For a site that has been around almost 20 years, usernames on Yahoo are a pretty picked-over field.
But Monday, the company started dispersing new usernames to people who requested ones they wanted but were already taken. Last month, Yahoo said it would would be recycling usernames on accounts that have been inactive for a year, and it let people pick five top choices.
Having gone through the names and determined which were up for grabs, Yahoo said in a blog post that it would be notifying users who made requests that match a newly free username Monday. If none of the five turned out to be available, that user is being added to a new Watchlist feature that will keep tabs on desired nicknames for three years. Those who already picked their top five are being moved to Watchlist for free, but signing up for Watchlist now will cost latecomers $1.99.
The move is a welcome one for users who want to shed a clunky or puerile username, and it underscores Yahoo's efforts to modernize its image under Chief Executive Marissa Mayer. Under her leadership for more than a year, Yahoo has been putting more emphasis on mail, search, and other tech-focused areas, as well as making a bigger push in mobile. It even has been unveiling a series of new logos inspired by "a renewed sense of purpose and progress at Yahoo" since Mayer took over, according to Kathy Savitt, Yahoo's chief marketing officer.
As part of the username recycling program, among the most popular names that users sought were David, Michael, and Alex for men and Maria, Jennifer, and Jessica for women, with Batman and Superman also among top-ranked choices. Should the user behind email@example.com go inactive for a year, the new Watchlist will notify the next person in line and reserve it for 14 days.
The policy raised security and privacy worries when it was announced. Google, for example, does not recycle usernames for security reasons, but Yahoo said its process to safeguard personal information was foolproof.
But let us know, whoever gets the firstname.lastname@example.org handle, if you stumble upon the location of the Bat Cave.