Unicode Usernames in Web Applications

I just went through and tested WordPress, Pownce, Twitter, MSN Spaces, and they all failed.

I wanted to create a username of ‘βυrτοπατοr’ which is my normal username but using the Greek alphabet.

Specifically the characters beta, upsilon, tau, omicon, pi, and alpha.

However, none of these sites would work with Unicode.

There’s one that worked like a champ though:

200802171918

Tailrank worked just fine! W00t! Of course I designed it to work fine with all unicode characters.

It’s actually pretty cool. Back in the day MySQL didn’t support unicode. Internally the DB stored content as latin1 and the JDBC driver does decoding/encoding before it reaches the client.

There are some downsides to this approach. Specifically, internal MySQL functions don’t see the data as UTF-8 but I never use these.

Update: It works with MySpace but I can’t create a root URL with these.


  1. We don’t allow it because we use usernames as subdomains and we’d like to keep that simple. However if you want to use those characters in a URL, blog name, post, etc it’s fine.






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