Online Alias vs. Real Names

The most observant followers I have on twitter soon noticed when I changed my name earlier this week.  Over the holiday I read ‘The Students Guide to an Epic Online Reputation … And Parents’ Too’ by @WayneDenner.  His book gives plenty of tips and ideas for people looking to build a positive online identity – something that I promote myself.  Over recent months I have wondered – is IrritableTech a positive name?  The concept of the name was always meant to be about the technology, rather than the technician. However I’m not sure I ever made that terribly clear!


Some thoughts about the pro’s and con’s of aliases –

  • An alias allows you to create a unique identity – something which is harder to do with your real name. Unique is good for search engines.
  • A well managed alias may allow you to separate online and offline to some degree.
  • Some may question or dismiss the opinions of an alias – real names may be more trustworthy.
  • It seems companies and potential employers would rather link with real people.

If we look at the biggest social media sites – Facebook prefer real names, they believe it helps reduce misuse of the site. Twitter allow any username you wish. Instagram follow suit (although they are now owned by Facebook).  LinkedIn is very much a real name platform.  Many Instagram and Twitter users go for a half way house of an alias based on their real name.

There’s a lot for individuals to consider around reputation management and privacy concerns.  Far too much for one blog!

I’d created @IrritableTech as a way to dip my toe into Twitter.  In some ways it quickly got out of hand, but a thin veil of anonymity probably did help me step into a world I’d not yet encountered.  I entered with little baggage, and if it all went wrong I could quickly back out with little or no damage to my personal reputation.   However what I hadn’t considered early on that if the experiment did go well, the real me might not get the full benefit of my aliases kudos.

After giving it some thought over the festive period I decided to move away from @IrritableTech, and create a new ID using my real name.  I checked username availability at various social networks and finally decided to migrate my accounts to @MrAdamWelch. I’ve taken great care to ensure that all my previous links, posts, pictures and other resources will continue to work.  Please do let me know if you find any I’ve missed.  Oh and say hello to the new me!

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