Why do people use pesudonyms online?

I hardly ever see people use their real names on the Internet. Why is this?

I’m trying to recall why, and I dunno. It just seems… weird. Like I’m being overly formal if I use my real name on the Internet, even in situations where I don’t really care about privacy concerns.

  • Nathanael :eek:

What happens on the 'net, stays on the 'net.

Seriously though, it’s all about privacy.
Anonymity allows one to speak freely without their public speaking affecting their personnal lives, and to avoid being harassed/stalked/scammed IRL for online dealings. It’s of course even more important should one happen to live in a country where free speech can get you in terminal trouble, like China.

Also, a few bloggers have been laid off for criticizing the company they were working in, another few have been sued for libel.
I know I certainly wouldn’t want an employer or prospective employer of mine to read some of the stuff I’ve written online.

And finally, come on man, why be boring John when you could be xXx_D4rkL0RD_666_xXx ? :smiley:

Not only is relative anonymity useful, but picking your own name is fun.

Shudder But at least try to be a little original :wink: . When I see a name like xSephirothx, I can’t help but think of the "x"s as extra chromosomes. I call them Downs marks.

Probably because there are multiples of people’s real names.

It would suck to have every Jen be Jen, Jen2, Jen3, Jen232421512534653146 on the internet.

And on big places, it’s unrealistic to expect people to remember everyone’s real name, so it makes more sense to just address them using their username and not even bother with real names.

Plus, it’s an identity you get to choose. Instead of Jen2, Jen3, and Jen87, which say nothing about you, you get SexyBeast53, XxBleedingxXxRosexX, and DidIMentionI’mInMENSA

Lanzy is my real name, no imagination I guess.

Gah ! How could I forget that, with all the stuff I’ve written about it :smack:. Yes, of course there’s also that : the net is a place where you can really be who you want to be, or imagine yourself to be. Or pretend you’re someone else entirely, like a flirtatious teenage girl with big breasts :rolleyes:. It’s quite harder to do that in real life.

And a big part of that whole new identity business is choosing a name that defines or expresses who you think you are, or a name that’ll let others perceive you how you want them to (ideally, that is), rather than being stuck with whatever lame name your parents stuck you with at birth.

Of course, you can also go with the obscure RPG shibboleth cum pun :wink:

If I had to use my real name, I would be a lot less interesting online. There are things I’ll admit to strangers anonymously that I certainly won’t say in front of people who have an affect on my life, such as coworkers, bosses, and family members.
I’d have to shut down my blog completely, and that would be a shame.

I am not allowed to use my real name online because I am part of the secret cabal, in league with Satan, that seeks to take over the world. Oops, I may have revealed too much.

my user name is an anagram of my IRL name. I use my actual name on my art website, and for things that require authentication. Otherwise, I value my privacy enough that people will have to jump through a few hoops to get blog posts and the like connected to me. People are too nosy nowadays.

[del]When I first started with the Straight Dope, I had a person so upset with me (I dared to defend some Israeli politics) that he started stalking me on the Message Boards and threatened to find me (he lived in the Chicago area) and “get” me. I was very VERY glad that I used an alias, since my name is unique enough that I would have been easy to find.[/del] Er, sorry, I mean, I use my real name, of course.

Since the over-whelming majority of the posters here do not use their real names (I suspect the percentage is over 95%), the real question is 'Why do some of us use our real names?"

I dunno. It was like that in 1982.

It’s fun, innit?

I use my real first name transliterated into Japanese. Why? Mostly because I’m horrible at coming up with handles online, but it also has the advantage of being unique enough that I’ve been able to use it for every site thus far.



I suspect it is only unique because everybody else is much, much better at coming up with screen names and don’t have to resort to my kind of lameness. It’s some kind of metauniqueness.

I like the anonymity but I don’t like choosing pseudonyms because I always hate them the next morning. I usually just use something close to my first or middle name. There’s a local forum where it’s hard to be anonymous because this is a small place, and and as soon as you talk about your work everyone knows who you are. I ended up with a stalker that tried to get me fired after I blasted him to leave me alone. I don’t want to have to edit everything that I say so that I don’t offend wackjobs, so anonymity is a lot more fun.

And just what is so wrong about having two x chromosomes? :dubious:


I keep asking you to be quiet about this. One day you’re going to blab to the wrong person when I’m not around to murder the assassin sent to strangle you with your own intestines, and you’ll wind up being…um…strangled with your own intestines.

My real name isn’t secret - it’s Paul Murphy.

The problem is that it’s such a common name, especially in this part of the world.


  1. I don’t like my real name.
  2. I’m a single young female
  3. There are crazy people on the internet (it only takes one to ruin your day)

Therefore, I don’t use my real name and I don’t post anything too specific about where I live.

Is this a whoosh or are you really a misogynist?