What is the origin of the name you use on Stack Overflow or if you use your Real Name on Stack Overflow, what's the origin of any online handle you use?

Most Popular Reasons

  • Uncontrollable Circumstances (birth)

(Adding reasons as they come in...)

  • Etymology == wrong word? Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:23
  • This question shouldn't be closed. It was a wiki to begin with, it's a part of Stack Overflow, and I can write pages on why it's at least as relevant as 'Facts about Jon Skeet'. Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:27
  • Etymology is the wrong word. I had to change it, or else the investment in my linguistics education would be all for naught.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:28
  • Thank you. I sometimes use big words without knowing what they mean. Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:28
  • Also, reopening. It's not downvoted and it's Wiki'd and tagged.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:28
  • @Gortok, I'm flabbergasted at the audacity of your shenanigans apropos this gregarious epistolary notice about cognomens.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:29
  • What's funny is that I know all except one word (cognomens). Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:31
  • 1
    Cognomen == name. BTW, Etymology is the study of the history of words and how they enter language. So your usage wasn't completely incorrect, just not completely correct either. And origin is a better word anyway.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:33
  • It is a better word, you're right. It's as Mark Twain said, The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between "Lightning" and "Lightning Bug" Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:35
  • I'm amazed that this question has been downvoted a net amount of three times. It started as a wiki, has stayed a wiki, and is in the same vein as many other questions. I don't think I'll ever understand some people's motivations. Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 20:34
  • 1
    My motivation is pure profit. Or boredom. Whichever comes first.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 21:18
  • 3
    Usually, boredom comes first. Even on dictionary. =)
    – Seiti
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 0:41
  • 1
    We are Digg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 21:31
  • Can't tell whether I'm on this topics comments or on an IRC channel
    – Shahin
    Commented Jan 13, 2009 at 0:04
  • How is this related to programming?
    – Seventh Element
    Commented Feb 13, 2009 at 22:03

102 Answers 102


Many years ago, in the dark days before mobile phones, I was involved in a BBS meet where everyone swapped home phone numbers online before University broke up for the holidays. We were mostly new to this kind of thing, and didn't think to swap real names as well.

Cue following awkward phone conversation with someone's mother:

Me:   "Hello... can I speak to... *[suddenly realises the problem]* 
       er...  CaptainNemo, please?"

Her:  "What? Who is this?"

Me:   "Um... sorry. Ok, this is weird.... but do you by any chance
       have a son or daughter who's studying computers at university 
       and is home for the holiday?"

Her:   "Oh... you mean Paul. Hang on. Who shall I say is calling?"

Me:    "Great, thanks. Tell him it's... ah... JabbaTheHutt."

I started making a point of using my real name for stuff shortly after that.

  • 6
    I changed mine when I suddenly realized that co-workers were calling me by my screen name. Commented Jan 7, 2009 at 7:35
  • 8
    @Tom - was that by any chance, Neo?
    – John Rasch
    Commented Nov 25, 2009 at 19:06
  • Ah yes, as well as the joys of 'voice validating' accounts.
    – user50049
    Commented Jun 25, 2010 at 9:43

Stack Overflow doesn't have a handle on Jon Skeet. Jon Skeet has a handle on Stack Overflow.

Oh wait, wrong post.

  • 2
    ROFLMAO.. (It was supposed to be 'LOL', but the 10 character limit hit. Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:18
  • 3
    lol .
    – jjnguy
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:20
  • 4
    The 10 char limit is mostly a suggestion.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 23:15
  • lol to 10 characters limit.
    – fm
    Commented Dec 15, 2008 at 15:06
  • wow how did you lol? oh wait, that was before enforcing the 15 char limit?
    – hasen
    Commented Nov 25, 2009 at 23:33
  • yeah, it seems like they enforce the 15 chars much tighter now. You used to be able to use a ​0x200B character (zero width space) which shows up as nothing, but still counted towards the character limit, but it seems they have disabled that now :(
    – a_m0d
    Commented Nov 26, 2009 at 1:00
  • Showoffs. Z:-( (Ok, it said "585 characters left", but then told me I need 15 characters. It looks like the code for this script got missed in the update.)
    – Mark C
    Commented Apr 12, 2010 at 22:31

My Mom

  • Almost . Commented Jan 29, 2009 at 20:38

I'm a Kiwi and I'm a Bastard

  • 1
    Well, at least you're honest about it. :-) Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:12
  • Kiwi's are small birds too.
    – Gamecat
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:40
  • 3
    Kiwi = New Zealanders
    – blizpasta
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 20:01
  • Yeah A Kiwi is our National Bird and how New Zealanders refer to ourselves. Bit like USA = Yank, Australian = Aussie, British = Whinging Pom ;-)
    – KiwiBastard
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 20:37
  • I wouldn't like being called Yank. I'm from the US btw.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 22:23
  • Maybe British = Wank?
    – P Daddy
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 23:38
  • +er, I guess. ;}
    – P Daddy
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 23:39
  • NZ++ here as well (Although I live in Australia, so that makes me a Kwaussie)
    – madlep
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 0:04
  • Kwaussie is a quasi-name ;-)
    – Sean
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 0:34
  • ROFG (that's Rolling On the Floor Groaning :·)
    – P Daddy
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 1:51
  • Half Kiwi here. But that wouldn't make a very good user name. Commented Jan 7, 2009 at 8:04

P, because it's my first initial (my given name is "Pimp").

Daddy, because that's what my wife and kids (and your mom) call me.


Seriously? Down-votes? WTF?

  • Not sure. Wasn't me. I upvoted everyone who responded. Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 1:54
  • 3
    Some people just take themselves way too seriously, I think.
    – P Daddy
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 1:57
  • 2
    I'd encourage you to grow up.
    – Jim Blizard
    Commented Jan 29, 2009 at 21:51
  • 16
    @Jim: Can I interest you in a sense of humor?
    – P Daddy
    Commented Feb 7, 2009 at 8:27

Ken Ray - I guess since that is what my parents thought would be a good name for their first-born, who am I to argue?

  • 1
    When you were growing up, did you go by "Little" and call your father "Sun"?
    – Gnome
    Commented Jan 8, 2010 at 6:19

My name comes from Magic: The Gathering where 'bolt bait' refers to a really annoying creature that desperately needs to be hit by a Lightning Bolt. That's me.

  • If you're into stackoverflow & Magic, please check out this combination of the two: draw3cards.com
    – ripper234
    Commented Feb 12, 2010 at 13:00

I'm nobody special

edit: to give context, before I became a moderator, I went by the username "nobody_" (before that "nobody", but I switched to "nobody_" when "nobody" was taken on Twitter)

  • I disagree. For a 'nobody' you sure are somebody!
    – BoltBait
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:38
  • I think that when you name nothing it becomes something.
    – Sean
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 23:56
  • Heidegger? (science.uva.nl/~seop/entries/nothingness)
    – Seiti
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 0:23
  • 3
    "Nobody" brings to mind a Manson interview question... youtube.com/watch?v=o2oZWpqtNi4
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 24, 2009 at 14:08
  • My secret's out! Commented Jul 24, 2009 at 14:29
$ whoami
$ perl -wle'print substr((getpwent)[6], 0, 5)'

I've always used this userid, but I started going by this name in real life at a former company where I discovered on my first day that not only was there another developer who shared my first name, her desk was right next to mine. Everyone insisted that I needed to resolve the namespace collision; thankfully I was able to self-select my new identifier.


litb meant "Linux Is The Best" back then. Nowadays, it means "Let It Be".


Seiti comes from a romanized corrupted version to portuguese (I´m brazilian) of my japanese name:


In fact, my 'real' name is Sei-iti.

It is a two parts name. The first half, 'sei', comes from the fact that every male member of my family (father, uncle, grandfather) has that initial on their own names. The other half, Iti/ichi, it´s because I´m the first born son.


I go with first name [dot] last name, in lowercase. Of course there are places that don't allow me to do that, so if I can't use the dot, I will normally skip it.

I figure my parents went to all the trouble of making me, so I might as well use what I was given.

  • What happened to lowercase?
    – alex
    Commented Mar 6, 2009 at 1:07
  • Good question. I have no clue why I didn't do it in lowercase here. All my email addresses and logins everywhere else are lowercase. Strange - I honestly don't remember.
    – joseph.ferris
    Commented Mar 8, 2009 at 16:25
  • "All the trouble of making me" Wow!
    – Mark C
    Commented Apr 12, 2010 at 22:32

Mine's got a history. :)

It all started back in 1997 when I changed schools (I was in 7th grade) and the new school had Internet (which was pretty rare at that time). The schools computer labs however were not really the latest-greatest things. Out of three rooms only one had Pentium-166 computers with Windows 95. The second best room had 486 CPUs with DOS running on them; and the last one had antique 286 CPUs that booted from the network (no hard drives in those computers!) and, naturally, also ran DOS.

Now, since most of the stuff was on DOS, there was also support for internet on DOS. "odipkt" it was called, I think. Using that, there was one great thing - IRC client. Now, since some computers didn't have hard drives, the program was stored on a network folder. To run it, you would have to copy it to your home folder and edit the configuration file. In the config file you had to change two things - the IP address (I usually picked a random one, not knowing how things work) and nickname.

The default nickname was "laacz" - which is a deliberately misspelled "bear" in my language. Since I didn't know what to choose, I took "Vilx" - which is similarly misspelled "Wolf" in my language. It also has the bonus of having the same first letter as my real name.

After that I stuck to this for a long time, since I was too lazy to figure out another one. I used it wherever nicknames were needed - games, internet forums, etc.

Eventually I met a colleague of my father's in the IRC. From him I learned the trick of adding "-" to the end of your nickname when it was already taken somewhere. And for me this was often the case, because it turned out that the idea of "Vilx" was not very original after all. ;)

A turning point came when my favorite internet forum grew large enough and migrated form a homebrew system to phpBB thus requiring everyone to re-register. I didn't do it immediately, and after a few days "Vilx" was already taken. Since then I've always used "Vilx-" everywhere, and so far it seems that this now IS original. Haven't met anyone else with the same nick. :)


I have my username because I'm a big pussy... which is why I work at Initech to begin with.

But at least my name isn't Michael Bolton.


"Gortok" is an amalgamation of my name, "GeORge sTOcKer" (emphasis added).

  • You don't write out your name like this "GeORge sTOcKer" regularly? :) Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:10
  • LOL. Although I think it's rather neat that I share a namesake with a Star Trek character, even if he was a coward. Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 19:12

I blame my serious lack conservation of originality.

Thanks Sean!

  • 1
    Why waste originality?
    – Sean
    Commented Dec 10, 2008 at 23:59

My name's origin is obscure.

Back in the early 1990s, there was a television show called The Critic. The main character's mother was a blueblood socialite who suggested that all the poor people in New York City be blasted out into space.

After that, I started using "out into space" as a sort of meme among my friends. Various things should be blasted out into space. Like the service at Bennigan's. Or leaf blowers on Saturday mornings.

Several years later Out.Into.Space became my performance identity when I was in the slam scene in Dallas, Texas.

Now I'm old and fat and impatient and the only performance I care about is my code's, but Out Into Space has always stuck with me. Fourteen years and counting, old friend. QQ

  • 1
    Ah the Critic, good old Jay Sherman - pity it was cancelled, though there was at least a crossover with The Simpsons!
    – Anonymous
    Commented Dec 12, 2008 at 16:24
  • It got retooled so many times. Some really famous and popular writers worked on that show. Judd Apatow for example.
    – Robert S.
    Commented Dec 12, 2008 at 16:29
  • +1 for reminding me about The Critic
    – Pops
    Commented Sep 20, 2010 at 21:48

Random typing, actually I was trying to type Sloughk (still doesn't make sense).

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slough
    – Dan Dyer
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 0:13
  • lol yeah, actually I've been in Slough, may be it's some subconscious stuff :)
    – fm
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 13:05
  • 1
    Come friendly bombs ...
    – Unsliced
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 14:08

My name is Tony - nickname sometimes is "T" - Cousin randomly shouted to me (while slightly drunk) "Tea with two sugars?" - Sounded good and is now my new user name of most things.


On Stack Overflow I use my name Jim C. On other sites I use Gray Raven which is the name of a DD character I played back in college which was more years ago then I care to think about.


"AgentConundrum" comes from the main character on the TV show "Seven Days," Frank Parker.

Parker is an NSA Agent whose code name is "Conundrum."

It was one of my favorite shows back when it was still on the air, mainly because I love time travel.

  • 1
    That show was riddled with holes. But I miss it.
    – itsbunnies
    Commented Dec 11, 2008 at 12:21

The history of my choice is no where near as interesting as some posted here, just a bit goofy..

Way back when I use to like a show called Otherworld which is just plain terrible, but it played in the 80s when I was way less selective about the quality of stuff I watch ( maybe ). It only lasted 8 episodes, and rightly so. One of the episodes entitled "Village of the Motorpigs", just sort of stuck in my mind for some reason, the way freaky stuff stays with you from your childhood like that Space 1999 episode called Dragon's Domain that still seems to freak me out 30 years later, see for yourself. Anyway the episode goes like this:

"The episode opens with the Sterling's traveling through the Forbidden Zone on board a rackety old bus owned by Velcrows Widley - a retired Zone Trooper. After being stopped by Zone Troopers, the bus is searched and the Sterling's are discovered, but before they can be taken away the bus is attacked by Motorpigs - a motorcycle gang. After being taken to their camp, the Motorpig's leader, Chalktrauma, decides to split up the family. Hal is sent to work in a chalk mine - chalk being a mineral that has a narcotic effect. The only one of the Motorpigs who doesn't take chalk is Chalktrauma who has decided he likes the look of Gina and starts making his plans. After talking with Pango - one of the other miners, Hal challenges Chalktrauma and, after killing him, the family make their escape through the mine when the Zone Troopers attack the camp." - taken from www.paulmichaelglaser.org

I guess the name is just a touchstone to a fun childhood memory that makes me smile every time I see it, and I can use that every now and then... :)


A few years ago some friends of mine introduced me to NetHack, which I somehow never managed to come across by myself even though a) I'm a bit of a gaming nut and b) the game has been around in some form or another for nearly 20 years. Since I was a NetHack noobie, and the first character class I gravitated to was a gnome, I named my character "Gnovice" (with a silent g). I kinda liked it, so I started using it for my various login IDs.

  • 1
    I like your avatar - from the cover of Era Vulgaris by Queens of the Stone Age. Commented Aug 5, 2009 at 16:55
  • @DisgruntledGoat: You're the first person to recognize Bulby! Commented Aug 5, 2009 at 17:08

It's Track #2 from The Cult's Electric, and partly my last name. It was given to me at the tender age of 13 or so (7th grade), when me and a friend (who introduced me to the band, among others) and I were beating Legend of Zelda. A second friend heard it, and was born with the amazing talent to dictate people's nicknames, usually for life. He liked it when he heard it and started calling me that, and pretty soon everybody was doing the same.


It's the same handle as I've used ever since I hung out as sysop on the #Delphi group on EFNET IRC in the early-to-mid 90's, and originally it's the name of a Scottish Munro (mountain over 3000' ft) that I'd climbed around at that time. Makes it about 15 or 16 years old.

I wonder if anyone can better that by a substantial margin?


It is a shortening of the registered name of a horse I used to own, Holly's Little Gem.


First initial followed by last name. I use this everywhere on the web.


Usually I use b2gills, some people in high school used to call me bgills. I would have used that everywhere, but it seems someone else used that on some sites. The number 2 comes from the fact that both my, and my mothers, initials are the same.


Mine started as a misspelling (Simgnud instead of Sigmund) and then "Gnud" became sort of a joke with some non-virtual friends of mine. So now I use it online =)


I'm terrible about thinking up names, handles, etc. So, at one point long ago when trying to think of a character handle for an old shooter my impatient friend said, "C'mon man, hurry up and think of something"

...and Sumptin was born.

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