Real Name

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See also: Real Life, Pseud, Anonymous, Real Life
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A fan's "real name" usually refers to one's "legal name."

Fans were much more apt to use their real names before wide-spread use of the internet; fanworks in print are rife with fans' real names, as are the earlier posts on Usenet. The visibility of the internet has made most fans choose a pseud.

The term "wallet name" is a more modern term.

Some 2016 Comments Regarding the History of Using "Real Names"

Notably Ranma 1/2 was pretty dude-heavy. Not to the point where female fans were anything like rare, but still, there was an impression that guys were in the majority, and they certainly seemed more vocal in fannish discussions. I can't remember offhand if those who did use pseudonyms were more likely to be female than male going by what they said, but I do suspect the strong male presence might have contributed to the many apparent wallet names in use. [1]
I remember getting in an argument with someone online who said they couldn't take anyone seriously who didn't use their real name online, but who went mysteriously quiet after I pointed out that just because it looked like a wallet name didn't mean it actually was. [2]
My memory is that there was a shift from wallet name to pseudonym as zine-based fandoms moved onto the internet. I have stuff under my wallet name in paper zines and letterzines in the late 80s and early 90s, and as late as 1999 was still using a wallet name for some fannish email interaction (although not for writing under), because I was still used to face-to-face interaction, or at least to having to put a name on the envelope that the Post Office would recognize. [3]
My overall impression was 90s=mostly wallet names, 2000s = pseudonyms, 2010s = back to a blurring of the lines between RL and online, but maybe that's just my personal net history. My earliest fanfic (circa 1999) was written under my wallet name, and then I switched to using a pseudonym when I got on and later tried to scrub those early ones from the 'net. But I remember getting the impression that most of the people I was around, at least adults -- which I was in the '90s -- were using their wallet names online in those early days. [4]
Most of USENET were wallet names as well, especially since a lot of people used their school or work email to post with. I didn't lurk/post in fannish news groups really though, so I don't know if the protocol was different there. [5]
I also came to Usenet after earlier spending a lot of time on a local BBS that had a strong pseudonymous culture just because - people tended to know at least some of the other regulars there IRL because that's how you got access in the first place, and there were regular meetups so real names tended to get known quickly, but the attitude was that using a handle rather than real names on the board was just The Way We Do Things Here. (I adopted the name of a fictional character I liked, and had a few of the regulars lecture me that I "didn't need to use real names here" until it got to be known that, shall we say "Angel Clare" was no more my real name than any of them were really named "The Professor" or "Zardoz" or "NASCARlady".) [6]
Yeah, and it also helped that with services like AIM you had to create a distinct username when registering. Even if you wanted to be known by your wallet name of John Doe, there's already a John Doe on AIM, so your choices were either to stick a bunch of numbers/symbols in there and call yourself JohnDoe1985, or try to come up with a unique alias that nobody had used before. And if you found a unique alias and you liked it, then it made sense to carry that name over to other sites, especially if they were all frequented by the same groups of fannish people. [7]

I was using my real name in '96 on Usenet, but plenty of other people weren't. But getting a disposable email address wasn't so easy then, and email was laughably insecure, so the anonymity was more apparent than real.

In the 2000s there was an explosion of forums where you had to create a unique username, and it was easy to create sock emails: that helped to push things in the direction of aliases, for a while. Then Facebook turned up and those people who decided to interact fannishly that way were pushed back towards realnames. [8]
All right. When I joined fandom in 2001, I create a separate and distinct pseud from my regular online identity because that was linked to my professional writing and those weird fangirls were thieves and all wrote disturbing buttfucking porn too. With characters who were absolutely STRAIGHT, ugh. It took most of a decade for that attitude to really ease up anywhere, and it's still healthily alive in some corners. [9]

Meta/Further Reading

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It is is woefully lacking.


  1. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016
  2. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016
  3. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016
  4. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016
  5. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016
  6. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016
  7. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016
  8. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016
  9. from discussion at fail fandomanon; "AO3 discourse", October 2016