4 minute read

Note: This article was originally published on “HEY World” on Sep 30, 2021. I’m moving it to my main blog, as I’ve decided to close my HEY account.

I envy everyone who picked up their nickname when they were 12 and just stuck with it. For me the journey to discovering my One True Nickname was long and somewhat messy, as at some point I was using several nicknames simultaneously. If it weren’t for password managers like 1Password and Bitwarden I would have probably struggled to remember which nickname did I use for some services.

I think I got my first computer in 1998, when I was 14 years old. Back then one needed a nickname for only 2 things - IRC and gaming. I don’t remember my IRC nickname to be honest, but I assume it was something like “bozhidar84”, as this was the trend back then. I do remember my gaming handle quite well, though - it was “Lord_Bad”. Remember the arcade games where you had to use your initials for the leaderboard? Well, my initials are BIB, but I never liked how this looked, so I always used the initials BAD instead. It felt badass! When I finally had a computer at home, one of the first games that I played was “Age of Empires” and I thought it’d be cool if I had a nickname that was fitting of the game - both noble (Lord) and fearsome (Bad). Eventually I adopted this nickname outside of gaming as well and I was mostly “Lord_Bad”/”lordbad” online until my early twenties.

I had gotten to the point I had to find myself a job and I felt it’d be silly to have an email like lordbad@developer.bg on my resume. It was time to grow up and adopt a new “more professional” online identity. I knew that the prevailing fashion of the day were handles like “jsmith”, which meant “bbatsov” in my case. However, for some reason I never liked addressing people by their last name, and I didn’t like being addressed by my last name either. I still hate this to this day. That’s why for a while, when signing up for something, I was trying the following nicknames in this order:

  • bozhidar (my name is pretty rare, even in Bulgaria, plus there are several ways to spell it in English;1 this meant there was a good chance I’d land “bozhidar” with some services)
  • bozhidarb
  • bbatsov
  • bozhidar.batsov (I rarely got to this one, as it’s quite long and “bbatsov” was usually available)

Over the course of the years I realized this nickname selection process was a big mistake, as people were often struggling to figure out who I was on certain services. They’d expect me to be “bbatsov”, but I’d “bozhidarb” or “bozhidar” there. Messy.2 That’s why I eventually came to accept that “bbatsov” is the one true nickname for me - there are plenty of Bozhidars out there, but it seems I’m one of only a handful of Bozhidar Batsovs (I think there’s only one, besides me). As an added benefit - this nickname is the easiest to type, and probably the easiest to read, as that “zh” in Bozhidar confuses a lot of people.

While writing this post I realized there’s one more feature of “bbatsov” - it could stand for Bozhidar Batsov or Bug Batsov. Many of my friends call me Bug, and I’m 100% certain that if you’re not familiar with Slavic languages it’s much easier for you to pronounce Bug than Bozhidar.

Of course, I do have some secret nicknames that I use in various anonymous contexts, and I have a ton of legacy/failed gaming nicknames - e.g. at some point I was obsessed with “The Lord of the Rings” and I’d often style myself as “elendil”. I also had a few nicknames inspired by WarCraft and StarCraft - I’m reasonably sure that my first email address was alexei.stukov@yahoo.com (followed by lordbad@usa.net). I love a couple of my secret nicknames and their stories, but for obvious reasons I can’t discuss them here.

So, that’s the story of my nickname. It’s a bit boring, just like the nickname itself (if only I were as cool as “Neo”, “ZeroCool” and “Morheus”…), but it’s my story. Frankly, I don’t even know I why I decided to write it. Perhaps it’s because I came to value a lot consistency and simplicity in every aspect of life. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been fascinated by the power of names. I’m sure there’s some reason, even if I’m not sure what this reason is.

  1. My name is spelled Божидар Бацов in Bulgarian and a couple of the letters are tricky to transliterate in English. When I was little we were using different transliteration rules and back then my name was written as Bojidar Bacov if I remember correctly. 

  2. I still regret rage-quitting Reddit with my original “bbatsov” handle, which forced me to become “bozhidarb” when I decided to make a comeback there.