Acceptable username policy

Acceptable Usernames for CSE accounts

See also Account Names FAQ.


  • Almost everyone at UNSW will have a UNSW Login ID, called a zID. Most people will access CSE computer systems using that zID.
  • CSE operates its own computer system with CSE usernames or login account names. Someone's CSE username matches to their CSE email address, home directory path and web page URL.
  • CSE is moving to UNSW's zID/zPass authentication generally, and this particularly assists in integrating across a range of UNSW services.
  • CSE is planning to dismantle its mail system, new people should be encouraged to use their email address.
  • Staff and researchers have a sensible requirement for email accounts and web pages that incorporate their name rather than their zID.
  • UNSW has named email accounts for staff (
  • UNSW has named email accounts for students (

Policy Description

Most people at CSE will simply use a CSE account name which matches their zID. Some people may choose a username which is derived from their actual name. That is known as a named-account. Such usernames are usually initial + last name or first name + initial. Other forms are rarely allowed. Some holders of a CSE computer account may not have a zID so will be given a CSE named-account. Aside from those, all new accounts will be set up with the zID as the primary name.

People who get Named-accounts

CSE staff and visiting academics (exceptionally, Higher Research Degree students) may request a named-account from CSE System Support (SS). This will be set up as a username alias with the zID as the primary username.

What is a valid Named-Account Username?

Those who qualify for a named account or an alias can select an account name according to these rules:
  1. the username must be at least three characters long. For ease of use, a maximum of 8 characters is recommended.
  2. the username must start with a letter, must be alphanumeric only and must be all lowercase. Punctuation characters are reserved for the mlalias program.
  3. the username must reflect and be derived from the user's first and last names as they appear in the user's account. The accepted forms are:
    • first name plus initial of last name, in either order
    • initial of first name plus last name, in either order
    • initials of first, middle and last names, in that order
    • first name plus last name, in that order, if the resulting username is 8 characters or less
  4. if the user's first or last names are long (8 or more characters), they may substitute a diminutive (first name only) or the first syllable of the name for the full name. Diminutives are well-known short forms of names, such as Rob for Robert.
  5. the username must not equate to only one of the user's names, no matter how rare the user deems their name to be, except in the case where the user only has one name.
  6. the username must not be a nickname, a dictionary word or potentially offensive, or conflict with an existing username.
In some cases, a desired username may already be taken. To generate a list of available, acceptable usernames, log into a CSE lab computer or server. Run: /usr/local/lib/ Firstname Lastname New staff or visitors who can show they have an established internet identity that differs from one of the accepted options may request SS to give them this identity as their username, provided it meets the other conditions. (For the purposes of this policy, a staff member is a person who has a continuing or fixed term appointment with the School or a person with a visiting academic appointment.) If SS and the user cannot reach agreement on the proposed username, the dispute may be referred to the CSG manager.

Existing accounts

If you already have a named-account then present policy is to not change it unless you request a change. System Support will not make your zID your primary account name yet. If you have an old, CSE student account name (four letters + three numbers) you can continue to use that. No new account names like that will be issued.

Who This Policy Applies To

These people are entitled to a username based upon their actual name (a named-account):
  • academic and general staff
  • academic visitors
  • people without a zID
These people should just use their zID as their CSE account name:
  • postgraduate research students
  • undergraduate thesis students
  • tutors and demonstrators
  • student representatives
  • student society executives (CSEsoc, CSE Revue)
  • Co-op and summer research scholarship students
Student mentors are not presently given named accounts.

Who Maintains This Policy

CSG, under delegation from the CSE Computing Committee. See Facilities Committee minutes from 1999. The original version of the policy was written to cover the transition from usernames based upon student numbers and is archived here. Since then, UNSW has moved back to using public student (and staff) numbers again.
Last edited by crh 25/08/2016

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