Facebook announced today that they are allowing users to pick usernames. The primary use of these seems to be vanity URLs, so you can put http://www.facebook.com/JohnDoe on a business card instead of http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=123456789.

You can only pick one username, and once chosen, it is permanent. This is a lot of pressure.

I think I’m going to go with my full name, “matthew.simoneau” and not the “matthewsim” I use on all other websites, and even in the URL my personal blog. In addition to keeping with my usage elsewhere, the shorter version is quicker to type (especially on my tiny iPhone keyboard), and makes it unnecessary for others to navigate all the vowels in my last name when typing it in. But facebook has always been a real-name culture, and is used for both personal and professional reasons. And I don’t want some other jerk to take it and show up as the “first hit” when someone typed in my real name.

To dot or not to dot? The dot in “matthew.simoneau” definitely helps with clarity, though you could probably write it as “MatthewSimoneau” and it would still work (they haven’t made any statements if they’re going to be case sensitive, case-insensitive, or case-preserving). It would probably move me up in the search engine rankings for “simoneau”, since the word is standing alone. To my eye though, the dot in the URL is about as cool as a hyphen in your domain name. But based on the screenshots, it seems that they’re suggesting the dots as the preferred standard. I’ll probably go with the dots. I hope they make the usernames period-insensitive like Gmail. That is, “MatthewSimoneau” would map to the same ID as “Matthew.Simoneau”. Or at least, as soon as one is registered, block the other and all other variations. I can’t find any info on this.

They are going to distribute them Friday night at midnight on a first-come-first-served basis. See you there!