There's a number of articles that suggest we lose some privacy in perma-linking of questions, because it ties to a user account's user id. This is somewhat true.

What if we implemented a tie table behind the scenes though? For instance, my user ID is 173120, and a question ID might be 58982; so the first time a permalink is generated for that table, it creates a new entry in the tie table. Then I perma-link a 2nd question, and again, it generates a new link in the tie table; so for instance, see the following table:

|    ID        |    Question        |    UserId        |
|    2301      |    58982           |    173120        |
|    2302      |    104768          |    173120        |

My old permalink to question 58982 would have been:


So my permalink to question 58982, using just the permalink tie-table ID would be like (using pl as an abbreviation for permalink):


Or if we'd prefer to still use the /q syntax, using question ID and permalink (still using pl as an abbreviation for permalink):


Linking my second question would then look like, one of the following:

  • meta.stackoverflow.com/pl/2302
  • meta.stackoverflow.com/q/104768/pl2302

Since the number for the permalink would change with every user (similar to what we got now), but be different per question, people would have no way to track it back to the user without access to the StackOverflow database; and if they have access to the StackOverflow database...perma-linking questions isn't even on the radar for a privacy concern!

  • 1
    If anything (personally I don't classify this an invasion of my privacy by any means), the ID you're generating should be tacked onto the end of the post ID, so the meaning of the link is not completely lost; meta.stackoverflow.com/58972/173120 becomes meta.stackoverflow.com/58972/2301 instead of meta.stackoverflow.com/2301
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 14:19
  • aye, as suggested in my second format, the one SE automatically reforms! let me edit that so the meaning is not lost. Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 14:22
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    Obligatory comment suggesting to use a Userscript or a similar technology or plugin/addon to achieve the removal of the user-id from the link. Closes with the snarky statement that you could remove the id by hand if you don't like it. Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


That would make things quite quite quite confusing.

You are basically now obfuscating the url which was not the original intention.

  • true, with the first format, with the 2nd format, its no more obfuscated than it currently it is, just adding a plID instead of an user ID. Was just looking for a solution to a semi-sensitive topic; and it only came up cause a friend recently refused to use SE network cause "they track you" he said, looking for privacy on meta, this was the only major thing I could find. Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 14:18
  • @BrianDeragon there is no reason to use the user-linked url. you just as easily use the url in the address bar. SE will track you no matter what, that is how you earn a couple of the badges.
    – Naftali
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 14:19
  • and if SE tracks us no matter what? What's the purpose of the user-linked url in the first place? I thought it was for the badges, if its for the badges, you can just use the permalink id now, and still keep the user id hidden behind the scenes Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 14:26
  • @BrianDeragon, how does this hide the user? Is the user not completely visible inside the question? Can the viewer not click on the user's profile and see everything that the user has ever asked or answered (that's not deleted)? Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 14:51
  • @AnthonyPegram The user is hidden if you're linking a question, for instance, if I want to link a particularly poor/funny question to someone, or a question off of a site I don't want work to know about, but still get the credit for a badge...or if I'm linking the question on another online forum, or public website, or game; and don't want necessarily people to find my user id on StackOverflow. Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 14:57
  • @BrianDeragon, I see it now. Nevermind. It's my ID that's in the link, not the ID of the person who may have asked the question. Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 15:15

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