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The Origin of Online Handles

There are a few people online whose ubiquitous usernames I’ve always wondered about.

For example: Jeremy Keith is “Adactio”. I have no idea what that word means. A quick internet search reveals no hints. Even ChatGPT has no idea.

Screenshot of ChatGPT which says “The word 'adactio' doesn't have a meaning in English or in any widely recognized language. It appears to be a coined term or a username, particularly known in web development and design circles. Jeremy Keith, a well-known web designer and developer, uses 'adactio' as his username on various platforms and his personal website is also named 'adactio.com'. ”

Dave Rupert is davatron5000. I wonder where that comes from? My brain always jumped to thinking it was a Powerman 5000 reference (nostalgic plug for their song from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater).

What about you? Where did your online handle come from?

I bought my domain jim-nielsen.com because the hyphen-less jimnielsen.com was already taken by some guy who wasn’t using it but didn’t want to sell it to me.

That was when I realized trying to land-grab jimnielsen on every future social site would be a struggle with all the other (imposter) Jim Nielsens in the world.

So I decided a more distinct username for my online accounts was in order.

But what?

patinar15 was my first email username — because I was 15, liked to skateboard, and learned in middle school Spanish class that “patinar” meant “to skate”. But I needed something more…grown up.

When I started my first “real” web design job out of college, a co-worker started calling me "jimmyniels". Then one day, when faced with the “Choose a username prompt” for some website, I thought “jimmyniels, that seems pretty unique…” So I punched that in and voilà: unique!

But then I thought, “Nobody has called me ‘jimmy’ since I was a toddler.” So I thought “Drop the ‘y’. It’s cleaner.”

And thus was jimniels born.