How do they expect to know my "real" name?
May 5, 2009 5:11 PM   Subscribe

When attempting to register at an online forum I was repeatedly blocked when attempting to pick a username. My choices included random strings of letters and numbers. I sent a email asking what was up. The answer was that one had to register using ones "real" name... How the heck can a web admin make that determination? The only question asked previous to picking a username and pw was DOB. (Which seems a bit weird too.) Since that time I have attempted to pick a username with several plausable "real" names including my real real one and have been blocked Does this make any sense?
posted by flummox to Technology (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No, it makes no sense and is very likely highly culture-specific.
posted by SNACKeR at 5:28 PM on May 5, 2009

I've seen a couple of forums that require a real name and also require evidence of it's use elsewhere on the web for verification. But in your situation I'd assume the server or admins flagged your IP address as someone who was trying to bypass the system.
posted by Science! at 5:28 PM on May 5, 2009

What the other two said. You might try to create an account from another IP, like a computer at work or a friend's house or a library or something. Before I did that, though, I'd email the site admins again and describe your situation.
posted by box at 5:32 PM on May 5, 2009

It would be easy enough to filter for likely real names, depending on the level of accuracy you required.

The most trivial and least accurate filter would simply look for things like numbers and automatically reject them.

More complicated filters might use white or blacklists to allow real names (say, the lists of baby names that the Census puts out) and disallow fake names (dictionary words that aren't names, perhaps?)

More complicated filters still would use something like Bayesian filtering to detect real vs. fake registration data. We used to do it on our site to catch spammers when they registered rather than when they posted.

They may not be able to determine if the name you've registered is YOUR real name, but determining with some high degree of probability whether it's A real name should be fairly easy. In terms of why you're still blocked now, I'd suspect your email address or IP address are probably flagged for having previously attempted to make so many fake names.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:32 PM on May 5, 2009

I'd email the site admins again and describe your situation.

If you can figure out a version of the situation that omits (but doesn't lie about) the part where you attempted to sign up with a string of fake names, that might be politic. Then again, that ship may have already sailed.
posted by box at 5:37 PM on May 5, 2009

Or just say it was rejecting your real name so you tried some of your friends real names and it rejected those too.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:47 PM on May 5, 2009

Had to do this for the CrossFit site. According to the admin they look at your real name and the location you list as home. They pay for a database (basically white pages) and check for someone with that name in that location. I had to email them and say I just moved to this location, and this is where I used to live.

It's not perfect, but it's kept a lot of the trolls off the forum.
posted by Loto at 5:47 PM on May 5, 2009

Is your browser blocking cookies? It could be as simple as that. I block cookies by default and it's amazing how badly that breaks so so many websites, in totally misleading ways.
posted by intermod at 7:47 PM on May 5, 2009

Create dummy Gmail account with plausible but unlikely alias ie: Hamish Rockefellter.
Then use that alias as your user name. It should work.
posted by archaic at 3:27 AM on May 6, 2009

Thanks for the thoughts.

I just was able to register, I used a plausible name combination, as I had before, but I put a space, no underscore just a regular space, between the first and last names. It worked.
posted by flummox at 4:51 PM on May 6, 2009

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