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Get a proper email address, please...

January 2004

Now, I hope I’m not going to upset anyone this month, but I want to discuss the email addresses some otherwise entirely sane and reasonable Oldie readers have been creating for themselves.  They just won’t do.

I suppose we don’t get many chances to pick our own name, or how we should be identified in public, but it’s probably just as well because some of us are just not to be trusted.  Look at the personalised number plate business, for example.  It is difficult to think of a more futile and silly way of spending your cash, but people will keep doing it.  The other day whilst driving through Essex I saw a Range Rover with the number B1MBO. 

Those who name their boats wittily are just as bad; “Overdraft” crops up quite a bit where I sail, as well as such side splitters as “Myboat” or “Kenscraft”.  Groups who start small societies often go wrong, too.  I must own up to being a founder member of a wandering cricket club called “The Pimlico Pimps”.  All I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time, and that try as we might to change it to the Pimlico Pumas, or Princes, the old name won’t shift.  Now we are all old and serious, it just embarrasses our children.

But we really have no excuse for this sort of nonsense with our email address.  It is, or should be, a purely functional thing – as short as possible and perhaps identifiably yours.  That’s it.  But no, given the chance, otherwise sensible people seek to express their whimsical side, God help us. 

In recent months I have had emails from rational adults who have chosen to call themselves:

  • i_like_buttered_toast,
  • fiesty_chicken,
  • billywhiz,
  • froggy_blisters,
  • rufy_baby,
  • i_am_a_smart_arse,
  • lanky_boy_luke,
  • tulip_poppy,
  • doobydoowa,
  • and (my favourite) drewdlepopsmacdoodledanglers.

Actually, I think that last one is allowable on the grounds that it is goes so far that it comes back round the corner approaching sensible again.

In my view emails from these people start love – fifteen down, and that’s before I apply the Internet class system that seems to be creeping in.

This is governed by the ISP you use. is inappropriate if you want to radiate dignity and seriousness, as is  Freeserve is seen as being for the “mature” market (that’s us) as is; whereas (Microsoft by another name) implies “computer geek”.

So what should we do to avoid becoming an object of ribaldry, and being stuck with an email address joke that wears thin?  The most expensive way is to buy your own domain name, such as  This costs about £20 per year, but it massively widens your choice and means you don’t have to advertise someone else.  Provided no one else has it, you could buy something like and chose any prefix you want, say

Most of us, however, are stuck with a suffix provided by our ISP and only pick the bit to the left of the @, if no one else has had the same idea.  The trouble is, lots and lots have; I tried to register, and was offered john999945 instead – in other words, almost a million other Johns had got there before me.

But do, please, be careful.  Boring is best.  I know of a chap in the administration department of a university who recently turned down an applicant for a job because her email address is dizzy-blonde@ something or other.  His entirely reasonable view was that if she’s too stupid to see what a bad impression this creates, then she’s too stupid for the job.  So beware.