# My username is forced to change because it is close to that of a well-known user

I received suddenly an email from the Moderation Team:

Hello,

We're writing in reference to your Mathematics Stack Exchange account:

https://math.stackexchange.com/users/798202/user798202

We reset your display-name as amWily is very close to amWhy that of a well-known user. Now, even identical user names are possible, but due to the rather distinctive nature it was noteworthy enough to contact you, mostly to understand your intent.

Regards, Mathematics Stack Exchange Moderation Team

I have NEVER EVER expected that I must not use a username that is close to other users' ones.

During almost the same time period of getting the email, which disrespectfully questions my intent, four of my answers were also downvoted.

Why?! I did not do anything but answering a few questions to help others. Why am I treated so badly simply because my name coincides with another user's one?!

• They seem to be expecting a response from you as to why you chose that username. – Matt Samuel Jun 20 '20 at 14:02
• Regarding the last part, if you believe that the downvotes were an act of "target-downvoting" (as a revenge perhaps) I'd encourage flagging. – Zacky Jun 20 '20 at 14:26
• Your username used a format similar to the well-known user amWhy, with a variation that replaces "Why" with "Wily". The mentioned user is known to be targeted by some users, usually by means of downvotes and malicious edits. – user279515 Jun 20 '20 at 16:19
• In light of that, it's not unreasonable for your username to have attracted attention. You may have chosen your username innocently, but in this case it might be better to speak to the moderators to try and figure out what ought to be done. I don't think it will be fruitful to open such a Meta discussion, especially one written emotionally. – user279515 Jun 20 '20 at 16:21
• Well I see nothing abnormal here since many answers have been downvoted. math.stackexchange.com/questions/3727007/… Plus your answer has been upvoted three times and is accepted as an answer. Maybe you're talking about another question or answer ? – Aryadeva Jun 20 '20 at 17:10
• Tangential topic, but the downvote on the answer posted on the closed question might be due to some users trying to discourage answering questions that shouldn't be answered in the first place (thus, closed). – Andrew T. Jun 20 '20 at 19:14
• I think some very important info can be found in the OP's profile (as we were suggested to check more often during the CoC changes...) and I quote: "おはようございます My name is Amily." (emphasis mine) – Calvin Khor Jun 21 '20 at 4:01
• @CalvinKhora as a matter of fact the sentence "My name is Amily" was not present when the message quoted in the meta post was written. I did however translate the bit in Japanese. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 11:00
• @quid also good to know. For the lazy, its just good morning ('just', given how charged any information could be in this Question) – Calvin Khor Jun 21 '20 at 12:53
• To make it clear, your username is not problematic because it resembles another one. It is probematic because it can (and will) be seen as an attempt to attack that other user. We could also discuss whether amWhy has a trademark on this particular spelling of "Amy", but that is rather irrelevant here. The debacle with Monica Cellio made it a popular fad to edit one's username to make a statement. That has never been an issue, because the target of those protests was not any single individual. This is different, and I want to commend the moderator team for wanting to nip this in the bud. – Jyrki Lahtonen Jun 21 '20 at 18:09
• I think it is better to respond to mods in private and bring it on meta only when things are not resolved to your satisfaction. Also you should compare the tone of the mail from mods with the tone in this post. – Paramanand Singh Aug 3 '20 at 4:28

There is no problem in itself with close or identical usernames. There is a quite active user quid on money.se that is not me. There are any number of users named John, some of them likely actually named John others just picking it as some common name. And so on.

This was also said in the message: "even identical user names are possible."

The message does not in itself amount to a prohibition of the use of this display-name. As mentioned in comments it is a request for information. Reasons why the question is asked are also suggested in comments.

The situation seemed unclear. Thus, we decided to ask for clarification. Maybe the choice is independent, maybe it is related. If it is related, it could be related in a positive, neutral or negative way.

It's not quite the same if you pick amWily because you admire amWhy's contributions or if instead you pick amWily to spite amWhy. Or, for something in the middle, noted the name amWhy found it a neat idea and modified it for your purpose not thinking it would cause much issue.

We also can not know in advance if this is very relevant to you. I used an SE site for a quite a long time without particular display name. At some point I was encouraged to pick one to avoid confusions (back in the day there was not even a numbering). So, I came up with quid. Further, had somebody told me back then we prefer you not use quid for some reason, I might just have changed to something else. If you'd want me to change now, that'd be a bit different, but then you just joined.

If it is very important to you to keep the name, we will need to see how to proceed. But if it is not, then maybe you could do us a favor and just pick something else (rather than to insist on your right to pick your displayname) and we all move on.

In advance, we cannot even know if it is important to you whence we started an exchange about the subject.

The issue with the votes is orthogonal. If the votes are due to the usename issue that's not alright even if the usernamme would be found to be problematic. But there are many 'if' there. Better to focus on one subject at a time.

• What is the purpose of knowing the intent? It doesn't seem like that matters or would change anything. – user29123 Jun 21 '20 at 7:10
• @PaulPlummer maybe the word is not ideal, the idea was to get some understanding for the reason for the choice. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 11:02
• “…maybe you could do us a favor and just pick something else…” This whole sentence makes it sound like the username amWily creates a great inconvenience for you, which it doesn’t. It’s similar but clearly different from amWhy; personally I don’t struggle to recognise the difference between the letter h and the letters il, but I suppose I can’t speak for others and their reading levels. – gen-ℤ ready to perish Jun 21 '20 at 15:57
• @gen-zreadytoperish as a matter of fact the existence of that username does create a lot of work for me. You are free to think that this should not be the case, but this does not alter the fact that it does create it. So, yes, if there is no very strong reason to keep that name I think it should be changed. Thus, far I do not see any good reason not to change it. Mostly it all seems to create a spectacle on meta for no good reason. Of course this is likely entirely non-intentional. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 17:36
• @gen-zreadytoperish you know full well that I had about 20 inbox messages on this post here. That is the work. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 17:41
• I guess what I was getting at is that the reason/intent doesn't really matter; if for whatever reason the name is unacceptable then that is it. There is a history of being very lenient on choice of names, which I am pretty sure you have written answers to that effect before, so I am somewhat surprised and find this silly(I don't much care either way tbh). Also, I think the 20 inbox messages is work you/mods created, blaming the OP seems a bit unfair. While we are discussing resetting names I would like resetting names of historical people, especially historical mathematicians – user29123 Jun 21 '20 at 19:59
• @PaulPlummer a couple of points in no particular order. First, of all about half of those 20 messages came from gen-z specifically to whom I was talking and who does not even have any particular stake in this. They flooded my inbox and then a couple minutes later tell me they don't get at all how this creates work for me. Second, OP could have continued the exchange with the moderators rather than voicing their grieve here. They were not suspended or anything. Nothing particularly bad happened to them. Their reaction strikes me as way overblown and frankly does not raise confidence. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 20:18
• Third there is a major difference between display names that are somehow silly, in bad taste, maybe borderline vulgar etc. and a display name that looks like it is directly inspired by that of another user; in particular in a way that can be seen as having negative connotations. Several users confirmed that the impression one can get is that this name was taken to target another user. This is not even similar, it is an entirely different concern. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 20:24
• I don't think that if there is a credible risk that a user of this site is targeted we can just ignore that. The only question is maybe is that risk credible. Well, I would say, definitetly, yes. Some users like gen-z seem to argue there is no major risk of confusion and thus it is fine, but that really misses the point. The first question to ask is: was the choice entirely independent, that is does the choice of this display name have nothing at all to do with the existence of amWhy. Frankly, I find that pretty unlikely and even eg gen-z also did not commit to saying that. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 20:29
• Basically, I just think it makes more sense to just come out and say that the choice of name is perceived as targeting a particular user, and is hurtful, rather than trying to extract some reason (and what reason would be good enough for mods to change the decision) for the choice of name. I also disagree with the whole accepting bad taste names, which I can see amWily as one, but I think that would be a losing battle on my part. – user29123 Jun 21 '20 at 20:38
• I was getting to that @PaulPlummer And as soon as there is a relation, it raises questions, also as to what the point of taking inspiration in another user's name is. If it is done without ill-intentions or even in a friendly spirit yet the copied user does not appreciate it, then the right thing to do is to just drop the matter and to take another display name. The rest is a matter of communication. What you suggest at least implicitly accuses OP more of ill intent than what I wrote (at least that was my intent). With my message they can just 'walk away' from it. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 20:42
• No disrespect or offense intended to anyone, but you cannot ask whether this issue causes fuss to the moderators or not unless you have been in their shoes. @quid your point has been made clear and I see no point -other than fatigue- in justifying your/ the mods' decision in questioning the username – Omar S Jun 23 '20 at 9:55
• @quid I meant that you were asked to justify what happened to the OP and you did answer comprehensively .. my point is that you refrain from justifying yourself further because you already have! :) The objections are becoming more and more emotional and subjective and hence inconclusive.. – Omar S Jun 24 '20 at 20:39
• After reading this answer i wonder why wouldnt the mods team asks for clarification before changing their username. That seems quite rude. – Arctic Char Jun 28 '20 at 12:39
• The by far likeliest scenario, essentially a certainty by now, is that it is just an attempt at trolling. I won't go out of my way to reason with a troll. If ever they want a constructive exchange about it, they first explain what they were doing. I opened up a channel of communication. That's all. As said maybe the word "intent" was not ideal but ultimately it would not have changed anything. To reiterate, it was a near certainty that the account was created for the purpose of creating problems, and it only became more certain ever since. But I won't write that in the message. @ArcticChar – quid Jun 29 '20 at 10:45

I disagree with the moderators’ decision. I don’t have trouble distinguishing them, and this user is obviously not trying to impersonate amWhy.

There’s also the issue of precedent. As quid brings up, there are many users named John. Will we start allowing only one John?

If you agree that amWily should be allowed to keep this username, upvote this post.

• (-1) Every time I saw the user name "amWily", I thought "There's someone having a go at amWhy, for some reason." Maybe they were, maybe they weren't, but either way, it's a nuisance for there to be such a close and apparently intentional clash of names. The moderators were right to question the choice. – Calum Gilhooley Jun 21 '20 at 17:16
• I emphasised the word 'apparently', in order to make it as clear as I could that I was not taking a position on whether the clash was intentional! I wonder whether even one person other than you misunderstood my meaning. – Calum Gilhooley Jun 21 '20 at 17:22
• @gen-zreadytoperish "Why do you think the clashing of the names is intentional?" Are you sure the choice of the username amWily was entirely unrelated to the existence/presence of amWhy? – quid Jun 21 '20 at 17:29
• @quid Okay. I don’t know if there’s a connection between amWily and amWhy as there’s no evidence. Either way, a connection isn’t a problem. The problem is if any trickery occurs, intentional or unintentional. I can distinguish them just fine, and it sounds like Calum Gilhooley can too. There’s no evidence of intent to trick either. – gen-ℤ ready to perish Jun 21 '20 at 17:42
• @gen-zreadytoperish no it is also a problem if one user chooses a username with the intent to annoy another user. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 17:43
• @quid True! There’s no evidence that I see of intent though. – gen-ℤ ready to perish Jun 21 '20 at 17:44
• @gen-zreadytoperish the first evidence is the low likelihood of it happening entirely independently. That's the difference to 'John.' However, ultimately the intent is even somewhat irrelevant. The perception is present as several users, also entirely independent ones, confirmed. Once this is present it is a problem that should be addressed in some way. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 17:46
• I don't need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the username was chosen with malicious intent. If it objectively creates issues and there is no very good reason to keep it, it changes. Those resisting this change should ask themselves what actually motivates them. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 17:48
• Is it still not clear? Really? I don't want to comment again, but here goes, just one more time. I have no idea if there was any intention to needle amWhy. It looked that way to me, and evidently it looked that way to others, too. Even the mere fact that it looked that way is, self-evidently, a problem. Therefore the moderators were right to question the choice. There still seems to be no answer to their question, just a lot of premature sounding-off and inaccurate attribution of opinions. Please don't make me comment again! I'm no mind-reader; nor are you reading my mind correctly. – Calum Gilhooley Jun 21 '20 at 17:52
• Let me add one more remark. The not searching for evidence and just changing the name is potentially also in OP's favor. The door is open and they can just walk away from the name and that's that. By contrast if we are pushed to prove malicious intent and do so the consequences would be more severe. We did nothing that effects that user particularly negatively. – quid Jun 21 '20 at 19:02
• gen-z Don't be daft. Impersonation is not the problem here. – Jyrki Lahtonen Jun 21 '20 at 19:45
• barely +1, I just feel like forcing OP to tiptoe around a user, if OP is innocent, can only breed resentment, so I think I would not have taken the same actions as the mods. – Calvin Khor Jun 22 '20 at 2:55
• Amily doesn't resemble amWily in any way, @Calvin Knor. The user, on their profile, as you note, claimed their name was Amily, after they got the message from the mods. Then why did they not choose @Amily as a username which is clearly different than @amWily, no? Why the lowercase am, and insertion of the uppercase W, in the middle of their claim name? ... If you can't see the tenuous nature of this users proposed and defeated username, then you are willingly wanting to remain hoodwinked. – amWhy Jun 22 '20 at 16:51
• By the way, I'm very very very amused that both @amWny and @quida$\le\ge$ mispelled my (user)name, in the context of this question no less! Shall I assume it is intentional? Or should I assume good faith of all actors involved? – Calvin Khor Jun 23 '20 at 2:34

I feel very frustrated.

My username contains no curse words, and I am not at all making fun of other's names. Only a police officer would ask someone's "intent" like that. The email message makes me feel very disrespected.

After getting the email, I informed the Moderator Team that my name is Amily. I also added that extra info to my website profile. I could have not disclose such information at all. I think this would be more than enough to clarify the situation even if there happened to be any misunderstanding.