I admit it; I’m a (MSN|Windows Live) Messenger power user. I’ve got scripts, plugins, modifications, sounds, custom emoticons and been through a few hundred display pictures. One thing I know a lot of people don’t like about MSN is the nicknames but I’m a big fan of them. Your MSN nickname gives you a hundred or so characters – your supposed to enter your (nick)name there and nothing else. But over time, it’s evolved into quite an art form. For me, nicknames really set MSN apart from the other networks.
Many people just use their nickname as what it was designed for – their nickname. MSN Messenger orders people alphabetically; I remember a fad a while back where everyone would put a dot at the start of their nickname so they’d appear at the top of the list. There was also a time where people would put [x] in front of their name which was supposed to show respect towards something.
The alphabetical nickname is annoying with people who totally change their nickname all the time. With these people, you can never find them on your list. Many people always prefix their name with something at the start however, so it’s not too annoying.
Messenger nicknames often carry political statements. Back around the release of Firefox 1.0 I orchestrated a small campaign to ask people to add a link to getfirefox.com in their MSN nickname. I’m not sure how many people joined the campaign but I know of several people who were converted. There are also people who insist on writing something about how great Apple are or how much George Bush sucks in their name. Your nickname is a fantastic place for a political statement as everyone who has added you will see it when they talk to you.
ASCII Art and Chavs
ASCII Art used to be kinda popular, mainly amongst "chavs":
(¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.-> BoB <-.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯)
Chavs have been known to use their nicknames for political statements such as i LoVe YoU [eNtEr NaMe] or something. Alternating letters and long ASCII arts tend to be exceptionally annoying. Tons of emoticons in nicknames are also a bit annoying.
Back in the days of Messenger 4, a lot of people used to use colour in their nicknames. I haven’t seen anyone do this in years.
Geeks tend to stick the URL of their website or blog onto the end of their nickname. Some geeks get new websites every day and you’ll see a URL to a different website which they made every time you log on. URLs to popular movies, videos and animations also tend to be popular – I’ve often seen people with the URL to the latest Weebl & Bob in their nickname.
Looking down my contact list I can see people asking for technical support, campaigning for the return of a television show, jokes, film reviews, world cup scores and mini-poems in their nicknames.
- There used to be an exploit that allowed you to render yourself unblockable by using a certain nickname.
- There was a time where MSN blocked swear words and URLs from nicknames. Fortunately these have been removed but if you logged onto Messenger during the version 4 days you’ll see people with URLs disguised like ht tp: // cow.neondragon.n et.
I think it could be really interesting logging the nicknames of your contact list over a certain amount of time and analysing the data. I’m pretty sure I found a website which did this a while ago but I can’t seem to find it again.