Handles bring a little taste of social media to MUSHing. A handle is your OOC identity, used across all Ares games. Through your handle, people can identify you as a **player**, not just as a character.
Handles have an @-sign in front to distinguish them from regular player names. I'm @Faraday.
> With a handle, you essentially have TWO names: the *character* name, on your local game, and the *handle* name, which is the same across all games. If you have a staff alt or an alt you use to segregate OOC spam, it is possible for these names to be the same, but they don't have to be.
Why use handles? We've all seen posts like "Looking for SoAndSo from SuchAndSuchMUSH." Games close, people drift. Handles provide tools to help you keep in touch with your friends, and keep track of who's who.
## What about my privacy?
Handles are optional, so if you're really worried about privacy, simply don't create one.
Having a handle does nothing until you **link** a character to it. You decide which characters are linked. Don't want anyone knowing you're playing on KinkyMUSH? Just don't link that character to your handle.
You can also configure a **privacy setting** for each linked character (aka "alt"): Public, Friends-Only or Private. This affects how your handle is used, as we'll see in a minute.
## How do I get a handle?
Handles are created and managed through [AresCentral](/arescentral), a social MU devoted to all things AresMUSH. This server is the central authority for handles, ensuring that handles are unique across all Ares games.
To create a handle, connect to AresCentral and make a character with the name you want to use as your handle. Often people use their wikidot account name as their handle name, but this is not required.
> The character on AresCentral is like your master handle character. You control all your handle settings through that character.
## How do I link characters?
To protect your security, linking is a multi-step process requiring you to log in on both AresCentral and the game you want to link from. This prevents someone from linking characters to your handle without your permission.
For detailed instructions, see [Handle Linking](/handles/link).
## General Features
Some handle features are available on all alts, no matter what your privacy settings are.
### Alt Mail Notification
When you log in with one alt, the game will let you know if your other alts (on the same game) have unread mail.
### Handle Friends
You can add a handle as your friend, and that friendship will carry over across all of your alts (on all games).
friend/add @Faraday --> Now I'll be your friend on all your games
When you log into a new game, you can use the `friends` command to see if anyone on your friends list is playing there (if their privacy settings allow).
Friends On This Game Last On
Jackson 2015-08-06 19:31:33 UTC
Handle Friends With Alts On This Game(*)
(*) Alt visibility is based on the player's privacy settings.
Do not share this info with others.
### Sync Preferences
If you set certain preferences on AresCentral, they will carry over across all of your alts (on all games):
You can turn this syncing on and off on a per-character basis. See `help handles`.
## Privacy-Dependent Features
Some handle features behave differently depending on your privacy settings.
> Remember, privacy is set **per character**, so your handle may be used differently on different characters.
### Public Alt
On a public alt, the connection between the alt and your handle is obvious.
* When you talk on a channel, it shows your handle name.
* When **anyone** looks at your handle profile, they'll see this character listed under the alts list.
* When **anyone** looks at your character's profile (on that game), it shows your handle and public alts on that game.
* When **anyone** adds your handle as a friend, this character will show up on their friends list.
> You can also add regular old characters as friends too - but that only applies on that particular game.
### Friends-Only Alt
On a friends-only alt, the connection between the alt and your handle is only visible to your friends.
* Friends-only alts do not show the handle name on channels, not even to friends.
* When *one of your friends* looks at your alt's profile, it also shows your handle profile.
* When *one of your friends* looks at your handle profile, they'll see this alt listed under the alts list.
* When *one of your friends* adds your handle as a friend, this alt will show up on their friends list.
### Private(*) Alt
A private alt has only the 'General Features' available, meaning that the handle benefits are for you and you alone.
Your handle name never appears, and your alts are not listed - not even to your friends.
### Staff Alt
If you create an alt with the same name as your handle (as admins commonly do), there is not automatically a link between that character and the handle. You still have to go through the linking process.