University of Wisconsin–Madison
How do I do that?

Can You change your NetID?

Have you ever wondered if you can change your NetID? You can if:

  • You’ve changed your name.
  • Your NetID is considered commonly offensive.
  • Your NetID contains the #1 as it is often confused with the letter L.

You cannot, unfortunately, request a specific NetID, even if one of the above applies; your new NetID will also be computer generated. See the  “Changing your NetID” policy document on the Knowledgebase for specifics.

Confusing NetIDs? Offensive NetIDs? How does that happen?

Because the process that creates NetIDs is automated, it can sometimes result in NetIDs that are confusing or offensive.

While a lucky few have their last name as a NetID, many more of us have a NetID that contains two or more of the following:

  • first initial
  • middle initial
  • last name
  • numerals

Making a new NetID starts with a person’s last name. When the last name alone doesn’t result in a unique NetID, an automatic process combines elements from the above list until a unique NetID results. For example, making Buckingham U. Badger’s NetID might look like this:

  1. badger: Is it unique? If yes, this is Bucky’s Net ID. If no, add his first initial.
  2. bbadger: Is it unique? If yes, this is Bucky’s Net ID. If no, add his middle initial.
  3. bubadger

If those steps don’t result in a unique NetID, the process adds a digit, skipping 1s and 0s because they can be easily confused with letters, for example, badger2, bbadger2, bubadger2 and so on.

As you can see, you aren’t necessarily stuck with your NetID, and can request a new one in some circumstances.

Credit where due: Thanks to DoIT’s Jon Miner for providing expert content and explanation for the NetID creation process.