Dear Prudence weighs in on … SSIDs?


Obvious confession: Yes, I read the “Dear Prudence” advice column on Slate; call me the name of your choice.

And a warning: This blog post not only addresses the unusual topic -- for Prudie – of SSIDs (as opposed to, say, more typical fare such as STDs) but it also focuses on a particular SSID that pairs a common first name with a reference to male genitalia. Read no further if such references offend your sensibilities or you have anything remotely important that you should be doing instead.

Still with us? Here’s the item:

Q. Why, o, Wi-Fi: Our house is next to a multifamily building occupied mainly by students. Their Wi-Fi networks are generally visible to us. One of them has a pretty vulgar network name, “Tom’sHuge [expletive]” That wouldn’t bother us personally, but by coincidence, my name is “Tom.” Any time someone comes to visit and tries to get on Wi-Fi they see this vulgar SSID and they think this is my network and my idea—to say nothing of other neighbors who can see it and might well think it is mine, too. Kind of embarrassing! Would I be out of line to leave notes in the neighbors’ mailboxes asking the responsible party to pick a different SSID? Also, is this an opportunity for Prudence to make a definitive pronouncement on the etiquette of SSIDs?

A: Ruling the first: Anyone who thinks it’s funny to name their network “Tom’sHugeEtc” is going to think it’s funny that one of his neighbors is also named Tom and is embarrassed by it. Asking them to change it, especially via anonymous note, is almost certainly doomed to failure. Tom is a common enough name, and you live in a large enough building that I think you don’t have to worry about visitors assuming you’re trying to advertise your genital length (and if it ever comes up with one of your guests, you can always smile sheepishly and say, “No, not that Tom.”)

I have to agree with Prudie on this one. Not only would the notes be unlikely to provide the desired relief, they would tempt others to rename their own Wi-Fi connections in honor of Touchy Tom.

That was sound advice. But the columnist couldn’t leave well enough alone. She continues:

Ruling the second: Humorous SSIDs are never a good idea, and are almost always deeply unfunny. Yes, this includes your hilarious “PrettyFlyForAWiFi,” “Loading …” and “Get Off My LAN.”

I’ll agree that most are not funny, but that shouldn’t stop people from trying.

I’ve always liked “FBI Van 1” and all of its variations, for example.

Let’s agree to leave poor Tom alone, though.

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