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the_author_posts_link is so handy. But is there now way in WordPress to set/edit the default display name for all new authors? (I know you can manually edit per author). I'd like it to be user_login, and then I can just call the_author_posts_link accordingly.

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Try this, it will change display names to logins anywhere in the Loop:

add_filter('the_author', 'return_login');

function return_login($display_name) {

    if ( !in_the_loop() )
        return $display_name;

    return get_the_author_meta('login');
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