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Nickame or not? A recurrent question

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An article by Stéphane

Published on 28 August 2004

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Cet article existe aussi en français : Pseudonyme, le retour


I’ve been wondering for quite a long time now about "noms-de-plume" on the internet: how can one establish a coherent and unambiguous presence online?


A little while ago I was reading D. Keith Robinson’s Re-branding: Narrowing The Focus, in which he explains how he intends to reinforce his brand image not only through design, but also through a refocusing of his communication plan on his principal topic, web design [1] —all the while keeping the posibility of encompassing other aspects loosely related to it. He will even add, according to his fancy of the day, photos, personal weekend musings, etc.

A simple mirror effect forces us to wonder about one’s own online presence. It brings me back to the question of my nickname, already mentioned in a tongue-in-cheek article (in french) where I told a slice of online life, mostly for people who don’t spend their days stuck to a screen. But this time I’ll ask questions seriously.

Be warned that although this article seems trivial, it took me a great deal of effort to decide. Yeah, I know, who cares if I sign Humpty-Dumpty or Whosoever, but I have to make a choice.

Faulty signature

For quite a few years now I’ve signed s t e f, but as I explained in said article, this whimsical signature shows its limits, if only visual: on my own site solely can I make sure that it displays correctly.

Of course I could use several means on this site to keep the name clean, like a span with correct letter-spacing, or like I just did, with non-breaking spaces.

But all this is still ’gadgety’. Potentially, in 99.9% of times there can be an unpredicted return. Not to mention that it’s a geeky method, which coulnd’t last for years without making me incredibly tired of typing   entities...

Funny carriage-returns... (on Keith’s site)

Not to mention [2] that I don’t really see how a search engine can index such a string.

As I was saying on Asterisk, it’s ironic to note that my true name in Google ranks me at the first page, because it seems that some sites (more than I thought, obviously) have linked to here using my real name.

John Doe and John D’oh

All right, you’ll say, so ask yourself no question: use your real name and enough with your whining.

Yes but: there are many people who can go by the same name.

People called Stéphane Deschamps, as Google can certify, abound, be it as a music critique, as a scientist, etc. If I use my plain name, I won’t be distinguished from the others. Not everyone’s name sounds as original in French as Samuel Latchman (hi Sam!).

Yet at the same time it would be silly not to take benefit of what the name has already gathered [3].


If I use a pseudonym, nothnig will change. Moreover, I am in the middle of a process of trying to make my signature more credible [4], together with the evolution of my online activities, not to mention [5] my belonging to’s content management group (even though evolt’s readers are mainly web professionals, so there’s no real question there, everyone has a nick of some kind).

As you can see, nothing’s simple...

A possibility: first name, name, domain name

I can sign "Stéphane" here, because once you’re on my site you’re supposed to know who’s who (especially if I redesign in such a way that it shows easily), and everywhere else sign with my full name plus domain name That way I’ll keep the search engine benefits, and I’ll cross the information between domain and author, thus reinforcing the brand.

I’d be "Stéphane Deschamps (" quite everywhere.

Yeah, right. The accent on the "e" may be fun on sites that cannot manage it (after all, I spend half my online time on english-speaking sites). We’ll see. I’ll keep you informed.


[1After all, he ranks first in Google with Web design blog.

[2I’m repeating myself, two "not to mention" in two paragraphs. Here, I’ll give you a few more for the road: not to mention, not to mention, not to mention. Here we go.

[3I am "capitalising on my assets", as yuppies say... Of course my google rank doesn’t matter much to me, except for the sake of human vanity. The whole point is about the "formal identification" I’d like to see associated with my signature.

[4Eric Daspet comes to my mind: he is progressively dropping his "Ganf" nick in favor of his real name, in order to be able to speak of serious matters and not sound like a young geek. And it looks better for the author of a reference book on PHP!

[5See? Another not-to-mentionitis.


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