The origin of my online handle

January 25, 2024

Jim Nielsen posted a couple of days ago about online handles. He talked about how many people have unique usernames like Jeremy Keith (adactio) and Dave Rupert (davatron5000). He also talked about the history of his online handle.

The post got me thinking about the origin of my online handle. I believe my first online handle was “jbridg4th.” I used it for AIM (instant messaging from America Online). I adopted it for several years for usernames and handles for other places online.

But in July 2008, I signed up for Twitter with the handle of “webcraftsman.” I had started thinking of myself as a craftsman several years earlier. The idea of craftsmanship was behind a theme I created for this site in 2006. So the idea of being a craftsman of websites had been on my mind but I am not sure if I had thought of it in terms of being a “webcraftsman” until I chose my Twitter handle.

I debated changing the handle to my name instead of something that people who knew me wouldn’t know. I ended up changing my Twitter handle to my name but quickly changed it back to “webcraftsman” the same day and it has stuck ever since. I started using it as my handle everywhere. The more I used it, the more I liked it and felt like it represented me well.

I have been tempted over the years to try to obtain When I first investigated, someone owned the name and was actively using the domain name. The website was very out of date and it was obvious the person had not been actively doing anything with it.

I did reach out to a different owner of the domain several years later but they wanted more than I was willing to pay to buy it. It was not an outrageous price but more than I was willing to spend at that point in my life. Later on, another company that buys domain names to sell them at ridiculous prices obtained it. And when I inquired, it was a whole lot more than I would spend, much more ridiculous than the previous person.

In the end, I decided it was better to have my name as the domain of the site. I figured more people would try to find me through my name than through my handle.

At the Front End Design Conference in 2011, I saw Allison House at the after-party and she came up to me and said, “It’s webcraftsman!” I knew of Allison and had followed her online. I think I had some interactions with her on Twitter. First, I was just impressed that she knew who I was. And then surprised that she used my online handle. I think that is the only time that I have had someone use my online handle to identify me IRL.

I continue to use the handle today. I carried it over to Mastodon when I joined it last summer. I use it on the LGND Slack. It has come to be part of my identity and I like it.

A couple of years ago, my wife commissioned my son to design a logo for me and made a t-shirt. I had tried many times over the years to design myself a visual identity but never really liked the results. I liked what my son came up with and it was very meaningful to me because he designed it for me.

1 Comment

  1. Weekly Links 01.22–01.28 – ntdln

    February 5th, 2024

    […] The origin of my online handle (Jeff Bridgforth) […]

Comment on this post