I get bitten all the time with minimum username length requirements. The most common number that I bump up against is 6 characters, probably because my usual username is 5 characters so I wouldn’t hear about requirements of 4 or 5, and it’s obvious to everyone that requiring 7 or 8 characters is silly. But why have a minimum length in the first place?
Help me out here—I want to believe that when Zoho tells me that I need to use 6 characters, it’s for some reason other than “the developer who wrote that validation code picked 6 arbitrarily”. But I can’t for the life of me imagine what the other, better reason might be.
Even worse than Zoho is Google’s Picasa. Before successfully choosing a username there, I managed to uncover 3 different error messages, two of which are completely useless:
- Please enter a username between 6 and 30 characters.
- Please enter a username without invalid charcters.
- The username ‘xxxxx_’ is not available.
Okay, for message number 1, I can understand what to do in response to the message, but it frustrates me nonetheless. As far as I can tell, the only “charcter” (their misspelling, not mine) that triggers message 2 is ‘@’. Any other character that’s not a letter or a number results in message 3 (which was caused by the _ in this case).
I know that neither the Zoho developers nor the Picasa develoeprs are likely to read my meager blog rant. But for those of you out there who do web development today or in the future, please keep in mind that there are some of us with well-established usernames that are only 5 characters (or 4 or 3 or shorter, for that matter) that would love to not be subjected to capricious and silly rules when using your site. If there are technical reasons for arbitrary-seeming restrictions, then fine, but in most cases there shouldn’t be.