On a Social Networking site, is it generally a good idea to allow the reuse of old usernames from deleted accounts, or is it better to prohibit their reuse forever?
How do the big boys do it (Facebook, Google, etc.)?
Generally, as far as the DB is concerned, it's not a big deal either way because most tables are associated by some kind of user id, and not the username.
I can certainly see why you wouldn't want to allow the reuse of BANNED usernames, but what about usernames from accounts that were simply deleted by the original owner? Do you free up those usernames or do you prohibit their reuse?
Pros of allowing reuse:
- Frees up available username space.
- Current account owners can "reset" their accounts by simply deleting it and quickly re-registering it with the exact same username.
Cons of allowing reuse:
- Can create confusion. Imagine an old user with thousands of posts on a forum. They delete their account, their posts remain under the old username, and someone comes along and registers with that same username. It will seem like that new user created all those old posts. Sure, you can change the username of the old user prior to deleting their account to avoid this confusion, but wherever they've been quoted, you will still have their original username, which can still create confusion.
- Can be "gamed". Imagine a very popular user deletes their account and someone quickly re-registers that username in order to benefit from the "trust" associated with that username, and possibly uses it maliciously against unsuspecting users.
Any other pros/cons I'm not thinking about it? I'm really curious to learn how the big boys do it and why.