I am in the process of importing data from another application to ExpressionEngine. I know that EE expects screen_names to be unique as of Sept 2012.

The question is whether I have to make the username unique too or if I can use a combination of first name and last name (e.g. "johndoe") risking that there might be more then one "john doe" in the imported data.

Thanks for any hints.

4 Answers 4


Yes. If the username isn't important, I've used this for unique usernames:

<input type="hidden" name="username" value="whateve_{current_time format="%m%d%Y_%G%i%s"}">

This would typically be used in a member registration form or any other add-on that handles the registration process. Just hide the input so the user never sees the field.


Yup; a username is required and must be unique.

  • A good option is to have the users email address or similar as username when you are doing an import. Or to echo out a random string generated by PHP or similar. Nov 28, 2012 at 20:20
  • Off topic comment, why do screen names need to unique? I thought only username and email had to unique. Dec 4, 2012 at 15:36


If you have access to email addresses, they might be unique and could be used as usernames. Some member management add-ons offer this option as well.


after some research I can confirm that the following 3 fields need to be unique

  • username
  • screen_name
  • email

thanks for the tip with the current time - this and a random string is a good way to go about it.

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