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FAQ: Screen Names

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, that have not been answered by this FAQ please feel free to contact the Administrator.

What constitutes an acceptable screen name?

Simply put, we don't allow silly Internet chat-room type names, but almost any actual name will work. Quoting from the GAC, "you may use your real name (in part or full), a nick name, or a pen name so long as it is in fact a name. Non-names, expressions, and descriptions may not be used as screen names." (GAC 2.1.1.)

Examples of unacceptable names would include: "Ilovekitties", "I-hAt3-U", "Princess Lollypop", "Macho Nacho III", "Yo yo yo!", etc.

Acceptable names also may include a status message or descriptive such as "Bob is away", "Bob is an uncle", "Prince Bob", "Bob the Baker", "Bob XYZ", etc.

Why can’t I use a non-name display name?

Generally speaking, we believe that people are more responsible with their online behavior when they’re not hiding behind silly Internet chat-room type names are most responsible when they use their real names. The community we have here bridges the offline and online worlds in way that (we hope) will impact your (offline and online) life for the better, and we have found that Internet chat room type pseudonyms are counter-productive to the environment we’re trying to create.

But it's okay if I use a pen name to conceal my identity or privacy?

Yes, totally. We encourage people to exercise whatever degree of caution as they feel is necessary and within the Guidelines, but pen names or nick names still have to be actual names. For example, if your name was "Samuel Clemens", you could use the name "Mark Twain" or "Sammy C." but a nick name like "FunnyBunnyMuffinhead87," "Pickles," or "Sk8terGurl" would not be acceptable because those are not actually names.

I have a popular first name (John, Andrew, Sarah, Bethany, etc) and someone else seems to be using it as a screen name already, can I still use it too?

Sure. You can also use an middle initial something else to differentiate your name if you'd like, but you don't have too.

Common Objections

Why can't I use a name like "George W. Bush," "Karl Marx," or "Dolly Parton?!"

GAC 2.2 prohibits the impersonation of other people. Don't try to be someone you're not, and if possible, be yourself!

But you can't actually prove that my name is not "Dolly Parton!"

You're right - there comes a point when the Response Team has to use their best discernment to make a decision.

But my best friends in real life actually call me "Sk8terGurl87!"

A pen name or nick name is acceptable "so long as it is in fact a name. Non-names, expressions, and descriptions may not be used as screen names." So even if your best friend calls you "FunkyMunky87" (or whatever) you'll still need to find an acceptable name for your Alumni Network screen name.

But I've used "Sk8terGurl87" as my display name since 1987! I'm known everywhere by that name!

Sorry - think of it as a chance to reinvent yourself. Exceptions cannot be made on the basis of length of use.

But I should be able to use the name "FunkyMunky" because it actually contains my initials (or some combination of letters that represent my name)!

If it doesn't look like a actual name, the Response Team will likely decline appeals based on these grounds.

My screen name somehow got incorrectly marked as an invalid screen name - what should I do?

We apologize for the inconvenience. Please contact the Response Team ( if you have questions or need help with your screen name. Our dedicated team of volunteers will do their best to assist you.

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