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Getting around the real name length limit in Twitter

Twitter logoSince I started using Twitter last year I've been especially annoyed with one thing, and that is the arbitrary length limit on the real name field in settings. The field is limited to 20 characters, but my full name unfortunately is 21 characters including spaces. This means that I've had to either truncate part of my name or remove the spacing between my first and last names, neither of which are good solutions when considering one of the main reason for having the real name field at all, namely search engine findability.
As can be seen from the forums at Get Satisfaction, I'm far from the only one having a problem with this, but despite this there isn't any satisfaction to get as Twitter themselves are dead silent on the issue. Luckily I have now discovered a work-around for this limit, published here for the benefit of all those with a "long" name of more than 20 characters!

I got the idea for this work-around when I was once again checking up on the name-issue in the Get Satisfaction forums to see if there had been any new developments. As usual there were no news from Twitter officials, but I noticed a post from @McoreD who claim to have spoken with the Twitter developer who implemented the change that limited full names to 20 characters. That this limit was a late addition is the key bit of information that put me on track to finding a work-around.

This info was significant for two reasons: First of all it meant that the backend database would likely still be able to support longer names than 20 characters, and second it made it a possibility that all of the validation code wasn't properly updated to match the new limit, which is a common programming error when modifying field limits. As it happened both of these assumptions turned out to be correct with the consequence that it should be possible to input a longer real name by simply removing the field length limitation in the browser, which is something you can easily control yourself. As I had hoped this worked perfectly, and I am now enjoying my 21 character real name on Twitter!

Please note that while the fix appear to work perfectly for me with my single extra letter, it might not work with longer names or this could cause weird problems with Twitter or especially with third party clients or services, so use the method below only at your own risk!

Now onto the details of the workaround, which is actually a bit of a hack. There are many possible ways of unlocking a form-field in your browser, but this is the easy way I did it:

  1. First run Firefox with the WebDeveloper add-on installed.

  2. Log in to Twitter and go to the settings page for your account.

  3. While there select "Forms" and "Remove maximum lengths" from the WebDeveloper menu.

  4. Then type in your long real name in the correct field, and simply click save!
After saving you'll see a validation error about the long name, but despite this the name is still being stored for me, so hopefully you too can now enjoy Twitter with your full real name!

UPDATE: It appears that while the long username-change seem to work for a while just after-being applied, it is reverted back to the old name within a day or so. This has now happened to me twice, so the hack unfortunately isn't very permanent. Sorry :-(

!!! WARNING !!!
While this work-around could probably also be applied to the Username field, I would strongly advise against doing this as it could cause serious problems with API-clients and SMS-services that depend on the Username-field being of limited length. Ultimately messing with this could get your account deleted!

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Comments (1)

thank you thank you thank you so much!!! my e was missing all the time and now i have it all!!!! you rock!

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