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I found a SO-user today with a display name almost identical to my own, merely misspelt. Since I have been a registered user longer than the other user I suppose the I possess the right to my nick and the question arises what can I do, if anything, to reclaim my honor?

I am by no means an authority around here and the other user probably didn't know about my existence while chosing display name. Furthermore I am not very concerned about the issue and my question is more out of curiosity: what does the community think about "name thefts" (intentional as well as unintentional)?

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First step is to obtain all proper copyrights, trademarks, patents, etc., on your name, its spelling, and close derivatives, and then present Stack Exchange with a cease & desist order regarding other so-called users infringing upon your rights. –  Anthony Pegram Jun 21 '11 at 13:26
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Name rights go to the person with the higher reputation. Get to work ASAP! –  jmfsg Jun 21 '11 at 13:30
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Have you considered changing your own name to something unique? –  Bill the Lizard Jun 21 '11 at 13:31
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... like "Bill the alligator" –  jmfsg Jun 21 '11 at 13:33
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Your name is missing the ® –  random Jun 21 '11 at 13:40
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How is "Adrakadabra" almost identical to "Avada Kedavra"? –  Pëkka Jun 21 '11 at 13:41
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@Pekka: All your name are belong to us. They're just my name, in various states of horrid misspelling (no, really, how did you manage to mangle my name to that?). –  Piskvor Jun 21 '11 at 13:52
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This is a legitimate discussion. There's no need to close it. –  Lance Roberts Jun 21 '11 at 15:19
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5 Answers 5

up vote 17 down vote accepted

In general, there's nothing you can do. If it's an impersonation, you could make a case (and this is especially important for, say, if someone is daring enough to impersonate a site moderator) if they're actively trying to pass themselves off as you. But in any other situation, I doubt there's much that can be done, or even should be done.

Take Will as an example. That's a common name. It's also the name of a moderator on Stack Overflow (two, technically, just only one as far as the actual display name). We can't really call it name theft if someone picks a name like Will, can we?

When you are dealing with multiple users that have the same name (which, by the way, sharing the same display name is perfectly acceptable), simply make sure to assert which one you are, and if you get an accusatory remark you can always show your profile and post history to clear your own name.

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Specifically in this case: the problem with picking names out of books is that, well, others also read those books, and they also pick names out of them. I remember this one time at a SF&fantasy forum, we used to have twenty "Aragorns" and ten "Striders" bickering for nick originality around the time the first LoTR movie was released.

Unless you're J.K.Rowling, good luck proving the originality of your name.

In other words:

  • it was never actually yours to begin with
  • different, even unrelated, people do share the same names (and nicknames for that matter)
  • you are not a unique snowflake (and thus not exempt from above)
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All those non-unique snowflakes must really have a hard time! Luckily there's no one with my name out there! –  Joachim Sauer Jun 21 '11 at 13:57
    
@Joachim Sauer: I'm off to link you to this question ;) –  Piskvor Jun 21 '11 at 14:24
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So, you mean you own that name?

I could find in Wikipedia like this.

enter image description here

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Names are not Unique. So I advice you to use a nice avatar so people know who is who.

It the other user copies your avatar that's probably a sign of misuse. But I don't think that will happen. (And if, yo can flag or contact the team).

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Just roll with it. If you get to the point where you're so famous on SO that people are lining up to impersonate you, you can complain to the moderators -- until then, it's just a coincidence, and it's totally allowed. I'm sure you're an awesome guy, but I haven't heard your name whispered with the sort of breathy awe that people reserve for someone like Jon Skeet. Not unless they were killing someone with magic, anyway. (Fun fact: You can do that with Jon's name, too.)

Besides, "Avada Kedavra" is a well-known part of pop culture which you hardly own the rights to; it's not at all surprising that someone else liked it. Be happy it wasn't your real name. This guy has my exact name, and worse than that, I think he may be smarter than me. But I didn't freak out about it, just high-fived him and moved on. I'd advise you to do the same.

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that Justin Morgan is sharp. Thinking about hiring him. Not you, the other one, I mean. :) –  Jeff Atwood Jun 29 '11 at 10:31
    
@Jeff - I think this is where I raise my fists and scream "Justin Morgaaaaaaan" like William Shatner at the end of Star Trek II. –  Justin Morgan Jun 29 '11 at 14:01
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