The Particle Lab

Reserve your username

By Marc, 10 Mar 2011

Several web application have launched recently with an invite system where you not only give them an email address to notify you but also reserve your username. Some even go a little further and ask you to connect with Facebook, Twitter etc. The latest one to do so is, which I signed up for when I had heard about it.

This triggered a brief discussion with a friend about this:

This discussion couldn't really continue on Twitter so has spawned this post.

I am lucky in that my full name is not that common, however I have not been able to get my preferred username of 'marcroberts' on both Facebook and Flickr. This has lead me to try to register with new web application early in order to secure my username, and why I described myself as a "web app whore" (I've also been an active member of Web Apps Stack Exchange site from conception, through its private beta to now so please don't interpret 'whore' as a bad thing!).

But it's not just about reserving a username, here at Neutron Creations we know the pains of launching a web app and so I like to encourage others. If this means signing up my email address, connecting with twitter or facebook then I'm ok with that assuming they don't do anything unwanted. Now obviously I can't know in advance whether they will, and I guess that's a risk I'm willing to take to help and support fellow web application developers.

As long as you haven't given your Twitter/Facebook password to them (and you shouldn't as OAuth should be used for both) you can remove that app from your Facebook and Twitter accounts easily and prevent any further access to your account. Of course this won't remove any data the app has retained, the app itself should provide a way to remove this data or delete/remove your account. There are also term of use with the Twitter/Facebook APIs which specify data retention rules that the app should honour.

There is one golden rule that all web apps that have connections to Facebook/Twitter should never EVER break, they should never post from your account without your explicit permission. Now my first tweet in the conversation may seem like an 'auto-tweet', and in fact if you search twitter for #connectme it seems like could be breaking this rule, however this was a purely optional step in the signup process (although heavily encouraged) and the text was editable (I did alter my tweet from the standard text).

What are you thoughts on and this trend of reserving usernames, or encouraging connections with social networks? Drop a comment below or give me a mention on twitter.

More about

Photo of Marc Roberts, who wrote this blog post

Marc Roberts is Principal & Co-Founder at Neutron Creations, where he rules over all web development and technical direction. His favourite drink is a sweet manhattan and his favourite sandwich is a croque-monsieur. For a plethora of miscellany follow Marc Roberts on twitter.

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