It’s happened occasionally that a new user will wonder about the identity of a deleted user, whether, on the main meta or on a per-site meta (or indeed on one of the non-meta sites). Often such questions can theoretically be answered, either by simply have been around before the user was deleted, or by looking at contextual information.

Such questions might seem to go against one of the points of deleting a user, though: to dissociate them from all the content that they produced. They might make it easy for users to find the deleted user’s contributions in chat, for example. There might also be a privacy concern.

How should we deal with such questions? Not answer them? Close them as off-topic? Delete them?


2 Answers 2


I think that a deleted user has the right for that deletion to dissociate their former identity from all their posts (questions, answers and comments).

Their previous name may remain decipherable in the comments made to them by other users. However, these are more likely to be found by accident rather than by intentional searching.

I think any question, answer or comment that seeks to uncover the former name of a deleted user should be deleted itself.

  • 1
    But very often usernames are just handles, some just have a "Joe" or a string of numbers. Those who don't mind revealing their real identities use their real names, and those who don't (the vast majority) use monikers and avatars. Oct 11, 2016 at 4:57
  • What about comments? Often a user will reply to another with that username, that is how I have casually discovered the owners on a number of deleted accounts. Keep seeing "@lizard face" being referred to in old comments and then replies attached to a deleted account, it's a matter of 2+2=4. Aah, you've just said the same thing, and more elegantly too, I may add. Oct 11, 2016 at 5:00

If there is a canonical question for those questions, I would close them as duplicates; otherwise, I would leave them unanswered. The only questions that are directly deleted are spam or non-sense; in the other cases, questions are not directly deleted, if they aren't first closed.

Those questions are generally asked out of curiosity; there isn't any good reason for knowing who the user who left was. Does the user who is asking the question want to avoid up-voting questions asked by a specific user, even if that user left the site/network?

  • 1
    The problem (if it is a problem) is that if they are left open, they will get answers.
    – Adamant
    Oct 11, 2016 at 14:22
  • I don't see a problem with the fact they answered. The only way to close the question is as duplicate, or as off-topic. If they would add a closing reason for those questions, I would be happy to close them.
    – apaderno
    Oct 11, 2016 at 15:04

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