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I noticed that lots of new users neglect to choose a display name, and they appear as something unreadable like user98765. Many of these users are registered and do sign their questions at the bottom, but they don't set their display name.

Should we and can we do anything about this situation?

I guess it must be due to how the SE signup process works at the moment (which most of us won't be familiar with as we signed up a long time ago).

  • Commenting and requesting politely is the best (and perhaps the only) way... over the past two years, I've seen several veteran users nudge new users to pick a name and most of them will oblige. I personally don't bother suggesting it until they actually start contributing (either by asking or answering) over an extended period. "user12345" is no more helpful than "John", except for the mental comfort that you're talking to a "person" than a "user id". Several (lower rep) users also tend to change their names to trick people into forgetting their past poor questions... – rm -rf Feb 3 '14 at 21:15
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    @rm-rf Names also help me to create a mental track record of a given user. I can't remember a single "user12345" type of name (or it must be user666 or user31415). Additionally, I am of the opinion that the minimal effort involved in choosing a user names shows some commitment to the site. The reverse is true for users that don't do that. – Sjoerd C. de Vries Feb 3 '14 at 23:28
  • What about more badges and reputation for changing the default name? I'm aware of the "Autobiographer" Badge for completing all user profile fields, but we could have a specific "Named" badge for "choosing an original user-name in the profile". – rhermans Feb 28 '14 at 15:18
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Community Moderators are trusted with a number of powers, one of them being to change anyone's user name. We could start replacing names like user12345 with other things. Pick a name or have one picked for you might be motivation enough. :o)

The above is tongue-in-cheek, but in certain cases it might actually be appropriate, e.g. when a user12345 is signing his messages "Thanks, Steve." It would take far more effort for a moderator to try to explain to this user how and why to change his username than it would to make the change directly.

  • I didn't know that. So do you think it's appropriate to flag otherwise signed posts for this reason, and let a moderator change the name and leave a note about it? – Szabolcs Feb 6 '14 at 19:57
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    (I'm not sure it's a good idea, I'm worried new users would feel offended by the "intrusion". I'd like to know what others think.) – Szabolcs Feb 6 '14 at 21:12
  • @Szabolcs Same here. I'm guessing that in the situation where someone is explicitly signing his messages (e.g. Steve) he won't mind having that name attached to his account, but I also don't want to offend anyone, which is why I've never done that. – Mr.Wizard Feb 6 '14 at 21:27
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    IMO, moderators should "force" change a name only if a user is trying to impersonate another (prominent) user or if they have an offensive/inappropriate name. We'll get into a lot of messiness if we start doing it just so that some users can track names better (there has to be a more convincing reason). I suggest commenting "Hey Steve, right now your name is displayed only as 'user12345', but you can click ["Edit" on your user profile](http://mathematica.stackexchange.com/users/edit/ID) and change it" (using their userid in place of ID will automatically take them to the "edit profile" page) – rm -rf Feb 7 '14 at 1:47
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    If a user has signed several posts with the same name, one option is for moderators to ""force"" a username change to that one, and leave a message along the lines of "Hi, Steve, and welcome to the site! I have included your signature as your username instead of the default one. You can choose a new one by [clicking "Edit" on your user profile](http://mathematica.stackexchange.com/users/edit/ID)." – Emilio Pisanty Feb 7 '14 at 18:26
  • +1 to the @rm-rf suggestion. – shrx Feb 7 '14 at 19:11

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