Do you think it is beneficial to use your real name as your display name on Stack Overflow towards one's career? I started out here using my typical online name, "bytenik," before switching over to using my full name. Now colleagues that Google my name will find my profile.

Does this really help my career? Do you think that enough people in the software engineering field are aware of Stack Overflow to make any sort of a difference / have anyone notice my experience in answering (and asking) questions here?


I try to use all forums as my own name. Not because I want to push my name for my career but because I want to show that I stand publicly by my opinions. I also give more faith to responses from people that use their names because they at backing there are also backing their opinions by their name.

Named sources are typically much more reliable then hidden cloak and dagger types.

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    +1 - I trust Matthew Whited more than mattdude102 – deleted Feb 23 '10 at 1:04
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    Damn... you found my secret identity... – Matthew Whited Mar 5 '10 at 15:51
  • Can we change our display names? Hmm – Joe Phillips Jun 24 '10 at 5:21
  • @Joe Phillips, yes... click on your name at the top of the page then click on edit next to your profile. – Matthew Whited Jun 24 '10 at 14:04

It should not be a problem if you are posting quality questions and answers. It should not matter either if you use it during work hours provided they are primarily on subjects immediately related to work.

It could hurt you if you are constantly posting about C++ and PHP during work hours if your work is Java or .NET or if all you are doing is posting ZOMG!!! LOLCAT type of material.

Do you post stuff that you would not want an employer to find, then don't use your name (or better yet, don't do it at all.)

Do you post stuff that would entice an employer to hire you, then fire away.


Ironically, I answered this today in a blog post about how Stack Overflow propelled me to the Front page of Google.

  • 3
    How is that ironic? – Shog9 Feb 22 '10 at 19:07
  • This almost makes me change my name on Super User – Ivo Flipse Feb 22 '10 at 19:13
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    The same way a black fly in your chardonnay is @shog – juan Feb 22 '10 at 20:37
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    Too bad "Adam Davis" is more common than your name. It wasn't too long ago that I was in the first page. Now there are all sorts of Adam Davis with some amount of internet infamy, including, apparently, a death row inmate (first page of google!). Of course that could have been me if my boss told me I had to parse HTML with regex. – Pollyanna Feb 22 '10 at 20:37
  • @Shog9 It really isn't; but it's a coincidence. I wrote that blog post last Saturday (published for today), but to have it to readily link to the day it went live was somewhat of a coincidence. – George Stocker Feb 22 '10 at 20:44
  • that would be really impressive if your name was Bram Stoker :) – gnat Dec 4 '12 at 14:30

I know I was observed on SO by my current employers when they were in the hiring process. Several of my teammates have SO accounts.


When acting under your real name, you implicitly stand by what you have to say. You take responsibility for your words. I think that's quite worth it.


It may not directly help with your career, but being active and helpful on forums and discussion sites, with the same username, helps build credibility. Plus a real name being shown means more than some seemingly meaningless username.


I don't use my real name mainly because I think I have a fairly common name: Tyler. However, I have a link on my profile where you can find out ALL about me and my name.

I also am 16, and thus do not really have a career. Yet.

  • You are only sixteen? Wow, I'm impressed. – Pekka Feb 22 '10 at 23:40
  • You're 16? That explains everything! – Ether Feb 23 '10 at 0:40
  • Yeah, me too, if you search for my real name, none of the first page is me, if you search for my 'cybername', half of them are... – Benjol Jun 24 '10 at 8:18

Even if recruiters were taking SO activity as a proof of skill or at least interest in the matter, I think you would benefit from it ONLY if you are unemployed during the time building reputation, or if the majority of your answers is given out of regular work time.

Because it could be a benefit to see your skills and your value in a well known programming community, but for sure it will be a deal breaker to see that you spend a quarter (or more) of your time not actually working for your firm.


Of course not. Career placements should be given on the merits of your skills which I hope they would ascertain through interviews, CVs and other research they might do.

Most employers should asume that you are active on sites like these, if anything I think it could potentially damage things, if you prove yourself to be an idiot by asking really stupid and obvious questions. I'm more interested to know what you don't know.. since that is easier to figure out on SO than what you do know...

I know that you has to ask question X, so you don't know that topic?

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