I tried to set my display name to:

نصر الدين تهريب الحمير

That is composed entirely of letters and spaces, Unicode-wise.

Yet the profile editor rejected it on the grounds that it wasn't composed of letter and numbers and/or didn't start with a letter or number.

So, either the message needs to say, 'starts with a number or a latin alphabet letter', or the checker needs to changed.

Note that this question has nothing to do with whether non-Latin names are permitted. It was easy to stick a zero on the front and use it.

The Bidi bugs that this is exposing are a bit of an extra bonus.


Full disclosure. This is not my name. I'm not complaining about freedom of expression. If the site changes to reject نصر الدين تهريب الحمير, I have no cause for complaint. However, accepting <0 نصر الدين تهريب الحمير> and rejecting without the zero seems a bit odd, and the error message is, I claim, certainly inaccurate.

Google translate will tell you everything you need to know about this string. It goes with my new gravatar.

The Chinese string should be self-evident when Google-translated. For the Arabic, if you need help, post a question and I'll be happy to type in all the details in an answer.


This idea of RTL display names seems to have been in the water: see this.

I don't think that this should be closed as a dup of that, since I'm noting the problem with the profile form validation, not the display problems that ensue.

  • 5
    ...but how can we tell if you're not calling us names? ;-)
    – Arjan
    May 8, 2010 at 18:21
  • 2
    How the hell is it "too localized"? There are over 400 million arabs, is that a "small geographical area"? I wanna have what you guys smoke May 8, 2010 at 18:39
  • 1
    It's an English based site. Deal with it.
    – Finglas
    May 8, 2010 at 18:50
  • 10
    @Finglas but a name is a name
    – aviraldg
    May 8, 2010 at 19:13
  • 1
    @Arjan: you could learn Arabic, or rely on another Arabic speaker to report the misuse. May 8, 2010 at 19:22
  • Don't even get me started on how notifications will work with that.
    – Earlz
    May 8, 2010 at 20:21
  • @Earlz: Copy and paste?
    – Aarobot
    May 8, 2010 at 20:28
  • @Jonathan, Google tells me it's Nasreddin smuggling donkeys, and Turtles all the way down for the Chinese display name. That still doesn't mean a lot to me. ;-)
    – Arjan
    May 8, 2010 at 20:32
  • What's Cthulhu's name in his native tongue(s)? May 8, 2010 at 21:56
  • 3
    @Andrew, isn't it Rich B?
    – Rosinante
    May 8, 2010 at 22:04
  • I wonder if the !Kung people might be out of luck as well. May 8, 2010 at 22:13

3 Answers 3


we were not allowing anything other than [A-Z0-9] when validating the first character. Fixed.

Now we use ^[\w](?<!_)



But see what you've done…

0 نصر الدين تهريب الحمير 10.9 k

  • ... you're being too ASCII.
    – aviraldg
    May 8, 2010 at 19:25
  • I somehow knew that the RL-Override wasn't safe on this site!
    – Earlz
    May 8, 2010 at 20:22
  • I didn't put any BiDi control chars in there, did I?
    – Rosinante
    May 8, 2010 at 20:28
  • @0 龜一路下跌 yea I actually have tried putting such control characters in my name before to see if it'd break stuff and it ended up getting stripped out, so idk.
    – Earlz
    May 8, 2010 at 20:58

Jeff has repeatedly said that he is not interested in globalizing/localizing any of the Trilogy sites.

As the question Is English required on Stack Overflow? (an official FAQ entry) says, using English as the primary (only) common language facilitates communication -- which is what these sites are all about.

How does putting your display name in Arabic facilitate communication with the population of an English-only site?

Edit: Okay, I misunderstood.

I think the reason the checker works like that is because some users have names that contain non-English characters, yet are still closely related enough to English characters (say, é) that they can be matched in features like comment replies.

The issue is that if some non-English characters are allowed, either the set of allowed characters must be explicitly included; or, the set of disallowed characters must be explicitly excluded -- neither of which is a very palatable choice.

I think this will probably go down as [status-bydesign] where display names like that will be dealt with on an individual basis, as it doesn't happen often.

  • Because it's his name? If there is a way to spell the name using latin characters then yeah, he should probably do so, but if there isn't why shouldn't he allowed to use his real name like everyone else? May 8, 2010 at 20:29
  • This is not about localization. This is about a validity checker that is either too enthusiastic, or inaccurately described, or inadequately restrictive.
    – Rosinante
    May 8, 2010 at 20:33
  • @Kop: There's nothing stopping the user from using an alias that only contains Latin characters. There are lots of users in the system who have English names but choose an alias anyway. I don't disagree with your point, but as I said, the truth is that it does not facilitate communication with the population of an English site.
    – Jon Seigel
    May 8, 2010 at 20:36
  • @(now look what you've done, I can't reference your display name): I updated my post. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
    – Jon Seigel
    May 8, 2010 at 20:46
  • @Jon copy and paste will serve you well. In 30 days I'll switch to something else. I just got bit by the 'a little fun is OK' bug.
    – Rosinante
    May 8, 2010 at 21:19
  • 1
    I don't see why SO should be prejudicial against non-ascii spewing foreigners. May 8, 2010 at 21:38
  • @Evan: They aren't. As I said in my answer, it was merely a decision made by the management to facilitate communication, which is what the site is all about.
    – Jon Seigel
    May 8, 2010 at 22:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .