Per ChrisF's answer, I am specifically requesting that parentheses (), brackets [], and braces {} be added to the white list of allowed characters for Display Names.

These are easily accessible from your standard keyboard, can't otherwise be used for nefarious purposes, and certainly are more innocuous than many of the Unicode characters that are allowed.

I thought of a really rather clever1 display name for my Stack Exchange account(s) and tried to change it. But I couldn't. Instead, I was offered this error:

• Display Name can only contain letters, digits, spaces, apostrophes or hyphens and must start with a letter or digit

Well, phooey.

Why such a restriction? I could see preventing, say, emoji, but I was prevented from adding parentheses. Parentheses seem fairly innocuous.

Can this please be changed?

1 Well, I certainly thought so. Others would disagree, I'm sure.

  • Display and persistence issues? Maybe they keep you from using these keywords instead of HtmlEncode the names. Safer with very little drawback. Jul 1, 2014 at 13:21
  • @ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd lol :D
    – nicael
    Jul 1, 2014 at 13:22
  • 3
    Once I wanted to make my username "nicael ♦" but, eh, it is not allowed.
    – nicael
    Jul 1, 2014 at 13:23
  • 1
    @nicael: Well, that makes sense. There've already been incidents of people impersonating Moderators. No need to make it easy. Jul 1, 2014 at 13:25
  • 4
    Ok, I got to ask: What was the rather clever display name you thought of?
    – yannis
    Jul 1, 2014 at 13:27
  • Well, you have unicode characters that can immitate lots of things, see the user who posted first comment here. So pretty sure you got a "letter" that looks like parentheses. That said, display name like (o)(o) won't be a good idea. :P Jul 1, 2014 at 14:07
  • 2
    I'd like brackets. I want to be TRiG (Timothy Richard Green), not TRiG is Timothy Richard Green, so have a +1 from me.
    – TRiG
    Jul 1, 2014 at 14:07
  • -1 from me; there are too many creative ways to prank or severely break the site if arbitrary unicode were to be allowed. Stack Exchange is already extremely generous in that Unicode letters are permitted, rather than just ASCII or Latin-1. Jul 1, 2014 at 14:31
  • 2
    Robert'); DROP TABLE Students;
    – JonW
    Jul 1, 2014 at 14:44
  • 6
    @JonW for Stack Exchange, a better name would be Robert'); DROP TABLE Moderators;
    – gnat
    Jul 1, 2014 at 15:05
  • 3
    Because having people called "ヽ༼ຈل͜ຈ༽ノ" is NOT going to be fun.
    – tombull89
    Jul 1, 2014 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


The restrictions are in place to prevent users doing things like adding diamonds to their names to impersonate moderators.

So rather than have a list of disallowed characters that must be constantly maintained it's easier to keep a list of known safe characters.

If there's a character (or two) not on the list you really think would be useful then make the case for them to be added to the whitelist.


Isn't as annoying, nor stands out as much as

[][][][][][A More Elegant Tool][][][][][][]


{{{{{{{{{{ COBOLGUY7 }}}}}}}}}}}

So unless there's a compelling reason why allowing parenthesis improves the stack exchange experience for a majority of users, then I'd argue against it.


One reason to keep the allowed character list as "safe" as possible is @mention in comments.

@πδγα is not easy to type for everyone, and something like @💩🖕🐻 even less so.

Even adding just parens or braces may be problematic, as it makes things more difficult for the markdown parser.

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