Picking a Username «


I used the handle malaprop as my
username on sites when I started doing stuff on the web, and it worked
decently. Short, memorable, and almost always available. I got involved
in Chicago programming communities and found a shortcoming: it often
took weeks or months before someone connected my name and my handle.
There weren’t any wacky sitcom hijinks, but it was confusing.

I switched to “Harkins”, which is what I’m still using today. It’s
DRY (rather than two names for the same person), short, easy-to-spell, but it’s available less and
less regularly as more people get online.

I’m trying to pick a new username. I’d like it to be based off my real
name, but I’d also like to balance that with brevity. “Peter_Harkins” is
plain too long, I don’t want to use more than 10 characters. “PHarkins” is
right out, I don’t need to be conflated with phone phreaks and other
creative spellers. I’ve been assigned “harkinsp” at too many schools and
workplaces to enjoy it, and it’s not very unique.

I’m tempted to get a bit playful and do something like “hark_ins”. I’d
have some hassle with the various underscore/hyphen rules of different
sites, but it’d always be available.

Any suggestions? What handle have you based on your name?


  1. I turned my name (Jared Updike) into the (not too long) anagram PureJadeKid. It’s always available and semi-anonymous but linkable to my full name by unscrambling.

    Perhaps you could try some kind of anagram of your (last) name? Maybe throw in a p if you need more letters… like harpskin or something? or the Russian sounding Harpinsky?

    Short of numbers and underscores and dots I can’t think of what to do with something so short if it ends up always being taken… Good luck finding something that works.

  2. Hi Peter,

    I’ve wanted to reply to your email of a couple months ago, but can’t seem to resurrect it. Found your blog though, so am using it to get back in touch.

    On usernaming – any chance of using your middle name to create something memorable, but not so dry? Or using another family name? Like your mom’s maiden name as part of your username? I’ve used my mom’s name – both first and last a lot for different things.

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