In the course of events, a number of users have changed their usernames--some more than once. Here I'm not referring to changing the automatically assigned username into something more personal, but rather the situation of an already established user suddenly choosing to go by a different name.
I find that this can be confusing with regard to the intended target of comments, replies to chat messages, or references to that user in other users' posts, especially if there is no logical continuity. If the user also changes their icon, it can even be difficult to determine which person that user corresponds to unless one happens to recognise one of their contributions or can perform some sort of ad-hoc digital archaeology. Regular visitors probably will not encounter serious difficulties here, but it seems to me that the history of the site and its membership is most likely completely opaque to newcomers.
While I absolutely don't dispute that users have the right to change their usernames and icons if they wish, my question here is threefold:
- Do others find this situation confusing as well, or is it my problem alone?
- Is there any practical automated way of determining which names a user has gone by previously, or to look up a user by their past name(s)? (I assume here that one does not happen to have memorized the user number, otherwise there is no problem.)
- Would it be helpful for a user who wishes to rename themselves to make a note to that effect in their profile?