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Occasionally I will see a post with the author displayed like this:

user

The username is not clickable, but I don't know of any way to make a profile "private." So is this just an anonymous user who only entered a name when asking the question (can you do that)?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

This is a user who does not exist. There is no profile link because there is no profile. Anonymously asking a question still creates a user, albeit unregistered.

Posts by non-existent users occur from one of three conditions:

  • The user was deleted after posting it.
  • The user existed and posted on one site, and then the post was migrated to a site where the user does not exist.
  • The post has been disassociated from the user account by a diamond moderator.
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I like the suspense in this answer ;-) – Arjan Dec 13 '10 at 22:31

It's either:

a) a user whose account has been deleted but where the posts remain

or

b) a user who doesn't have an account on the site to which the post has been migrated.

If you shared a link to an example I could tell you which - though it's more likely to be the latter.

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Yep, it was a question that was migrated – Brian Dec 13 '10 at 22:22

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