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What is done to prevent people from changing their display name to another persons', for example Jon Skeet, and then also changing their gravatar to match too? In comments it seems there is no visible differentiator, and the differentiator in questions and answers is just reputation and badges.

This doesn't seem to be a problem for stackoverflow, but I'm just wondering what are possible safeguards against this?

EDIT: Also it doesn't even have to be deliberate, if two people just happen to choose the same display name, and they both participate in the same question/comment thread, that would be confusing right?

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For what it's worth, this falls afoul of the Terms of Service: "Subscriber may not (a) select or use as a profile name a name of another person with the intent to impersonate that person; or (b) use as a profile name a name subject to any rights of a person other than Subscriber without appropriate authorization." –  Al E. Feb 14 at 19:19

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Flag an answer by the user for moderation attention and explain why.

Mods will take a look and determine if the user's name is really Jon Skeet, or he is trying to impersonate somebody else.

Also it doesn't even have to be deliberate, if two people just happen to choose the same display name, and they both participate in the same question/comment thread, that would be confusing right?

Not necessarily. I understand your concern, but you can still hover the user to see the user name, they'll have different gravatars, different reps and in a conversation, you'd realize if there is a big change in opinion/attitude.

On any other situation outside a comments discussion, who you are talking to should not matter.

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In the past it was dealt by flagging for moderator attention

Do you have examples it's happening now or is it just an abstract concern?

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This is just an abstract concern. –  Kyle Feb 5 '10 at 20:01
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Well then, you should flag the question, and add a message for the moderator to take a look at the person to determine if he's really impersonating someone @spi –  jmfsg Feb 5 '10 at 20:03

This issue could be resolved if there was a UNIQUE constraint in the database on display names:

http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/4.1/en/constraint-primary-key.html

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We don't want unique display names, we've been over this already. –  perbert Feb 5 '10 at 22:19
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"Sorry, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, Jason, and Jason, 34 of you are going to have to change your names." –  mmyers Feb 5 '10 at 22:20
    
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In case you are new to meta. We don't 'generally' suggest changing the design of internals of the website. We mostly report bugs (this isn't a bug), tell people how to do things, and request features. Then if the development team wants to implement them, they worry about the implementation, as they know more about it than us. –  Tyler Carter Feb 6 '10 at 1:17
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Could you add some code to better explain your idea? I don't quite understand what you're saying. Sarcasm aside, would it have been hard for you to just say "make display names unique" instead of pointing us to a documentation page? –  alex Feb 6 '10 at 7:01
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@alex: the UNIQUE constraint is one of those secrets that only the top pros know. Another one? GROUP BY. I could give you more, but then you wouldn't buy my book, "SQL Secrets The Top Pros Don't Want You To Know About" –  Kip Feb 12 '10 at 6:07
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@Kip this is some giant conspiracy, right? I knew I was missing something from SQL. –  alex Feb 12 '10 at 6:49
    
@perbert You said "We don't want unique user names". To begin with, who is "we"? Second, was there ever a reason given why you are so strictly against unique usernames? It would help avoiding confusion a lot. Because currently, to be absolutely sure, you would always have to hover over each username to know it's the username belonging to UID 987654. I would really want to know what's the advantage of the current "solution" (since I can't see any at all). Look, it's the Internet after all. First come, first served. If the username is taken, you know you're too late. Sh*t happens. –  syntaxerror Sep 16 '13 at 13:57

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