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Some answers include the asker's username, particularly on questions asking about how to write an email. If the account gets deleted later, what should we do with the username in the answers?

If the user deleted the account to dissociate themselves from their posts (especially when they used their real name), should we respect their privacy and edit out their username from the answer?

Note that we probably don't know why they deleted their account, so should we just flag it to mods and let them deal with it, or even just ignore it and move on?

While it might be possible to search for all references to an obsolete username, and edit them out one by one, I think we shouldn't do it because it is tedious and to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to their username.

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  • Got an example of that? Are you referring to when users don't post anonymously and disassociate their account afterwards? – DarkCygnus May 22 '18 at 4:20
  • @DarkCygnus I didn't post an example to avoid bringing unwanted attention to it. Anyway, an old question bumped up today with "dentist's appointment" in the title, that's the one that got me thinking about it. – Masked Man May 22 '18 at 4:35
  • Got it... I see your point now. I'll go diving a bit tomorrow morning to see if MSE has something about it (if not I am sure it's worthy of a post) – DarkCygnus May 22 '18 at 4:48
  • My search so far yielded this: meta.stackexchange.com/q/269711/332286 I think it is related to this phenomenon, I'll try my google fu tomorrow – DarkCygnus May 22 '18 at 5:07
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If the user cares he can always propose (anonymous) edits, or find some other way to get in touch. Even if references in posts are edited out, there might still be comments that name the user. Except in extraordinary circumstances I don't think we should try to scrub traces of a deleted user's name from the site. And you're right to be concerned about those edits drawing attention to something you were trying to make less prominent.

Please don't flag things like this for moderators; save flags for things you can't handle yourself. If you see a case that you think needs to be edited, edit it. (For example, if another answer refers to "Bob's answer" and doesn't even link.) If you think it's a really important case, bring it up on meta or in chat to see what others think. But otherwise, I suggest just ignoring it.

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