Custom titles now available!

We’re pleased to announce a new Straight Dope Message Board feature - custom titles for subscribers (members and charter members). Have you always yearned to be listed as “Eminent Sage” rather than merely as “Member”? Now’s your chance. Modest fees apply - rates, instructions and guidelines are provided below.

As with everything involving the SDMB, there are many metaissues to be addressed, which we take up in the FAQ below.

Why are you doing this?

Three reasons. First, we think it’ll be fun. Second, it’ll make us a couple bucks. Third, it’ll encourage people to subscribe, and that’ll bring in a few bucks too.

**I thought you didn’t care if people subscribed because you were going to make all your money on advertising. **

That’s what we thought. It sorta worked out and sorta didn’t. We make decent money on advertising now - in fact, the Straight Dope’s global business empire is currently in the black. However, the SDMB in particular is not what you would call a major profit center. Thus custom titles. We may be offering other inducements to subscribe in the future. Don’t worry, we’re not going back to pay-to-post.

How do I get a custom title?

If you have a current membership subscription, you can purchase a custom title from User CP > Miscellaneous > Paid Subscriptions.

If you don’t currently have a membership subscription, you must obtain one. To do so, click on “User CP” in the blue bar near the top of most SDMB pages, then Miscellaneous > Paid Subscriptions and follow the instructions. Once your membership has been processed (this may not be immediate), the Paid Subscriptions page will offer you the opportunity to sign up for a custom-title subscription. Follow the instructions.

If I buy a custom title, will it be mine forevermore?

No. Custom titles are offered on a subscription basis, just like memberships. We offer a one-week subscription for $1, one month for $2, six months for $5, and a year for $8. After your custom title subscription expires, your title reverts to whatever standard title you’re entitled to at that point.

My membership subscription has three months left to run. If I buy a six-month custom title subscription, will I retain my title after my membership has expired?

No. Once your membership expires, your title will revert to “Guest.” If you wish to retain your custom title, you must renew your membership. If you don’t do so, you won’t be able to use the balance of your custom-title subscription. Please take this into account when purchasing subscriptions - we don’t make refunds.

Can I buy a custom-title subscription for someone else?

Yes - in fact the main reason we’re offering one-week subscriptions for $1 is that we expect some will want to bestow titles on others as birthday presents and such.

Can I give someone a title of my choosing?

Not exactly. You can do one of two things. You can contact the recipient and agree on a title; the recipient must then input it. Alternatively, you can purchase a gift custom-title subscription, then contact a board administrator, and we will change the recipient’s title to “Gifted Member.” The recipient can retain this title for the duration of the subscription or change it to something else. Please don’t ask us to change the recipient’s title to something other than “Gifted Member”; we don’t wish to be the judge of how a gift title will be received. Recipients aren’t automatically notified of gift custom-title subscriptions. If you don’t want “Gifted Member” to be used, it’s up to you to make sure the recipient is aware of the gift.

What if I buy a custom-title subscription for a guest?

Only members and charter members are eligible for custom titles. You can buy a custom-title subscription for a guest, but they won’t be allowed to use it until they subscribe (or you subscribe for them). Please make sure the recipient of a custom-title subscription is eligible to use it - this is easy to check. Again, we don’t make refunds.

Can I use my title to make political statements, change it every five minutes, engage in “title wars” with other members, or otherwise go nuts?

Please use reasonable restraint. We’d like to keep this simple and enjoyable for all, and hope everyone will approach it in that spirit.

I’m a Charter Member. Can I buy a custom title subscription and have that AND “Charter Member” appear under my name?

Yes. See “LATE ADDITION” at the end of this post.


Custom titles are available only to paid subscribers (members and charter members) of the Straight Dope Message Board.

Once you pay the custom-title subscription fee (or someone pays on your behalf), you may give yourself whatever title you want, as long as it’s 30 characters (letters plus spaces) or less and meets the guidelines below. You may change your title as often as you want while your custom title subscription is in effect.

To set or change your custom title, go to User CP > Edit Your Details, enter the title of your choice in the Custom User Title box, and hit Enter or scroll down and click on Save Changes. You should now see your custom title on your profile page and under your username on all your posts.

What types of payment do you accept?

We use Paypal for payment processing. You may use your PayPal account to make a payment, or, if you don’t have a Paypal account, you may pay with a credit card via Paypal.


As with everything at the SDMB, the starting place is “don’t be a jerk.” What this means in custom titles:

  • No profanity or other offensive language. Generally speaking, if it wouldn’t be permitted in a screen name or signature, it won’t be permitted in a title.

  • Titles may be self-deprecating (e.g., “Old Fat Guy”), but may not insult other posters (e.g., “PosterName Is a Twit”) or cast aspersions on the staff or the SDMB.

  • If there is a standard title already in use at the SDMB and you don’t qualify for that title, you may not give it to yourself for a custom title. Specifically:

[li]“Charter member” refers to a person who bought a subscription at the time the SDMB originally went pay-to-post and who has not let that subscription lapse at any time since. You may not call yourself “charter member” if you are not such a person, no matter how brief the lapse might have been.[/li]
[li]“Moderator” (or “mod”) and “administrator” (or “admin”) are official staff positions here; you may not state or imply that you are a member of the staff if you are not.[/li]
[li]“Straight Dope Science Advisory Board” (or “SDSAB”) is also limited to its members. [/li]
[li]There is only one “Perfect Master” at the SDMB - you are not He.[/li][/ul]
We may add other guidelines as time goes on.

We reserve the right to remove or modify titles we deem inappropriate or offensive. Generally when we do so we will leave your ability to change your title intact. However, in cases of extreme or persistent misbehavior, we may suspend or revoke your ability to change your title. In the latter event you forfeit any fee you have paid. We may also issue a warning or suspend or ban you.

At the conclusion of your custom-title subscription or your membership subscription, whichever comes first, you’ll revert to whatever standard title you’re entitled to at that point - Member, Charter Member, Guest, etc.

If you see an objectionable title:

If you see someone with a custom title that conflicts with our guidelines (they claim to be something they’re not, or use offensive or insulting language), please notify the staff. You can do so by emailing an administrator like TubaDiva or xash, or by using the “report this post” button on any post that the person has made.


Charter members can now show both a custom title + CM!

After more finagling in the bowels of the system, the details of which I’d just as soon not know, xash has figured out a way to let Charter Members purchase custom titles while continuing to show their Charter Member titles, like so:

User Name
Custom Title
Charter Member


  1. If your Charter Member subscription expires before your custom title subscription, you’ll lose the remainder of your CT subscription - NO REFUNDS.

  2. Charter Members may only give a custom title subscription to other Charter Members.

  3. For reasons I don’t have the strength to explain, when a CM’s CT subscription expires, their title will revert to:

User Name
Charter Member
Charter Member

Please advise when this occurs and we’ll fix it, or else just renew your CT subscription.

And on that note…

If I am a Charter Member, take a custom title, and let it expire, will I revert to Charter Member again, assuming, of course, my subscription does not expire?

My suggestions:

  • Uncle Cecil’s love child
  • Perfect Mistress

I don’t think they violate the guidelines :slight_smile:

Yes, as long as your Charter Member subscription does not lapse, you will revert to the title of Charter Member on expiry of the Custom Title subscription.

Other notes for all:

It’s better to have a membership subscription that expires after your custom title subscription expires.

Members and Charter Members will have their titles replaced by their chosen custom title. Mods and admins have Moderator and Administrator on a new line below their custom titles.

This is too cool. Thanks for doing this y’all!

I’d suggest those people who mourned the loss of their “Charter Member” title to take the title “Former Charter Member.”

Can you buy a BANNED poster a custom title?

No, since the only people who can have custom titles are members and charter members.

And I’m assuming you can’t buy BANNED or Suspended for yourself? (someone should probably add that to the rules)

“If there is a standard title already in use at the SDMB and you don’t qualify for that title, you may not give it to yourself for a custom title.”

I predict that many posters here would be proud to have it known that they have a “Gifted Member”.

This is a good idea. It’s something that Something Awful has been doing for several years and it probably brings them a fair amount of revenue.

Heh heh heh … :smiley:

This. Avatars, too HINT HINT. C’mon, Ed … we’re not talking about huge animated seizure-inducing bling, but something users on 99% of all other message boards enjoy.


I guess “B@NNED” would be flagged as well…

BANNED is automatically flagged by the system, and it won’t allow it. B@NNED may or may not be flagged by a mod, we haven’t set rules yet. It reads more as BONED though :smiley:

hehe :smiley: Creative juices are already flowing I see.

Avatars suck. However, if the price were right, maybe we could talk. I’m thinking $500 a minute.