People sometimes ask why my username is fanf (e.g. or etc.). It is because my full name is “Frederick Anthony Nicholas Finch” so my initials are “F.A.N.F.”. It is conveniently unique (ish). Note that fanf is pronounced as one syllable (i.e. not “fan-eff”).

My first name is “Frederick” because it’s a family name: for seven generations the first child in my family has been a boy called Frederick Finch (though the middle names have varied). One of my forenames is “Nicholas” in memory of my father’s half-brother, Nick Tomalin, who was killed in the Yom Kippur War when working as a war correspondent. (Nick was the first husband of the biographer Clare Tomalin.) “Anthony” is my given name, though I usually abbreviate it to “Tony”.

Sometimes my username is fanf2 instead of fanf. This is my Cambridge University username: the current Cambridge policy is 5 to 7 characters comprising your initials plus a distinguishing number allocated first-come-first-served, and the number starts with a digit greater than 1 to avoid confusion with letters. (The policy has been different in the past, but the current one is good enough to have remained stable for many years.) I use fanf2 elsewhere when fanf is already taken, e.g. on GitHub and Hacker News.