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If the username does not provide NSFW or offensive vibe, but is not a standard one like firstname.lastname or firstinitial.lastname, etc. does it annoy you as an employer?

Examples of such usernames maybe:

  1. coolguy
  2. sharktank
  3. insidejob
  4. chillbro
  5. cockroach
  6. teeshirt
  7. ramsaybolton
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  • 6
    Not a duplicate of, but basically the same as, What should a professional email address look like? - Whether it's your e-mail address or any other type of account (Git, etc.), if you share it, you should use the same rule as that post.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 11:01
  • 3
    @ypercubeᵀᴹ I mean the considerations as to what constitutes a professional e-mail address, are basically the same as to the question of what constitutes a professional Github account name (or any other account under the sun).
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 12:38
  • 8
    @ypercubeᵀᴹ Well, that would force me to ask, "why are you using your personal account at work?". If you are creating an account for work purposes, then by all means, come up with a professional name, perhaps using a company style guide.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 13:43
  • 4
    Many programmers use Github both for personal projects and for work. When you move to a new employer, your account will lose access to the old employer's projects and gain access to the new employer's. I don't know anyone who juggles multiple Github accounts. Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 11:08
  • 3
    I'd probably draw some unfavourable conclusions about someone with the username InsideJob, personally. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 10:28

7 Answers 7

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Maybe your employer doesn't care but to me, every item you mention sounds unprofessional. If you aleady recognized that everybody else is using firstname.lastname, just stick to that. Seems like you already think that there's an issue here, otherwise you wouldn't ask that question.

Apart of this: what shall the 'git username' be at all? author.name needs no firstname.lastname, you could use a real name here: Firstname Lastname is fine. author.email will be an e-mail address. If you have a corporate address, use that.

And if all your colleagues have similar unprofessional addresses, it's not an issue here. But maybe customers have their own opinion when they're contacted by [email protected] regarding the enquiry they sent last week to [email protected]...

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  • I do use my Firstname Lastname in author.name and corporate email in author.email. So all my commits reflect my proper Full Name. The issue is, it shows my username during pull requests. Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 16:55
  • @AshishRanjan the username of what exactly? There's no such thing as a username in Git. As you're talking about pull requests: is this about Github and not plain Git? However, simply get a professional username to use!
    – eckes
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 17:37
  • Got it. My bad. Should've made it clearer. Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 17:48
  • 1
    I once worked with someone whose email was actually sales.brother@company. Sure, his name was "Brother", as his father thought it would be nice to slap a english word with a fraternal meaning to his kid. It's pretty common to see names on Brazil which are actually misuses of english words. Same goes for "Cog", "Sea", "Beach", and so many others.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 12:08
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    Random data point: the only person I came across professionally who uses one of these novelty usernames was immature, poor skills, highly unprofessional and I still scratch my head that they can get paid doing what they do. Before I got to know much about them, the novelty username was the first thing that stuck out.
    – J Bramble
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 16:06
4

Do non-standard or "novelty" usernames like those annoy employers? Possibly. Will they hold it against you or consider you unprofessional or immature? Absolutely.

Just like when it comes to an email address, the handle that you choose to use when interacting with the professional world says a lot about you as a person. Novelty names come across as juvenile and immature. That's not inherently a huge issue, but it does shape how you're perceived at the office by your peers and your management. And even if the impact will be small, that's still a net negative effect on your reputation that can very easily be avoided.

Beyond this you also run the risk of picking a username that people find offensive or in incredibly poor taste. And you might not always realise that! A perfect example is how you included "insidejob" in your list of inoffensive and SFW names. No. Just no. Even "ramsaybolton" is incredibly tasteless given the nature of the character it's referring to. The reaction you can expect to using a name like this is way beyond someone rolling their eyes at a novelty username. In most workplaces you can expect a Conversation with your manager about professional norms and how you should change that handle immediately.

Some cultures are exceptions to this, particularly start-ups with a "frat culture", but even when a lot of your colleagues commit with names like "vhalar_morgulis" or "the_spice_must_flow" you should still opt for something neutral and professional.

3

I'm afraid the answer comes down to "ask your employer."

My company is in the computer industry and old enough that we date back to eight-character user names. That has innoculated us against expecting user names to map directly to actual names; there just wasn't enough space to do anything but a contraction or alias. That also means we have mechanisms in place to ask "who is this actually" -- user profiles that can be searched by userID. Those mechanisms have persisted, and these days most users have both a my-name@my-site address and a shorthand [email protected]

In our environment, I agree that if your shortname looks like someone else's name -- unless completely obvious as a fictional reference, and maybe even then -- it may be needlessly confusing and will be discouraged. And of course anything offensive, rude, annoying, or otherwise immature and inherently unprofessional (l33t is right out) will be rejected. But as long as you aren't gratuitously stupid about it, everyone recognizes this as just a nickname and nobody much cares. I am probably more widely known by my username than by my actual name.

But your employer may not be this flexible. Some do have stricter policies. Ask them, not us!

2

I'd avoid "insidejob" and "cockroach." Cockroaches are unpleasant and scare some people so you really don't want that thought.

In general this is why there is a little risk to creative handles. They will make the employer think of something and there is more downside risk than upside at that point.

But in my opinion everything else on the list is fine and I can't imagine any other reason an employer would feel strongly.

1

A bit of context is necessary.

  • Is this GitHub account being used in any way for professional use?
  • Are you referencing work done under this GH account on your CV or resume?
  • Does anything on that GH account identify you as an employee of your company?

If the answer to all of these is 'no', do what you like, so long as you are following GH's terms of service.

If the answer to any of these is 'yes', the best thing you can do is keep everything on it to a professional standard. Including your username. This rules out names such as 'insidejob'.

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As a recruiter myself. For your personal GitHub I don’t care and don’t even noticed when I review CVs. I click on the link and review the code. GitHub’s accounts are not emails, and while having a formal handle can’t hurt it’s very difficult someone will read too much into it because real code people do not care.

You should avoid rude words as those usually would be spotted and some recruiters may make something out of it. Most won’t.

For your professional source control nick I will suggest to first and foremost to follow whatever rules your company has. If none are provided then ask. If they don’t care do not risk it, go for something standard like name.surname or initials.companyname, your current manager may not care but your next could. Or the manager of your manager may so be safe. What you do with your personal identity is your business, your company identity on the other hand is not.

0

Let's say I'm another user of that git repository. And I notice that a change has been made, and I would like to talk to the author of that change. If the author is "joe.smith" then I'll look for some guy named Joe Smith. Worst case I would end up asking HR and they tell me that Joe Smith is some guy who left some time last year.

If the author is "cockroach" what do I do then? "ramsaybolton" is worse, because I would be looking for a real person. So when I find you after a long search, you can expect a very angry telling off.

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  • If anyone wanted to find me because of a contribution on github, then I'd expect to be contacted through Github somehow. On github I have a similar name as I have on here, which is not my real name. Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 9:16

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