The journal of Paul M. Watson.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My nick is not my username

I have noticed this in a few websites of late. They replace "Username" with "Nickname" on registration and login forms. Frankly I think it is a poor choice of labelling. Firstly my nickname is not my username. Secondly the details I log in with should never be displayed to the outside world. Not because I am paranoid but because my username is ugly and rather long. It is ugly and rather long because that guarantees that I can consistently use it when registering with new sites. I don't want that long and ugly username to be how other users of social websites see me.

In Plazes case (the screenshot is from them) I was a bit confused by the registration form too. I wasn't sure if the Nickname field would be my login ID or whether it would use my email address. To be safe I put in my long, ugly username and thankfully so as it turns out the Nickname field is the login ID. If I wasn't playing it safe I might have ended up with a login ID of CrazyMonkey which I'd be regretting by 8 tomorrow morning.

Nicknames change. They are display names. They go in and out of fashion, some days you want to be fun and vibrant with it, other days you want to tell the world to back off with it. Over the years we all get nicknames, some stick and others fade.

To have that as the basis for your login is a bad idea.

Flickr has it right in my opinion. Your login ID is your email address and you can change your display name whenever you want while your Flickr URL is a once off, unchanging URL (to avoid link breakage down the line.)

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