Recently, we had a tiny bit of drama over on Ask Ubuntu Meta, which led a post to be anonymized (being owned by the user anon).

This piqued my interest for no particular reason, except for how the system keeps track of anonymous users.

Do they have a special User ID that effectively takes ownership of the post? Are they just a null user? In short, what, technically, makes anon tick?

  • 2
    Highly related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/292770 -- And I've almost got a really thorough answer written for that (over there there are different possibilities in PostHistory depending on the PostHistoryTypeId) except I'm totally confused by the terminology. Once I get that cleared up and post an answer there maybe it'll help here. But for the most part they are null, and Community is -1 (although certain actions do end up being attributed to Community and end up with a -1, but -1 does not imply "anonymous").
    – Jason C
    Mar 23, 2017 at 5:33

1 Answer 1


There is no user ID for "anon" - it's just a null user in the database. However, we also store a display name for each post in the database, which allows for some text to be displayed in the event there is no longer a user ID associated with the post (because it's null). This text gets changed to "anon" when staff disassociate a post from a user's profile. It also gets changed to a "userXXXXX" string when a user deletes their profile.

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