Moderators have the ability to search for users by, among other criteria, display name. In my experience, this is a feature that isn't often needed, but when it's needed, it's bordering on indispensible.

However, I believe there is no way to search for users based on their past display names.

Past display names remain available (at least for a time) for moderators through the profile view, but this requires manually looking at each potentially-interesting profile in turn, at which point you pretty much know which profiles you're interested in anyway.

Can we please have a search feature that searches for users by their historical display names, as opposed to merely their current display name?

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    I'd be inclined to consider it, but I really want to run the idea by my good buddy Michael first - and I can't seem to find his profile anymore. – Shog9 Dec 6 at 20:09
  • @Shog9 I just can't help but ask: Are you searching for him by a display name he no longer uses? ;) – Jason Bassford Dec 6 at 20:26

We could hook this into the special search that moderators already have, which currently lets us search by current display name and some other things. The interface helpfully says "display name", not "current display name", so it's intuitive to me that if I type in a display name that I know I've seen -- even if it doesn't happen to be current -- I should expect to get results. The results include a link to the profile, so if the search results show OldName and the linked profile shows NewName that's fine.

The set of past+current display names is larger than the set of current display names, perhaps much larger. If searching the larger set would be too slow or the results too noisy, we could add a checkbox for "include past names" so mods can decide when to use it. (Searches for common names like "Mike" are already noisy; I think mods tend to mainly use that search for names that are somewhat distinctive to begin with.)

An enhancement would be to show, in the search results, the "last used" date for old names. (I know that information is tracked already.) Display names aren't unique, so if I'm looking for a name I saw recently and the search results show a last-used date from 2014, I know to skip that one.

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    I'm open for this being implemented in different ways, including as you suggest. I just think it'd be awfully nice at times to have the ability at all. – a CVn Dec 7 at 16:51
  • @aCVn agreed; if there's a better way to implement it, that's cool. (I guess I should have said "could" rather than "should".) I was just trying to suggest something that would work pretty well and doesn't seem hard. – Monica Cellio Dec 7 at 17:16
  • Odd... I thought the mod search was supposed to already do this... but when I search for a previous name I've used - I'm not coming up... unless I'm imagining that previous names were part of the search... Fairly sure I remember Taryn announcing it somewhere... – Jon Clements Dec 7 at 17:22

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