Sometimes I change my username on the MSE site. and it cause a problem. for example for my older comments on posts when I discuss with other users in comment section we normally tag usernames in the comment. but now with my new username I see some older comments that other users mentioned my older username.

It makes things confusing for everyone who read the discussion because they see a username mentioned that not exist anymore. I think it is a good idea to solve this issue somehow. For example, if usernames mentioned in the comments automatically contained with a hyper link to the homepage of the user could be useful. Or if mentioned name in the comment automatically could change, to me it was best solution (although I think it is harder to bring this feature to the site).

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    $\begingroup$ Related posts on this meta: To whom am I replying? and other questions linked there. There are declined feature requests on Meta Stack Exchange: Change all @username references in comments when a user changes their name? and @<name> comments should link to the named person's profile (like twitter). (Again, you might check also the linked questions for some related discussions.) $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ There is also this feature request on Meta Stack Exchange (at the moment, it has score 26 and no status tag): Auto-expand @username in comments to keep the username up-to-date. And among the linked questions, I have noticed this: Have a user's previous name show up as a tooltip. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak The "@" might get autoexpanded, but there is not always an "@", and the system will never be able to scan all the text (including in answers) to look for possible usernames, that might have changed. Changing name breaks things, one has to live with that. Deleting an account breaks things too, incidentally. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, @Jean-ClaudeArbaut. Users should consider the consequences of changing user names, particularly when done so frequently. "One can change one's username, but one needs to live with the consequences." After all, some users change user names precisely because they don't necessarily want to be associated with a previous account. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 28, 2021 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Comments are tangential to the site, and are disposable: unlike posts, there's no public revision history, and they can be deleted without warning by their authors, by moderators, and in response to flags. (I stole that wording from here, which has lots of other information about comments.) It is helpful to approach comments by assuming that they will be deleted in a week, which usually means "don't answer only in the comments", but here means "it doesn't matter that the conversation doesn't make sense now, because it wasn't important anyway". $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Jan 28, 2021 at 22:16

2 Answers 2


As a moderator and many others have noted, comments are ephemeral in the StackExchange scheme of content. So avoid leaving important content only in Comments.

Significant (non-tangential) ideas should make their way into Answers or (in many cases) into to the body of the Question through appropriate edits. What is being said, rather than who says it, is most important to the Math.SE mission.

Given that philosophy, it is not to be expected that much development effort will be spent on automated mechanisms to maintain old Comments.

It is understandable that a user may want to revise their username or avatar, and this for various reasons best known to the individual user. And it is likely that one might want to ping the author of an older Comment in an exchange where some usernames might have altered with the passage of time.

However the author of any existing Comment will always be visible at the end of that text. The link shows the current username, and while the flow of the exchange might be a puzzle for subsequent Readers, the information expressed by the relations between Comments would be the ephemera of the ephemeral.

For that reason I do not support automatic rewriting of embedded @username text, as also this might conflict with the desires of those who've intentionally made name changes.

  • $\begingroup$ Oh I didn't know comments are ephemeral. how long it last to have a comment? $\endgroup$
    – Etemon
    Jan 29, 2021 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ There is no set time limit. But Comments serve to facilitate improvements to posts (both Questions and Answers), either by pointing out a gap/missing info or by suggesting a useful approach/link to research. Removal of dated Comments is left mostly to the judgement of their respective authors. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Jan 29, 2021 at 17:38

I down voted your request because I don't think we should encourage changing usernames, or even facilitate it. I think usernames should be pretty darn stable, so that people will realize that their actions create the reputation for their user account.

  • $\begingroup$ People have the right to change their username or their profile picture or Bio... $\endgroup$
    – Etemon
    Jan 28, 2021 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, they totally have that right. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2021 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, they have that right. But they need to know "issues" you mention might occur, Soheil. The choices each one of us makes has consequences. You need to live with them. +1 @JonathanZ $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 28, 2021 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC I had to change my username because I was being harassed by a user on this site who found my socials and dmed me inappropriate content. There are valid reasons to change usernames. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2021 at 3:58
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    $\begingroup$ @DonThousand - That sounds awful; sorry it happened to you. And yes, I agree, that's one of the many valid reasons to change one's username. The OP has been a member for 15 months and says that "sometimes I change my username". My answer was to point out that I use people's usernames to know whether or not it's worth engaging with them; people who rotate usernames make that harder so I don't want to encourage it - -though it looks like people are disagreeing with me. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2021 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ @DonThousand I can completely relate. There are legitimate reasons one may choose to change usernames. There is a certain anonymity one can fall back on, but not if it is too easy for harassers to discover one's new user name, as proposed above. Changing usernames is not inherently bad, only when usernames are treated like disposable apparel: that is what I meant when diccussing the issue in this post. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 29, 2021 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ Incidentally, a high number of users changed their names after Monica Cellio debacle to express their outrage. $\endgroup$ Jan 30, 2021 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ Hopefully events like that will be rare, but I'd consider that also to have been a valid reason to change usernames. :-) $\endgroup$ Jan 30, 2021 at 16:01

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