I am building a mobile application where users can post/rate songs they like.

I have three ways of registering: email+password, facebook login and google login.

From my personal experience, some people prefer apps that show full names of users as they seem more trustworthy and tend to avoid apps that show only usernames because it is believed that their content is not trusted; e.g "demonXX175 rated a song" (this may not seem trustworthy for users).

So I decided, that I will show full names (e.g John Doe) when a user posts content. That's why in the registration process, if a user signs up with email+password I ask for him to give his full name (with proper validations that it is a valid full name string, although this can be bypassed e.g John D instead of John Doe). Of course, if a user signs up with facebook/google then their full name is acquired automatically for them and the majority of cases it will be their correct full name. Also if he signs with facebook, then I also get his profile picture, and this is also shown to his app profile (on the other hand a silhouette profile pic is shown, that they can change later).

But, I think that when a user registers with email/password, and I implicitly demand from him to give me his full name, is a little bit aggressive as a user may not want to give full name. Also there may be problems like many users have a full name that is more or less the same (as full names are not unique)

My question is what would you do in a situation like that? Would you show full names or usernames for users? Also if you show usernames, then that means that when a user connects with facebook/google then you should ask for them to give a unique username, after they successfuly connected with fb/google, and that may be overhead of the registration process.

1 Answer 1


You could ask users to enrich their profile - or ask the question directly if they'd like to post using their real name or the username they made during sign-up. If you tie that to a priming screen with benefits to posting under your real name (like credibility, easier to be found by friends) you could convince those email+password users. Not everyone likes to be known by their real name, even for something as innocuous as a music service, so you should keep that in mind.

Pros of real names:

Increased accountability. When people have their contributions tied to their real name, they are more likely to consider the repercussions of their actions and what they post within your community.

More professional appearance. A community where people use their real name will generally appear more attractive to a professional audience than a community where people go by a moniker. If everyone on LinkedIn had a username listed, instead of a real name, how would that affect your perception of the site?

Cons of real names:

Force people to fit into a particular box regarding how they are identified on the site. If they go by a moniker online, they can’t go by it on your site. They have to alter their generally accepted identity. If there are 30 Patrick O’Keefe’s on your site, I am just one of 30. I don’t have any creativity or flexibility – I must go with my government name.

You can’t really be anonymous. This is an advantage for some and a disadvantage for others. But, if it’s a disadvantage, it means that people will feel less free to share something that may come from a good place, but would cause them personal repercussion if it were found to be tied to them. So, because they are going by their name, they’ll keep it to themselves instead of sharing it.

An option is to have both - allow users a setting where they can show their real name to people they know, or even everyone. This is the approach Spotify uses. This allows friends to see each other's real names (and you'll have the accountability aspect from people a user cares about the most), and allow people who want to remain anonymous if that's what they prefer.

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