Imagine a user votes to close a question, and the question gets closed:

closed as off-topic by Ivo Robotnik, User2, User3, User4, User5

Then, "Ivo Robotnik" changes their username:

closed as off-topic by Dr. Eggman, User2, User3, User4, User5

And then if "Dr. Eggman" deletes their account, the notice changes to the following:

closed as off-topic by Ivo Robotnik, User2, User3, User4, User5

As you can see, even though the first close voter changed their username to "Dr. Eggman", the name displayed after the account is deleted changes to "Ivo Robotnik", their previous name at the time they voted to close.

I came across a closed question on Hinduism Stack Exchange recently. Two out of four users who voted to close the question are no longer members of the site. Their accounts were deleted due to some reasons. But I am sure that their user names were not the ones which are shown on the close vote banner. You can find a user1195 in the comment section. User1195 is one of the users who voted to close. They commented the day before the deletion with another name which is not the name on the banner. Both the deletions happened in past 2 or 3 months.

We know that there is an issue about anonymizing deleted user's name (it's very closely related). That question says the deleted user's name is not anonymized and their name shows up on comments and close vote banners. But my question is somewhat different. The display name on close vote banner is not updated if the user changed their username before their account was deleted. The name displayed is the name at the time they voted to close the question.

Another example is a deleted question where a deleted user is involved.

image of a closed and deleted question highlighting deleted user name

Here, the user named "moonstar2001" later changed their name to "moonstar", but the displayed name in the close notice is "moonstar2001". Other users' display names are updated. So, I believe that the problem occurs only with deleted users.

  • Well, worth to mention chat is much worse, deleting account does not delete the chat profile, leaving it a zombie. For example: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/66864/2017/10/12 Commented May 30, 2018 at 6:55
  • @ShadowWizard Well, that is another bug meta.stackexchange.com/q/308843/357396 . That user is active on other sites on network. So, I think that's the reason the chat profile is not deleted.
    – Nog Shine
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 6:58
  • @ShadowWizard Actually, as of 2016, chat profiles are deleted automatically when main accounts are deleted, though they didn't go back and retroactively delete chat profiles where the accounts were deleted prior to the change. I ran into an issue because of the prior behavior. Commented May 30, 2018 at 6:59
  • @Sonic nope. This chat account proves that chat profile is not deleted when its parent acccount is deleted. Maybe it should, but it's not. Feel free to submit bug report, using it as example. (It was deleted long after 2016.) Commented May 30, 2018 at 7:23
  • @Shadow That user probably has accounts on other sites. According to the official post, profiles on Chat.SE are deleted automatically, but only when all accounts on all SE sites are deleted. Commented May 30, 2018 at 8:32
  • 3
    Sorry, I now see how your question is different. The way your issue is currently phrased makes it seem strongly like a duplicate, even though on closer examination it isn't. I don't have time right now, but I'll edit to make your issue more clear. Commented May 30, 2018 at 8:37
  • 2
    Edited the post to make your issue clear from the outset. Sorry for shamelessly dropping a Sonic reference Commented May 30, 2018 at 18:24
  • This is pretty much still a duplicate of the other question. The other question is just patently wrong about what needs to be done. It's not an issue of propagation, we simply don't update the DisplayName on the PostHistory data, ever, whether it's when someone change their display name or when their profile was deleted. The solution to this problem is the same as solving the other problem - we need to run an extra query to actually update them, or even easier, just use the ID number that's still there and manually create the userX string if they're deleted. Ignore the display name entirely.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 19:51
  • @animuson The FAQ on deleting accounts suggests that one should change their username prior to deleting their account in order to avoid the issue in the former duplicate. But this post suggests that even that won't help. Should I edit/remove that miscellaneous bullet in the FAQ? Commented May 30, 2018 at 22:34
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog Sure, it's completely untrue. As far as I can tell, we have never actually updated that JSON string that is stored with close/reopen/delete/undelete history events, so changing your display name doesn't actually solve anything. It'll always be whatever your display name was at the time the history event was created. I've suggested a one-line-fix that will retroactively solve this problem for all these cases - just needs someone to put it into the code (quite literally changing json.DisplayName to ("user" + json.Id)).
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 22:41
  • @animuson In the past, usernames weren't anonymized as part of the deletion process, so those users won't match. Commented May 30, 2018 at 22:52
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I don't follow?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 23:23
  • @animuson See second section of meta.stackexchange.com/a/290627/377214. One example of this was a user named "Gnome" here on Meta, who voluntarily deleted their account but their username wasn't anonymized. Commented May 30, 2018 at 23:26
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog Yeah I'm aware we didn't do it at all long ago, but this is a different situation. When the history event is created, we literally just store a JSON string of all the users who were involved in the Text column for the event, and that JSON never gets touched again, no matter what happens with the user. Right now if it can't link the user, it just pulls the DisplayName that was stored, which is whatever the user's DisplayName was at the time, not whatever it was most recently. The proposed change creates a userX string on the fly and ignores what was stored.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 23:49
  • @animuson Yeah, but if a user like Gnome voted to close a question a long time ago, their username in close notices would be different from the one used elsewhere. Commented May 30, 2018 at 23:50


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