Why can't we have just any display name?

Oops! There was a problem updating your profile: Display Name can only contain letters, digits, spaces, apostrophes or hyphens and must start with a letter or digit

Why can I use "Jon Skeet" as a display name (even "Jon Skeet!!!"), but I am not able to use a = in my name?

But serious: why don't you allow certain characters (like =) in a name?

  • 8
    Why can't I manually add a ♦ to my name?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Mar 25, 2012 at 0:47
  • 2
    @animuson So there are mods who don't have ♦, but have = after there name now?
    – PeeHaa
    Mar 25, 2012 at 0:51
  • 3
    Because there's absolutely no point? Mar 25, 2012 at 8:04

2 Answers 2


There are enough combinations that are allowed in the display name to make it unique and cover the mass majority of situations.

If for some reason you feel it's necessary to include something that isn't allowed then just try to use the HTML encoded value (it'll look cooler that way anyway).

e.g. M=Babcock is definitely less fun to read than M=Babcock :)


Before all other reasons, "because developers want to have less headache".

You can use Unicode, not only pure US-ASCII, why not have some exclusions?

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