A bit of a rant about user names on the forums


"The Montana Bladesmith"
For a long time, I've had a bone to pick with many internet/forum users.... specifically the names they give themselves...or in other words their "online" names. I know it's an old thing, but recently I've been reminded about how it seems that those who give themselves anything other then there real name, or at least something that identifies the person with the name, are those people who either want to start arguments, fights, or are just plain buttheads, who have no idea of what they are talking about, yet present themselves as some sort of "expert". I also find it interesting that those same individuals will go to great lengths to hide who they actually are.... profiles not filled out, nor any contact information.

Normally, when I find myself confronted by one of these individuals, I try to contact them "off forums", and try to be kind enough to not bash them, or counterdict then in public, but it's not always that easy. Seems there are more and more "arm chair" experts on all the forums, who obviously have no idea what they are talking about or suggesting to others.... it almost seems to me that these folks are intentionally spreading "bad" information.... for what reason(s), I'm not sure, but suspect it's some kind of an ego booster for them.

I know it would never happen, but IF it were a requirement for everyone to use their real name when posting to a forum (on my website/Knifechat anyone who enters is REQUIRED to use their real name or they get kicked out), I suspect that there would be much more truth, and a lot less "hogwash" going on.

OK, my ranting is done for now. :)
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I agree there are a lot of trolls that hide behind a handle. I use a handle here but sign it with my name. Anonymous Trolls, intentional or otherwise, are a pain in the patoot. Keyboard tough guys hiding behind handles are worse.

Here's another perspective and some background:
I started online in the late 70's using ARPANET. You had to Telnet in, create an account and then use keyboard commands to shuffle around various universities and basically find and really see nothing as it was all a mess back then and you had to know exactly the directories to go to in order to find any content....but you were online and it was a big deal with a lot of potential. In order to create an ARPANET account, the standard protocol was to use your first and last name or at least first initial and last name, something like tracy.mickley or t.mickley. That was the standard and everyone in the community expected that. circa 1977 Ward Christiansen wrote an online protocol called Xmodem and a simple bulletin board program called CBBS. This was the very first dial up public bbs. I remember dialing in using a modem at 300bps to visit his CBBS board. When 1200bps came around, it was amazing, much less 4800 and 9600bps. Xmodem was a protocol used to transfer files from PC to PC. The standard again, was real names. Then files started getting transferred around that people didn't necessarily want their real name associated with. Beside porn, it was popular to pass around hacking information and "secret anarchy files" the government or big business didn't want you to know about. Recall that the guys writing all this new software were children of the 60's and social revolution was still in the air. The online community grew exponentially as the technology became less geeky and slightly more friendly. It wasn't long after that the online futurists determined anonymity was the smarter way to go as big brother was watching. The fear at the time was the government and that started the drive to online aliases. There was a raging debate about using real names vs. handles. You were one in camp or the other. Period. We know now that user handles won out with very few social sites requiring real names.

In the early 90's I operated a TBBS bulletin board system with ten dial up lines, a digital FIDOnet satellite feed with 6 CDROM players stacked up full of free or contribution paid programs to download. It was one of the larger systems in the U.S. at the time. When I ran my TBBS system, there was a (fairly technical) process to pull in FIDOnet feeds and files. In time, a few guys figured out how to bring in porn via my system so I closed it down. Life is too short to deal with that.

In the late 80's and all of the 90's, thousands of dial up BBS's sprang up, the internet protocol (ISP) was exploding and most every computer expert at the time strongly encouraged online anonymity. That sealed the deal. Anonymous user names are now the "standard".

I personally prefer real user names as people tend to own their comments and post more responsibly (whatever that is) but there are valid reasons people want to remain anonymous. Today the fear is largely from other users in personal attacks, getting stalked or hacked; the government/NSA has moved to third or fourth on the list. Employers routinely scan social sites to see what current or potential employees are up to. I have seen several people aggressively targeted for employment termination for incredibly stupid posts on Facebook. Give a bored HR person an empty room, an internet connection and a list of employee names and you will keep them busy for days.

The downside to anonymity is the absolute trash some people post because they can. It's here and we don't have to like it but we will have to live with it. Every social system I can think of today, VBBS (this software) included, has a method to "block out" knothead users so that is an option but it's tedious to keep up with and most users don't use that option. We don't require real names here but it is encouraged. We also moderate posts here vigorously. We are unapologetic about being G rated, no shenanigans, no trolls. I've been online for some time and long ago grew tired of trolls, attacks, "outings" and rude behavior. There are thousands of other places for trolls and twits, just not here.

If you want your name out there as a knife maker, use your real name and think about what you post. Your posts are the image you project to your potential clients.
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Great post Tracy! I especially like:
If you want your name out there as a knife maker, use your real name and think about what you post. Your posts are the image you project to your potential clients.
Can't speak for all the other users but my online user name is the same one I use everywhere. It is the nickname I use as an Appleseed instructor. It is the user name I use on all forums. I have no issues using my real name in PMs or emails. Those I often sign with my real name and "aka WY_Not". I have no issues using my real name with people who have a reason to know/use it. Just don't like having it floating around out there in plaintext.

Growing up "online" so to speak, that user name says about as much about how I see myself as my real name does. It was not chosen at random. Anyone who knows me knows that even though I'm "stuck" in Ohio, Wyoming holds a very significant place in my heart and mind. And I question everything. hehe
I can fully understand when someone uses a "handle" for security/privacy reasons, I spent my last 5 years in the military with Intel/Security as my main function, but my point is very much what Tracy mentioned.....far too often those "made up" names are something to hide behind....basically a "dose" of courage so to speak, that allows individuals to post/say things that they would certainly not do in person/face to face, nor have to take responsibility for..... maybe that's my whole point....personal responsibility. WOW! Wouldn't that be a novel idea!? :)

Personally, I do my best to be me, no matter whether it's on an internet forum, or in person, and if I wouldn't say something in person to someone, it doesn't get written/typed in any post or reply I make..... I just wish more people would do that instead of spreading what I often consider intentional misinformation, and using an obscure "screen name" to hide behind. Those people know who they are, and if what I've written here strikes a nerve, maybe a good, hard look in the mirror is in order.
Yep. And I do see the other side as well.

I'm coming at it from the standing as an individual and as an employee. What I do in my own time is purely me and NO business of an employer or co-workers. My user name affords me some modicum of protection. I have no issues sharing in the right situation and of my own choosing. I am an Appleseed instructor but that is not something I share with many employers or co-workers. Unfortunately, due to the type of work I do (technical writer) most of my career is in corporate environments and firearms are generally not viewed favorably. :3: So I tend to keep my professional and personal separate. Waaay back when I was working as a CNC programmer/operator in a small shop, it wasn't a big deal.

From the standing as a businessman/craftsman I agree whole-heartedly with most of what you and Tracy wrote. If I ever get to the point where I'm doing more than just learning how to make knives and pound on hot metal with a hammer solely for my own pleasure then using my real name in association with my work would be a given.
Well I use this name beacuse I am on quite a few forums.And like said above you dont want no one too know anything about you.But I can see your point Ed beacuse I dont care wat forum you are on there are always people there causing trouble.Sad that is the way the world is.
Rant away Ed, that's what clears the air once in a while.

i happen not to use my real name, BUT I do have my real name filled in in my profile as well as a contact email. I ALWAYS sign my first name at the end of any post I submit. I don't even care if people know my name or where I am from. I happen to use the same profile name across 8 or 9 forums and my name isn't available every where.

I do agree that if anyone is so paranoid about even giving out a simple first name as a curtesy so we can converse as adults, we need to do some serious head scratching.

Erik Land
I don't even care if people know my name or where I am from

That line made me smile. My thought went to..... "Even if they do know where I live, they gotta get past the .40 that rides on my belt" :) Thats one of my favorite things about living in Montana.... here, everyone EXPECTS you to be armed. :) Sorry I got off subject.....but couldn't resist.
When I first got into this knife making I just chose a handle. Once I realized I wanted to be serious and I wanted folks to recognize my name, I started using my name. Thus C Craft. I don't use my first name and it basically is just shortened to the initial and I have been called everything that begins with a C at times! :what!::biggrin: I have changed in on every knife forum I am a member of except for the one that wanted to charge me just to change my name. I don't frequent it much anymore! I figure its not my loss but theirs. :3:

I am old school and knew nothing about computers when we got our first for our children to use in 1995 with their school work. The best I had done was take Typing1. I barely passed it and my typing teacher told me not to take Typing 2 as I wasn't gonna make it past the first six weeks!!:les:
So in 1995 I asked my wife who had training on a computer to show me, "how to" to run a PC. She said I will show a few things and then you have to do it on your own as that is the only way you will learn. I must have crashed Windows 95 a dozen times. Luckily it came with a reprogram disk!!!:51: Nowdays I show her things every once in a while!!

Well back to the subject at hand. I was shocked how some folks act on some of these forums, when I first tried to learn more about knifemaking. Well I can swear like a sailor as well as the next guy, even though I was US Army!

One day I realized that when you get into a pi$$ing match with someone you just lower yourself to their level. Here is some rules I have learned about the net.

1. Do not say anything to someone that you would not say to their face!
2. Take two seconds just before you hit that enter/post button and think it this really what I want to say!
3. If you say it, own it!
4. Have the cahooonas to take the heat that is going to come from what may be your opinion and realize the other guy is also entitled to their opinion! But if you are inexperienced or just flat don't know what you are talking about, then learn to listen!!! Offer the respect to someone "who has been their done and done that"!
4. In short I have learned that I do not have to lower myself to the other guys level. Most of the time I can stress how big of an arse they are without having to say one word of French! And in reality they are not going to change their mind or opinion. Most of the time I just chalk it up too the mentality of the person and believe me in some circles the person in the operative word!

My Mama use to say, you may not always agree with me but, you will always respect me!! Love you Mama and miss you every day of my life!!
I guess I fall in the "handle" camp. I never really thought about it untill I had been on this board for a while. "Wiredude" was a sorta nickname I got a while back, when I was the guy who spent all day every day cutting wire at an electrical supply house. I started using it on forums, and it's pretty much my default login on any message board that I've ever been at all active on.
That said, I've often had my first name in my post signature, though not so much my last name. I've been part of the admin team on a couple Phpbb based boards, so I've seen first-hand many times the trolling, and 'keyboard commando' antics. Never really had any time for folks that wanna act like that though.
Once I finally get my home-internet and PC issues sorted, I will definitely get more profile info filled in, and I may well change my username here... Just really annoying to try and do on a little phone screen...

Hello all!

I'm an old IT guy, so anonymous was the mantra we lived by. Not sure why anybody should be judged by their name (or looks, race or what have you) rather than their actions but whatever, I guess it has came to be! And I like this place, so I will try hard to fit in, the level of knowledge that has been shared here with me is unparalleled.

I'm Joe Cross from Tucson Az, my screen name is JaXXas, a bit of an acronym based on my initials and my innate stubbornness! My screen name has been earned honestly, used widely and uniquely by me on a number of forums. It's also my gmail address. And I'm exactly the same person you will meet online or in person.


I'm an old IT guy, so anonymous was the mantra we lived by. Not sure why anybody should be judged by their name (or looks, race or what have you) rather than their actions but whatever, I guess it has came to be! And I like this place, so I will try hard to fit in, the level of knowledge that has been shared here with me is unparalleled.
Joe Cross

Guys I don't think what Ed was talking about had to do with a screen name other than this. I have seen it myself, sometimes those who only use a screen name, are the ones who tend to be more of a problem child, on these forums. Having said that ( I fully understand all the reasons for doing this) that some have!

However here is the real rub in my opinion. If you are serious about knife making! it is best to use your name and make it your mark on your knives. I can't count the number of times I have seen the post. Do you know this mark? Yep that's a neat little bull or a hawk or a dragon or a .................. but, no one recognizes actually who it is. If you use your name it accomplishes two things, you can be Goggled and you have to own what is in print under your name!

I think I saw the post that prompted this and at the time I almost said something. I have called out others before for disrespecting a seasoned knife maker, I have also contacted the owner of the forum and let them know I thought this person was out of line!
You have the right to disagree but if you do, do it respectfully! Or at the very least do it in a PM. But if you do it, own it, sign your name to it!!

The post I am referring to new knife maker disagreed and when Ed respectfully came back with info and backed it up with, the WHY! The person got down right belligerent and it went down hill from there!! Ed has always been a stand up kind of guy and I have spoken with him and learned from him not only on this forum but on several others we both are members of.

OK I am stepping down off my soap box for now, "nuff said"!
If you want your name out there as a knife maker, use your real name and think about what you post. Your posts are the image you project to your potential clients.

That statement of Tracy's was already quoted by Ed, but I felt it was such a good statement it could use stating again. I first got on-line with BBS stuff back in late '80's when 300 baud was the norm, and when 56K modems came out, I thought we were flying!!!

Now, with your IP address easy known, there isn't much real anonymous anymore. My idea is I don't post anything I wouldn't want my Mama to read (if she was still around). That idea keeps me out of trouble - most of time. There have been a couple of times when I offended somebody. When I do, I go back and read my post, and sometimes I can see how my wording might have came across. I then will apologize, both online, and in a PM or email if appropriate.

Ken H>
I guess it never occurred to me to use my name as my forum "handle", though it's almost always included in my signature.

Funny story: I was a shift supervisor in a steel mill for a few years, and part of that job was calling crew members in for overtime on occasion. I had been in one particular department for a couple of years when I called one of my "regulars" to ask if she'd like to come in for one of our open slots. Now, I always started each phone call the same: "Hey (insert employee name here), this is Drew out at the mill, how are you?", and after they responded, I'd let them know why I was calling. Well, this time, the employee said, "who is this?" Now, I should mention, I'd known this person since I started in the department. It's not like they were a new hire. I just assumed they didn't hear me the first time.

The rest of the conversation went like this:

Employee: Who is this?
Me: Drew, from the mill...
Her: Drew? Drew who?
Me: Drew Riley
Her: Sorry, who?
Me: DREW. RILEY. You're supervisor?!
Her: Supervisor?
Me: The guy with the big beard!
Her: OHHHHH.... your name is Drew? I thought it was something else....

Now to be fair, I always answered the phone with my last name, which I guess lead some people to believe it was my first name, and my hard hat said "Andrew" instead of "Drew", so apparently that's where SOME of her confusion came from, but you'd think you'd know your boss's name after nearly two years of working with them. hahaha

I guess my point is, if people I work with face to face every other day don't remember my name, should I expect somebody on the internet to? :biggrin:
AR, I always wondered what that stood for!

I still say this is about two things. The first is more about the anonymity that a handle, provides to those who wish to cause troublen,and less about the use of a handle itself. Those pot stiring individuals would be less apt to make the same statement if their name was attached to their post for everyone to see!


  1. the condition of being anonymous.
    "most people who agreed to talk requested anonymity"
    • lack of outstanding, individual, or unusual features; impersonality.
      "the anonymity of big city life definitely has its advantages"

Yes, I do understand an IP can be traced but that is not what this is about.

The second thing this is about is respect.


  1. 1.
    a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
    "the director had a lot of respect for Douglas as an actor"
    synonyms: esteem, regard, high opinion, admiration, reverence, deference, honor
    "the respect due to a great artist"
  2. 2.
    a particular aspect, point, or detail.
    "the government's record in this respect is a mixed one"
synonyms: aspect, regard, facet, feature, way, sense, particular, point, detail
"the report was accurate in every respect"

  1. 1.
    admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
    "she was respected by everyone she worked with"
synonyms: esteem, admire, think highly of, have a high opinion of, hold in high regard, hold in (high) esteem, look up to, revere, reverence, honor
"she is highly respected in the book industry"

As stated before I now stay away from those sites that trolls use to continue to spew out their lack of intelligence that is within them. No action other that one made by themselves will stop that kind of garbage! Or being banned from a site!

No one is trying to say that using a handle is wrong, the only time it is wrong is when use that handle to cower behind!!
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In my case and I'm certain in others, our name itself is the problem. Go to any website or forum anywhere and try to open an account with a name like Bill Smith or Chris Jones.
Most times I just use an old gamer handle I used over 15 years ago (Salolan, no meaning behind it, random name generator) though here I tried to get as close as I thought I could with initials and last name.

Chris Jones
I didn't mean to open a can of worms! :) My whole point was for personal responsibility, and taking ownership of what an individual writes/states in a post. I'm the kind of person who tries not to "bash" ANYONE on a public venue, and I often will go to an individual's profile in an attempt to contact them in private..... but what I find more and more are individuals who use an obscure "screen name" in order to "hide" behind it.... no information in their profile, nor any contact information.

These are the same individuals who usually jump in on a thread with the obvious intent of doing something malicious, or something that they would otherwise not do/say in person. It's a fairly rare occurrence here on KD....but it does happen here. I've quit several other knife forums because of this very thing. Those of you who know me, know I have ZERO tolerance for arrogant or "big headed" people. I've kept an eye on this thread, and find it interesting that those individuals whom I've personally identified as being part of the problem haven't responded. :) It's as I said earlier..... those folks know who they are.
Ed, I have watched this thread for a couple days and I think you really hit the nail on the head. I read about 5 or 6 forums a day, and I continually feel I don't post as often as I should; mainly for some of the exact reasons you post. Too often I see this trend of bad information from people that have no source or credibility to back up anything. If I am posting to give someone information I want to be able to tell them the info and back it up with a credible source, not wing it with some information that a buddy told me he saw once online. Too many times I read a thread and the OP is already following the advice of 5 guys with random handles and no profile info that is either dead wrong or wrong enough; and if you do try to counter their info you get the "I am awesome, just ask me/your wrong because I am right/I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night" flame war, and I have no time for that. These are the same guys that respond with wrong advice to a highly technical question, and in another thread ask which end of the hammer they should be using. I find that I usually just PM the OP, and work around those folks, but in doing that I realize I am still leaving bad information out there for someone to find. The worst is one of the forums I am on will edit links out of your posts if you try to give information that sends them offsite, so actually getting people the right info is almost impossible without a PM.

When I started to look into making knives a few years back I scoured the forums for information on heat treatment, and it didn't take long to realize that there was a short list of names to take serious. Interesting enough that those people who were giving out good information had their real name in most cases as their handle, with you being one of them Ed. People who read know who else I am talking about.

As for my handle it is probably 20 years old or more. CMS = Carlisle's Machine Shop, 3900 - I needed a number to make my handle longer and I think the model of my copier at the time was a 3900.

I am glad that Knife Dog's rarely has these issues as well. Thanks for a great forum Tracy. Now.... How about some BBS Door games?