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In SO you are allowed to define and redefine your handle at whim. I myself have done so but I was reading an SO entry from a while back to which the well known Jon Skeet made a comment to which someone responded @Jon... But Jon was no longer Jon he was now (and probably still is) Tony the Pony. Now I know who both these handles belong to but to the SO neophyte there is a disconnect to see comments referring to @Jon but there are no longer any comments by Jon. It's an interesting quirk since Tony the Pony is probably in the top 1% of commentators and answer factories so he has pretty good coverage in the Java and C# worlds.

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Why do people make threads that are so perfect for me while I'm sleeping? –  XMLbog Nov 10 '09 at 12:32
    
No you shouldn't be able to change your name ;-) –  Larry Nov 11 '09 at 5:24
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Since when do discussions have status-completed? Does this mean the discussion is complete or what? –  alex Feb 2 '10 at 7:31

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Like everything else, it should probably be rate-limited. If I've learned anything, it is that unbounded behaviors lead to pain.

edit: after a two-day grace period for new users, one display name change allowed every 30 days.

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Does this apply to Meta too? –  XMLbog Feb 2 '10 at 2:20
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Yes, this applies universally to all sites –  Jeff Atwood Feb 2 '10 at 2:29
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Oops! There was a problem updating your profile: --- Display name may only be changed once every 30 days; you may change again on Mar 4 at 2:33 --- That seems like forever from now... –  jjnguy Feb 2 '10 at 2:35
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Was this necessary on Meta? And even if we agreed on this, are you aware that a bunch of us are now stuck for 30 days with a less than perfect user name? Could you at least make this change kick in, after the next user name change? Sudden changes in policy are kind of disconcerting. –  perbert Feb 2 '10 at 2:47
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Can we tag all future feature-requests as discussions only? –  random Feb 2 '10 at 2:56
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@Cheeso: Speak for yourself. My name is awesome. Urdnot Wrex is the galaxy's best living Krogan. –  XMLbog Feb 2 '10 at 3:19
    
You made your bed, now WAIT I'M STILL POLLYANNA?!?! Oh well. Rule 63 is proven once again. –  Adam Davis Feb 2 '10 at 3:20
    
@Urdinal Krogatiable pose hassat: It might be, but it's way too long to bear for 30 days. –  perbert Feb 2 '10 at 13:54
    
I think it was in November (edit: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19478/the-many-memes-of-meta/…) that I set an over-under on the length of time before name changes would be rate-limited. I picked under a week, so I lose. –  mmyers Feb 2 '10 at 15:48
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This has to be one of the worst policy changes I have seen so far. It simply has no merit at all. –  GEOCHET Feb 3 '10 at 23:51
    
@Jeff, you'll want to mark status-completed on this one also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/29966/… –  Lance Roberts Feb 4 '10 at 0:18
    
You might want to take a look at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/38289/… –  perbert Feb 4 '10 at 18:38

The important thing is that our unique User ID's don't change, i.e.:

http://meta.stackoverflow.com/users/136756

Tracking name changes is probably more critical on sites such as EBay where the display name is the only way to identify a user.

Ultimately the display names on our accounts are just like nicknames and we should be able to change these as and when required.

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I take your point that it creates some oddities. When Tony retires and I go back to being Jon (which I'll probably do some time this week) there'll be a bunch of comments directed at Tony which now seem strange.

I think it's probably best not to worry about it too much - but also to use name changing sparingly. If anyone's confused and adds a comment, the post's owner is likely to be able to set the record straight.

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Is Tony going back to the magic business? or into glue? Maybe a Ginsters? –  Marc Gravell Nov 10 '09 at 6:38
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Into showbusiness, for the 9th Tilehurst Guides panto. –  Jon Skeet Nov 10 '09 at 6:59
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Snow White and the 7 short s? Aladdin's LAMP? –  Marc Gravell Nov 10 '09 at 7:36
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Naughty step. Now. –  Jon Skeet Nov 10 '09 at 8:08
    
@Jon got my point but others seem not too -- it just happen to be @Jon also as I was reading an answer by @Eric Lippert on integer division and rounding –  non sequitor Nov 10 '09 at 11:28

It should be just as easy to change your online name as it is to change your real-life name. In the US, all you need to do to legally change your name is... start using a new name!

For example, if I want to go by Johnny instead of John, I could.

If my Fiancee wants to change her last name she should be able to.

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What is in a name? Your reputation follows you no matter what you change your name to, as do your questions and answers. IMO, Jon Skeet changing his name to Tony the Pony might have made OPs look at his answers before judging them by his name alone, which is a good thing. Most likely Tony got the upvotes anyway.

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Wait.. what happens if I change my name to Jon Skeet? Will I get teh reps? –  Quibblesome Nov 10 '09 at 19:22

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