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I came across a (ridiculous) question + answer purporting to be from myself while I was looking through 'questions from new users'. It was removed, but I think that this reveals a serious flaw in the system. Is it soon to be corrected?

  • Was it the question about dead/death? – user067531 Feb 11 '18 at 22:57
  • @user5768790 Yes. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 11 '18 at 23:12
  • I noticed that question with the answer by the same person. I downvoted and flagged. But I didn’t realize it purported to be from you. – user067531 Feb 11 '18 at 23:14
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    I haven't seen the question you mention, but I will say there's nothing preventing someone using the display name "Edwin Ashworth" anymore than "John Smith" or "Joe Schmoe", and for the same reason: there may be more than one John Smith in the world who would like to go by that name here. StackExchange allows users to pick any display names they like, barring certain extreme circumstances (taboo terms). But no one can easily imitate you in a credible way: everywhere your display name appears, so does the 45K and grab-bag of badge icons after it, which will take a novice many years to accrue. – Dan Bron Feb 11 '18 at 23:53
  • Does someone have the link? – Laurel Feb 12 '18 at 0:02
  • I believe that duplicate user-names should be differentiated by the addition of a numeral after the first one. 'Shoe' has at least one identically named 'double'. I once had someone from a debt-collecting agency trying to 'collect a debt' from me; it turned out he'd found the name of the debtor in a reasonably local directory and assumed there could be only one person with our name within a 50-mile radius. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 12 '18 at 0:15
  • @Laurel Link. – tchrist Feb 12 '18 at 0:55
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    We do have something of that sort, although it is not as obvious. All users have a unique identification number associated with each of their profiles, that stays with them irrespective of what name they choose to display. Your profile number on English Language & Usage is 21655, and you can't be robbed of that. – Tonepoet Feb 12 '18 at 4:00
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    @Araucaria I was about to upvote it. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 13 '18 at 22:49
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    @EdwinAshworth It needed sufficient time and cogitation to make sure it was well-adjusted, well-aimed, well-worded and didn't come across in the wrong way. I'm just too busy to ensure those are met, unfortunately. (I still feel the same way) – Araucaria Feb 13 '18 at 22:54
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In most cases, it is perfectly reasonable for many users to have the same name, so it doesn't make sense to force them to be unique. For example, I made a query to find users with the same display name, and there are 224 Alexes on the site. (I for one don't like having to add numbers to my display name; others probably feel the same way.)

However, it is not ok to impersonate other users. If you think you see someone impersonating another user, flag for moderator attention with a message like this:

This user appears to be impersonating [this user](link to profile)

Or in your case, you can say "impersonating me".

If the user has copied more than just your username (e.g. profile picture, bio text), be sure to mention this in your flag. There's a big difference between two people being called Alex and two Alexes with the same profile picture and the exact same bio.

In your case, the user posted nothing but trollish content, which was flagged as abusive and deleted. That, combined with the sheer unusualness of your name, seems to have led moderators to delete the user.


See also Tim Post's answer here:

Accounts aren't tied to display names, they aren't required to be unique. However, if you participate in comments or chat with someone that has the same display name, you'll get a bit of noise in your global inbox if someone mentions one of you.

What you can't do is impersonate someone else, or otherwise harass people:

Under no circumstances will Subscriber use the Network or the Service to (a) send unsolicited e-mails, bulk mail, spam or other materials to users of the Network or any other individual, (b) harass, threaten, stalk or abuse any person or party, including other users of the Network, (c) create a false identity or to impersonate another person, or (d) knowingly post any false, inaccurate or incomplete material.

There's a difference between sharing the same name as another user, and pretending to be another user.

Barring that, there's no issue if several or more people share the same display name.

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