We signed our daughters up for Minecraft (AKA Windows ’14) accounts this past weekend, and they went through the familiar Hotmail-circa-2003 song and dance that a generation before them suffered: every username, no matter how outlandish, was taken. While i made dinner in the next room, i could hear the exasperated outcries of my little girls as name after name was rejected as “taken.”

Among the unavailable handles that the girls tried were Sparkle (okay) and Sprinkles (i get it), BlueBear (really?) and, to my great surprise, SnowTree. i really wouldn’t have counted on a run on SnowTree.

None of Your Business Names

i recently went through the same frustrating exercise with a new business i’m building, where coming up with a decent business name that would clear a NUANS search and for which the .com domain name was available was like performing one of the Herculean labours. i think i would rather have wrestled a legendary warthog, to be honest.

Behold: the Erymanthian Boar

Behold: the Erymanthian Boar

Tellingly, there are a number of other competing companies in Toronto that had the same problem. Two pairs of companies have names that are off by one word (in one case, the word is “the”), with a fourth company using a moniker that’s a shade off of another competing business in British Columbia.

Moves like increasing the variety of top-level domains are intended to alleviate the problem, which is already bad (as widespread Internatz use is only about 20 years old), and will only be exacerbated as we chug along down that road. Based on what i know of Joe Average’s technology familiarity, top-level domains are being introduced at a rate that out-paces people’s savvy; moms and dogs are only just catching on that there are .net and .org domains (though ask either what a “domain” is, and you’ll get a resoundingly confused “arf”) – it’ll be a safe night out in Detroit before the America Online crowd catches on to .coffee and .farm.

There’s always the possibility, too, that yourBusinessName.farm brings people to your website, while yourBusinessName.com brings them to streaming video of group sex with animals. Or is that the other way around? Anyway, it’s not a mistake you can afford to make, Your Holiness.


In another instance, i was trying to brainstorm fanciful names for the monsters in my game Spellirium. i would Google the results, and would invariably land on an UrbanDictionary page describing some depraved (and, i pray, fictional) sex act supposedly going by the same name. It was to the point where i very nearly named every monster in the game after gross UrbanDictionary slang deliberately, figuring that if i couldn’t beat ’em, i’d join ’em. (Incidentally, “beating ’em and joining ’em” has yet to be defined on the site. Knock yourselves out, you filthy animals.)

It leaves me wondering what communications will look like in the near future, after SnowTree99 and SnowTree69 and SweetSnowTreeLovelyLady15 are all taken.

“What’s your handle on Microsoft Minecraft Bob ME 3.1x?”

“Oh, it’s grflgrrpnx.”

“How do you spell that?”


“Oh, okay.”

“No – i know what you’re thinking. But it’s with two R’s.”

“Weird – my mother-in-law uses the same handle, but with one R. How did you get such a great name?”

“i was an early adopter.”

“Yeah, right. i bet you grflgrrpnx’d someone at Microsoft to get it.”

“Oh my God! Don’t be such a perv!”