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I see lots of "user312" and such, they are similar and make things difficult. I think it would be nice if we encouraged these users to pick a more personal name.

We already have a bar that shows the first time, and Pascal suggested that we repeat the reminder when they get more reputation.

I think that a more stackoverflow-y way of handling this is to give reputation points to people the first time they change their username. If we want to be picky about it, we could restrict it to changes that don't match the user[0-9]* pattern. This sets the right incentives, in a way that I think will benefit everyone.

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One thing I would prefer is they should have at least 250 rep before being offered this. That way we don't have the issue where you can gain 500 rep (Ok, maybe I exaggerate) just by completing a set of tasks when you first join. –  HAL 9000 Mar 1 '10 at 23:47
    
I don't think that somebody would change his name to user1337 in order to impersonate another and either get away with it or do much harm. –  perbert Mar 2 '10 at 2:12
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On meta, can we give points for people keeping their name for any duration? ;-p –  Marc Gravell Mar 2 '10 at 6:13

4 Answers 4

There is already an incentive to change your name, its called the Autobiographer Badge.

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The assumption being that the user has read all the badges. I didn't know about all of the bronze badges until I had at least 1000 rep. –  HAL 9000 Mar 1 '10 at 23:43
    
Then add a pointer to the badge in the existing reminder... –  dmckee Mar 2 '10 at 0:06
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@Yacoby: And your assumption being that they care about reputation at all, and are not just posting a single question to abandon the website afterwards. –  Andrew Moore Mar 2 '10 at 0:35
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@Andrew It isn't the person who posts one question and then leaves that this change would (IMHO) be aimed at. It is the people who keep coming back but still doesn't change their name –  HAL 9000 Mar 2 '10 at 10:54
    
@Yacoby: If they keep coming back and don't bother changing their names, chances are they don't care about the reputation either and just wants other people to figure out their problems for them. I'm personally weary of answering questions with high-rep anonymous user because I feel that I am not doing them service by answering a question in which they usually did not put any efforts into solving it themselves. Those users will never learn. Anyway, to come back on the subject, reputation still won't make them change their name. The only way they will it if it would be mandatory before posting. –  Andrew Moore Mar 3 '10 at 12:46

That seems like it would penalize people who thougtfully choose an appropriate name at the first. We wouldn't want to change our names, and thus would not be able to get those points.

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As good as this idea sounds, I'm afraid you'd be rewarding people for changing their name to items that don't necessarily merit a reward. Try out some random words in the users page to see the kind of names some people switch to after joining.

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What's wrong with a random name (hey random!)? Anything's better, so long as it's somewhat more memorable than user12381293812. The point is to make it easier to refer to someone - even if you do call yourself "blah" (stackoverflow.com/users/202052/blah) –  Dominic Rodger Mar 2 '10 at 7:36
    
I'm referring to names like "turbofart," and equivalents. Does that really merit some reputation? –  Jonathan Sampson Mar 3 '10 at 1:12
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A username like turbofart definitely deserves some rep. –  random Mar 5 '10 at 2:29

a great idea - if rep points are deducted for changing it again; double on meta!

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1. I don't think that changing your name should affect your rep, in either direction, that's what badges are for. 2. We now can't change our nick more than once a month because of complains from a really small minority that found periodic name changing on meta (it was never a problem on any of the other sites) obnoxious. –  perbert Mar 2 '10 at 2:11
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@voyager it was VERY obnoxious –  Jeff Atwood Mar 2 '10 at 5:00
    
@Jeff, do you agree with Steven that rep should be a currency to be able to modify your profile? –  perbert Mar 2 '10 at 7:33
    
@voyager: don't read too much into this; the point was how annoying the name-chameleons were. –  Steven A. Lowe Mar 2 '10 at 15:23
    
@Steven: they still are annoying. The ones who change their names across all sites, or don't link profiles anyway. Most of the "name of the day" folk actually provided some way for us to keep track of who they were, but there are a handful of users who've "rebranded" themselves here and left no trace of their previous identity... –  Shog9 Mar 2 '10 at 18:34
    
@shog, they could be anyone... anyone! –  jmfsg Mar 3 '10 at 0:19
    
@shog: i was referring to the name-of-the-day folk; i've heard of having an identity crisis, but that was ridiculous –  Steven A. Lowe Mar 3 '10 at 1:10
    
Who am I!? –  perbert Mar 5 '10 at 4:12
    
@voyager: someone with a disturbing fascination with cartoonish unicorns, apparently! –  Steven A. Lowe Mar 5 '10 at 17:27

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