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A question on Webapps has showcased a nice, new (to me) feature of Google:

– that is, the blog is associated with Jeff’s Google profile.

Would it make sense to have this for Stack Overflow profile pages? That is, if I google for my name and Google shows my SO profile, Google would show the association with my Google profile?

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The profile image/link doesn't show for me (in Opera, searching "Coding horror"). ... Ah, it shows only if I search in English, not in Esperanto. –  Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 21 '11 at 16:44
    
Why only on profile pages and not also questions/answers? (What does Google do if there are multiple author-links for one page?) –  Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 21 '11 at 18:28
    
@Paŭlo: Out of curiosity: your default search language on Google is Esperanto? Impresa! Doesn’t that constrain the search results unduly? (Theoretically, nur serĉi rezultojn en Esperanto …) –  Konrad Rudolph Aug 21 '11 at 18:35
    
@Paŭlo: I guess you answered that yourself. Google probably means to reserve the icon for pages intimately linked to one person. –  Konrad Rudolph Aug 21 '11 at 18:36
    
(Ĝi ne vere ŝanĝas la rezultojn, nur la interfacon.) It doesn't really change the results, only the interface. Actually, Google simply respects my browser setting here. For comparison, my Esperanto search for "coding horror" and the english version. But obviously also some features change. –  Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 21 '11 at 18:43
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2 Answers

For this to work, there need to be two things:

  • A link with rel="author" from your user page to your Google profile
  • A link back from your Google profile to the user page.

The second one you'll have to do yourself, and I suppose some use of the first one would be part of this feature request. (I just tried to put a manual <a rel="author" href="...">...</a> link into my "about me" block, and this didn't work.)

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The second point was implied but thanks for the clarification nevertheless: Yes, the feature request is concerned with the first point. I’m actually not even convinced that this is a good idea / worthwhile but I thought it worth discussing. –  Konrad Rudolph Aug 21 '11 at 18:23
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In order for this magic to happen, basically three things need to be present:

  1. A link from the "content page" to the "author page" which contains the rel="author" parameter.
  2. A link from the "author page" to a Google profile which also contains the &rel=author query parameter.
  3. A link on the Google profile back to the website hosting those pages.

(Step 1 is omitted from Paŭlo's answer, but it shouldn't be -- without the link from the content page, this feature would only work on the author's page itself, not on any answers that that user actually wrote. That's not the intent of the feature, and it also wouldn't be that useful for anyone. The only time your Stack Overflow author page would come up in a search result is if you were already searching for that person anyway).

Steps 2 and 3 are already under the control of any Stack Exchange user -- however, Stack Overflow has to decide if it wants to take Step 1 (and enable step 2).

For the same reasons that Stack Overflow adds nofollow by default to outbound links from user pages, I don't think the author link should happen automatically for everyone. It should be a tool used to incentivize answer-ers. For example, ref="author" could be automatically added to the link to the answerer's profile on the accepted answer of a question, if the answerer has over 2,000 reputation. It would certainly incentivize having accepted answers (over votes) even more. I can also see people being more vigilant with keeping an answer up-to-date if their name is on the search result. Not to mention, search results with authors pop out more on the Google results page, and I wouldn't be surprised if (now or in the future) those results get some extra Google Juice of their own.

On the other hand, if someone does not want to have their name associated this way, it's incredibly easy to do: just don't include a link to Stack Overflow on your Google profile, or a link to your Google profile on your SO author page. It's explicitly opt-in and nearly impossible to achieve by accident, so there's no privacy concerns.


Adapted this answer from my duplicate question on this topic.

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I don’t see how step 1 could be realised – answers are contributed by multiple authors and as far as I understand Google’s feature, it only copes with single authorship. –  Konrad Rudolph Sep 4 '11 at 7:31
    
@Konrad: Yup, that's why I say it should be added to the accepted answer only. –  Adrian Petrescu Sep 4 '11 at 17:23
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You can apply rel=author to parts of a page: it applies to the nearest ancestor <article> element (or failing that, to the page as a whole). So just wrap each question, answer and maybe comment in an article element (yes, the spec explicitly says something as small as a comment is ok), add rel=author to the links to profiles, and you're good to go. Here is the spec: developers.whatwg.org/links.html#link-type-author –  Chris Boyle Sep 5 '11 at 16:34
    
@Chris -- thanks for the info! I wasn't aware of these details myself. Nevertheless, I'm still of the opinion that it's better to attribute authorship only to high-rep accepted answer-ers (and maybe the question asker). If we do that, it acts as a form of incentive, not just a way to clutter up every single Google search result from an SE site. –  Adrian Petrescu Sep 5 '11 at 18:48
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