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Here's another potentially dumb question. As I go through old comments, I find myself to have replied to @users who seem to have changed their name. Anyway, while I can guess to whom I was speaking, sometimes I have no idea.

Is it possible to change the @username in the comments when that user has changed his/her/their handle?

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  • 26
    $\begingroup$ The feature request Change all @username references in comments when a user changes their name? is tagged (status-declined). $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for pointing that out @MartinSleziak. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Gordon
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ The juxtaposition of the question title and the gravatar of Grampa Simpson yelling at a cloud is magnificent. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 18:43
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Now I will only be able to read Ron's posts hearing them in Abraham Simpson's voice... $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 4:07
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: I promise, the next question I ask will have the title, "Should we be like the boy, or do we like Roy?" $\endgroup$
    – Ron Gordon
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 4:26
  • 19
    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: When the gravatar changes, your comment will need to be auto-updated by the system.... $\endgroup$
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ @RonGordon, (or rlgordonma - your old username) I hope you are aware of this, I found it useful in such cases: normalhuman.github.io/oldusernames (Though running it on your username in Main Site took a while, with couple of wrong names, I guess due to deleted comments, still I was able to get some useful info!) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ @JessePFrancis: oh my! Thanks for pointing this out. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Gordon
    Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ @RonGordon Is that a The Simpsons reference? $\endgroup$
    – BCLC
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 4:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BCLC: yes indeed. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Gordon
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 5:45
  • $\begingroup$ @RonGordon How dumb of me to not google without quotes $\endgroup$
    – BCLC
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 5:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BCLC: hulu.com/watch/24537 $\endgroup$
    – Ron Gordon
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 15:55
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ There are some funny-looking comments out there due to the fact that one of our most prominent users used to go by the name "moron"... :-) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ @matt That GR avatar is never changing if I can help it. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Gordon
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 15:34

3 Answers 3

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This doesn't exactly answer the question, still posting my comment to the question as an answer, for future reference:

Anyway, while I can guess to whom I was speaking, sometimes I have no idea.

You might find this tool useful to find to confirm your guess:

Old usernames by almost Living Forever NormalHuman (This tool helped me confirm my guess that his display name was changed last week, making this answer almost rhetorical!)

Edit: This tool is not accurate, for example, running it on Ron's profile gives few wrong names like "Chris", may be due to deleted comments, and note Asaf's comment below!

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    $\begingroup$ It should be pointed that this tool is not entirely accurate. I never used a different username, but it shows all sort of usernames when you put in my profile link. Including "downvoter" :-D $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf, I mentioned that in the comment, missed it in the answer! $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ It says I have been Brandon, NeilTraft, user34377, minthao_2011, user52187, everyone, Q, LordBellington, Arthur, engi, and, get this: NormalHuman. "not entirely accurate" would seem to be an understatement! $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson, something useful is better than nothing! $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ Tool works perfectly for me. $\endgroup$
    – bobbym
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Gerry: Had I known you were a Lord, I would have been much more polite when we met. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf, not possible. You were the very model of politeness. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ Link on Stack Apps has a screenshot: Find old display names of a user. Maybe somebody would be able to make a working version from the stuff available in the Wayback Machine here and here. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that the link in the post is dead. I have tried to recreated it based on what I found in Wayback Machine. See the answer to this question on MathOverflow Meta: Recognizing identifiable users changing user names. (We'll see whether somebody will have some suggestions how it can be improved.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 10:32
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Since the link in the accepted answer seems to be dead, here is a solution using SEDE. We're looking at comment replies used below posts by a given users and after comments by a given user. This is by no means foolproof, but usernames of the given user are certainly more likely to appear in such replies.

To check for some specific user, simply run this query with that user's id. (For finding userid, see this post on this meta or a corresponding post on Meta Stack Exchange.) The queries are adapted from similar queries that I created for checking possible username of a deleted user.

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An additional method to find prior displaynames is querying the PostHistory table. It holds for some events a JSON blob with the userid and displayname at that time.

For these events the Text column hold info on the user that voted:

  • 10 Close
  • 11 Reopen
  • 12 Deleted
  • 13 Undeleted
  • 14 Locked
  • 15 Unlocked
  • 19 Protected
  • 20 Unprotected
  • 35 Migrated away

Here is that SEDE query

;with voters as
(
Select users.UserId
    , users.UserDisplayName
    , CreationDate
From PostHistory
cross apply openjson(Text, '$.Voters') 
   with ( UserId int '$.Id'
            , UserDisplayName nvarchar(150) '$.DisplayName') users
where posthistorytypeid in (10,11,12,13,14,15,19,20,35) 
and Text is not null 
and len(text) > 0 
and users.userid = ##userid?1233251##
)

select UserDisplayName
     , min(creationdate) [first seen]
     , max(creationdate) [last seen]     
from voters
group by UserDisplayName
order by min(creationdate) desc

Keep in mind SEDE is updated once a week on Sunday.
Use the educational SEDE Tutorial written by the awesome Monica Cellio.
Say "Hi" in SEDE chat.

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