The new profile page (on the Profile tab, the first thing most users see when looking at a user) has a "top posts" section to highlight the user's most-voted questions and answers. Usually this is a positive thing for the user, but occasionally it looks more like this:

five downvoted posts, worst at -28

This might not be something the affected user is proud of, but he might not be free to delete them either (for example if they are answered questions).

You also see the top-voted (or least-downvoted) posts on the Activity tab, but there they have the neutral headers of "Questions" and "Answers". "Top posts", on the other hand, sounds a little like a value judgement -- a promotion. If we understand "top" to be relative then it's accurate but unflattering, but "top" can also convey an absolute, positive meaning to some.

Do we care? Should we change anything? Here are some possibilities, in ascending order of difficulty to implement:

We could say "tough noogies". Maybe a little public shaming is good for the soul. Or maybe it's not but, you know, public data is public, so because people can see this information easily enough anyway, there's no point in trying to hide it. Take it as motivation to do better.

We could change the section heading. I don't have a good suggestion that would be short enough; maybe somebody else does.

We could restrict the list to positive-scoring posts. In the all-negative case we can't just leave the section blank, though; that will suggest that the person has no posts, which is misleading. Perhaps we would take a cue from a similar case on the Activity tab:

"no positive reputation changes"

For reputation that just invites gawking, and it might for "top posts" too, but if there was value in not having an all-negative reputation-changes list, maybe the same principle applies here too.

We could allow users to selectively remove posts from the list. Maybe you don't mind highlighting that -5 answer because everybody is Wrong and you want people to see the Truth, but that -3 question really was kind of stupid now that you think about it and you'd rather not show it off. However, this isn't just a simple matter of programming; implementing this has implications for the database schema and for the UI as well as the code. It's probably not worth it; I'm including it for the sake of completeness.

I've probably missed some other options.

What, if anything, should we do about negative-score posts in the "top posts" list?


1 Answer 1


Here, Jeff Atwood wrote

The StackOverflow team believes that everybody's special in their own way and doesn't deserve to have a negative self-esteem (aka reputation).

This. A rep of zero or negative seemed cruel.

Displaying a bunch of negative-voted posts does seem to be sort of cruel, given that it's on the first page you see when you click on a user's profile.

What else is prominently featured on a user's profile page?

  • Their top tags.
  • Their top badges
  • Their top communities.
  • Their top network posts.

These all make it seem like your profile page should show off your best, and be a positive thing - like a brag sheet. So why should we have people be embarrassed?

Also, the idea of hiding things that would be . . . um . . . unfortunate for others to see has already been implemented. I did some snooping, and found that there's one little extra feature in the new profile:

New "Hide a community" from my profile feature, (found on the "Edit & Settings" tab.) This came from community feedback, and helps users who may not want their SO Profile - which their boss might stumble upon - to prominently feature their top questions from, oh, I dunno...The Workplace, say. (It's not a true privacy setting, as the connection between accounts can be made with some work, like through the API, but it lets you control what sites are or are not featured on your profile page.)

Users can already hide entire communities. Why not individual posts, too?

So, I actually vote to let users remove posts from their "top posts". A caveat could be that the posts have to have net scores less than 0, but that sounds like more work for whoever would have to build this in.

  • 2
    It seems easier to just not feature posts unless they have a score >= 0. They'd still be visible on the "all answers/questions" lists, but they're not prominently displayed.
    – Troyen
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 21:12

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