Your Online Identity

Hello again to everyone who attended one of the two launch events this week! Here’s the first of the online activities we’ll be covering over the next four weeks. This is an important one in some ways, as I’m asking you to set up an account with WordPress, the blogging platform I’m using here to create the programme, so we can interact online! For now, we’ll just be setting up a username so that you can add comments to these posts, but we’ll be returning to WordPress in a few weeks so you can explore whether it might provide a useful way to set up your own wordpress site, whether you want to use it as an online website to showcase your professional profile, or as a traditional blog.

Task: Setting up an account with WordPress

Go to (not, that’s slightly different!) and click on ‘Get Started’.

Wordpress signup

You’ll then be invited to set up an account and an associated blog (and watch the video if you like!). For this week, we don’t want to set up a blog just yet, just a WordPress account so that you can comment on this blog and interact with the other participants. You can set up a blog if you like though! We’ll be looking at blogs more at the end of this module.

Instead of setting up a blog, click on ‘sign up for just a username‘ in the bottom right hand corner of the page:

Wordpress not this

You’ll need an email address, username and password:

Wordpress account

Your Online Identity: Setting Up Accounts.

Before you set up an account, on WordPress or anywhere else, there’s a few things to consider.

  • Longevity. How long will you be using this account, and in what contexts? This affects the email address you will sign up with, which is needed for setting up most online accounts. Your university email account will last only as long as your degree or postdoc contract. If you want to use an online tool or platform over the longer term, then you might like to use a free email address provided by a provider such as Google (gmail), Yahoo, etc. What other purposes might it be useful to have a professional non-university email address for?
  • Username. (this also affects your choice of non-university email address) On some platforms, such as WordPress, you can either use a form of your real name, or a pseudonym (you can also set up more than one account). Which are you most comfortable with, and which is most helpful for professional purposes? Other platforms will entail using your real name, as it would make little sense not to (eg LinkedIn but this means you can only have one account). What are the pros and cons of using your real name, or a pseudonym? For this programme, you might prefer to use a pseudonym to explore the issue, but it is up to you* (*As moderator for the programme, I will need to know who you are to verify that you’re a Cambridge university researcher, but this will be kept confidential!)
  • Consistency. You may want to use the same username across several platforms, to create a unified online presence for your professional work, or for particular aspects of your professional activities. Before you set accounts up, you might want to see what usernames are free across the platforms you will want to use. Namechk will help you do this. Alternatively, you might want to use one username for professional accounts, and a completely separate one for your personal online presence so they can’t easily be associated.
  • Password. Choosing a secure password is very important. We looked at how tricky this is becoming in the workshop, and you might be interested in others’ views on how ridiculous the situation is becoming.  You could use a password generator, follow some simple advice on choosing a password and check how secure it is, or use a secure password manager. Remember not to select ‘remember this password’ on your computer, especially if it’s a shared machine!
  • Personal Information. WordPress doesn’t, but other accounts (e.g. Facebook) may ask you for more personal information such as your gender, age, location, interests etc. Much of this may be optional, and it’s up to you what you choose to reveal, but remember not to choose a password related to any of your public information, as it’s easier to guess! This is the deal you make; in return for free online tools and platforms, your data is used to build a profile of you so that they can target advertising to you. You need to come to a position you are comfortable with, on this issue, whether you opt out or accept the ‘deal’.

Now What? Once you’ve set up your WordPress account, you’ll need to register your username with us (see the How to Join page) so the moderator (me) knows who you are and that you’re a Cambridge PhD Student or Postdoc! We won’t be releasing this information publically, though. It’s up to you if you use a version of your real name or a pseudonym.

Next up: we’ll be discussing our views, experiences and advice on setting up an online identity in the next post, where you’ll get a chance to comment and discuss with others!

Comments or questions on setting up a WordPress account? Either add a comment below (either with your WordPress account, or if WordPress is the problem, WordPress allows you to comment through other online identities, including your email. If you’re really stuck, send me an email (CRSID is hmw51).


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