Why is Discord making you change your name?

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By Webdesk

The popular chatting and streaming app Discord makes all of its users change their names, and you could be forgiven for wondering why you’re making such a disruptive move in the first place. But the platform’s founders say it’s more necessary than you might think.

Usually, Discord users are identified by a name and a random number separated by a pound sign, such as MinaHarker #1897. Originally, co-founder Stanislav Vishnevskiy explains, it would have just been MinaHarker, since they didn’t need unique names (you just joined a friend’s channel), but later, when they needed to distinguish users with identical names, they added the “discriminator” four-digit number.

As Discord has grown, the system has remained the same, but it hasn’t been ideal for sharing outside of Discord. Meet someone in real life and you can say “I’m @BigDraculaEnergy on Instagram” or whatever. Few people remembered their four-digit number or even the capitalization of their name on Discord, which really matters.

“Well, sort it out,” you say, but the problem is that a lot of people didn’t: “Nearly half of all friend requests fail to connect the user with the person they wanted to match with, mostly because users receive an incorrect or invalid username due to a combination of missing discriminator and incorrect capitalization,” writes Vishnevskiy, and other issues were also common. That kind of friction and frustration is bad news for a growing community trying to reach new audiences.

So after much debate, the team decided to take an approach that will be familiar to social networking users: a unique username plus a freely assignable display name that can be changed at any time.

Illustration that appears before and after the Discord username and display names. Image Credits: Disagreement

The problem is simply this: despite already having a name, everyone will now have to choose a new one, which may or may not be similar to the old one.

If our friend MinaHarker #1897 wants to find out her name, she may find that others have already done so, and while she used to be known only by her name, she now has to change something, perhaps adding periods, underscores, or numbers (the other allowed characters only). It is certainly arguable that m1na_h4rk3r is harder to say or find than MinaHarker#1897. And with hundreds of millions of users previously having whatever name they wanted, you can bet that this kind of conflict will be fairly common.

Users are understandably upset about the change. It is quite possible that the search for friends was troublesome and often unsuccessful. But that’s a temporary inconvenience – you ask your friend again or look around and find the right name. What about this issue that could not have been fixed by a smarter search to differentiate between Jonathan#6733, Jonathan#7633 and Jonathan#3367?

In solving some problems, it also introduces others – which will also be familiar to social media users. For example, how does Discord keep notable online personalities from being targeted by impersonators? Every platform is in a constant battle with imitators, and you can hardly expect the average user to know if @ninja or @ninja_ is the one they want. (And why wouldn’t a true ninja take on one of those names, after all?)

Others have pointed out that Discord channels have been great for automatic features (such as image generation by Midjourney, a huge community there) and friendly bots, which may be broken or need some serious tweaking to work in the new conditions. Having a single universal nickname may not be everyone’s cup of tea either. Do I want to be known by the same nickname on my K-drama channel as on my racing sim channel?

The company hopes to avoid bitterness by slowing the rollout and prioritizing usernames for people who have been on the platform the longest. But those users are probably the most ticked off, as they joined when Discord was a relatively no-frills chat app for gamers and other communities — this constant shivers to become a fully-fledged social network may eventually push them to look for alternatives. explore.

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