“Not Happy New Year”

I can never over-state the importance of the display name of an Instant Messenger (IM) in the current age. People change their MSN Messenger or QQ display name on daily basis, if not on hourly basis. By looking at the display name of my friends on MSN Messenger, I have some brief knowledge about

  • Whether they are happy?
  • What they are focusing on?
  • How they need help – it is a personal ad platform that people ask for referrer for a job, or ask for a job, or business
  • Contact information. Many people always include all their contact information.
  • Whether they moved
  • Joke of the day…

My Experiment

Since I started blog, I tend to do something in “long term”. This time, I did an experiment of how important the MSN Display Name is.

My experiment was, keep the display name unchanged for half an year!

In Jan 1, 2006, I changed my display name to

Jian Shuo Wang – Happy New Year

After that, I didn’t change it. I got incredibly many people complaint to me that I should not be that lazy to keep the display name out of date. In June, I changed the display name to

Jian Shuo Wang – Not Happy New Year


Jian Shuo Wang’s display name on Sept 14, 2006

I will keep this version until the new year of 2007.

If you ask me what is special in 2006? My answer is, I didn’t change my MSN display name for the whole year (or only once). This is at least something very special for me in 2006.

People’s Reaction

During the conversation with my friend, I discovered that if you have an out-of-date display name, people will think:

  • You are lazy.
  • You are extremely busy
  • You don’t use MSN Messenger often
  • Something wrong with the MSN Messenger system

Of cause none of the above is the real reason. I am just testing people’s reaction to it and have some idea about how important it is to change MSN display name frequently (and the impact of not changing it).

The experiment has run for too long – 267 days since starting, and still have about 100 days to finish. How crazy. When someone start to plan for project that last for months, or years, does it mean he/she is growing old?

11 thoughts on ““Not Happy New Year”

  1. It is a very Chinese thing to do, changing name and display. Westerners would think that you are very scatterbrained and fickle. Of course it seems to be traditional for Chines to adopt different names and personas. Very confusing for the rest of us who are constantly wondering , why? What would businesses suffer if they were constantly changing their logos and market identity? Many pay megabucks for infringements. Pick a name and display stick with it! ^.^.

  2. JS:

    MSN Messenger Live has an option for other users to rename their friends. If you rename the person, you never see what nickname they have changed. I prefer real names as I have over 300 contacts and it gets pretty confusing.

    My friends that are Chinese including foreigners that are similar to Chinese (like the owner of http://www.shanghaiguide.com) is ALWAYS changing their nick names. My foreign friend that is Chinese changes his Chinese name almost on a weekly basis. I can’t read Chinese so it gets really confusing. I have now permanently changed his name to my preference on Messenger Live.

  3. Dear NOt a Happy New Year

    I laughed out loud when I saw your experiment and its results. I also could not believe you have IKEA in Shanghai – that is a bit depressing!

    We are coming to Shanghai tomorrow from the UK. Is there any nice concert or event that you would recommend?


  4. Jianshuo, you are a “foreigner” in your own country :-)

    Such behaviour of alternative creative intelligence is very uncommon in China.

    But – this is in fact what makes the world interesting !

    Innovation and creativity.

    Recently, I saw an article of “4.4 million chinese and indian students were educated from universities in 2005, where EU only made 2.5 millions”……

    But WHAT are the value of those 4.4 millions – all simply just learned to read books and know them from beginning to end, but not able to think logically…

    In Asia universities : sit, read, listen, go home and study, exam, finish.

    But no development of your mind.

    My wife wants to study in Europe now.

    She’s fed up with the university system in China.

    Applying for a job in the West with a chinese university degree is useless.

    They demand thinking people.

    Go on with your creativity, Jianshuo !

  5. If you have contact on a occasional basis with people on msn , they will tend to comment on your display name if it tends to have an outdated message dating from long ago. Such as example like the one you had, mine was I passed my driving test which dated was due pass 3 month and people kept asking me different questions why i still had it.

    On another topic Jian Shuo Wang. I was wondering if you could help me? I want to purchase this item on a chinese site, but everything is in chinese and i dont understand a word of it, i have tried calling them but none of their staff speak english. IF you can ,Please add my email address on msn messenger if you can help with the translation , i will glady appreciate it. I know you said , you did not want contacts but im am tearing my hair out and dont know what else to do.


  6. I am sure someone on this blog is willing to help you out. Do you have a public email address that I can help you to publish either on this site, or language exchange category on Kijiji?

  7. Oh my goodness, this is my first time on your site and I LOVE you !!! I don’t at all mean to offend you (sorry if I am) but how come Asians (Chineese in particular) seem so much smarter? The little ones to…is it in the genes you think, or how your culture raiaes you? Either way…I respect you guys, and LOVE the website !!

  8. ………p.s. Who cares if someone blocks you on msn. If you don’t hear from them in a long time, isn’t that hint enough

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