Several weeks ago, Blizzard, developer of the popular online game World of Warcraft, attempted to eliminate screen names from their forums, forcing everyone who posted to use their real name. As you can image, a cry arose from the WoW community and Blizzard dropped the idea. At the center of concern was the desire to protect one’s identity. For any number of reasons people are concerned about what words and ideas are associated with their real name. But what about those screen names that are used to protect one’s true identity? Do people care as much about them?
I have used the screen name Teviko since my earliest days on the Internet, when I signed up with my first ISP in the mid-90’s. It held particular significance to me, as it was an acronymized version of my real name. At first, it was simply log in name, but eventually it evolved into my online identity as I began to make board posts, write articles and even podcast under the name Teviko. In fact, I have a few friends who even refer to me by that name off-line.
Most screen names are not unique (there must be any number of Maddogs and SexyLadys out there), and Teviko is no exception. Often, one can distinguish between users of a common screen name. For instance, if you see “Redhead” posting on a sports board about drinking beer at Hooters with the boys and watching football, and another post by “Redhead” on a woman’s board about raising her two daughters and seeing the latest Nicholas Sparks movie, it’s pretty safe to assume these are two different people. In my case, however, it’s not so easy.
Anyone who has read a lot of my board posts would know that I am a fan of such things as video games, including multi-player online games, and fantasy literature. If you do a search for Teviko, much of what you will find are links to my articles, posts and podcast. However, peppered among the links are a few posts by a different Teviko. These posts are on message boards dealing with the fantasy genre and fantasy online gaming. It’s eerie because when I read this other Teviko I feel almost as if I could be reading something I posted. I’ve often wondered if people have searched for me, seen these posts and thought is was me. Then I wonder about reputation. Has this other Teviko posted something that I wouldn’t want associated with me, or vice versa, have I posted anything that would impact the other’s reputation? (The latter is probably more likely.)
In the end, there is nothing I can do about it and I’m certainly not going to lose any sleep over it. But if you are Teviko (not me, but the other Teviko) and you’ve stumbled across this blog, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me. It might be interesting to compare notes.