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What is the appropriate word or phrase which means the internet name of a person. I mean the nickname that a person uses in almost all places on the internet like blog, IRC, forums, mailing lists etc.

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it's a good question, really I think just "internet nickname" is best. I've never seen a one-word term for this. nom de net, maybe :) –  Joe Blow Jul 28 at 10:53
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I suggest 'Internet handle'. –  Erik Kowal Jul 28 at 11:01
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"Avatar" could be used if your profile has a character representation of the user. –  DoubleDouble Jul 28 at 15:21
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"Handle" is the word. –  aaa90210 Jul 29 at 0:51
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"Handle" comes from CB-radio slang, which enjoyed a brief craze in the mid-70s. BBSes picked it up several years later. –  Malvolio Jul 29 at 17:19

14 Answers 14

I use "moniker" and I've found that usage to be quite common in the tech world, although it is referred to as slang:

moniker:

noun Slang. a person's name, especially a nickname or alias.

Origin: 1850–55; probably < Shelta mŭnnik name (alleged to be a permutation and extension of Irish ainm name); final -er may represent -er1 or, as a spelling of ə, simply release of the k.

(I know this choice was already mentioned, but without sourcing it. I use it regularly and it immediately came to mind when I saw the question, so I sourced it.)

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There are various terms for this. Once upon a time, “screen name” would likely have been the most common.

However, it seems to me that this convention has been driven by the most pervasive websites. So, with Facebook et al's move toward encouraging the use of real names, “screen name” seems much less common (phrases such as “nickname” appear to be used now by these sites).

However, I have always thought of aliases used online as being just that (which may be why Google+ includes an option to add “aliases” to one's profile now). As a result, I have tended towards the more general term “handle” which was apparently derived from CB Radio operators and then later popularized in use by Bulletin-board systems.

E.g.:

My name is “Sam,” but I often use the handle “halosghost.”


As @DoubleDouble (and others) suggested, the terms “username” and “profile name” might also have some relevance. I chose not to include these in my suggestion on the grounds that they often mean something different than what I believe the OP is asking for.

Often times, the “username” refers specifically to the account itself rather than what will appear to other people online. A perfect example would be how Steam handles its accounts. When you create an account you specify a username (which you use to log in) and a “display name” (another perfectly valid answer to the OP's question). No one ever actually sees your username. Of course, not all services work this way, but many do.

“Profile name” seems more relevant to me than “username,” however it feels focused on a particular profile rather than the person's general persona.

E.g.,

My profile name here (“HalosGhost”) is a variation on my typical handle “halosghost.”

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I think "username" or "profile name" may be along the lines of "screen name" as well. –  DoubleDouble Jul 28 at 15:18
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Handle is really the most precise word for the concept -- a name or id that a person uses in many different online environments -- but I'm not sure if it would be well understood by a general audience. Screen name has the benefit of being somewhat self-explanatory. –  AmeliaBR Jul 28 at 18:29
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Yes, it's definitely "handle" to mean a secondary name that a person has chosen for themselves as a "cyber-alias". Also, not the same as profile name/username, which are context (site) specific. Nickname is a more "every-day" alias and doesn't have the internet/cyberspace connotation of "handle". –  Sahuagin Jul 28 at 23:13
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"Screen name" appears to have the primary definition of "a user's internet name" (ref: Google), and most likely was made popular by AOL (America On-Line), arguably one of the first main ISPs (Internet Service Providers), most likely due to their aggressive marketing strategy (free floppies and CDs for everyone!). Before that, frequenting a BBS (Bulletin Board System), you were more likely asked for a "handle", and hackers often had "handles" (e.g. Hackers, 1995)-- a conjecture would be that BBSs were initially for/by hackers. If you want "hacker", use "handle", else "screen name." –  phyrfox Jul 29 at 6:07
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HalosGhost, thank you for such a great answer. –  beginer Jul 29 at 6:57

Handle, alias, username, nickname and screen-name are all ones that have been mentioned that I would consider.

One I haven't seen mentioned yet is: Persona

per·so·na
pərˈsōnə
noun
noun: persona; plural noun: personae; plural noun: personas
the aspect of someone's character that is presented to or perceived by others.
"her public persona"
a role or character adopted by an author or an actor.
synonyms:   image, face, public face, character, personality, identity, self; More
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Persona is the total package that you put on for others. The name you identify yourself as is just a small part of that. –  Jason C Jul 30 at 1:24
    
@JasonC While I do agree that persona can be/is "bigger" that simply an online name, at its core is aspect of someone presented to others. Identity is bigger than just a name, but simply being a subset (name is subset of persona) doesn't mean this can't fit as a good word/definition in the right situations. –  WernerCD Aug 1 at 13:52

According to the the canonical reference for all things hackish, it's handle, nick, or screen name.

http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/H/handle.html

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+1 for jargon file/ –  Racheet Jul 30 at 16:50

It depends on your audience, but I’ve always liked the phrase nom de guerre.

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Well, it should be nom de métier, since we aren't fighting. –  Malvolio Jul 29 at 17:17
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I've seen nom de net (ab)used before. –  Dan Neely Jul 29 at 19:50
    
Then I'll throw in nom de plume. –  Mr Lister Jul 31 at 6:45

I personally use "Alias" to reference an online user's name. It's similar to nickname, but the context is clearer that it's a false name.

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Pseudonym has meanings beyond the web, but is just as applicable to usage online as off. It's also generally more appropriate to both formal writing, and writing for non-technical audiences. It's a bit more widely understood than the alternatives, being several hundred years older and more established in the language.

(Screen Name and Handle are, as already mentioned, also both perfectly accurate and appropriate, and a bit more specific to digital interaction.)

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This is a good general-purpose word, especially if you are writing for a non-tech audience. E.g., in a (print) magazine article about a blogger, you could write: "Joseph Smith, who uses the pseudonym Bubba Joe in his online rants about rural life, has become a surprise sensation among hip young city-dwellers." However, pseudonym is less applicable for a username like mine, which is a contracted version of my full name, rather than a false name. –  AmeliaBR Jul 28 at 18:22

I have often seen "alias" used in this way in describing what someone is called on an Internet community.

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Why not, "alter ego"? It may be rather high-toned but in my opinion it matches the use of a nickname, especially used on the internet where the anonymity is valued.

I'm interested in opinions that oppose mine though :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alter_ego

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Generally, Alter Ego carries an implication of not just a new name, but a new persona. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 28 at 15:28
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It's been shown that people sometimes do act differently online when they are allowed to cloak their identity with a handle, so one's "Internet name" may very well be their "alter ego." (e.g. uh.edu/news-events/stories/2014/January/12114Santana.php). That said, alter ego would only be appropriate if one were writing a discussion about this phenomenon, and not about casual Internet usage, such as posting on a forum or social network. –  phyrfox Jul 29 at 6:21
    
I use alter ego with some frequency, sometimes shortened to alter for added caché. –  KitFox Jul 29 at 18:57

Nickname is the appropriate word because it is a common synonym of screenname in computing. It is used outside the internet but it became a common word in this context.

Nick (short of nickname), on the other hand, is mostly used in technical contexts.

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Indeed I have seen nick often. Actually, I am not in an English-speaking country, but the term has caught ground nevertheless. –  Vorac Jul 28 at 18:39
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I agree with "nick" (or maybe "usual nick" to imply that we're referring to a preferred nick used when possible). –  Daniel Baird Jul 29 at 1:52
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+1 for nick; /nick is the IRC command to change your nickname/screen name/display name/handle. (Which confused a 12 y/o me: "But my name isn't Nick!") –  Patrick M Jul 29 at 5:37
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@PatrickM lol thats right, first that came to my mind when I saw this answer was IRC. –  beginer Jul 29 at 7:01
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"Nick" and "Nickname" can also be used in contexts where "screen name" is not appropriate. Especially in gaming contexts, where the name of another player might not even be visible on-screen. Those environments might call for "callsign" instead, but "nick" covers both. –  DevSolar Jul 31 at 17:52

Another discussion is here http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2216027

'username' seems to be acknowledged as indicative without accompanying baggage.

https://www.google.com/search?q=define+username

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I don't think "username" is good here. It presumes a relationship to a specific program of which the person is a user. So John Doe's username can be "j.doe" in gmail, "doe" in his company intranet, and "JohnnyD_1980" in Skype. It doesn't denote a consistent online identity the way "handle" does, it just frequently happens that the users choose their favorite handle as a username in many programms if not constrained. –  rumtscho Jul 28 at 14:10
    
I would use "username" in the context of the question. –  Entbark Jul 28 at 17:33

A moniker or handle would be an appropriate word for internet name.

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Please add a reference to a trusted source. –  Honza Zidek Jul 28 at 13:11
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@Honza a 'trusted source' isn't required. While it can improve an answer - especially a contentious one - the main mechanism for establishing the trustworthiness of an answer is it's score, not the number or quality of hyperlinks contained therein. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 28 at 15:29
    
Well back in the day we certainty used "handle" and you could use Cybergypsies. by Indra Sinha as a source a number of us are credited by our handle in that book –  Neuromancer Jul 29 at 18:18

I guess screen-name is appropriate:

Noun, Digital Technology:

  • a unique sequence of characters that a person chooses to use for identification purposes when interacting with others online, as in computer games, instant messaging, or forums.

Source:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/screen+name

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fathima, oh so there is one such word, thanks. –  beginer Jul 28 at 11:30
    
+1 Good answer, but this site strongly favors identifying sources or authoritative support in an answer. There are several for your answer here. Consider adding one or more of these definition and a link. –  bib Jul 28 at 12:21
    
I agree with "screen-name". I'd offer "online name" or even "online-id" as alternatives. And, of course, on a given site it is often known as the "User Name". I might avoid it by saying something like "My name is Corry, but online I'm known as TecBrat". –  TecBrat Jul 28 at 12:51
    
This brings up a secondary debate: one word, two, or hyphenated? Just looking through comments on this page, I see screenname, screen-name and screen name. –  AmeliaBR Jul 28 at 18:26
    
@AmeliaBR Technically, AOL probably made "screen name" popular, so two words treated as a noun would be the correct spelling (e.g. capitalized when used in a title). Here's one such example of the "Sign On" screen from AOL: pontus.megapath.com/kb_20/?View=entry&EntryID=242 (third image from the top). –  phyrfox Jul 29 at 6:12

I suggest 'Internet handle' (but having said that, Fathima's screen name is a well-established term, as a Google search will quickly show).

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but screen name sounds old-fashioned as if you were saying "pen name" ;) –  beginer Jul 28 at 11:51
    
@beginer: Interesting -- "pen name" doesn't sound old-fashioned to me! Is there a "modern" replacement term? –  j_random_hacker Jul 28 at 13:18
    
@j_random_hacker , no replacement...cause pen itself has become an ancient thing ;D –  beginer Jul 29 at 6:59
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@beginer Screen name sounds old fashioned because it was AOL terminology that stuck around because of heavy usage but is falling to the wayside as the AOL generation fades into adulthood. –  Jason C Jul 30 at 1:23
    
@JasonC, oh thats very correct sir. +1. –  beginer Jul 30 at 3:16

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