Currently, when registering on my site, users are presented with a first name field and a lastname field (plus an email and password field as usual). My reasoning behind this was to encourage users to use their real name, rather than make up a fake one. This seems a bit heavy handed though, so my question is basically this:
What can I do to encourage a user to use their real name when registering?

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    Why is it relevant that they use their real name?
    – Alvaro
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 11:59
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    @Alvaro It's an education/social media site, so people will primarily want to interacting with people they know. Using real names would make it easier to find, say, the people in your class.
    – penalosa
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 12:21
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    Note that the "first name / last name" thing can be a problem internationally. kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/… Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 15:56
  • @DanielBeck Thanks, that was an interesting read. I'll certainly try and keep those in mind.
    – penalosa
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 21:41
  • Isn't this one of the better reasons to encourage using things like Facebook for log in? Another way can be to use phone number verification, which you then check against registered phone numbers etc. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 17:32

4 Answers 4


Getting real information is one of toughest thing in web.

My approach to this problem is to utilise user's FEAR. enter image description here

When you know something can't be UNDO, some users sure think about it twice.

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    Easily got around - you just set up the account with the intention of abandoning it later and starting again if you want to use the service with real data.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:02

You need to be transparent with the end-user regarding your exact intentions with their information.

As @Jivan previously touched upon, this is more of a psychological issue than one of a technical nature. From a cognitive viewpoint the user is already nervous and distrusting, and for good reason. Today information is the new gold, and sites have been extorting and manipulating end-users for their information since the dawn of the internet. How do you think sites like Spokeo get your information? You didn't provide it to them, right? How about those annoying phone calls from Recruiters who say you are a perfect fit for their new client based in Alaska. How do they know you're a perfect fit? If you read the fine print on sites you sign up for, you may notice something to the affect we may share your information with a third party. This is basically legal fluff for 'we sell your data to recruitment and advertising companies.' See Secretive World Selling Data for an interesting read.

  • Site: Please sign in using Facebook so we can verify your identity.
  • User: No way, you'll crawl through my data, spam my friends, and repost to my wall.

  • Site: Provide a valid email to receive an activation link
  • User: Why, so I can get even more junk mail in my inbox? No thanks

In the end, if you cannot provide users with legally binding terms & conditions reassuring that their data will not be used outside its intended purpose, then they will continue to give fake information. Alternatively, you can clearly explain to them why you prefer that they provide their real names. Aside from being distrustful, many users are also lazy. I avoid almost all sites which require information upfront, unless it's clearly in my best interest to do so. Is it in your users best interest to do so? Be transparent.

  • Even if you can provide them with strong legally binding privacy protection, nobody reads the small print unless they really have to.
    – dbkk
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 7:53
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    I'll tell you what, if the dude who owns [email protected] had any idea how many email requests I've redirected his way over the past 15 years he'd probably shoot me. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 19:46

Inform the user that the service would be useless without the real name, or make the service in such way. I think this is the best way to get real information. This will depend on the app but it could be because either:

  • The nature of the app makes it "useless" without real data, at least in the first place. An app where you need to enter you "real world" data to find others from the "real world", because it is needed for the app to work.
  • The app can't be used without it. You force users to enter real data in order to use your app. In this case you will need to verify the data.

There are different ways to verify real identity. You will have to consider the degree of verification you want. If it is not too strong you will always find users who don't enter their real details. In my opinion, if a user doesn't want to give their real name asking for firstname and lastname will not make any difference.

Another approach is that you have the data beforehand and users need to demonstrate (somehow) who they are in order for you to corroborate and permit them access.

  • Instanly answered! Looks like you knows everything... I hardly find any question thats not answered by @Alvaro. Btw i doubt such a perfection.
    – Nicolas
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 14:45
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    Not sure how you could automate the validation in a reliable way but I agree with having the data from some other source before hand; as this is educational maybe the tutor could set up the accounts for their class. Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 15:44
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    This. I can't understand why to go with strange combinations and traps and cheats. Just tell the user you need the real identity or the system won't work for her. If she's interested, she'll provide real info. Otherwise, fake info, and it won't matter at all. Furthermore, in the vast cyberspace where cheating and dishonest approaches are the only law, some honesty is always appreciated and usually reciprocated
    – Devin
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 23:01

What if you added an explanation: "Please use your real name so your friends can find you."

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