My name

Note: This page predates my name change ca. September 2011. I have left it in its original form as a historical document. However, my legal name on my government ID is now “Alex Bayley”.

As mentioned in my bio page, I have two names: “Skud”, and “Alex Bayley”. I also, formerly used the name “Kirrily Robert” is the name on my birth certificate, passport, etc., but it’s not how most people know me.

People who call me “Skud”: my friends; my lovers; people I live with; almost all my professional colleagues; people who’ve heard me speak at conferences, or invited me to speak at conferences; most people who refer to my online writing; most people who refer to my open source code; people who send me Christmas cards (my grandmother excluded).

People who call me “Kirrily”: my blood family, who I don’t see very often; call centers; immigration officials; Human Resources departments.

The purpose of this page is to provide a variety of evidence that I am commonly called “Skud”, in case I ever need it. Below you can find examples of friends and colleagues calling me “Skud” in both professional and personal situations.

Quick links

This page is long, so here’s a quick table of contents:


Links to other sites

Where possible, I choose the username “Skud” for all online services except those directly related to my formal/legal identity, such as eg. online banking or job hunting.

I only use “Kirrily Robert” or some variant for my online identity if the username “Skud” is already taken; if usernames must be longer than 4 characters; if the terms of service explicitly require my legal name and do not permit me to use the name by which I am more commonly known; or if my use of the site is closely linked to my legal identity (eg. for job-hunting).

Here is a partial list of websites and online communities where I’m known as Skud, with links to my user profile where publicly available:


General-purpose social networks

Additionally, my profile appears as Kirrily Robert (Skud) on Facebook (largely a placeholder account) and Kirrily “Skud” Robert on LinkedIn (used for job-hunting etc).


Blogs


Tech-related sites and forums


Wiki and open data projects


Personal


Employment

In general, my employers use “Kirrily Robert” on official paperwork, but my colleagues call me “Skud” face to face.

Geoff Halprin was the Chief Information Officer and my direct manager at e-smith, inc, ca. 2002. He writes:

This made me stop and think… for several seconds… before I remembered your “real” name. I think I only know it from working with you (i.e. officialdom). I have always called you and referred to you (when speaking with others) as Skud. You have always been Skud. If I used your real name with someone, they would stare blankly at me, and ask “who?”.

Many of my employers have allowed me the username skud@domain even where that username does not fit with their common naming scheme, or have permitted me to change my username to skud@domain to avoid misdirected mail. Two notable examples are Monash University (I was skud@monash.edu.au, a rare style of address at the time) and Google (where my username was changed two weeks into my employment, under a policy which doesn’t permit frivolous username changes, after I was initially (erroneously) told that my email address needed to be based on my legal name.)

I’ve even been called “Skud” in job interviews, by the interviewers. This usually happens when the interviewers know me by reputation, from my prior work or my involvement in the technical community. For instance, this happened during my interviews at e-smith (2000), Optus (2004), and Google (2010).


Google

I’ve included this section specifically because I was suspended from Google+. It’s especially ironic because many people at Google — in fact, most of the people I knew there — knew me as Skud.

I was a Google employee from July 2010 to July 2011. I was skud@google.com and used the name “Skud .” on internal Buzz and Emerald Sea (i.e. Google+ prior to launch).

Googler (now-xoogler) Noirin Plunkett created an “I Know Skud” badge which appears on people’s pages on Google’s internal directory. This was created in late July or early August 2010, if I recall correctly, based on earlier real-world “I Know Skud” buttons (see below). If you’re inside Google’s network and you want to find someone who has the badge on their page, try my colleagues from Metaweb (such as Reilly Hayes), developer relations people (eg. Wesley Chun), or open source folks (eg. Carol Smith).

When I left Google, my posts to Buzz and ES were archived at http://go/skud (internal Google link). One of the more interesting Buzz posts, if you scroll way back to August 2010, is the one where dozens of SREs and others express their pleasure that “Skud works here now!” and surprise that I initially had the email address kirrily@google.com. With their help (and insistence, in the face of policy that didn’t want me to change it at first), I got it changed to skud@google.com.

After leaving Google, I returned a week or so later for lunch with my colleagues. Here is the badge that Google’s reception desk issued to me on the occasion:

google visitor badge with Skud on it


Conferences

Where possible and appropriate, I register for conferences so that the name “Skud” appears on my attendee badge. If I do not have “Skud” on my official badge, I usually write it on, to assist people in recognising me, since few know me as “Kirrily Robert”.

There are many examples of conference attendees, organisers, and co-presenters knowing and referring to me as Skud. For example…

Christopher Davis was my co-panelist at WisCon in 2010, where we both spoke about the open source project Dreamwidth:

When I met you at last year’s WisCon (we were both on the Dreamwidth panel), you were introduced to me as Skud (and in the pre-convention email conversation, you were also referred to as Skud by other panelists).

In fact, the WisCon 34 program lists you as “Skud” — I just checked.

Marianne Kirby, a WisCon attendee who blogs at The Rotund, writes:

I met you at Wiscon – you have always been Skud. When I reference you to other people, you are Skud, and they always know who I mean. I’d have no idea who you were under any other name.

Here’s a video of Nat Torkington introducing me, on-stage, as “Skud” at the Ignite session at O’Reilly’s Open Source Convention in 2009. The relevant introduction is about 8 minutes into this video:

Transcript:

So our next speaker is a wonderful person despite coming from Australia, and she’s overcome this enormous obstacle in her life to, err — no, she hasn’t overcome the obstacle at all, it remains with her till this day, as you’ll tell from her accent — to do interesting work with Perl, to head off to Vanuatu just because she could and get those geeks set up and running, she’s done all sorts of interesting things in her life, which once again we didn’t ask her to talk about. So instead, here to talk about textiles, is the lovely Skud.

Sometimes I present at conferences under “Kirrily Robert” (especially when the circumstances are more formal, or I’m not speaking for myself), but it tends to cause confusion. For instance, in this video, Jesse Robbins (who had known me as Skud for some time) attempts to introduce me by my legal name, and doesn’t know how to pronounce it correctly. Oops.

Annalee writes:

I only know your real name because people who don’t know you refer to you by it when discussing your OSCON keynote. I don’t think I’ve seen/heard anyone who actually knows you call you by your real name in conversation.

For this reason, when presenting as “Kirrily Robert” (and representing myself, not my employer) I generally try to include my email address (skud@infotrope.net) and Twitter handle (@Skud) on the first and/or last slide.


“I know Skud”

Open source/hackspace/security expert Leigh Honeywell met so many people at tech conferences who knew me as Skud that she had buttons made:

"I know Skud" buttons

"I know Skud" buttons. Photo credit: Leigh Honeywell

Googler Noirin Shirley made a similar “I Know Skud” button for display on people’s profiles on Google’s own intranet. If you happen to be a Googler, you can find it on her page (and many other people’s).

In June 2011, after the Amina Arraf hoax was uncovered, a friend of mine from Melbourne blogged:

In light of the whole Amina thing, I’m thinking about online identity and how we establish it.

It occurs to me that establishing that I am not a sockpuppet to the satisfaction of a large number of Dreamwidth people would be trivially easy: I know Skud. Sorted.

In other words, I am so well known as “Skud” that I can be used to establish other people’s identity.


More testimonies from friends and associates

Herb Lainchbury writes:

I know you as Skud from various online discussions and from when I met you at OSCON and we had a discussion about open data standards before Google acquired Metaweb. Hmm…I don’t even remember your legal name, but I suppose I could look it up, somewhere.. maybe I could Google it. Oh, yeah, I remember now.

Liz Henry writes:

We met online, where you were introduced to me by my co-worker as Skud who was interesting and had done lots of stuff in the Perl community. I guess I’ve known you in real life for 5 years or so? Then we worked together to do geekfeminist blog and wiki stuff. I still call you Skud and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone call you your regular old name. Everyone at WisCon knows you as Skud and would likely not know who I meant if I called you by your legal first name.

Danny O’Brien writes:

When we first met at Liz’s, you were introduced as Skud. I don’t think I’ve regularly interacted with anyone who calls you by any other name.

Jon Gilbert writes:

I don’t think I learned your real name until 6 months after I met you. I don’t know how to pronounce your “real” first name without screwing it up. I have a button with “I know Skud” on it, not the other thing.

Molly Aplet writes:

I was first introduced to you under your legal name; this made for a lot of awkward conversations when I would later say to various people “oh, I was hanging out with this really cool person named [other name]” and have them nod and smile politely. Until I said “She’s also known as… Skud?” And then they would light up and be delighted, because as it turns out, they all knew you. And they all knew you as Skud.

Marna Nightingale, who’s known me since 2003, writes:

In the improbable event that she ever marries I expect to need to hold up a cue card for her spouse-to-be so that they don’t say “take thee, Skud…” by accident.

Rachel Chalmers writes:

I met you IRL in the 1990s. My children have been raised knowing you only as Skud.

(And is there anything more adorable than being tackle-hugged by kids squealing “Skud!” excitedly as you walk in their front door? I think not.)

Many of the above testimonials were gathered in this Google+ discussion (or could, until Google blocked my account for pseudonymity on July 22, 2011), where you can find additional examples. If you know me as “Skud” and would like to leave a comment below, please feel free.

16 thoughts on “My name

  1. I first met you as Skud online in… 1992 or so? I moved to Melbourne in 1997 to live with you and Ricky, started a DotCom with you in 1999, lived with you until 2001 or so, been in contact with you ever since, and, well, I think I’ve probably called you Kirrily maybe… never.

    In the same vein, I’m not sure you’ve ever called me David, except to reference the non-existent David conspiracy. :-)

  2. Sorry about that. They just deleted a friend of mine’s profile as well. He has just one legal name and comes from a culture where that is the norm. Google is being insensitive and culturally blind about this issue.

  3. I first encountered you on one of the social networking sites where ‘Skud’ was already taken and you had to go by something else. I have been known to mention you using that account name, and when there is no response, say, “Oh, wait, you probably know her under her real name, Skud.”

  4. Of course I know you as Skud. Frankly, although I know your legal name, I have no idea why it ever came up. Maybe I’m just curious. But, yes, certainly YOU ARE SKUD.

  5. I’ve known you for, what, 12, 15 years? When people say “Skud”, I know who they mean. When people say “Kirrily”, I have to pause, think and usually ask “You mean Skud?”

    As far as a “real name” goes, I’d say that ‘Skud’ is more real than ‘Kirrily Robert’.

  6. I have always though that children should be given some anbiguous names, “Fredwick William Ann Mcgillicutty” for example so the person could quite legally use ” Ann Mcgillicuty” if it suited the occasion, even if they normally were know as “Bill”

    I don’t know the OZ rules fro changing one’s name, but since you are returning to your homeland, perhaps you might try to have Skud added as a middle name. That way, you could be at least Skud Roberts, and have an official document to prove it.

  7. Until reading this entry, I had no clue that your real name was “Kirrily” (how do you even pronounce that?). Google are acting like a right bunch of arsewipes. Skud is Skud, no discussion about it.

  8. To be honest, Skud, I’ve never heard of you. I just don’t move in the same circles and live in the same world as you.

    That said, I’ve been using pseudonyms online for the past 17 years, and I’ve stuck to this one for the past decade. Anywhere I’m known online, it’s by this name. So I feel for you.

    Many of my friends in ‘real life’ are people I’ve met online, and they all know me by this name. Most of them prefer it, it seems: I briefly wrestled with the idea of dropping my pseudonym and using my real name everywhere, and many of my friends told me not to be foolish. My name is Van, they tell me.

    I do use my real name for work. I work in the media, and I choose to keep my ‘alter ego’ and its friendships separate from my work relationships. It allows me to be a version of myself that I can’t as comfortably do through my real name. I appreciate that I shouldn’t have to make that distinction, that I should feel free to be me no matter what name I use, but this is how I’ve chosen to roll.

    I don’t work too hard to keep my identities separate, but I should be entitled to have those identities if I want them.

    So the idea that services, corporations providing a service, should be allowed to dictate to me that I am only allowed to use their service if I use my real name..?

    Well, hell, they’re entitled to make that call. It’s their service, and the law allows it. But the law allowing it doesn’t make it any less pathetic.

    The past few weeks have seen friends on Facebook asking me why the hell I’m shifting my main online social presence over to Google+, and all I’ve answered with is “it feels like a great service, but more than anything, I just really dig Google.”

    You make it hard to dig you, Google, and you embarrass those of us that support you and enthusiastically recommend you to others.

  9. I’ve known you online for several years now as Skud, and that’s always how others have referred to you.

    I was just ‘tigtog’ while blogging for years and years, although I had always used my real name on USENet. A few years ago I decided to associate my real name with the ‘tigtog’ nym, mainly because I discovered that the sort of arsehat who would enjoy revealing it at the most inconvenient time possible already knew it, so I decided to preempt him. Lots of people online do now call me Viv, but I’m still better known as tigtog by most.

    Given how hard-line Google are being on this, I’m not sure that using my own name there will necessarily protect me from being suspended either, as I do have multiple gmail accounts mainly because it was convenient to have one for tigtog and one for vivsmythe and then a few others for certain projects. Apparently that’s red flag behaviour now.

  10. I’m Timski, I’ve been using this tag since the internet arrived, and on google for as long as Gmail has been around,I have no intention of using my legal name online, and by whose community are you judging me Google+?

    https://plus.google.com/115503466514147159875
    A suspended profile also means you can’t use google takeout or data liberation tools to rescue your contacts, thanks google.

  11. hmm… known you in the other place for years and years now. I did know your real name since you used Real “skud” Name in the other place for quite a while :P

    And now you’re on slashdot! :)

    I’m in two minds whether I want my google+ re-activated… I probably should. But maybe I’ll use my legal chinese name. stupid google.

  12. I don’t know if you’d remember me, but I’ve bumped into you at a convention somewhere… Arisia perhaps? At any rate, I’ve only known you as Skud, and sent feedback to Google to that effect.

  13. The first time I saw you mentioned (IIRC in the SDM, 1998 or 1999), it was as [sS]kud, and likewise for later online references. I think I first saw your mundane legal name a half-dozen years later, and IIRC, it was in an unrelated setting and I didn’t connect the names. I’m not sure when I learned of the connection, but I think it was only in 2008 or 2009.

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