Ramblings on email addresses and usernames to my students

Having a sensible email address that will hold up over the long haul is very useful in this digital age, especially Gmail or Yahoo addresses which one might conceivably keep for a lifetime.

I remember a couple of cases of students who had chosen email addresses that sounded good at the moment, but became problematic later. Remember that a Yahoo or Hotmail address may be useful to you for a whole lifetime.

One young woman wrote to ask me to contact her father, a man who had an email address. I emailed back questioning why she didn't simply write to him directly. She noted that her email address, serepeinwild4u@lovemail.com was not something she wanted her father to see, and I concurred. The email address that sounds so perfect right here and right now may sound inappropriate a decade from now. My oldest email address that is still active over ten years old. An email address will be with you a very long time.

Other addresses sound good, but age poorly, ones like johnsmith2003@oldyear.com

Remember that an address is likely to be used when applying to colleges and for jobs. An easy, logical, memorable address related to your name is probably an optimal choice for the long haul. If your name is "Googleable" then you may be able to get your name as your address, such danaleeling@gmail.com

Trying your full name including your middle name works well if they are unique, and creates an easily remembered and logical email address.

One thing to definitely avoid, do not combine your name with your birth year, such as kenyewashington1984@yahoo.com, as it provides too much information to spammers who may get a hold of your address.

Some of my students are unsure whether to use their @comfsm.fm address or to use a Gmail, Yahoo or Live.com account. One student thought the @comfsm.fm address is somehow safer. Actually there is no difference at this time in safety and security - use whichever you prefer. @comfsm.fm will be faster and more efficient, but then Gmail and Yahoo accounts may last a lifetime and allow you to build up an address book over the course of your life. Address books are important for staying in touch with family and friends. Remember, your comfsm.fm account will be closed once you graduate from the college.

Personally I would avoid using a Live.com address (Microsoft networks) primarily because the campus computers all use the Mozilla FireFox browser. Live.com uses proprietary Microsoft active server pages that do not always operate properly in FireFox, especially on non-Windows OS machines such as Ubuntu used on some student-facing computers.


Use the same logic when picking a username for a social media site membership such as FaceBook. Use your real name, not a nickname or pseudonym, so friends and family can find you easily over the coming years. If your family name is acquired through marriage, consider keeping your childhood last name as a middle name to help people you know reconnect with you.

When selecting a social site, consider both where your friends are now and consider also which sites have the most potential future reach. FaceBook is the market leader as of 2009 and as of summer 2009 is the number four most popular web site on the planet Earth. Late in 2009 FaceBook exceeded 350 million users, while MySpace remained stagnant with only 100 million users. In theory, you want to belong to the biggest social media space as there is a higher probability of finding friends from whom you have become disconnected.

Avoid having too many social media sites. As your friends lists grow, you will have difficulty keeping up with multiple sites and time management will be an issue, especially after you graduate.

If you use your college email address as your log in for your social media site, do register for a second email address at an on line email service such as Gmail and validate that address. After you leave the college your college email address will terminate and you will no longer be able to perform functions such as resetting a forgotten password unless you have validated an alternate address.


While putting all of one's eggs in one basket is often risky, in the world of the cyberspace cloud there are often offsetting synergies in choosing a single service provider. If you use Picasa for storing images on line, then if you decide to blog you should use Blogger to blog as both are owned by Google and the two are already integrated to work together. Using Gmail as your on line email provider would make sense as Picasa understands how to use Gmail to send images. Toss in Google docs and you have single log-in to an integrated work environment.

While no other cloud source has the diversity of free offerings that the Google stable offers, Yahoo email can be coupled up with a Flickr for an email and images integrated solution.