In SO you are allowed to define and redefine your handle at whim. I myself have done so but I was reading an SO entry from a while back to which the well known Jon Skeet made a comment to which someone responded @Jon... But Jon was no longer Jon he was now (and probably still is) Tony the Pony. Now I know who both these handles belong to but to the SO neophyte there is a disconnect to see comments referring to @Jon but there are no longer any comments by Jon. It's an interesting quirk since Tony the Pony is probably in the top 1% of commentators and answer factories so he has pretty good coverage in the Java and C# worlds.

  • 9
    Why do people make threads that are so perfect for me while I'm sleeping?
    – Welbog
    Nov 10, 2009 at 12:32
  • No you shouldn't be able to change your name ;-) Nov 11, 2009 at 5:24
  • 5
    Since when do discussions have status-completed? Does this mean the discussion is complete or what?
    – alex
    Feb 2, 2010 at 7:31

5 Answers 5


Like everything else, it should probably be rate-limited. If I've learned anything, it is that unbounded behaviors lead to pain.

edit: after a two-day grace period for new users, one display name change allowed every 30 days.

  • 3
    Does this apply to Meta too?
    – Welbog
    Feb 2, 2010 at 2:20
  • 1
    Yes, this applies universally to all sites Feb 2, 2010 at 2:29
  • 1
    Oops! There was a problem updating your profile: --- Display name may only be changed once every 30 days; you may change again on Mar 4 at 2:33 --- That seems like forever from now...
    – jjnguy
    Feb 2, 2010 at 2:35
  • 13
    Was this necessary on Meta? And even if we agreed on this, are you aware that a bunch of us are now stuck for 30 days with a less than perfect user name? Could you at least make this change kick in, after the next user name change? Sudden changes in policy are kind of disconcerting.
    – perbert
    Feb 2, 2010 at 2:47
  • 4
    Can we tag all future feature-requests as discussions only?
    – random
    Feb 2, 2010 at 2:56
  • 2
    @Cheeso: Speak for yourself. My name is awesome. Urdnot Wrex is the galaxy's best living Krogan.
    – Welbog
    Feb 2, 2010 at 3:19
  • You made your bed, now WAIT I'M STILL POLLYANNA?!?! Oh well. Rule 63 is proven once again.
    – Pollyanna
    Feb 2, 2010 at 3:20
  • @Urdinal Krogatiable pose hassat: It might be, but it's way too long to bear for 30 days.
    – perbert
    Feb 2, 2010 at 13:54
  • I think it was in November (edit: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19478/the-many-memes-of-meta/…) that I set an over-under on the length of time before name changes would be rate-limited. I picked under a week, so I lose.
    – mmyers
    Feb 2, 2010 at 15:48
  • 2
    This has to be one of the worst policy changes I have seen so far. It simply has no merit at all.
    Feb 3, 2010 at 23:51
  • @Jeff, you'll want to mark status-completed on this one also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/29966/… Feb 4, 2010 at 0:18
  • You might want to take a look at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/38289/…
    – perbert
    Feb 4, 2010 at 18:38

I take your point that it creates some oddities. When Tony retires and I go back to being Jon (which I'll probably do some time this week) there'll be a bunch of comments directed at Tony which now seem strange.

I think it's probably best not to worry about it too much - but also to use name changing sparingly. If anyone's confused and adds a comment, the post's owner is likely to be able to set the record straight.

  • 3
    Is Tony going back to the magic business? or into glue? Maybe a Ginsters? Nov 10, 2009 at 6:38
  • 2
    Into showbusiness, for the 9th Tilehurst Guides panto.
    – Jon Skeet
    Nov 10, 2009 at 6:59
  • 5
    Snow White and the 7 short s? Aladdin's LAMP? Nov 10, 2009 at 7:36
  • 6
    Naughty step. Now.
    – Jon Skeet
    Nov 10, 2009 at 8:08
  • @Jon got my point but others seem not too -- it just happen to be @Jon also as I was reading an answer by @Eric Lippert on integer division and rounding Nov 10, 2009 at 11:28

What is in a name? Your reputation follows you no matter what you change your name to, as do your questions and answers. IMO, Jon Skeet changing his name to Tony the Pony might have made OPs look at his answers before judging them by his name alone, which is a good thing. Most likely Tony got the upvotes anyway.

  • 2
    Wait.. what happens if I change my name to Jon Skeet? Will I get teh reps? Nov 10, 2009 at 19:22

The important thing is that our unique User ID's don't change, i.e.:


Tracking name changes is probably more critical on sites such as EBay where the display name is the only way to identify a user.

Ultimately the display names on our accounts are just like nicknames and we should be able to change these as and when required.


It should be just as easy to change your online name as it is to change your real-life name. In the US, all you need to do to legally change your name is... start using a new name!

For example, if I want to go by Johnny instead of John, I could.

If my Fiancee wants to change her last name she should be able to.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .