We've made some changes to profile editing. The TL;DR is:
We now encourage users to set a name and picture during signup. If you sign up with Google or Facebook, we pull them in and let you edit them before you create an account.
We've made editing your profile across multiple Stack Exchange sites easier:
a. Profile editing now defaults to saving everywhere, and syncs much faster (<5 seconds, where before it would take up to 5 minutes)
b. If you've customized your profile on different sites, you can now sync only your changes to all sites (so you can avoid overwriting customizations if you need to e.g. change your email address)
Now, a bit more detail and a quick word on why.
New User Signup
As part of our efforts to clean up the homepage of Stack Overflow, we noticed that a large percentage (~60%) of new users had no name or avatar -- the ubiquitous "user1859302". While this can be used as a signal of a low quality post, in general it's bad for the site because it makes it look like nobody cares, the opposite of an expert community. When they're common on the homepage or in search results, it becomes something of a broken window.
So, we now encourage users to set their username and avatar during signup. To make it even easier, if you sign up with Google or Facebook we'll pull in your name and picture and let you edit them before you create an account. Since we've turned them on, these changes have reduced the number of nameless users from about 60% to less than 3%.
Here's what it looks like, for the curious:
Note that we don't store your image unless you confirm that you want it, and you're free to change both the image and display name and go back to being "user19580329" if you really want.
The old profile edit page gave you two options: save your profile for this site (the default) or copy all your changes everywhere in the network. This caused two problems:
Most users didn't want to customize their profile on every site. The default was wrong, and the thing they wanted to do (just update it everywhere) was a big scary "Copy changes to all Stack Exchange sites" button.
The users who did want to customize their profile, often didn't want to customize all of it, just one or two fields. If they ever accidentally clicked that "Copy changes..." button, it would blow away all their customizations.
So, we made it a bit more intelligent. Here's the original spec which basically outlines how it works:
Basically, the system now assumes that most users just want to have one profile everywhere and makes that the default. If you want to customize, it's now a bit easier to find and when you make changes only those changes will be copied everywhere so you don't have to worry about losing all your other customizations.
To make this even work, we fixed up the syncing process so that it happens nearly instantly across all the sites. This gets rid of the 5 minute delay when you save changes on one site before they show up across the network.
That's it! Try it out and let us know what you think.