“Moreover, the kinds of attributes they mention differ from those mentioned by men.” While "cuddly," "silly," "sweet," and "faithful" were all used in the women’s profiles she surveyed, men gravitated towards "sexy," "cool," "mellow," and "great." According to Herring's survey, usernames on OKCupid are an average of 10.5 characters.
She compared this with the number of characters in usernames from Internet Relay Chat logs she's saved from 1999 -- names on that site were an average of 6.6 characters.
A whopping 42 percent of the usernames surveyed by Herring included users' real names, be it first names, last names, or initials.
"My impression is that many of the real names on these platforms are used out of a lack of imagination, since real names aren’t required or expected," Herring said. "Several male names and one female name incorporated nonstandard orthography characteristic of casual Internet communication," Herring said.
"Five of 71 men and six of 93 women included their birth year, and two men and two women included the current year, 2015," Herring said.
Age, after all, is just a number -- a number that's listed prominently on OKC user pages, so displaying it in a username is a little redundant.
It does, however, illuminate broader trends about how our online language use has changed over time.
“Females tend to include more personal attributes in their usernames,” Herring says.
Only five percent of usernames surveyed included geographic information, and zero percent included pop culture references such as band names.
My first, chosen for a dial-up Compu Serve account, was Pool Princess6030, a blatant ripoff of my BFF's moniker, sport2040.
But I’ve since become a more deliberate person (read: adult human) and tend to think my usernames align with my personality.
This includes subbing in "1"s for "i"s, but also riffs on the AOL chatroom trope of suffixing a username with "4u".
Although 53 percent of usernames in Herring's survey included a number, very few of the numbers seemed to have personal meaning.