Discord is changing the way usernames work, and people aren't happy

Discord will display a profile badge after changing over to a new username system.
(Image credit: Discord)

What you need to know

  • Discord announced username changes that will remove the hashtag and four-digit discriminator.
  • The roll out of the new username system is expected to take a few months.
  • A new profile badge will display an account's previous username with the discriminator.

Earlier this month, the community-building and live-streaming app Discord announced that it would be changing the way usernames functioned. Since its inception in 2015, Discord has utilized a hashtag followed by a four-digit discriminator to differentiate between accounts with the same usernames. These discriminators allowed users to sign up for the app without encountering the dreaded notification that their preferred moniker was already in use. Discord's username conventions even managed to escape the confines of the app when Microsoft adopted the hashtag and discriminator system for gamertags in 2019

Discord's co-founder, Stanislav Vishnevskiy, stated in a blog post on the app's website that the usernames have posed some problems as the app continues to grow. Surveys revealed that 40% of users are unable to remember their Discord username or are completely unaware of what their username's discriminators are while more than half of all attempts to add a friend simply fail due to user error when searching for their friends' accounts. To counter the convoluted username problem, Discord has opted to forgo the discriminators and shift all users over to a unique alphanumeric username in the coming months.

Why is this change being pushed despite overwhelmingly negative feedback? from r/discordapp

The announced changes have been met with derision in some corners of the internet. Discord communities like those found on reddit.com/r/discordapp and in comment threads on Twitter are full of discussions of the potential pitfalls to this change. 

This migration to a more standard username is expected to put Discord more in line with other social platforms, but the change has caused some concern over how the app will handle potential impersonators and other problematic accounts in the future. Recent updates to Discord's help systems have revealed that there will be a profile badge added to legacy accounts that are forced to convert to a unique username that will show the account's previous username and discriminator number. The old username is also expected to show up as an alias when sending and receiving direct messages with another user. 

The profile badge will not be a guaranteed mitigator for impersonation, however, as the option for the badge to display can be toggled on or off by the user at will. To disable the profile badge and alias visibility on the desktop app users will need to navigate to user settings and then profiles. Within the Users Profile tab they'll find the toggle to turn on or off Legacy Username badges as they wish. On the mobile app turning off the legacy badge will require navigating to the profile tab in the bottom right corner and selecting Profiles. The User Profile Tab will then have a toggle for the user to interact with.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.