capitalizing usernames. January 15, 2002 8:53 PM   Subscribe

A minor etiquette question, really, regarding punctuation and capitalization. Join me inside, won't you?
posted by mr_crash_davis to Etiquette/Policy at 8:53 PM (27 comments total)

Many people here (myself included) do not have a capital letter as the first character of their username.

When addressing such a person, it makes me uncomfortable to begin a sentence by capitalizing the name, and yet it also makes me uncomfortable to not capitalize the beginning of the sentence.


mr_crash_davis is a raving lunatic.

Mr_crash_davis is a raving lunatic.

Is there anything near a consensus of opinion on which is more "proper"?

And another thing, in addressing folks with punctuation marks in their names (Wulfgar! comes to mind), should I use the punctuation? And how about shortening names for brevity (i.e., "mr_crash")?

Like I said, minor, but it really bothers me sometimes when I have to choose, and I don't want to offend anyone by brutalizing the alias that the person put a lot of thought into. Opinions?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:59 PM on January 15, 2002

I capitalize it if it's a name like Zeldman, Matt, Miguel, etc, but if it's a nickname, I prefer to use lowercase. Sure it looks odd, but it's just a stylistic issue. As for punctuations in the names, I believe the one that throws everyone off is geoff.

I've honestly no clue what should be the proper style. I guess if someone would do a rough style guide for the rest of us, it would be great.
posted by riffola at 9:08 PM on January 15, 2002

my rule is to avoid capitalization if possible. for any purpose. i violate that rule often on my website, but only because i try to seem professional...
posted by moz at 9:30 PM on January 15, 2002

As an Englishman I would obviously refer to you as Mr mr_crash_davis.

Nicknames should not distort the need for manners ...
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:30 PM on January 15, 2002

I always liked the fact that English publications like The Economist, for example, would always refer to even the most egregiously stupid and evil politicians as Mr. Reagan, Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton and so on. Very cultured.

Sorry. fold_and_mutilate is rubbing off on me.

Sorry. Mr. fold_and_mutilate.

What was the question again?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:58 PM on January 15, 2002

Mr. stavrosthewonderchicken, one of the questions stated above should apply to you. Would it be okay to refer to you as just stavros?
posted by riffola at 10:01 PM on January 15, 2002

er Mr. stavros of course
posted by riffola at 10:01 PM on January 15, 2002

I feel you should refer to people the way they ask you to, so I use the nicknames exactly as they appear, respecting punctuation, spelling, and capitalization choices I may not have made.

Its bliiiiissssss.

It's raining again.

posted by kirkaracha at 10:57 PM on January 15, 2002

please just call me rcb.

posted by rebeccablood at 11:05 PM on January 15, 2002

who's down with rcb?
who's down with rcb?
every last homie!

(i went to high school in the 90s, so sue me)
posted by owillis at 11:19 PM on January 15, 2002

Would it be okay to refer to you as just stavros?

I find it a bit weird, as I've known guys named Stavros IRL, and my name's actually Chris. But thanks to my flash of goofiness when I registered here, everyone pretty much calls me Stavros or Stav or StWC or 'you bastard' and I'm happy with whatever, and any capitalization that suits your fancy...the full, lengthy monicker is fine too.

There are people I went to university with who still think 15 years later that my real name is 'Bosco', but that's a whole other story...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:05 AM on January 16, 2002

Of course, Oxford Dictionary style is to omit the final full-stop from abbreviated titles that are missing their middle letters (e.g. Mr, Dr, St) but to include it in those that omit their last letters (e.g. Rev., Prof.).

While we're being nitpicky.
posted by rory at 2:08 AM on January 16, 2002

I have several on-line friends in other fora whose screen names are all lower case, and my rule of thumb is to follow their preference except when their name begins a sentence, figuring that any noun beginning a sentence gets capped. (I used to work as a copy editor, and old habits die hard.) No one's seemed bothered by this approach, but if anyone did, I would of course follow his or her preference; I think names, especially chosen ones, have significance and deserve respect.

(I note, irrelevantly, that everyone preceding me in this discussion uses all-lower-case names. I guess it'd make sense that those personally affected by the question would be most interested. And us old copy editors, of course .)
posted by Kat Allison at 4:37 AM on January 16, 2002

In the early days of MeFi it seemed that everyone had all-lower-case nicks, hence mine. Now we get all sorts, even with spaces in them, which goes against every venerable file- and variable-naming tradition... underscores_are_perfectly_okay_though.

This whole online identity business is fraught with potential faux pas, innit?
posted by rory at 6:51 AM on January 16, 2002

it's just a stylistic issue

indeed, Dr Riffola has the point. as long as it's clear who is being referred to, it shouldn't matter IMO. anybody who gets huffy over their name being capitalized (or not) or even not being called Mr Suchensuch needs to chill out.
posted by danOstuporStar at 7:11 AM on January 16, 2002

The Economist would actually refer to stavrosthewonderchicken as Mr stavrosthewonderchicken, as they don't use periods after the title. The paper might even figure out a first and last name and turn him, after first reference, into Mr Wonderchicken (he is correct about their use of titles, though; see also: Mr bin Laden).

More importantly, The Economist--and the New York Times, and other highly literate journals--would capitalize the first letter of a name. Even if one thinks it's edgy and cool to use lowercase, grammar dictates capitalizing proper nouns. K.D. Lang is usually Ms. Lang in the Times.

Personally, I like to be proper about it, even if the Internet makes us all a little more creative and a lot lazier.
posted by werty at 7:57 AM on January 16, 2002

I'm indifferent to the various capitalizations, underscore inclusions or removals when people type my name, I just wish people would stop calling me doug resin.
The dopey joke isn't that hard to grok is it? I admit that dong resin is not that great a pun, but then there are no good puns.
posted by dong_resin at 8:20 AM on January 16, 2002

Holy shit does that read back whiny. No more typing before coffee.
posted by dong_resin at 9:45 AM on January 16, 2002

Our local newspaper sometimes has to mention a particular city official who doesn't use capitals in her name. To avoid getting hostile letters, of which they already get plenty on even smaller points of order, the paper: 1) doesn't start sentences with her name, and 2) very often puts after her name, parenthetically or comma'd off, "who does not spell her name with capital letters."
posted by JanetLand at 9:49 AM on January 16, 2002

It's funny, I usually don't much care what people do with my MeFi username, but for the love of god don't put a space between my Sapphire and my blue... damnit. That's an annoyance up there with people who alphabetize my name under the second part of my hyphenated last name.

I guess the above stands as a vote for "when in doubt, spell/capitalize a person's name the same way they do."
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:00 AM on January 16, 2002

Online, it's not always obvious what gender the poster is. I know, I know, offline, too, sometimes. So, Mr. Thewonderchicken is probably accurate, but lots of names aren't so easy. I'm too lazy to always check profiles and it still isn't necessarily going to help.

Capitalizing uses more keystrokes. I'm against it.
posted by theora55 at 10:28 AM on January 16, 2002

Not the point, but Max Headroom inspired names fill me with glee.
Best. Show. Ever.
posted by dong_resin at 10:32 AM on January 16, 2002

Just call me P(syche) Diddy.
posted by adampsyche at 11:24 AM on January 16, 2002

I know that my username is a bit of poor one in this respect. While it is short, the full capitilisation means that it either looks like my name is being shouted or that I am, in fact, a Multi User Dungeon. While the latter has a smattering of truth (the voices, the voices), it just boils down to the fact that I've been using this screen name for all things computer-related for quite a while now.
posted by MUD at 3:47 PM on January 16, 2002

Reminds me of the guy named R.O. Smith, who when he applied for a Social Security card was told to put (only) behind the R and the O...Yes, his new card did end up identifying him as Ronly Bonly Smith. Carry on...
posted by Mack Twain at 4:32 PM on January 16, 2002

Do you know what I really love doing: shortening BitterOldPunk to BOP. BOP had you thought of that before you chose your name?
posted by goneill at 6:09 AM on January 17, 2002

Dammit, Mack Twain, you've just shattered one of my most cherished illusions. Ronly Bonly is an urban legend? Say it ain't so!

That's the last time I believe my mother-in-law's tales of her student admin days.
posted by rory at 7:15 AM on January 17, 2002

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