I attempted to update my Title and About Me sections in my profile network-wide in order to remove the “I work at Stack Overflow” messages, but when I click “save and copy changes to all public communities”, it errors with:

Oops! There was a problem updating your profile: This email address is already registered. If it belongs to you, log in above or visit our account recovery page to get access to this account.

The account recovery email just says I don’t have a password and need to use my Google account to login (it’s associated with both my personal gmail and my now-defunct stackoverflow.com email)

Please let me know how I can edit my profile.

Above quoted error

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    No, unless they somehow split my account as part of the termination process (unlikely). I think someone with db and code access will need to dig in to figure out what’s causing the issue. Oct 19, 2023 at 1:27
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    I suspect there's... unusual problems here. If I were still a mod, I'd consider status reviewing it, but I'd alsos suggest that you could lodge a ticket via the 'usual' contact link as well. Oct 19, 2023 at 3:32
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    It’s funny (in a kinda sad way) — it’s been so long since I had to use some of the user-facing tools that I’ve forgotten what they are. I’ll give the CM team a couple days to see this before I use the contact form. Oct 19, 2023 at 3:56
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    I took a look and it seems your Accounts row had a different verified e-mail address (it was a gmail one) than all of your users across the network. I've fixed that, can you try again?
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Oct 19, 2023 at 4:56
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    It may also involve the proposed duplicate, as you have two users in Careers (one is clearly marked as a test account, but both have that e-mail address). I can't debug the application code but I'm more than happy to work with you privately on the data side.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Oct 19, 2023 at 5:04
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    @AaronBertrand what you did is worthy an answer with those details, even if it didn't fix the bug. Cheers! Oct 19, 2023 at 7:38
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    Oh my, didn't notice you were staff until, well, recently. Sorry to see you go! Your About Me isn't updated yet, no big deal though. :) (and yeah, I now saw we interacted before, I'm terrible with remembering people, even online, sorry!) Oct 19, 2023 at 12:42
  • Well, that's why we added the "Staff" badge a little while back :) Oct 19, 2023 at 22:18

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: Hopefully, John is unblocked now, after a couple of manual tweaks.

As background, a very simplified diagram of the account <---> user profile relationship:

account <---> user profile relationship

Basically, an e-mail address is verified at the account level, which is stored in the Sites database. An account can have 0-n user profiles, one per Q&A site. And while a user profile within any given Q&A site has an e-mail address, it is independent - the user profile is tied to the network account by Id only (e.g. there is no checking that the user profile e-mail address stays in sync with the verified one from the network account, when either changes). And e-mail addresses are not enforced to be unique - multiple accounts can have the same e-mail address, and so can multiple user profiles, even within the same Q&A site.

Now, staff can sometimes end up in situations where their data no longer conforms to the constraints the application expects. This can be due to manual tweaks for testing purposes, profiles set up for experiments like the Community-A-Thon, and other non-standard workflows that go through a developer route (or not through the application at all).

In this case, John had two network accounts. One was the primary account tied to all of his site activity, and one was unused and clearly marked as a test account. The primary account had a GMail address, and the test account had an e-mail address that was not GMail.

John had two users in both Careers and Stack Overflow, one primary and one clearly a test. But both users had an e-mail address matching the test account (i.e. not GMail). Several other Q&A databases had a user tied to the primary account, and they used the non-Gmail address. As an aside, I was expecting to find @stackoverflow.com in here somewhere, but I did not.

This clearly worked fine for several years. I suspect John hadn't tried an account recovery while he was staff. :-)

To hopefully get John past the exception he currently sees, I made the following changes directly:

  • Swapped the Accounts.VerifiedEmail for the two accounts, so now the primary account uses the non-GMail account, and the test account uses the GMail account.
  • Changed the test users in Careers and StackOverflow to use the GMail address, to match the test account they're tied to.

Changes to John's accounts/users

If that gets you unblocked, great! If not, it may be useful background for anyone else who steps in.

And no, there is no BasketWeaving Q&A. Yet.

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    Pleasure to read such an answer. Oct 19, 2023 at 12:38
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    Thanks, Aaron. Keep being awesome :)
    – V2Blast
    Oct 19, 2023 at 15:55
  • That did it, thanks! I'm not surprised I had more than one Careers account (probably have even more than you found), since I spent two years working on that codebase. Sidenote: the Accounts.VerifiedEmail is also different than the authentication credentials used for an account/user. My old stackoverflow.com email address would have only shown in the auth credentials, I believe, while the verified emails probably had one of my two personal accounts, depending on when I created the accounts. And I should probably kill off my DevTest account too. THANKS AARON! You rock as always. Oct 19, 2023 at 22:16
  • @JohnM.Wright Yay! Happy to help, my friend.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Oct 19, 2023 at 22:19

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