I just took a look at the users-page. I am surprised that we can have a couple of users with the same username. Is that by design/wanted or a bug? Or something else? See userpage for "math"

Note: I don't know whether "bug" is an appropriate tag...

• It can cause chaos when using comment-replies, see here. But there are definitely many users having the same username. – Martin Sleziak Nov 14 '13 at 18:29

To borrow from the accepted answer to this MSO question:

People have the same names in real life. Isn't [math.SE] real life?

In short, this is by design, as this MSO answer makes somewhat more clear. The unique identifying characteristic of a user is the user number; for me it is 8348. The "username" is more akin to a "display-name". (In the US this would similar to the difference between one's legal name (not necessarily unique) and one's SSN (unique).)

For the interested: 100 most common usernames on math.SE (data.SE query)

• Sorry, I don't like this answer. Why not just state that "it is intended" - or "not intended". As a programmer since 1973 I'm used to that the software does what we want and the question is: what do we want? (btw: in "real life" we get increasingly individual identifiers, some codes... but I don't like to argue for behave of our self-made forums just from some casual (positive or negative) conventions in "real life") – Gottfried Helms Nov 14 '13 at 17:51
• MSE is not real life. In real life you'll never see a Potato explaining mathematics. If you do, you should probably find the nearest mental hospital and check in... :-) – Asaf Karagila Nov 14 '13 at 18:13
• @Asaf: When I traveled in villages in Africa, there were a lot of names to people which had a meaning for the parents - and were not taken from some shaped/normed allowed list-of-names. Also nicknames (in the real life (sic!)) are a nice interpersonal cultural accessoire, which I won't like to lose... So the reference to the real-life is somehow ambiguous in answering my question... – Gottfried Helms Nov 14 '13 at 18:22
• @Gottfried: No, I agree with that. I'm just saying that if you go to your kitchen, and there there is a potato just sitting on the table and it starts explaining mathematical ideas to you... then you've probably gone Godel. I mean Nash. No wait, temporarily mentally incapacitated. Insane [in the membrane] might be the proper medical term. :-) – Asaf Karagila Nov 14 '13 at 18:25
• @Arthur: whoa I didn't expect that there is such a list. Well - besides of all "real life": in "real MSE" it is already common, so that seem to be no bug but consent. So this question seems to be answered. Thanks for clarification – Gottfried Helms Nov 14 '13 at 18:26
• @Asaf - thanks to your nice clarification. Just 45 minutes ago I had some potatoes sitting on the table near me and I had to prepare them... If one of them had just begun to tell me about a solution for the fractional iteration of the exponential function... perhaps this would have saved its life and had made it to give it a honor place near my desk...:-) (Not to mention the huge amount of reputation in my personal view!) – Gottfried Helms Nov 14 '13 at 18:31
• Interesting query. Among the 100 most common usernames, there are exactly 4 female ones: Anna, Sue, Jessica, Sarah. – user103254 Nov 14 '13 at 18:37
• @Asaf: Would you rather have a potato explain set theory, or a Herr Professor Doktor Wolfgang M? – user642796 Nov 14 '13 at 18:38
• @Arthur: Well, the question is moot since the latter doesn't know any set theory to begin with and the former can only speak to me through my stomach, where it quickly dissolves before we can get to discuss the actual set theory. – Asaf Karagila Nov 14 '13 at 18:43
• Ahh, the legendary W.M.! – The Chaz 2.0 Nov 14 '13 at 18:58
• Why are there 28 users named ro44? – Gerry Myerson Nov 15 '13 at 5:54
• @GerryMyerson: Upon a cursory look it appears that someone created 28 unregistered accounts with the same information. No ro44 appears to have accessed the site since Dec 2012. – user642796 Nov 15 '13 at 6:26
• I find it funny that "user" is not among the "100 most common usernames on math.SE". – user89712 Nov 16 '13 at 18:54