Being new to an online community, I'm wondering what is proper etiquette when it comes to using people's real names in posts. My closest experience is in playing World of Warcraft, where you generally don't use real names when addressing others even if you know them. I know that most of our names are in our profile so they're easy enough to find, but does that make it ok?
There's no formal policy about it here and the majority of the time, posters use the username as the form of address but after being here for a while, members do address each other interchangeably between real and usernames.
I figure if someone has made public their real first name on the Profile Page it's okay to call them by that name publicly, then they can object if necessary. So when in doubt I check the member's Profile Page under About Me, and if their name is not there I don't ask what it is or use it if I know it.
I remember the first time someone used my name in a post. It was a little bit of a surprise because I'd not been used to seeing my name used at any site, but I liked it because the post was a nice one and the use of my name made my relationship with the Board feel more personal and friendly. That post was from JohnDalglish I'm honored to say.
It depends who I'm talking to, and the context I use it in. For example, if GNTLGNT made a post saying he was upset about something and wanted support I would likely refer to him as Scott when replying as it would seem more personal. The more you talk with someone and become friends you will likely discover whether they are okay with their proper name being used on the main board.
Also, there's members here I use pet names with or even multiple names, eg; Ms Mod, Marsha, Modster, Motherator, Maaasha...it just depends what mood I'm in.
I'm cool with either one, and some variants of my real name, which is Evelyn*. Sometimes I think of myself as Todash, though.
Encouraged variants: E
Ev (short E)
Evvie (But only my baby brother is allowed to call me Heavy Evvie, and that's because he's still--after all these years and three kids of his own--such an ornery turd that I'm afraid that any revenge I exacted upon him would only be returned to me tenfold.)
Evelyn with a long E, like ee-vuh-lin (This is mainly a nod to my British friends who have a hard time remembering the American short E, but of course on the board I have no idea what you hear in your head.)
Disliked variants (I'll answer to them, but inside I'm a little sad about it): Eve (long E)
Evie (long E)
Evil-Lyn (Yes, yes, very funny, you watched He-Man too. Just know you are not the first person to pull that on me.)
I personally use my first name on here because I'm just not that creative.
But there are a few people on here who's names I know very well and I try not to use them to respect their privacy. (Though clearly Todash, aka Terminator Todash, aka Evelyn, doesn't seem to care. And I think I used GNTLGNT's on accident once.)
I do use Marsha's name because a lot of other people do so I figured it wasn't a secret. It took me a long time to feel comfortable to do that, though.
Just do what you feel comfortable with. For some people I still use their usernames even when I've had many conversations with them and I know their real names. I'll answer to fushingfeef, feef, FF, or Bob, or whatever.
It should be interesting next summer when I get to meet some of you in person!