Some of the names I use online.

Cris (1970)

Chris Clarke once urged bloggers to use their real names.  Spirited discussion ensued, and I came away from it all characteristically conflicted.  But I did decide at that point that when posting in political discussions, I would drop my preferred pseudonym (see below) in favor of my actual given name.  I comment as “Cris” (sometimes with the website of http://localhost/ ) at

And a few other places.

Vogelfrei (1996)

My friend Kel Boyer, who has been using the internet longer than you have, used to belong to a BBS under the name “phaedrus.”  That inspired me to up the ante on literary pretentiousness, so I pulled a name from the appendix of Nietzsche’s The Gay Science: “Songs of Prince Vogelfrei.” Walter Kaufmann explained the name in a footnote:

Vogelfrei, literally “bird-free” or free as a bird, usually signifies an outlaw whom anybody may shoot at sight. The ambiguity is, of course, intentional.

I used this alias for over ten years in usenet newsgroups,  forums, file sharing [shh], and blog comments.  It was my identity in several communities, including:

Eventually, I grew uncomfortable with the name. It’s a bit affected, carrying Nietzsche around like that, and I’m far too deferential to authority to claim the title of “outlaw.” But mostly, I felt like a poseur when German speakers would assume I was German, only to realize I was not only American, but monolingual.

So, it’s deprecated. Semi-retired. I continue to use it where it’s established (like on the Chess With Friends app) but I’m not creating any new accounts with it.

Ambignostic (2006)

My own coinage; see the definition. It’s a pun, and it reminds me of my own inconsistencies.  But mostly I’ve embraced it because it’s unique; at the time I registered the domain, a Google search for the word returned a mere two results. (“Father Steve” independently came up with the neologism a good five years before I did.)

I use this in communities I’ve joined since 2006, including