I've been using the handle
sonyaellenmann across various platforms for a long time. At first because
sonyamann was always taken, and later because I wanted to be consistent. I went through a few pseudonyms at various points, but mostly* I've standardized on my full real name. I value privacy deeply, but usually I'm an open-book sort of person.
That said, I've never been thrilled with
sonyaellenmann. It's clunky. I often need to say my handle out loud when meeting new people, since Twitter is my version of LinkedIn. The spelling isn't 100% intuitive, etc. So I've been brainstorming alternatives for a while.
You know by now that I settled on
sonyasupposedly. The length isn't any better, but at least "supposedly" is always spelled the same way. I can tell people, "Sonya with a Y," and then I'm done explaining. Plus, as is crucial, I like
sonyasupposedly! It's tongue-in-cheek, but not excessively silly.
Securing the Namespace
- I switched over to @sonyasupposedly on Twitter and Instagram.
- On Twitter, I also registered @supposedlysonya and preserved @sonyaellenmann (both direct you back to @sonyasupposedly), which led me to discover that Twitter's implementation of 2FA is atrocious.
- I'm active on Reddit, but you can't change your Reddit username. I'm sticking with /u/sonyaellenmann, although I snagged /u/sonyasupposedly just in case.
- Likewise on Hacker News, where historically my handle has been exolymph. The HN moderators will change your username on request, but it may take a couple of days (or weeks) before I focus on getting that done.
- For email, I'm going to keep email@example.com around, but my new default will be firstname.lastname@example.org. Why not email@example.com? I have to tell service workers my email on occasion, or write it down by hand. It needs to be short and extra easy to disambiguate.
There are probably additional accounts with usernames that I should change, and I'll do that when I remember their existence. (I checked Tumblr off the list already, but I barely use Tumblr these days.) Updating my Keybase profile sounds like a hassle... I'll get around to it at some point.
Website Refresh 👀
My new homepage is this website — Sonya, Supposedly. (In case you're wondering, I also bought
wwww.supposedlysonya.com; it redirects here.)
My old website is extant but archived, with a global banner stating that my activity has moved. It's cheap as hell to host and requires practically zero maintenance, so it will stay up indefinitely.
From Plugins to Ectoplasm
At the same time that I've been mulling over username ideas, I've been itching to redo my website.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I spent five years hosting my own WordPress install. It forced me to get comfortable with the command line, because I moved from a conventional consumer host to NFSN. I'm grateful for that — I remain a reluctant novice, but less ignorantly so!
However, eventually I got fed up with the cruft of WordPress. I began to want a faster website, a more secure website, and most of all a website that wasn't irritating to manage. And I felt that way before Gutenberg became the default WordPress editor!
I considered using Jekyll or Hugo, especially since I've become familiar with Jekyll at work. But honestly, I haaaaate managing images via GitHub, and I like illustrating my blog posts. An interface closer to WYSIWYG is ideal for me, which is why I stuck with WordPress for ages. I know about Siteleaf and Prose, but both still entail more futzing around than I want to do.
My website is an important professional asset, so a near-perfect user experience is worth paying for. I chose Wordpress competitor Ghost, a nonprofit-stewarded project that I've been hearing about online for years.
I appreciate that Ghost is open-source software, unlike Squarespace and its ilk, because that greatly reduces switching costs. If I had to move this website, or if Ghost suddenly shut down, I wouldn't be screwed. But since Ghost is available as a service, I can rest easy in the meantime!
At this point in my life, I would rather pay someone else to deal with problems that aren't my specialty. Unless the solution is outrageously expensive, and Ghost isn't. The only other platform that I seriously considered was Write Freely, but Ghost is a better fit for my main website.
So far, I'm quite pleased! The default theme is sensible, no-nonsense, and has a lovely clean design. I'm mildly annoyed by the hovering header that pops up when you scroll down (see screenshot below) but it's not a dealbreaker.
The editing environment is perfect for blogging: WYSIWYG but with Markdown! Medium-esque minimal UI without Medium's general effrontery!
I'm also satisfied with Ghost's speed. Although a flat-file CMS or static site might be even snappier, Ghost bundles a CDN into its hosting service. Again, making that sort of thing work is their comparative advantage, not mine.
www.sonyaellenmann.com (Only Sorta)
I followed CogDogBlog's helpful tutorial to convert my old website from WordPress to static
.html files. Site Sucker is an amazing tool, invaluable for keeping all the links intact, and a breeze to use!
I tried the whole process with Exolymph's website first, which was smart. I didn't mess things up too badly, but I'm glad that I did a dry-ish run. (A damp run?)
It turned out exactly how I wanted:
The one lingering question is my newsletter, which is accessible both at
newsletter.sonyaellenmann.com. When I left MailChimp for Buttondown, one reason was the ability to use my own domain. I can point
newsletter.sonyaellenmann.com at whatever I want in the future, since I'm keeping that URL, so moving the newsletter doesn't feel urgent.
*I used to have the GitHub account @sonyaellenmann, but I've since lost access to it by forgetting what email address it belongs to. I've tried all the ones that I can remember using over the past few years, and still no dice. Hence I'm @sonyamann on GitHub. Maybe I'll change that too at some point, but I mostly use it with coworkers or Zcash community members who mainly know me as @sonya from the forum, so... whatever. I did grab @sonyasupposedly on GitHub out of caution.