29th June, 2014

My quest for a Twitter username

Lately, I have been getting more and more frustrated with Twitter’s inactive account policy.

Their policy states:

What is Twitter’s inactive username policy?

We encourage users to actively log in and use Twitter when they register an account. To keep your account active, be sure to log in and Tweet (i.e., post an update) within 6 months of your last update. Accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity. Please use your account once you sign up!

How does Twitter determine inactivity?

Inactivity is based on a combination of tweeting, logging in, and the date an account was created. Please note that you may not be able to tell whether an account is currently inactive, as not all signs of account activity are publicly visible.

What if I have a request for a username from an account that looks inactive, but I don’t have a registered trademark?

We do not accept requests for usernames that seem inactive. If a username you would like is being used by an account that seems inactive, you should consider selecting an available variation for your use on Twitter. In general, adding numbers, underscores, or abbreviations can help you come up with a great available username.

Twitter to English translation: “If the name is taken, give up”.

It’s beginning to bug me as there are a couple of usernames which I’d switch to in a heartbeat, but they are taken by someone who either signed up in 2007 and never tweeted, or by someone who has poached the account and is posting nonsensical tweets.

A good example of that is @jdab. I had many conversations with a gentleman from America who owned it, and he agreed he would let me have it. He wasn’t all that Twitter-literate, and had some difficulties. Conversation between both of us diminished, and I gave up on the pursuit. I later went to check the account, and found that it was unavailable and I could not choose the username. I didn’t realise why at the time, but now it seems that he had managed to deactivate his account rather than changing the username – this method puts the username in limbo for an unknown amount of time. Again, I gave up on it and carried on doing what I was doing. Weeks later, I happened to check it again, and found that a spam account has swooped in and poached the username, and is posted tweets that make no sense whatsoever.


Frustrating, isn’t it!? I’ve tried tweeted that account and various others who are inactive to but to no prevail. Up to this point, Twitter haven’t been much help in letting me obtain a desired username. It seems like most of their replies to my tickets are generated responses which don’t fully answer my questions.

Today, I sent in a long and details e-mail and I believe I put up a decent argument. Feel free to give it a read over:


I have been searching the internet high and low for a answer to my question, but I have not come up with a decent answer so I figured I’d contact you directly.

There are a few Twitter accounts that are using usernames that I am commonly known by. However, these accounts appear to be inactive.

It is becoming increasingly frustrating not being able to claim these usernames without going through the costly process of filing a trademark claim.

I know there is no real way of stating who is more deserved of a username, but on first instance it appears two of the three usernames are completely inactive and have been since they were set up many years ago. The third account was actually poached from me when a user agreed to let me use it – it appears to be spam/nonsense being posted.

The three accounts are @jdab (being used every now and again but the tweets not making any sense, looks like some form of bot), @dab and @dabs. The latter two are completely unused.

My issue is that I have a long and difficult to pronounce surname (Dabrowiecki), and a lot of people including my online following have come to know me as the names mentioned above. My website www.jdab.co.uk is a good way of proving that, not to mention the online publications I have been featured on. I am a journalist (editor-in-chief of The Blazon) and have strong connections with large corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and more, as well as being featured on websites such as CBS News, Techmeme and CNET.

As you can probably tell, online identity and branding is key for me as much of my time is spent online and interacting with readers.

I don’t like to moan to you at all but this is probably the only negative aspect I can think of with Twitter – all you need to do is search Google and you can find a lot of annoyed people who would like account usernames that appear to be inactive.

I understand that this is not standard impersonation but I do feel like I would make much better use of one of those account names – just look at my profile (@JDabrowiecki) and you will see how active I am, both for work and play.

If any of these are available to switch, I’d be happy to take them. If I am unable to get @jdab due to it’s current owner, I’d be happy to take @dab. @dabs would be my third choice. I have tried contacting all of these accounts multiple times but none of them ever respond. I’d be happy to pay a fee for any of these names if required.

Please let me know if there’s anything I can provide you with to help my case or if there is anything you can do.


Kind regards,

                Jamie Dabrowiecki

I’m not sure how hopeful I should feel about claiming one of the three usernames, but I like to feel I have a good stance in my argument and I would hope that the human side of the person receiving my e-mail shows through. I have unlimited amounts of praise for Twitter – their service is excellent and something I use daily for work and play, though the username policy is the sole negative aspect I can think of and just by searching through Google I find tonnes of forum posts and blog articles of people with the same issue.

Twitter profile

I feel a good addition Twitter could add is an inactivity timer where after 6/12 months, an account can be put into a state of dormancy where a user could apply for the username and be awarded it if their argument is good enough. A lot of people will say that Twitter will not do this because they want to keep up membership numbers, but this isn’t strictly correct as the original account does not have to be closed. For example, look at what Xbox/Microsoft does with Gamertags – you can choose your own of have a random one generated. If Twitter did this, there would be a lot of happier tweeters.

I’ll keep you guys updated on any responses I get from my support ticket. If you’d like to follow me, my current handle is @JDabrowiecki. Hopefully not for much longer!

Have any of you ever experienced anything like this? If you could claim a Twitter username, what would it be? Let me know in the comments.

UPDATE: Got an automated reply back shortly after – guess what the answer was…


  • I certainly have to agree with this. I’ve had my eye on two names for a long time myself, with the one I really want signing up way back in 2007, posting a tweet and then seemingly disappearing from the face of the Earth.

    It’s a ridiculous policy and one that could easily be fixed but oh no, too much work. 🙁 I hope you get the names you want mate!

  • Not sure if it makes you feel any better, but people who do have trademarked username requests even have trouble getting the usernames from Twitter. 😐 For a while — around the same time they were verifying non-celebrity accounts upon mere request — Twitter would hand over Twitter handles, but they just don’t anymore.

    Because of this, I honestly think Twitter may one day cease to exist. They never clean out their usernames, and the network only seems to work greatly for celebrities and major corporations. :/

    • Thanks for the input, but it doesn’t really make me feel any better! 😛
      In all seriousness, there’s a serious flaw in their username policy that needs to be addresses – I’m sure there would be plenty of happier tweeters if they cleaned out inactive accounts.

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