I'm relatively new to Stack so I was just wondering if there are reasons why you wouldn't want to display your real name. Thank you.

  • 11
    So you can be a jerk to other users and not look bad :) Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 6:56
  • 2
    That's a reason not to conceal your real name so you're not tempted to be a jerk and NOT own it. If someone wants to be a jerk, I have much more respect for them if they don't do it with an online alter ego. I've known mild mannered people who's online alter egos were total assholes. Be an asshole. Own it. Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 19:57
  • @NeilAnuskiewicz: LOL "own it". So true.
    – Greg Askew
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 21:44
  • The best content still stays the best content without any identity (a registered nickname is an identity as well) associated, but you need to check it. A nickname adds the possiblity to build some reputation, not only like the point system, but even like "he helped me several times with python problems, so i may trust more without doubting", but a real name does not add any more trust, except you met me in real life without knowing my pseudonym. So you may or may not choose to use your real name and can still build some reputation. Full anonymity has the potential to eliminate discrimination.
    – allo
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 22:35

3 Answers 3


First of all: there is no requirement to associate your SE profile with your real life identity, it is a personal preference to do so or not.

The reasons to do that are also personal and diverse.

Some people thrive in anonymity (you don't even have to create an account to participate on SE) as their questions, opinions and recommendations should speak for themselves. Q&A's need not be backed by a "real name" to be "more valid" or "better".

Your online personal interests, questions, opinions and recommendations may not always reflect well on current and potential/future customers/employers/spouses and/or friends. Hence a nick name on your profile rather than a real name.

Others might desire the opposite, they don't want anonymity and want to be personally recognised for their SE contributions.

An SE profile based on your real identity might be part of a larger online presence and can be used to support your social network, career, products and/or business.

  • 1
    HBruijn - Thank you. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 14:40
  • 8
    To add on this excellent answer, you can always choose later on to use your account in this way (rename to your real name, or log in when asked to by the new company as proof, or just use the nickname and explain it), but the reverse is not true. Once your real name is out there, it stays out there - especially with permissive licenses like the one used on this site (anyone can mirror/copy the answers).
    – user121391
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 15:22

Pretty much what HBrujin said.

Reasons why you might not want to use your real name:

  • If you're going to ask questions like, say, "My employer is an idiot and they want me to do this stupid thing. How can I talk them out of it?"

Reasons why you might want to use your real name:


For me the reason would be privacy.

Employers can search the internet for you when you change jobs.

Worst Case: They find that you have written questions badly or were unsuccessful without help from someone resulting in you not getting the job you want.

  • Dennis Nolte - Good points, all. Thank you. Privacy is a sound reason. I generally figure it's best to put oneself out there even if some questions get a -1 on Server Fault. :-) I'm not super concerned with privacy. Security, yes! Privacy? I'm not super concerned. Should I be? Barring the worse case of a prospective employer seeing a server fault FAIL and tossing your resume! :-) Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 14:22
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    Neil the downvote on meta is usually disagreeing with the question you asked, only on the site a downvote should show a bad question (basically) Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 14:25
  • @NeilAnuskiewicz if you are one of the person who got "nothing to hide" with privacy, please educate yourself what people already can do with the data you have. "Only" not getting a job is quite low on the possibility. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 14:27
  • Dennis Nolte - I am not one of those people who leaves their FB profile wide open or something like that as I do realize there are edges where privacy and security overlap. I use a password manager, don't use the same password on multiple sites, and other basic security measures. I think that's the point you're making is that privacy has security implications, right? I figure I mitigate the risk by being on top of things in other ways. The keyword is mitigate. I realize I'm increasing my exposure by using my real name but I think it's a marginal increase... Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 14:33
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    It is also possible that someone else impersonates you in order to make you look bad. Usually, it is "first come, first served" regarding name choices, so if you are not the first one, someone else can use "your" name to be rude, answer questions in a false way or display incompetence on purpose.
    – user121391
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 15:25
  • Dennis Nolte - Would an employer really hold it against you that you were asking questions on Stack? Even if you slipped occasionally and asked a stupid question, I wouldn't think they'd hold Stack questions against you. Well, unless it was a pattern of really stupid questions with little sign of improvement over time. That wouldn't be good. But I would think reasonable, earnest questions would be a good thing. I would think a potential boss would be relieved you were aware of Stack. Here I'm assuming an enlightened employer. Obviously that's far from a given! Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 6:38
  • 1
    @NeilAnuskiewicz actually yes.. HR drones often might not understand if a questions was good written or not. If you think someone is taking hours to analyse if you are a good or not: in my opinion and experience this is not happening. You get sorted automatically as much as possible. Additionally depending on the person one might get in an argument what is on-topic, disagree with a mod decision etc.. Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 10:59
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    @NeilAnuskiewicz Using your real name doesn't matter so much if there's many or hundreds or thousands or 10's of thousands of people with the same name as you. How about you? I got screwed in that regard. Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 13:02
  • 1
    LOL. I've yet to meet another Neil Anuskiewicz and it'd scare the shit out of me if I did. I'd think Doppelganger! Run. Run. Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 13:19

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