Choosing secure usernames

With apologies to William Shakespeare.

When I was born, my father’s family insisted on giving me a family name. My mother put her foot down rather firmly and named me Anzelle instead. Waaaay better (thanks, Mom!). Anyway, for many years I considered my name terrifically unique. Well, until a couple of years ago.

Occasionally, I attend the annual WordCamp event which brings WordPress designers and developers together for two days of talks and fun on all things WordPress. Couple years back, I grabbed my coffee and parked myself somewhere near the back where there were still a few empty seats. Of course, we were all wearing our obligatory name tags, and a woman came to sit down next to me, took a look at my tag and went, ‘Haha, look at that!’. Her name was Ansel and there we were, both WordPress web designers. Turns out my name is not so unique after all.

Having an unusual (if not unique) name has its bad side too, though. People think a nickname might be ‘easier’. Just don’t. I don’t respond to Anzy. Or they mangle the pronunciation – just this morning a telemarketer called me Ann-Zeelie. Say what? I’ll also never see my name on a can of Coke.

Well, today’s technical tip isn’t advice on what not to name your next child (although, pet names – GO WILD). It’s about USERNAMES. Here’s a guide on WordPress usernames, but also on choosing usernames for other online activities:

USERNAMES FOR WORDPRESS

Never have a username:

  • With special characters or spaces
  • Called ‘admin’
  • Related to the name or topic of your website
  • Consists of your email address.

Instead, have a username that’s:

  • Unrelated to your site’s content
  • Perhaps a little obscure or different.

USERNAMES IN GENERAL

Never have a username that:

  • Uses your full name or parts of your address or phone number
  • Uses your email username
  • Is weird and then reuse it elsewhere
  • Is similar to your password.

Good news. If you’re stuck for username inspiration, you can always use a generator like the one on the LastPass website.