When a user signs up , their username is something along the lines of "user########"

Granted, in the welcome email it does say something along the lines of "Head over to your user account page to chose a display name!", however only a few people actually read that email.

I'm not saying we should restrict people from changing their display name again in the future - Everyone would still be able to do so. It's just that when you sign up you choose an initial display name that will be what your first display name is instead of "user########".

4 Answers 4


The goal is to make it as frictionless as possible for users to sign up. It should be easy so people aren't put off. This is especially important on the smaller sites as more people means more questions and answers; they're trying to build an audience. Anything that adds friction to the sign-up process should be avoided.

Generally, people realise after they've posted their first question/answer (if not before) that they can change their name and do so if they want. I can't see a particular reason to force people to choose a username. As you haven't elucidated one in your question I'm going to have to say I disagree.

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    A better idea would be to detect signatures in posts and tell users that they can set their display names instead of doing that. Jun 26, 2013 at 19:05
  • That is a good idea @Bolt try to make the users realise early that they can have the site sign automatically for them and make them do a little bit of the clean-up for us. Jun 26, 2013 at 19:07

My conclusion: meh.

I don't care what a person's name is; it has no bearing or impact on the question or on the answer. I cannot imagine a circumstance where a usersname would have any influence on the Q/A process, except possibly a deterrent in the case of an offensive, racially charged, or explicit name. Otherwise, it is window dressing.

If you don't want to make a profile, that's fine by me: this isn't Myspace.


I assume that the site doesn't "require" you to update your username in the same way that it doesn't "require" you to change your avatar. I hardly ever register a users name - I'm more focused on what they are saying.

The real question here, is how would requiring users to enter something in a textbox on their profile benefit the community as a whole? Forcing users to enter a username might leave us with a shedload of users calling themselves asdf, not sure that's much better than loads of users called user123456.

One more thing I can mention (but only out of my own experience), is that when the system gives you an automagically generated username (that you didn't ask for); And you see it attached to everything you do on the site; You are more inclined to change it to something of your own choosing.


I don't think that user name is an importing thing here as Stack Exchange is just a Q&A website so we shouldn't care about nicknames or usernames or anything else. I think we should just pay attention to the question and answering with a good high quality answer.

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