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This may be to much of a subjective question, but I'm not sure. I'm setting up email for a new business, with a new domain, and a new email server (google apps). Are there any recommended standards for email that are widely followed? At my day job we use first.last@domain.com, at my last job we used [firstinitial][lastname]@domain.com... Is there anything that is widely followed, or anything I should take into consideration?

I know this isn't really a server admistration question, but I'm sure it's something that a lot of you deal with.

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This absolutally is a server admin question. Unless you work for the most organised company on the planet, chances are it's you who will choose the naming scheme for the emails and usernames! –  Mark Henderson Oct 6 '09 at 20:25

9 Answers 9

up vote 4 down vote accepted

What we did was we generated a username that was 6-8 characters long. If it can it'll use [first-initial][lastname up to 7 chars]. If they had a shorter last name, it'd take more of the first name than the first initial. I believe there was only one or two people whose usernames were below 6 characters due to short names. I really didn't like this system, as it made any sort of emailing without LDAP lookups difficult.

I personally like first.last@place.com. Simple, easy to remember, and pretty standard throughout the email world. Alternatively, as you said, [first-initial][last name]@place.com is also widely used. It doesn't really matter as long as they're consistent, once someone has seen one they can reasonably send them to the right place with a name.

If you're still worried about it, set up a directory and configure LDAP in their address books.

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I simply don't understand the mentality of organisations that use anything other than firstname.surname@domain.com or firstname.InitialMiddleName.surname (in cases of conflict). –  Izzy Oct 6 '09 at 18:57
    
The reason we used the system we did (implemented before I ever worked there) was to avoid conflicts in almost all situations as the 6-8 character window could simply be shifted to [first-2][last-6] and such. It wasn't friendly but it worked. –  Xorlev Oct 6 '09 at 19:03
    
@Xorlev - SAMAccountName != emailaddress. We have an 8 character SAMAccountName, but a fully descriptive email address. –  Izzy Oct 6 '09 at 19:05
    
I didn't mean SAMAccountName. We used the same system for email. It was not under my responsibilities (nor ability) to change to something better. –  Xorlev Oct 6 '09 at 19:20

We generally provide aliases as [firstinitial][lastname]@, [firstname].[lastname]@, and [firstname][lastname]@. If the username (or login name) was different from all of these, we'd make an alias for that, too. We generally set the [firstname].[lastname]@ as the default from: address for outbound messages.

When it's me, I also try to snag dave@ since it's mean to make people try to spell "Mackintosh", almost nobody gets it right.

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You could also set up aliases that include your name misspelled. –  wfaulk Oct 6 '09 at 18:53
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@wfaulk - That's a bad idea. You are pandering to, and condoning, bad practice and laziness. People should type the correct email address. Can you imagine scaling your suggestion to an organisation with 15k+ users? –  Izzy Oct 6 '09 at 19:00
    
At certain sizes, it's sometimes easier to move to subdomain'd email addresses. e.g. first.last@it.corp.com. –  Xorlev Oct 6 '09 at 19:07
    
I can't comment on the size issue -- at some point presumably yes the organization is subdivided and you'd have separate teams overlooking separate subdomains' email service. But I am yet to be with a company that big. –  David Mackintosh Oct 6 '09 at 19:36
    
@Izzy: I meant it as a joke. I forgot the ;) –  wfaulk Oct 6 '09 at 21:31

I personally prefer to configure my mail server for both (this may be less fun if you're paying per email address) - but since there's no functional difference between the two, it makes everyone happy. You'll always have people who very strongly like/dislike one method or the other.

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This is what I did with my setup. I find it more professional to have the full name, but like the option to shorthand the email. –  Ben S Oct 6 '09 at 18:24

Just don't do [firstname]@domain.com unless there is no chance you'll ever hire another employee. Having 3 Donnas at a company is confusing enough without having one of them be Donna@domain.com and the others being [firstinitial][lastname]@domain.com because you now see why [firstname]@domain.com is a bad idea.

Also fun is families that use the same first initial such as j[lastname]@domain.com. You get a Jack, Joy, jessica, jennifer, Jane chain going and you quickly have to either figure out if you want to do [firstinitial][lastname]2@domain.com or [firstinitial]2[lastname]@domain.com or break out into [firstname][lastname]@domain.com. Even non related employees with the same first initial + same last name gets into this mess and its common in even small/medium companies.

You may also get Manager's/Executives that are tired of people choosing wrong when the [firstinitial][lastname]@domain.com that might be theirs isn't and demand that you break convention to keep their email in a different part of the alphabetical email list.

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Also to note that there may be a security risk with only first names and they are easy SPAM targets when only a first name is used. –  keithosu Oct 6 '09 at 18:56

There's a little-known actual "standard" by the World Electronic Messaging Association for this. It's essentially the firstname.lastname@domain setup.

These kind people have provided a well-thought out set of rules for employing this standard:

http://www.bestsoft.ch/Software/microsoft/exchange/dlfiles/e-mail%5Fnaming%5Fstandard.pdf

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Why not make the default email address the employee number and then throw in some standardised aliases such as first.middle-initial/s.surname@domain.whatever etc. That way each mailbox will have a clear single owner that will 'survive' name changes (weddings/divorces etc.) but still allow the user to 'mess' with the aliases as needed.

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My default email address at work is "William.Faulk@…". People frequently send emails to our other William that are intended for me.

You might want to consider a last-name-first approach, since last names are more likely to be unique than first names. You probably want a variety of aliases, too, but for people who are too lazy to read their autocompletes, keying off of last name probably makes more sense.

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Don't do [firstname][lastnameinitial]@domain.com - eg. chrisf@example.com.

We had this at one place I worked and got lots of spam addressed to "chrisa", "chrisb", "chrisc",... well you get the picture.

I'd go with [firstname].[lastname] personally.

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In college we had a "christ" on one of our systems due to the scheme above. –  Gerald Combs Oct 6 '09 at 19:52

As you can see, while nearly everyone has a recommendation, there is certainly no standard. What I see most commonly, and what I personally prefer, is first.last@domain.whatever. Most people find this very easy to read and certainly removes any ambiguity about who's email address it is. Where I now work the company "standard" is firstlast@domain.whatever. Hard on the eyes, to say the least. If you don't already know the person's full name some are difficult to decipher. It's on my list of things to change.

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