# Can we make the appearance of the display name of any user an individual preference option for each viewer?

In this recent question (and following comments) the problem is identified that

"some in the community are bugged [or] annoyed by" the particular appearance or choice of display names of some users

Indeed, for any particular alphanumeric string there may some reason be found for it being imperfect or inappropriate as display name of a particular PSE user. (Even the real name of any user, which cannot itself be deemed objectionable by anyone as a matter of principle, may nevertheless fail to satisfy demands of anonymity.) Therefore the possibility can and must be entertained that there may be members of the community for whom any particular selection of display name is annoying to some in the community (possibly themselves).

Now, if any one particular selection cannot satisfy everyone, then why not let everyone set their own individual preference?:

Let each specific user select a preferred display name (as it is presently possible already) as default;
but, moreover, give everyone else in the community the individual option to substitute this default display name (of any specific user under consideration) by a name string of their own preference (separately for each specific user under consideration) for display in their individual view.

Concretely, given userABC's default setting
ABC_display_name := "<call_me_ABC>",
any other userXYZ's optional setting
XYZ_replacement_display_name_for_ABC := "<XYZ_rather_calls_you_ABC_substitute>",

then any text which userABC (wrote and) views as containing occurences of the string "<call_me_ABC>"
userXYZ would view as text with the string "<XYZ_rather_calls_you_ABC_substitute>" substituted in place of "<call_me_ABC>",

and any other userHJK who didn't customize the individual HJK_replacement_display_name_for_ABC preference option, or anyone who isn't logged in, would view the text with the occurences of string "<call_me_ABC>", just as userABC does.

In turn, any text which userXYZ (wrote and) views as text containing occurences of the string "<XYZ_rather_calls_you_ABC_substitute>"
would be viewed by userABC as well as by any default user as text with the string "<call_me_ABC>" substituted in place of "<XYZ_rather_calls_you_ABC_substitute>".

(It might be advantageous, however, if these substutions are suppressed for occurances of these strings under consideration which are enclosed in suitable escape characters, such as in pairs of backticks: "<...>".)

• This would need to be asked on mother meta and not here. It would be system wide, by the system designers, and not anything that a specific site can do about it. – tpg2114 Sep 3 '15 at 20:35
• @tpg2114 well, the devs do watch per-site metas for useful feature requests, so we don't necessarily have to push them all to Meta Stack Exchange. – David Z Sep 4 '15 at 3:12
• Contemplate the worst-case scenario - every user on SE has their own name for every other user. For N users, you now need N$^2$ database entries for all their pet names. Ugh... – Jon Custer Sep 4 '15 at 18:47
• @Jon Custer: "[...] worst-case scenario - every user on SE has their own name for every other user. For N users, you now need N$^2$ database entries for all their pet names. Ugh..." -- After all, already there exists infrastructure to support for each user one own pet display name, plus (the last time I checked) about 3000 words of pet statement about me, website, location and some integer numbers of favorite tags and ignored tags. So the proposal is to add some integer number of other associated pet names. Prospectively adding minimum pet score settings, etc. (Yeah.) – user12262 Sep 5 '15 at 8:03
• It's probably easier to simply not worry so much about someone else's nickname, and perhaps click on the back button and look at another question? I don't imagine there are very many people who are concerned with such unimportant matters. As long as the names satisfy the site's rules, I completely fail to understand what it's got to do with anyone else. This site's developers almost certainly have other changes they could be implementing. Perhaps look into a browser plugin such as Greasemonkey or similar and change the names on your browser instead? – user3810 Sep 11 '15 at 14:48
• @Alex: "It's probably easier to simply not worry so much about someone else's nickname [...] I don't imagine there are very many people who are concerned with such unimportant matters." -- The point of my OP was less to address the particular name annoyance of some (perhaps only very few) in the community, but to make a suggestion how to address many sorts of annoyances to various (even many) not necessarily overlapping parts of the community. (Myself, I care only little about names; but other annoyances important to me might be remedied by a similar technique of "user options".) – user12262 Sep 11 '15 at 15:25

• David Z: "What you're talking about are aliases, which are used by some social media sites and other systems. -- I know (or rather: I have known) about alias in shell programming, and yes, this has a lot of similarities to my suggestion/request. So, thanks for pointing that out and reminding me. "well... you're not going to like everything you read on the internet." -- The option of individual aliasing may surely alleviate annoyances concerning the individual views in terms of form or of contents far beyond PSE display names ... – user12262 Sep 4 '15 at 4:59
• David Z: "[...] (Unless you take this to Meta Stack Exchange [...])" -- (See however the comments following the OP question above.) Perhaps it might be interesting and useful to first compile and establish what of all that which is (or which might be) "bugging and annoying some in the community" in terms of viewing (or contributing to) form, or content, would be alleviated by introducing individual preference options (e.g. as alias) more widely and explicitly than presently provided. (Myself, I'm especially annoyed by limitations on viewing and formatting/contributing to content ...) – user12262 Sep 4 '15 at 5:38
• @Thomas Orozco: "this feels like a lot of work (and maintenance) [...]" -- After all, already there's infrastructure maintained to support for each user one own pet display name, strings about me, website, location and some integer numbers of favorite tags and ignored tags. So I suggest to add some integer number of other associated pet names. (Leaving the prospect of addinal options.) Of course it is left to each user to use and maintain these options, at their liking. Much better, I argue, then suffering the continued annoyance of not having any option at all. – user12262 Sep 5 '15 at 8:16