[svlug] Username Policies

Bill Ward bill at wards.net
Tue Jul 22 16:31:41 PDT 2008

On Wed, Jul 16, 2008 at 3:04 PM, Steven Friese <stvn_consult at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Does anyone know of a company that has been sued for it's email
> username policies?  For example, if a company is using
> firstname at company.com for their email address and there is a conflict
> of first names, can the company require users to either use a
> different first name, a variant of their first name or an alias?
> I am suggesting that our company use firstname.lastname at company.com
> but I am getting a lot of resistance.
> I've asked our CEO to verify the policy with our lawyers so we don't
> run afoul of any discrimination laws , but I was hoping someone might
> be able to point me to a web site with some info on this topic.

Many companies these days are using firstname.lastname at company.com so
I have a hard time seeing how there could be a legal problem with
doing so.

My employer (Oracle) follows this policy, but when there are name
clashes (and there are many in such a big company) they insert a
middle name.  If there is no middle name, 'x' is used:
firstname.x.lastname at oracle.com.  Unix user accounts and bug database
accounts at Oracle are of the form FLAST (F=initial of first name,
LAST=first 7 characters of last name).  If there is a name clash
there, the (chronologically) second name gets the last character
replaced by 2.  Internally, one can send email to FLAST at us.oracle.com
or FLAST at oracle.com and it will be delivered, but external email of
that form is blocked and must be of the form
firstname.lastname at oracle.com.

I've personally adopted the firstname.lastname for my gmail account,
and for my address on my business domain (bayview.com).

Historically, I've seen several fads in user account / email names:
* Initials (some old-school net personalities are known widely by
their initials because of this, e.g. RMS for Richard Stallman)
* Random nicknames (first come, first served) - esp. on college campuses
* firstname.lastname

A previous employer used FNAME1 as their standard; giving a number to
everyone regardless of whether there was a conflict.  That was very

What I'd do if it were up to me would be to setting up a
firstname.lastname account, but allow whatever the user wants as an
alias (and have a handy self-service tool for updating it).

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