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This is a general policy/netiquette question for the sites?

  • Some people like to include 'signatures' in their answers
  • But signatures are redundant, since the poster's gravatar is already on each answer.
  • Some signatures have links, which I think are appropriate for articles but not for answers, since the link should already be part of your profile for those that are interested.
  • Most answers have neither signatures nor links.
  • Links in signatures won't actually increase the search-engine ranking of the linked-to web site, since they're automatically marked rel=nofollow
  • Links in answers tends to 'clutter' the thread

So what is the policy, official or otherwise?

This post is a community wiki, with some stock answers for up/down votes (note there is no penalty for downvoting a wiki post). Salient points/opinions should be added as wiki posts also please.

If a consensus is reached, perhaps it should be added to the FAQ. If link-farming is deemed OK, my site could use the exposure as much as anyone else's ;-)

EDIT: Why should we care? Other than the cluttering and he/she-does-it-so-I-want-to-also issues, if signatures and links are OK then they should be respected when editing and/or consolidating answers. If not then it is OK to edit an answer to remove the signature/link clutter.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 3 '09 at 16:34

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

    
all external links, even those in your profile, have nofollow on them, so there's no PageRank benefit to linking to your blog. –  nickf Nov 10 '08 at 5:56
    
@nickf: i don't see rel=nofollow on my profile, i see rel=me –  Steven A. Lowe Nov 10 '08 at 6:02
    
@nickf: links in answers do indeed have nofollow on them, thanks! –  Steven A. Lowe Nov 10 '08 at 6:05
    
oh ok - i just remember hearing Jeff say at one point (on a podcast or on uservoice, can't remember), that he'd prefer to have rel="nofollow" on profile links. I guess they changed their mind. –  nickf Nov 10 '08 at 6:19
    
Really? This is an issue? Stackoverflow effectively makes money from each and every post. I think there should be a little leeway for useful posts with regard to signatures of the posters. If SO is just going to make money on people's posts and doesn't allow signatures with links, what's the point of using SO? Every other forum allows this. –  Peter Ritchie May 30 '10 at 17:26
    
@Peter it's an issue in that it keeps cropping up from time to time. This particular question is over a year old. And according to the FAQ SO is not a "forum", forums are for discussions; SO is a Q&A site. –  Steven A. Lowe Jun 1 '10 at 15:27

4 Answers 4

up vote 21 down vote accepted

The official policy on signatures has been added to the /faq on each site:

Can I use a signature or tagline?

Please don't use signatures or taglines in your posts. Every post you make is already "signed" with your standard user card, which links directly back to your user page. Your user page belongs to you — fill it with interesting information about your interests, cool stuff you've worked on, or whatever else you like!

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For voting:

No signatures or links in answers, please!

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My opinion:

I refrained from using a signature on Stack Overflow like I do on The Code Project et al simply because (a) it's redundant with the auto-signature and user page, and (b) almost no one else does it, including the site's founders and noted author contributors et al.

Contrary to some opinions, I do indeed 'have a life', but I am very careful about presenting a professional and consistent presence on the web. Remembering that I am a guest on Stack Overflow, I wondered what the netiquette was, which is one of the reasons that I asked this question.

Another reason I asked this question is to see if anyone else cared about it. This is debatable - we have one 'get a life' with several downvotes, quite a few upvotes for 'no signatures', one vote for 'signatures are OK', and two people bothered to express an opinion. I would say that based on this the Stack Overflow community in general really doesn't care about signatures.

Thanks to all who participated, I am marking this question 'closed'.

Best regards,
Steven A. Lowe
Founder and CEO, Innovator LLC
www.nov8r.com

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2  
So 31+ votes for No sigs means nobody cares? Or were you looking for people to add duplicate answers and noise to what you started as a poll? –  random Nov 3 '09 at 22:46
1  
@[random]: these remarks were made when 'no sigs' had only a few votes, and the question had been dead for weeks –  Steven A. Lowe Nov 4 '09 at 3:55

For voting:

Leave signatures alone.

Links in them are fine as long as they are not blatant commercial advertising.

I intensely dislike the reliance of this site on OpenID logon, because it is the only site I've ever used that requires it (or even offers it). I don't have a "gravatar" through there because it seemed like way too much of a mess to set up with the image I wanted.

I use the signature here that I use in all my posts in all the Access forums I participate in. This makes me immediately identifiable as the same David Fenton you see in the other forums -- that sig (and its formatting) is part of my online identity, and not having it would be a real problem.

This is the only forum I've ever participated in where the kind of signature I use has ever been questioned.

The reason I include the link to my website is that I provide Access-related materials on my website (most importantly, the Jet Replication Wiki), so it's provided not as an attempt to increase my pagerank (which I recognize doesn't work), but as a pointer for those reading the articles I post.

I actually agree with the post that says GET A LIFE -- I've seen this kind of discussion many times and don't believe it ever improves a forum.

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thanks for adding to the discussion david! –  Steven A. Lowe Nov 16 '08 at 20:45
1  
but i am curious - how does one distinguish "blatant commercial advertising" from 'merely' a link to a website offering professional services? Where is the line drawn, and by whom? –  Steven A. Lowe Nov 16 '08 at 20:50
    
Like Potter Stewart, I know it when I see it. I would say sig text that promotes a product would be blatant and commercial. A mere business name and link is not. –  David-W-Fenton Nov 16 '08 at 21:03
    
thanks again for your opinion, it is one of the few that people bothered to express! –  Steven A. Lowe Nov 16 '08 at 21:14
1  
and i second the dislike of OpenId ;-) –  Steven A. Lowe Nov 19 '08 at 21:19
5  
(a) It would not be a "real problem". (b) Put it in your profile. Nobody else cares about your online identity, but about the answer. (c) This is not a "forum". –  Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 7 '12 at 18:29

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