I propose elimination of 'usernames' concept. Before you point your guns at me, take a minute to brainstorm on my suggestion. User names are so Jurassic that they shouldn't make it to XF 2.0 (IMHO). XF already has user_id that identifies users uniquely; so why restrict our members from using user ID of their choice? Let people choose their own identity.
So, how'd you distinguish between Kier (Superman) and Kier (Lesser Mortal)?
I think the way Facebook and other modern social platforms have solved this problem. We need usernames to 'refer' to someone, tag someone or find their profile page to write on it. But do we really need unique usernames for this? I guess no!
I guess the problem of uniquely identifying users is a problem solved already - by almost every leading social network. If I'm looking fir Kier; XF can suggest the right Kier using following signals-
- Am I following Kier?
- How many 'hops' do I have to the right Kier: I'm following Chris, Chris is following Kier (S) but not Kier (LM). So I'm likely to be suggested Kier (S).
- Is Kier (S) more active than Kier (LM)?
- How many times have I quoted Kier (S) and Kier (LM)?
- ...and so on.
On our forums, we encouraged users to use real names and ever since doing that; their engagement is way more than it was before. Their replies are now more authentic and they feel more connected.