How not to choose an online name

Choosing a name to represent yourself on the wild, untamed Internet can be tough. You have to try and figure out something unique, memorable, and easy to type.

Rather than tell you what to pick, I’ll tell you what not to pick so that you don’t pick something that you’ll end up regretting… though that’s likely to happen anyway.

Video game character names

I know, you really liked Final Fantasy VII, you thought that Sephiroth was some super-awesome bad guy, or that Cloud’s sword was big and really super-cool, or that Vincent is just so awesome because he sleeps in a coffin and is all mysterious-like. But, lots (and lots) of people played that game and liked the characters in it. So, picking something based on these guys means that the name you choose is already taken. It’s just the way things are. Though you could try to be ‘different’ by adding letters, numbers, and lots of junk to the beginning or the end. Then you end up with stuff like: Sephiroth_Cloud_X, Cloud1982, SephClouderoth[84], or stuff like that.

Seriously, don’t pick your name based on something that’s real popular, even if you do like it. Odds are good that several thousand other people have already beaten you to the punch. And if you have any doubts, here’s a (very) partial list of names to avoid, bonus points if you recognize them all (points don’t actually exist).

  • Cloud
  • Sepheroth
  • Aerith
  • Cait Sith
  • Mario
  • Luigi
  • Link
  • Sonic
  • Eggman
  • Toejam
  • Gabe
  • Tycho
  • Dante
  • Master Chief
  • Fenix
  • Radd
  • Wesker
  • Arthas
  • Thrall
  • Sylvanas
  • Gordon Freeman
  • This list could go on nearly forever. I think you get the gist

Avoid a ton of gibberish before and after your name

So you’ve picked something that is interesting, unique, and describes you perfectly, then you find out that a hundred other people picked the same thing. So you decide to ‘personalize’ it by throwing your team affiliation in front of your name, or just some gobbledygook. Or maybe you’ll join all the teams you can and want to support them all. Or maybe you just got frustrated and wanted to put in something, anything that’ll make the name unique. Not only does that make your nickname look goofy, it also makes it hard to type. You might not think that’s a problem until someone tries to send you a private message ingame and your name has lots of brackets, braces, and colons, or worse, characters that aren’t on their keyboards. An occasional team affiliation tag (like [EvL] or {wsVT}) is fine, but if you have {Mje}-tec-|OrangeJuicer[88killazz!!] in front of your name… then you might want to consider trimming it a bit.

Don’t get arty with your nickname

In that same vein, there’s a temptation to make your nickname look awesome by using letters, numbers, and symbols to make your name look way awesome to the max. You want to use your nickname to show how awesome it is that you were able to go to some website and it was able to spit out characters that looked like waves or some other nonsense.

Let’s say that I’ve decided that I want the nickname, basscommbobulator. Then I want to jazz it up a little so I decide to alternate case in each letter


Then, I change the o’s to zeros.


Then I change a couple of letters to recreations with symbols that kind of look like the letters that I’m replacing.

b^s5<0mMb()bU|At0r Then I put my team affiliation on it [EvL]b^s5<0mMb()bU|At0r And we've metamorphosed into something that resembles what you'd get if you threw a PHP book into a blender. And for the people that have never seen your nickname before, how do they pronounce that mess? How do they type it? I guess you might not care so much if you don't want people talking to you, or if you don't mind explaining it each and every time you do meet someone new. So, what do you pick?

You pick something that sounds good to you, is easy to type, and is something that you can live with. You don’t want to change up your name willy-nilly, unless you have no problem with your friends not being able to find you. Basically, don’t be this guy:

“Well, I was LeftHandedOcelot241 for a few months, but I decided that name wasn’t who I was any more, so I started calling myself TheOneRealNeal39, but after a year I decided to move on to a new game, because that’s where my friends were playing. I logged in under UnbridledShotgunnery, but for some reason some of the people I’d been playing with haven’t found me yet, not sure why.”

And if you’re still not able to come up with anything on your own, you could always try an online service like this one to get you started.