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Would it be possible to have an option that allows you to specify whether or not you want your activity to be visible by other users?

In my case, quite recently the boss has signed up to Stack Overflow and has threatened to monitor our activity on Stack Overflow, but naturally, we don't want that :).

I know what you're thinking, get back to work you skiver, but you know, what's the harm in feeding your Stack Overflow addiction every so often at work and replying to a comment here and there? ;)

What do you guys think?

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IMO, that would be a great feature. even better would be to prevent the bosses from monitoring each click that is done during the day, but that is another big brother issue – bluefeet May 31 '12 at 11:58
If possible, could we have a "Kill boss" feature – Darren Davies May 31 '12 at 11:59
@bluefeet Also the ability to remove the boss from the office would be great, but out of scope of Stack Overflow ;). Maybe deleting his account? Haha – mattytommo May 31 '12 at 11:59
Has your boss discovered MSO yet? You may not want him seeing this post. – Shawn Chin May 31 '12 at 12:16
@ShawnChin Nah he hasn't, he barely uses SO, he only really uses it to check on us. – mattytommo May 31 '12 at 12:19
Hmm.. never had to suspend someone for being a lousy boss before. Alright, I'll get right on it. – Tim Post May 31 '12 at 12:52
@TimPost You're my new hero :) – mattytommo May 31 '12 at 12:53
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Golden rule of the internet: If you don't want others to know what you're doing, don't do it!

Instead of trying to circumvent this, I suggest you explain to your boss how useful Stack Overflow is to you. It lets you learn, by asking questions and even by answering them.

Quoting myself:

What physics.SE is useful for is this: In the process of teaching physics to others, your own physics will improve a lot. I've gotten a lot of great insights into physics by clarifying classmates' doubts. I've only been here (P.SE) for a month, but it has helped immensely. Writing answers is a great way to clarify your own knowledge. Knowledge is a sort of abstractish bundle of fluff.

You'll never know if you're missing something. But, while writing an answer, it has to be put in clear-cut English+Mathematics. You'll immediately realize it when what you're writing is making no sense. There, you just fixed a hole in your knowledge.

The chat message refers to Physics, but it applies to the entire network, IMO.

So, you get to learn by asking questions(obviously), you get to lean by answering, and comments--well, you can put it this way: "comments let you interact with fellow programmers and widen your base".

Seriously, Stack Overflow is a good thing. Addiction may be bad, but if you have free time or a bit of here-and-there at work, I don't think it's a bad thing. Try to explain this to your boss. If you need help with that ask the people at The Workplace :P {*}.

Note that I'm not opposing this feature. I like it, I'd want it myself. Just providing a viable alternative :)

*Note: that was a half-joke. The people in TW chat may be actually able to help you, I don't know, but I really can't comment on on-topicness of such a question there. This footnote is so that TW mods don't come after me ;-)

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Whilst you make a good point, my boss doesn't see it like that :). Maybe I'll go to The Workplace ;) hehe. – mattytommo May 31 '12 at 12:12

I don't know if this would work. If your boss sees activity for other users and not you, would she not naturally assume you just don't want her checking up on you?

Stack Overflow comes up in many searches for programming problems, so it's only natural that you'll be seen active on the site at least a few times per day, perhaps more - depending on what you're doing and the level of expertise you have with the tools you need to work with.

However, if your boss says "I don't want you answering questions on Stack Overflow while you're being paid to write software for me" .. there isn't much you can do other than comply or work for someone with less pointy hair. In reality though, just hiding your activity from public view won't really fix much, will it?

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+1 for pointy hair – Manishearth May 31 '12 at 13:01
+1 Tim, worrying how you naturally assumed it's a woman though? It's a man, but he does have long pointy hair hahaha! – mattytommo May 31 '12 at 13:03
I typically say (she) when the gender is unknown. s/he is just kind of ugly. – Tim Post May 31 '12 at 13:06
True, plus a man wouldn't complain that you were being sexist, yet a woman would if you said "he"....wait now I'm being sexist, DOH. – mattytommo May 31 '12 at 17:27
@mattytommo That's the problem with pronouns, you never can tell. However in this day and age, I'd argue that 'boss' should be a mass noun, and all confusion would be eliminated. – Tim Post May 31 '12 at 17:31

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