterbed" Policy.. well his room was so tiny that one of us had to be on the bed. Considering he was the one typing I was the one on the bed.

He asked me what my handle would be.. I looked down and said "Bare foot.. but spell it like the animal." because you could not use spaces it became Bearfoot.

and it's been one of my nicks ever sense.
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Good heavens! You mean... Oh no... Surely?
Only a scoundrel would use obfuscation, here in the transparent, honest, and trustworthy world of the internets.

I assure you I would never be party to such a heinous crime.
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From the late 70s to the late 80s I use an alias based on Shakespeare mythology. After that I called myself Padraig, Abdul Alhazared, for a brief time Nyarlathotep - then back to good AA - and, by a comodius vicus of recirculation, I finally got back to Padraig, seeing as Shakespeare's ghost better lay at rest.
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My first online handle was with prodigy - JGSF50C. After that - with dial up - was Magus. Then ShadowMagus. Oh, the folly of youth. (This was 1995 or thereabouts.
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I usually use my first name (here, since I was not the first Tim to comment, I had to state I was another Tim).

I also use UrbanSpaceman because I like novelty music, and I thought being the Urban Spaceman on the Internet made sense--hey, I first went online in college when it was the Ethernet.
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I use my real name, but it's a name I selected for myself because I changed my name a long time ago. One of the criteria for selecting my surname was that the .com domain name should still be available. Consequently my email address is very easy to guess!
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My first online pseudonym was back in '96 on IRC/EFnet:

NotAWiz, cause I wasn't a wiz at anything and needed a lot of help from the people in the channel where I used to hang out. It stuck with me for about four years, I think, whenever I was in that channel, so the regulars could recognize me, as well as our op bot ^jelly^. Incidentally, my away nick was (of course) NotAway, amusing to the regulars and confusing to everyone else.

In '99 I decided it was time for a change, cause I wasn't not a wiz anymore, so I went for CyBoy, and I still use that for a lot of things, like It's a cross between Cyber Boy and Cowboy.

Hælvis is my irl nickname that my friend Henrik (Henken) gave me. I don't use it much online, only here, though spelt with an "a" as "æ" is not an option when registring for accounts.

By the way... I went by hansom_stranger@ for a long while, so, aschenputtel@, if you're reading this, I miss our conversations by email!
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Bluebeef! In 9th grade my friends convinced me I needed a hotmail and AIM account. I was at a loss for a handle. They came up with the formula of combining your favorite color and animal. And thus, bluebeef was born.
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"Why are you wearing a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?"

"Oh no, it's just that they're terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future."

I think the recent habit of posting under your real name comes from naivety and ignorance. Do I want my employers to know my political and religious leanings? Where I was last night? I think not.

I actually think Shadowfirebird was my first internet handle. I don't use any other ones.
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My very first (not much better than the second) was AkirasOrb which is a mix of the Japanese animation Akira which blew my mind when I eventually saw it when I was 18 on then "Sci-Fi" channel late at night and the musical group Orbital whom I learned of from the ridiculously idiotic movie Hackers.

My second, LordSheezar, is absolutely idiotic and is a mix of "Lord" and a childhood name for "poop". After that I decided it was best I didn't come up with alias's and leave the creative work to my mother whom I didn't inherit much creative talent from.
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_"Here at Neatorama, every author either uses their real name or a made up name that sounds like a real name so they don’t have to explain it."_

By my count there are 27 out of 40 obvious made up names, so far. (And yes, Hootie, I'm counting you, too.)

So maybe the masks are still in fashion after all.
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Ok, so I always use Red Bunny. I don't have red hair or anything. This is an homage to my Grandmother who would always make a dish for me for lunch that she called Red Bunny. It is buttered toast smothered with a can of Campbells Tomato Soup with melted Velveeta cheese mixed in it. It sounds crazy, but when I was a kid, nothing hit the spot like Grandma's Red Bunny for lunch. So I started using it for my internet name. Because Grandma is freakin' awesome.
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When I started out, it was just edsel, but after my first ISP in the early 90's went under, I had to add the airport code of my town since "" was already taken. Edsel was my dog that I got in college, who accompanied me through life until 2000. Too lazy to change it, and Edsel was, after all, the best dog in the world.
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POM, that is. In many a font it looks like PORN, but I didn't realize that until much later.

Back in the day when we migrated from Fidonet and BBS'es to the internet (which mainly was Usenet at the time) I needed a nick that wouldn't give away my being a girl right away to all the single nerds online. Still my #1 identity. I have other aliases as well - I use my real name for work only. It's so uncommon every single hit in Google is me.
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I first went online in 2004. Since I did it primarily to email and message my girlfriend, I chose the nickname she called me: The Mutt. I've used it ever since.
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I started out as Hitomi. Shes a character from a fav anime. then i got the hotmail addy hitomi2 back in 96. get it Hi 2 me to? then i switched to tikigirl. have been tikigirl or tikirama since about 98.
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