What are the advantages and disadvantages to using your real name online?

Posted by Jon Purdy on Programmers See other posts from Programmers or by Jon Purdy
Published on 2010-10-03T02:54:49Z Indexed on 2011/01/06 10:58 UTC
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As a programmer, do you see any professional or other advantage in using your real name in online discourse, versus an invented handle? I've always gone by a single username and had my real name displayed whenever possible, for a few reasons:

  • My interests online are almost exclusively professional and aboveboard.

  • It constructs a search-friendly public log of all of my work, everywhere.

  • If someone wants to contact me, there are many ways to do it.

  • My portfolio of work is all tied to me personally.

Possible cons to full disclosure include:

  • If you feel like becoming involved in something untoward, it could be harder.

  • The psychopath who inherits your project can more easily find out where you live.

  • You might be spammed by people who are not worth the precious time that could be better spent writing more of the brilliant software you're famous for.

  • Your portfolio of work is all tied to you personally.

It seems, anyway, that a vast majority of StackOverflow users go by invented handles rather than real names. Notable exceptions include the best-known users, who are typically well established in the industry. But how could we ever become legendary rockstar programmers if we didn't get our names out there? Discuss.

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