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Link Stack Overflow profile pages to Google profile

You may or may not have heard about the new rel="author" tag that some sites (most notably Google) are using to identify authorship of online content. It's still very new, so there's still only a few benefits it brings, but the main one has to be the extra information provided on Google search results:

Google search result with rel=author

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.

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. Consider the benefits of adding the rel="author" parameter to, say, 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.

Since SO still sees Google as its primary interface, I think it would be a great idea to take advantage of one of Google's more ambitious new efforts, and showcase great answer-ers even more.

Discuss, and remember -- Jon Skeet is almost certainly going to be in favor of this ;)


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