Author Names That Stretch Credibility

Lately, we’ve had a small handful of authors who want us to accept their pen names that have either their brand or their expertise worked into their first or last name. It used to be very easy for us to ban this behavior as it’s too ‘hokey’ for us (credibility destroyer), but the line is blurred and we could use your help/opinions.

Examples of hokey author names: (names changed to protect the guilty)

  • George Prudehome – writes about home improvement
  • John Rspad – writes about spa’s
  • Alyssa Amore – writes about relationships & love
  • Dan Tan – writes about tanning beds and getting a good tan
  • Jack Free – writes about getting free things online
  • Kyle Kisscafe – writes to promote his coffee shop

Our question to you: The intent of the above names are clearly designed with an intent to extend the brand or expertise and anyone reading it quickly knows the person is a joke or not credible, but where do we draw the line when it’s all so subjective?


Neill Neill writes:

Dear Chris,
These are pretty obvious examples, except that there are many people out there whose occupations follow their names. Examples of people I have known: Forest Forester who headed a department of forestry at a prestigious university; Dr. Cock a proctologist, John Paradise who owned a vacation motor-home business. If the internet had been around when these people were growing their businesses, they would have wanted to use their names to boost their online presence.

I don’t think there is any way to “draw the line.”

Although my name does not tell anyone I’m a psychologist, “Neill Neill” is an unusual name and I take full advantage of it on the net. Just try googling it.
Neill Neill

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 9:37 AM




A dichotomy indeed!

I think we would like to believe that we can spot these and accept them for what they are.

Your serious authors are concerned with gaining recognition for their expertise and have no need for pseudonym.

Why not initiate a new category where you put them all together, and then we are looking to be amused, we can visit it.

Art Icklewriter

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 9:40 AM


Edward Weiss writes:

The slippery slope here is that you allow “pen names.”

Some assume they can call themselves anything because it’s a pen name.

I don’t think there’s too much you can do about this unless you create another rule that accepts only credible pen names.

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 9:53 AM


Ramon Greenwood writes:

The work “hokey” comes to mind when using pen names.

But if a writer wants to do that I’d say let ’em rip.

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 9:59 AM


Ramon Greenwood writes:

I have been taught that deliberately overloading internet copy with key words at the risk of a clear and concise writing style is a no-no.

Then, along comes Ronal Firquai’s “How To Create E-books For Income”.

In his article of 588 words, E-book appears 17 times, not counting once in the headline. The word shows up three times in each of two paragraphs that appear back-to-back.

I have always thought the EzineArticles blog consisted of the best of the best. Am I missing something here?

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 10:16 AM


Jan Verhoeff writes:

oooh – I vaguely remember being told that I was silly for using one name to cover all my bases. And that was back when I wrote about homeschooling (oh yea, I still do), and everything else I do under one heading.

Well, I decided to try it your way and add an initial, and change my identity a bit to make it work.

That’s great except that now I have to remember which name writes for what… So I was seriously thinking about making my nicknames reveal my business (not) until I read this post. Now, I’m trying to figure out what to do with all those newly created articles by Sassyjan VerFORD??? Do you think I could find some credible way of including my new ID?

Okay – now that I’ve totally blown my credibility and got that name out of my system, I’ll answer the question…

I think names are a personal matter, and I’d hate to have to figure out a reason or a description that would fit me based on a name. FRUSTRATION would fit me but who wants to be called FRUSTI?

Whether I use Janet D. or Jan or J.D. or J. I’m still Jan, but changing my name to something different that implicates a personality of a cafe, vehicle, or spa, just somehow seems unjustified.

Have I rambled enough yet?


Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 10:20 AM




We’re not talking about keyword stuffing or keyword loading (something we reject when we see it)…

We’re talking about how to draw the line if “Johnny Ebook” wants us to accept his articles on how to produce Ebooks? Normally we say NO, but the line is often not very black or white.

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 10:33 AM


Marco writes:

Dear Chris:
Personally, I’d say NO. I can’t buy this kind of humour. I wouldn’t like to see pen names here. That wouldn’t work. I mean EzineArticles is more serious. After all, we are not kids in a tree house, pretending to be professionals. Thanks.

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 11:39 AM


Thad Ferguson writes:

Didnt realize that people pay that much attention to writers names.
Only thought they do that when it is of good quality, yet I imagine that if I spent all of my energy coming up with a name that could be easily seen as promoting my product my articles might not be very well written either.
The only problem you might run into is rejecting names that really are who they say are (Legal name changes) so the real question is how could you enforce a rule like that.
I believe that most peoples last name orignated from what they did or who they were in the first place didnt they?

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 12:10 PM


Halstatt Pires writes:

I will cop to “Rspad” above. The name, however, was not meant to promote a brand. It was just the first thing that came to mind.

Since pen names seem to be frowned upon, I should probably offer up the counter view of why I use them. I currently handle over 80 sites and use a different pen name for each when submitting articles.

The reason has to do with the RSS feed the site allows people to pick up for each author. IMHO, the feed is only going to be picked up if the general subject matter of the articles is the same, to wit, real estate articles. If I used one name for all articles, the feed would be a convoluted mix of article subjects ranging from real estate to rock climbing to skin cancer and so on. Most people would not pick up such a feed because they tend to be looking for a subject in a particular category.

If you are promoting one site, I don’t see any reason to use a pen name. If you are promoting multiple sites, a pen name for each seems to make sense.



Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 2:11 PM


Lynn Upthagrove writes:

I am Upthagrove living in Groveland, I wonder if this would have made the list? Not a pen name, but my real name.

I spend a great deal of time marketing the town of Groveland to promote the Hotel Charlotte. I am even considering putting for a name change for the town to Upthagroveland and have a few backers for that idea. Surely that would have made the list!

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 2:44 PM



Not only does it reflect poorly on EzineArticles, but a hokey sounding author name reflects poorly on THE AUTHOR. Why not just tell people, “We don’t advocate ‘play on words’ author names because in the past they haven’t worked to build credibility or generate income for our authors who have used them.”

Who would argue with the old money defense? And it makes sense anyway. I’m not going to believe that Mary Muffintops is a credible business owner no matter how tasty her baked goods appear on her website, or how easy her articles go down with a glass of cold milk. That name has “give me your credit card number, you fool” written all over it (even if the person behind the name is actually a perfectly decent and honest human being).

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 3:46 PM


Jan Verhoeff writes:


My friend, Muffie Baker, might be offended a bit by not being able to use her real name. Her Mama thought Muffie Baker was cute, but her mom’s name was Minnie Baker (maiden name Bunn).

Muffie’s an auto mechanic in Hudson who swears she can’t cook. And with those Biceps I’m not going to argue with her.

However, I have to agree, Hokey names sound Hokey. Although I never thought of the connotation of initials my oldest daughter still hasn’t forgiven me for naming her Brenna Joy – although she loves her name – she hates her initials.

This has been a fun-for-me thread. Although I’m sure there are some who are taking this very seriously. I have a pen name, that I use on some of my fiction writing. But I would NEVER use it here.

Beyond that — I just really like my name.


Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 6:59 PM



Yeah and what about the little girl, Oprah Winfrey? …Her Mom named her after Oprah and the 12 year old wants to follow in Oprah’s footsteps?

If I was the little girl’s marketing agent or brand manager, I’d recommend a legal name change to forge a new brand. Isn’t that one of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, that it’s better to be first at something than it is to be better?


So really what differentiates the good from the bad here is intent; the challenge remains that in many cases, we will never know the true intent because we continue (and must) allow pen names.

-Chris Knightinshiningarmour, what I can’t use that?

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 7:18 PM


Jan Verhoeff writes:

I have a suit of armour I’ll loan you for the photo on your bio, Chris.

My nephew creates these things out of old car parts and chromes them!



Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 8:10 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Lance Winslow; wrote and article about Bike Racing and Winning in the slow season. Well not yet, but I probably will, I think this is a great article

Comment provided March 27, 2007 at 11:38 PM



Sorry.. I have nothing to contribute to the question posed in this post.

Just want to thank everyone for a wonderful, early morning laughter producing thread.. especially Jan and the visual of that suit from old car parts for our Chris Knightinshiningarmour! ;-)


Comment provided March 28, 2007 at 4:39 AM



I also use a different pen name for each niche, for very similar reasons as Halstatt Pires. I pull my RSS feeds on to my sites, and don’t think that home medical articles would interest my sewing site audience.

Plus, I prefer some small level of privacy. has my real legal name, and I’ve written no articles under that name. The real me has very little to say ;).

This is the funkiest of my pen names, IMO. It’s a take off of the M.D. that I work with on a curcumin and Alzheimer’s project.

Comment provided March 28, 2007 at 3:21 PM


Gary Simpson writes:

Hello Folks,

A couple of days ago I was surfing around on the “Recent Articles” section of EzineArticles when I noticed a bunch of articles on (ahem)… penis enlargement.

It made me wonder how many hits they were getting so I clicked onto a few. Yep. Lots of hits. Just like I predicted. The three that I looked at had around 300 to 400 hits in just two days.

That made me wonder…

Maybe I should write some (I think not) PE articles.

If I WERE to write them I’d have to change my name.

I thought maybe Peter North might be a good pseudonym.

Gary Simpson

Comment provided March 29, 2007 at 6:54 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Personally, I am so sick of this kind of stuff on the Internet clogging up the system, making a mockery of the greatest communication system ever created in the history of mankind; it makes me sick. Between this garbage and the viagre spam, I think anyone promoting this stuff ought to be dismembered.

Comment provided March 29, 2007 at 7:05 PM


Gary Simpson writes:

Hi Lance,

Are you referring to the PE articles? If so, I agree.

Perhaps you meant to say de-membered… LOL!

By the way, Lance, I remember some months back that you said your goal was to write 11,111 articles because you liked all the ones. I see that you have reached your target.

CONGRATULATIONS. That is a mighty effort!


Gary Simpson.

Comment provided March 29, 2007 at 7:17 PM


Lance Winslow writes:

Gary, yes those PE articles, I am sure pull in hits, but it just makes me cringe to see these things and the Viagra commercials, I think come on people, give it a rest already.

I believe this is contributing to the dummying down of society. And yes I know there is a group of consumers worried about these things, but I believe it is the mass “in your face” of the subject that is psychologically causing the problem. Kind of like the commercials “do you sleep well at night?

Most folks sleep fine, until someone starts telling them they do not, then they think about it and then they have problems sleeping thru the subliminal introduction. Why can’t we just turn all this garabage off? Yes, I know people make money on AdSense using these topics. Just like the Sploggers do. But that does not make it okay to put debris all over the Internet, does it?

Yes, de-member these people.

Comment provided March 29, 2007 at 7:41 PM


Kevin Stirtz writes:

Chris – I agree with Dina’s comments, these pen names sound hokey (at best) and just plain dumb (at worst). We’re supposed to be professionals, right? Let the kids and comedians have fun playing word games.

If you allow them to use them here, you’re degrading the perceived quality of

Plus, you’d be doing them a favor. Too often we don’t get enough honest feedback from people about our crazy ideas. So, now you get to play the role of “friendly advisor” by helping them see the silliness of their pen name ideas.

Good post! Good luck!


Comment provided March 30, 2007 at 8:03 AM


Bill Johnson writes:

Actually, I’ve found myself compelled to use a pen name with, whether I wanted to or not. In fact, I would have preferred not to use a pen name, but there was already another author named William Johnson, so I ended up using the pen name Willim Johnson as a “closest I could get” solution. Why can’t permit more than one author with the same name? Lord knows that there are literally tens of thousands of William Johnsons just in the United States, more in other parts of the world — but only one of them gets to be an author at


Comment provided March 30, 2007 at 9:26 AM




We’d have preferred to see a middle name or initial rather than a mis-spelling of your first legal name.

There may be a day when we accept articles by authors with identical names, but that day has not come yet.

Reason: Because of the expert author URL naming convention or site structure doesn’t allow for it…yet.

It’s frustrating, I get that…and I’m sorry to the few hundred authors that are affected.

Comment provided March 30, 2007 at 9:32 AM


Bill Johnson writes:

Actually, I don’t have a middle name or initial. My parents, in their infinite wisdom, named me William Johnson. Johnson is the single most common sirname in the U.S. and William is among the top 3 or 4 given names. I can live with the pen name I’m using at Most people will probably figure it was just a typo by someone at, or won’t notice the missing letter at all. But you might want to give thought to adjusting your naming conventions in order to support multiple legitimate authors, all of whom legitimately have the same name.


Comment provided March 30, 2007 at 5:03 PM


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