The case for emoji usernames

We’ve all been there. Staring at the account creation fields of an email or social media site, racking our brain for a username which is available.

First name… taken.

First name with surname initial… taken.

Favourite fictional character… taken.

I remember creating my first email account with Hotmail in 1997. I was a teenager and an avid reader of Spawn comics at the time, so my first choice was going to be… it was taken and I had to add random numbers to the end in order to secure an address which was available (don’t worry, I have long since moved to an email address that won’t raise eyebrows at the top of a CV 😉). Given it was difficult to secure an account with a clean naming convention 25 years ago, you can imagine how much worse it is today.

Even if you find a great username that is available on one platform, what are the chances the same name is available across all platforms you want to use? Will someone who knows you as @Jane1390 on Twitter realise that you are also @JaneN90 on Instagram?

Imagine if you could have a single username that would identify you on and log you into social platforms, that could be used as a wallet address for receiving payments, or which when entered into a browser address bar directs someone to your website. The benefits of having a universal username as part of your online identity seem obvious.

There are already several companies trying to establish just that.

Nametag claims to offer a “universal” alphanumeric username, minted via a smart contract on Ethereum. The problem? There are only 5,000 available right now and they are expensive, which means they aren’t accessible to everyone. They’ve allowed owners to choose any name which means the usernames will clash with those already existing on other platforms, making them unlikely to be integrated natively.

ENS makes things a little more interesting by providing the option to register an identity with a ‘.ETH’ extension. Less likely to clash with usernames on existing platforms, but on the other hand, who wants the shortcode for a cryptocurrency hanging off the end of their online identity?

There are a number of other systems similarly aiming to provide a global and decentralised naming service, from Handshake, to Butterfly Protocol, and Unstoppable Domains, among others.

One option that stands apart from the others is Yat. Instead of alphanumeric usernames, Yat allows you to create a username by choosing a string of between 1 and 5 emojis. When you first hear about using emojis to create a username it may sound a little strange. I know I was skeptical the first time I saw it and I have seen the same first reaction from many other (eventual) converts.

But sit on the idea for a little bit.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what are 5 emojis worth? What story can you tell? What can you say or express about yourself using emojis? How many alphanumeric characters would it take to communicate the same ideas that you can with just a few emoji characters?

Yat has only been around for 9 months and we’ve already seen some very creative ways that people are using Yats to generate emoji usernames and identify themselves online.

Yat creation dashboard

Some Yat owners have built strings of emojis which represent people when you stand them upright, referred to as Adoptables within the Yat community (e.g. 😎👕👖👟), others are stringing emojis together to represent underlying words (e.g. 👽⭐☁️) or to create a palindrome (e.g. 🧡🐴🏀🐴🧡). We have even seen projects combine Yats, e.g. YatReviews (✨😂✨) & Yats not Yachts (✨👀✨) started the Where You Yat podcast, which merges their two personal Yats into ✨😂✨👀✨. The shape of emojis are being used to alphabetically spell words or represent numbers (e.g. ✌️ = Y, 🍀 = 4). This barely scratches the surface of the creativity that has been ignited by those using emojis for their online identity.

Many high profile artists, musicians, investors, and influencers are also finding new ways to use their Yats. For example, with a combined following of ~10 million across their Twitter accounts alone Steve Aoki & Armin van Buuren just released a new track which uses a Yat to express the name (Music Means Love Forever, 🎵🧡♾️) and this emoji combination is now splashed across their website (using the official Yat graphics!), it is being printed on physical merch to distribute to fans globally, and was also the inspiration for the banner at the top of this article 😉.

Steve Aoki's website

Here are a few quick observations on the well considered way that Yat Labs is handling the responsibility of this new emoji username format:

  • Even with the string capped at 5 emojis (long enough to get creative, short enough to be memorable), there are ~19 trillion possibilities, meaning there are plenty available
  • Tiered pricing makes it accessible to anyone from $4, reserving shorter Yats at higher prices to help fund the ongoing development by Yat Labs
  • Careful consideration has been given to the emojis available to ensure broad device compatibility and to prevent homograph attacks using emojis which are similar in appearance (a problem plaguing Handshake and other username systems)
  • Peer emojis will allow Yat owners to exchange the emojis in the Yats they own where peers are identified (e.g. a Yat containing 🏈, will allow it to be interchangeable with 🏉)
  • Yat is working with partners to integrate their emoji usernames natively, for example Opera has already introduced this on their mobile browser (enter just emojis on the address bar and hit go, you will be taken to the Yat Page or wherever that Yat is directed to go online)
  • The user experience to purchase and setup a Yat has been carefully crafted, it’s easy for anyone to use their imagination and build their emoji username, and Yats are also being progressively decentralised

Emojis are are also identifiable by beings beyond the human race, as valko from the Yat team points out on Twitter, animals (and even aliens from a distant star cloud 😉) can also identify with these characters.

In addition, unlike using an NFT avatar to represent yourself online, having a string of emojis enables someone to embed this identity into almost any online text field.

We tip our hat to the pioneers of emoji innovation at Yat Labs.

At 👽⭐☁️ (Alien Star Cloud) we believe there is an opportunity for those who identify with emojis to experience even greater personalisation and connection through the creation of new artistic styles that extend well beyond the playful yellow emoji faces and colourful animals, objects and scenes we are used to.

While keeping their appearance inline with the original intent we want to create art which complements your favourite emoji usernames, including custom emoji sets (like our Dark Emojis) and backgrounds. Art that brings you closer to seeing your Yat as part of who you are. We stand ready to help grow this ecosystem.

Author: Joseph ✨🙃✨