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After reading folks' posts here on MSO about the prominent personalities on SO (Atwood, Spolsky, Skeet, Gravell, Rich B, et al) and the impact on reputation, I decided to "run some number", graph them, and of course blog about it: The Personalities of Stack Overflow by the Numbers

For the kids that can't be bothered to read my rambling, grammatically incorrect prose, here is the most interesting of the two graphs:

Reputation (x-axis) vs. Posts (y-axis) vs. Profile Views (z-axis)

 Reputation (x-axis) vs. Posts (y-axis) vs. Profile Views (z-axis)

The lack of a correlation between Profile Views and both a users reputation and number of posts surprised me. Anybody have any thoughts on what makes a SOpedian's profile worth visiting? Something I can look for in the data dump?

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Very cool analysis. :) –  Ólafur Waage Jul 6 '09 at 14:57
    
Are you looking at the profile views from just the last month? The total profile views for Jon Skeet should actually be around 40k. –  gnostradamus Jul 6 '09 at 15:09
    
...never mind, that's "number of posts" on the y-axis. My bad. –  gnostradamus Jul 6 '09 at 15:11
    
I'd like to see this re-rendered with post views on an x or y axis, to make it easier to spot some differences there. –  Joel Coehoorn Jul 6 '09 at 15:15
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Also: you've got an interesting heisenburg situation going here: pointing out some of the outliers in your analysis by name will likely make them stick out even more in future tests. –  Joel Coehoorn Jul 6 '09 at 15:16
    
@Joel: OK, will look at tomorrow...time for dinner... –  Stu Thompson Jul 6 '09 at 15:17
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OUR NAVELS LET US SHOW YOU THEM!! :) –  Jeff Atwood Jul 6 '09 at 15:21
    
@Joel: The numbers are a few weeks old, and the first public analysis (that I am aware of.) Forever doomed here on out, OK, possible. But the above observation is unmolested by Heisenburg's principle. –  Stu Thompson Jul 6 '09 at 15:22
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Why do you call SO users "SOpedians"? –  Kyle Cronin Jul 6 '09 at 15:28
    
@Kyle: SO is supposed to have a wiki like quality to it, wikipedia.com users are called 'wikipedians', and I just think 'SOpedians' sounds more entertaining that mere 'users'. –  Stu Thompson Jul 6 '09 at 15:32
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Stu: I believe the proper term would be "nerds" –  TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 15:37
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You keep citing Heisenberg. I do not think it means what you think it means. –  bananakata Jul 6 '09 at 15:41
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@stu: fyi, your blog profile suggests you're either a bread product or a synchronised swimmer with your "various rolls" :P –  bananakata Jul 6 '09 at 15:43
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Your cute graphs deserve updating. –  LeakyCode Aug 29 '09 at 4:10
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Graph image is dead, and so is the website... here's the Wayback machine link. –  Dan Dascalescu Mar 9 at 9:51

9 Answers 9

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can't really trust profile views as a metric of popularity. I know personally that early on I fell into the habit of clicking on my own profile to view my upvotes/downvotes, etc. (this was before the "little envelope" functionality was added). I still tend to click on my profile instead of the envelope, thus potentially inflating my profile views.

In short, profile views may be a measure of popularity for some, and narcissism for others. =)

EDIT: You also can't underestimate the "train-wreck" profiles: users who give utterly horrible answers, or routinely ask terrible questions. They probably get more views just out of morbid curiosity.

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"narcissism" was my first thought too :) but the volume of folks with high profile views and low reputation is HUGE! –  Stu Thompson Jul 6 '09 at 14:56
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You'd think the view counter wouldn't increment if the cookie said it was yourself looking. –  bananakata Jul 6 '09 at 15:39
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@annakata: You'd think so, but I'm pretty sure most of my profile views are from me. I'm not that active in high-visibility tags. =) –  gnostradamus Jul 6 '09 at 16:00
    
...And we all know what a big ego THE LEGEND has. :) –  muntoo Apr 27 '11 at 5:18

I'm offended that I didn't get my name in a very large pink bubble on that graph somewhere. Maybe add some sparkles as well.

And to think, I'm the only person on all of StackOverflow who has his own website pointing back to his profile...

http://www.ponyoverflow.com

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So basically you want a "cornified" bubble. =) –  gnostradamus Jul 6 '09 at 14:59
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Yes please . –  TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 15:00
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That website is awesome :) –  Ólafur Waage Jul 6 '09 at 15:10
    
"OMG, Ponies!" (Heheheheheheh...) –  Stu Thompson Jul 7 '09 at 5:07
    
AARRGGGHH! Too many ponies in my brain! Terminating! –  muntoo Apr 27 '11 at 5:20

When I see a very good answer I sometimes go to the user's profile and scan a few of his/her answers/questions from the fields I know about and if I like them I up vote them too.

It happened once with a offensive answer I saw, feeling that one down-vote was insufficient.

Note that I still only vote on posts I think warrant the vote (up or down) but by looking at a specific user's posts I raise the likelihood of her/him getting my votes.

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I would like to note that many of the users with the highest number of profile views, have been talked about on the blog, or the podcast.

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I tend to go to the profile view to find out when the user was last on SO - no point adding comments or suggestions if they're long gone.

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Personally, I tried to make part of the space in my profile actually useful by including a reputation tracker link and custom google/uservoice searches. That's mainly for my own use, but I know some others have also found the search useful in particular, and I like to think that contributed to my profile being viewed a little more often.

So with that in mind, I'm curious to know who that outlier is from the top100 between myself and Marc Gravel. Does he have anything in his profile that might be similarly useful?

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Ah, never mind, that's reputation along the bottom axis. It makes more sense now- I was fixated on 'top100' vs 'top10'. –  Joel Coehoorn Jul 6 '09 at 15:06
    
The SOpedian you seek is none other than tvanfosson, user 12950. –  Stu Thompson Jul 6 '09 at 15:09
    
Ah. :) Yes, the 'top' is defined as Profile Views. :) –  Stu Thompson Jul 6 '09 at 15:09

Maybe the number of profile views depends on the type of answers that a person posts. For example, a person who comes across as insanely knowledgeable (or insanely dumb) might have more profile views, that a person who just gives straightforward answers. Or a person who gives a lot of controversial answers might have more profile views because people want to see his/her profile to see if his/her answer can be trusted.

All this is just mad hypothesis, but what I'm saying is that maybe reputation and number of posts might not be the only two dimensions you should look at.

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type...hmmm...maybe that is something i could search for in the tags? It would be nice if we could see the number of down votes a users has received... –  Stu Thompson Jul 6 '09 at 15:00
    
Yeah, the no. of downvotes (and upvotes) seen separately will be a good way of judging controversial questions/answers. –  anand_trex Jul 6 '09 at 15:21

That is interesting but I think theres a lot of noise in that graph, namely you should be able to compare profiles views to one of more of the following and get a better correlation:

  • Total views of questions (answered or asked);
  • Upvotes received;

What would also make an interesting graph is to compare:

  • Average upvotes per answer of non-CW question vs ranking or reputation. You might want to exclude the top and bottom 5% as outliers;
  • % of answers that are accepted answers (non-CW questions in both cases) vs ranking or reputation (min 50 questions answered);
  • Average reputation gain per answer vs ranking or reputation. This one could be interesting because I think it will actually be a bell curve where Jon Skeet's will be low just because he gives so many answers above and beyond the daily rep cap. It'd be interesting to see if that holds for anyone else; and
  • Amount of "lost" reputation (because of the daily rep cap) vs ranking or reputation.

Let me know if you do any of the above. I'd like to see the results.

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I'm not convinced your analysis is correct. Looking at the graphs, there's a pretty clear trend of increasing bubble size with increasing distance from the origin. I think if you treat the excessively large bubbles (e.g. Jon Skeet) as outliers, the results will be more or less as expected.

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