You might know the user profile and settings. It’s what appears after you click on your profile picture.

Getting to the profile

Profile view

Maybe you come here to track your Q&A activity or to update your Developer Story. Maybe you’ve stopped by to manage your email settings, opt-in to Beta features, or to get valuable flairTM. Maybe you've even checked out your Stack Exchange network profile. Maybe you've never done any of this, and are learning for the first time about the various things you can do in this mysterious pocket of Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange.

The truth is, the user profile and settings have become an increasingly cluttered junk drawer in the last few years. It’s fallen by the wayside against other priorities, and the result is an area that serves many purposes, yet doesn’t serve any one purpose particularly well.

With the launch of Teams, we have yet another set of use cases that the profile & settings has to serve, and it does so in a mediocre fashion. We want to change that. Not just because Teams needs a better profile, but because Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange have needed a better, fully responsive profile for a long time.

We need your help

We’re kicking off these changes by conducting user research about what people like and dislike about the profile, and how it might be improved. In addition to the folks on Meta, we’ll be talking to people sourced from our Research email list. The intent is to get some preliminary knowledge about what kinds of updates would be most beneficial to the most people.

If you can spare a few minutes, please fill out this survey. Among other things, it asks questions like:

  • Describe what you like and dislike about the current Profile
  • Imagine you could have one unified profile vs. many unique profiles. Which would you prefer, and why?

We recognize that Meta folks are probably more likely to use the profile and settings regularly, which is why you’re one of the first groups of people that we’re talking to.

Please fill out the survey by Thursday, December 13.

  • 99
    To be honest, I don't think it really needs improvement. Those resources are better spent on fixing the bugs in the existing design instead of rewriting the whole thing again. (Profile got total redesign in the past). I appreciate the efforts, but for me it feels like trying to fix something that is not broken, which is a mistake. – Shadow Wizard Dec 4 at 0:16
  • 15
    @ShadowWizard (and others) Right now the profiles aren't responsive and their current layout is not going to be easy to convert. If we're happy with everything on the profiles, that's great... but we're going to have to rework them to be responsive somehow, and that's at least part of this work. Right now on narrow browser widths (and mobile), they scroll in an unintended way that needs to be addressed for usability... so, in a way, they are currently "broken". :) – Catija Dec 4 at 1:11
  • 3
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. In short - well if you have some constructive critique, y'all might want to post an answer, fill up the survey or upvote something you agree with. – Journeyman Geek Dec 13 at 7:59
  • Is this exclusive to the desktop site, or does the current scope include the mobile version? (I ask because it'd be nice to have "member since..." on the mobile site. That may or may not be a suitable answer here.) – E.P. Dec 13 at 12:40
  • @E.P. We're not looking at updating the mobile version as part of this. That said, we're continuing to work on the desktop version and making it responsive and optimized for mobile so that more people will have the full features of the desktop site without feeling like they need to use the mobile skin at all. – Catija yesterday

16 Answers 16

I think the profile is actually one of the most well-thought-out parts of Stack Exchange already, and I'd question whether it actually needs much changing. I can certainly see the argument for wanting to get Teams to feature in profiles, but I'd much rather see that get worked into the existing profile in some of the free space somewhere than a whole new profile page get built. That would be effort that could be better spent on areas of SE more in need of attention - there's plenty to choose from.

Perhaps something like this might work:

ArtOfCode's profile with a grid-list of team memberships (containing "Charcoal", "SOBotics", and "Stack Moderators") preceding the profile text

(also, kudos, Stacks made mocking that up easy :D)

There are potentially other spaces on that page as well - under the list of stats in the right sidebar, maybe, or on the Activity tab - etc.

  • 90
    Yeah, +10: this ain't broke; fix the other things that are. – Josh Caswell Dec 3 at 21:09
  • Weird. I dived into the survey and started talking about how I use this page...then eventually realise the page I use is Activity. I've barely even noticed the Profile page, and had no idea about all those Settings. – Steve Bennett 2 days ago

Please bear in mind that of the 174 sites on the network, only one has either Developer Story or Teams (and SE has no plans to change that). While SO is a massive site and deserves a lot of attention, it's important to not downgrade the experience on all the other sites while making improvements needed by these extra tie-ins.

I'm pretty satisfied with the existing profile, as ArtOfCode said in another answer. It'd be nice to have an easier path to the Team I'm part of – having it show up in the accounts list on my network profile (just for me) would be great! – but that's a nice-to-have, not essential. I filled out the survey (thanks for asking!) and left more-detailed feedback there; I'm posting here because it sounds like SO-only concerns are driving this, we've seen that before, and I'm hoping we'll be careful. Thanks.

  • 4
    Also a very good point. I was looking at my SO profile while I filled out the survey and wondering which parts actually would be useful in a "unified" version. – Josh Caswell Dec 4 at 0:28
  • 3
    I appreciate and admire your calm and rational response to everything that is thrown at users, but would you have made a similar announcement with four days' notice? And do you believe that any cranks, cricks or quibbles about the user profile page can be resolved by... Friday? This Monday or the next? – Mari-Lou A Dec 4 at 15:15
  • 4
    @Mari-LouA the timing of this post is a problem, one that you could raise in a separate answer. I focused here on the profile itself, in hopes of having that feedback listened to without being entwined with other issues. That doesn't mean there isn't more to say; the nature of these kinds of discussion posts is that there isn't one universal answer but a collection of answers that add up to feedback. – Monica Cellio Dec 4 at 15:30

I echo the other answers, the user profile is pretty good, it just needs to adjust to smaller screens better.

There is however one thing that could be improved in the user profile, or added elsewhere: I need to select the "Activity" tab, then click on "x helpful flags" in the small version of the user activity summary to get to the page where I can see what happened to the flags I raised.

enter image description here

This needs to be in an easier place to discover. I wouldn't be surprised if many users never see the feedback about declined flags etc.

Flags could, for example, be one of the tabs on the activity tab, next to "votes".

  • 4
    Or at the miminum, a clickable question mark or (info) or (view) text next to helpful flags. – Jan Doggen Dec 4 at 10:37
  • 1
    I was told that smaller screens are not supported and any bugs resulting from that are invalid when it comes to the site's design changes or responsiveness. – forest Dec 4 at 11:27
  • @forest they haven't finished the responsive site yet, so profiles are terrible on phones unless you use the mobile view, but they've said that's coming. The mobile view for profiles isn't terrible on a phone; they could do a lot worse than replicating that (so long as it doesn't kick in for larger small screens like tablets!). – Monica Cellio Dec 4 at 14:54
  • 1
    It doesn't even adjust to large screens, and arguably does those worse than it does small ones. – tchrist Dec 7 at 4:09

Tooling needs priority.

It’s fallen by the wayside against other priorities

Yes, by design. Compared to other requirements, the profile should not be re-prioritized. It serves no increased purpose, and several previous improvements requiring investment didn't really change much.

While there are several areas which could be developed, they simply should not. There are other priorities which need to remain prioritized.

  • 22
    99% of the time I use my profile is to check the upvotes on my totally awesome comments ... which by design I have to jump through hoops for. That's what I want (a button for that) but that's a thing that should not be. – Mazura Dec 5 at 2:17
  • 1
    Yea, it's really nice that browsers have added the ability to bookmark specific pages. – Kevin B Dec 6 at 23:29
  • 2
    @Mazura, are you aware of the query my top comments, network wide? You can even sort it by date. :) – Wildcard Dec 7 at 22:53

Please don't make any big changes!

I like the SE profiles. The flow is logical and compartmentalised; the organisation works well for me. If I want to check up on rep, I can go to the reputation tab with one click. If I want to see reviews I have completed, I can browse through them without too much distraction.

For the same reasons I opt for separate profiles for each site. I like to have everything in separate "areas". The current profiles are almost integrated already, anyhow; if I want to check up on another profile, it is only a click away, in the menu. However, it is a real pain to have to log in to all sites individually. For security reasons I clean cookies regularly, which forces me to log in to every profile. If logins were network-wide I would be happy.

In summary:

I like the profiles just as they are. There is just one change I would really like to see implemented:

Please allow global logins.

  • 2
    Well turns out they only make it responsive. I hope. See comments under the question. :) – Shadow Wizard Dec 4 at 9:40
  • 2
    What do you mean by "global logins"? SE currently logs you into every site once you've logged into one. – thesecretmaster Dec 4 at 17:50
  • 1
    @thesecretmaster, not once you have cleared your cookies. Go ahead and try it. I have to log in to every site individually. – hat Dec 4 at 17:52
  • 3
    Yes, clearing your cookies will log you out everywhere. Cookies are what SE uses to track if you're logged in or not, so without them, you will be logged out. – thesecretmaster Dec 4 at 18:01
  • @thesecret Yes, I don't mind logging in, but it would be great if I could log in to all my sites at once. – hat Dec 4 at 18:51
  • 1
    This is pretty tangential, but if you use Firefox, containers might be a local solution to this for you. – Josh Caswell Dec 4 at 19:21
  • @Josh: I had never heard of containers. Thanks for the tip. – hat Dec 5 at 14:29
  • @ShadowWizard Considering the “responsive” ”design” of the regular pages still is neither of those things, you may be setting yourself for getting your hopes dashed to imagine they’ll suddenly figure out how to make profiles responsive when not even the main pages are so. – tchrist Dec 7 at 4:11
  • @Watchthisspace I'm not sure I follow. Yes, deleting your cookies will log you out... but then logging in again should log you into all our Q&A domains like normal. Is that not the case? – Adam Lear Dec 10 at 21:51
  • @AdamLear: It seems to be working for me today, except for SO. Logging in to SO does not log me in to other sites, and vice versa. Its odd, though, up until today I had to log in to every site I visited. Possibly I was using SO as a starting point to reach all my other sites (SO is the one I have bookmarked). – hat Dec 11 at 7:06

Several here:

Favorites Tab:

  1. Please, for the love of all that is Jon Skeet, fix the Favorites Tab. There is one big glaring issue with this:

    Here there are five links with five different suggestions as to what the number indicates. Maybe it indicates a sensible list of things that have changed, but that needs to be reflected in the questions that are highlighted and there should be a tooltip when you hover over the number that indicates what it includes.

  2. Allow us to add labels to our favorites and filter the list. Even a handful of three or four preset labels such as:

    • "Good Question"
    • "Good Answer"
    • "Good Comments"
    • "Follow up later"

    would be super useful (we can't always remember why we favorited stuff days/weeks/months/years later), but what would make this a killer profile page feature is the ability to search, sort, and filter our favorites list. I'm talking a full search - title names, author, what tags are included, etc. (bonus points if you can make it search within the body of the posts, but I know that's quite a bit more effort).

    We can already sort of do this in a roundabout way by going to the main page and using the infavorites:mine parameter, but it'd be great to be able to search within the profile page itself.

    See this list of outstanding requests on this:

    1. Is there any way to favorite/bookmark an answer?
    2. Classification (or equivalent) option for favorited questions
    3. Allow grouping of favorite questions
    4. Is there a way to create a separate favorite list of my own answers?
    5. How to search in favorite post using keywords?
  3. Include pagination links at the top of the Favorites list as well as the bottom.

  • 5
    Yes! Totally! This is essentially the only thing that's missing and it's needed badly. – ImportanceOfBeingErnest Dec 6 at 20:07

Revision history for "about" text.

The text in the "about" box can be substantial. We have 3000 characters, which is the size of some posts. People edit this text from time to time; it's not always "write once and forget". And we can (and do) customize it for each site, highlighting things relevant on that site but not on others.

And it can all be lost with one accidental update that you meant to only do on one site.

I shouldn't have to manually back up these quasi-posts off-site. Could we please have a way to access the revision history (like for posts) on our own "about" text? Don't expose it to other users; like email address, it's just for the owner (and moderators).

  • 4
    If we have revision history for "about" text, moderators should have access to it. Why? Because it makes it easier to prove that someone has a history of posting inappropriate content in that box. – called2voyage Dec 6 at 18:23
  • I mean, the "about" text is always public, so what was historically in there was subject to be scraped anyway. The SE staff will always have the ability to purge revisions with information that shouldn't have been disclosed. – called2voyage Dec 6 at 18:25
  • @called2voyage that makes sense. We should treat it the same way we treat the other user-private information on profiles; "about" is not more private than the PII we can access now. – Monica Cellio Dec 6 at 18:53

I filled out the survey, and I alluded to but did not link to, this post I made on Meta Stack Exchange previously: Unclickable links in stackexchange.com leads to an unusable profile

The hobbled Network level profile makes my life difficult.

I think that three things need to be kept in mind:

  • Sites are different. SO has some different features that other sites don't have and not everything will make sense for the whole network.
  • A profile on a site may look and feel different than a global Network profile. They may have different use cases or audiences.
  • Different people have different expectations for a profile. On a number of sites, I consider myself an expert and participate almost exclusively to share answers. On other sites, I am a learner and tend to ask questions. On one site, I'm a moderator. There may be others, but these people probably want to show off different stuff in a profile.
  • 2
    Definitely. I've customized my profile on several sites to highlight stuff relevant on that site. That doesn't mean it belongs on a single network-wide profile. – Monica Cellio Dec 4 at 14:57

All the things

One thing I like about the old StackExchange mobile app (I use it on iOS) is it lets me click my avatar to see all my recent activity. This includes questions, answers, and comments.

This is really useful for keeping tabs on several Q&A threads I'm participating in, on different sites, all in one place.

In the current web experience, I have to click my site profile, click "Network Profile", then click the "Activity" tab, and sometimes the "all" subtab. That's a long distance to go when I'm using the listing to navigate back and forth between different threads.

screen recording of accessing "all my activity across the network"

I'd like it if the proposed responsive design gave me quick access to the "all the things I'm doing across the network" list from any site, with one or two clicks.

  • 1
    I have a link to my own network profile activity tab in my browser bookmarks, but it would be convenient to have the link built into the site. – Peter Taylor Dec 5 at 10:06

Improve editing multiple profiles across network in one place

For example, having 150+ profiles across network sites, and it's impossible to edit them from one place (or in some easily to use method). You can only copy your profile to all sites, however it's not possible to manage profiles without logging to all of these 150+ sites individually (which can result in IP ban). This isn't possible using API as well, since About me field isn't supported.

So, please improve how users can edit multiple profiles across the network. Or at least add such ability to API, so users can create apps to do that.

Related:

My problem is that the size of questions page and user profile page are not the same. That is, when I change my browser zoom to 150%, I see all the contexts in the questions page, but I don't see a thin part on the right of profile page. This is probably a general problem in the design of all stackexchange sites.

  • 5
    Zoom is not supported by SE. – Shadow Wizard Dec 4 at 8:40
  • @ShadowWizard I didn't say that zoom should be supported by SE. I've said when I can see the questions page by zoom 150% completely, I should see the profile page as well. – user604594 Dec 4 at 8:43
  • 2
    Nope. If zoom is not supported, it means using zoom is meaningless and can't be used to base anything on that. I mean what when zooming, things might work, but also might not work. Not being consistent about something is part of not supporting it. :) – Shadow Wizard Dec 4 at 9:11
  • 2
    This is exactly why they want to redo this page: to add responsiveness. This is the ability of the page to adjust to the space available to it, rather than running off the side so you need to scroll. This is not just about zooming, you also see it when making the window narrower, or when looking at the page on a phone. – Cris Luengo Dec 4 at 13:33
  • 12
    It's 2018; supporting zoom should be a given. Zoom is distinct from resposiveness; I should be able to make the text bigger in any window size and still have the site work. – Monica Cellio Dec 4 at 15:03
  • 3
    @MonicaCellio: I don’t know much about web design, so I might fudge terminology, but to me, logically, zooming is related to responsiveness in that zooming is equivalent to making the window smaller: both lead to less text fitting in the window, needing the site to adapt itself. – Cris Luengo Dec 4 at 15:10
  • 3
    @CrisLuengo maybe I'm using the term wrong, then. I meant text zoom, making the fonts bigger. Full-page zoom is logically equivalent to shrinking the window, yes. Text zoom is "keep the boundaries the same, make the text bigger, yes that means you'll wrap more frequently". – Monica Cellio Dec 4 at 15:14
  • @MonicaCellio: Ah, yes, that makes sense too, I hadn’t thought of that. It’s probably more difficult to handle for sites that make assumptions about the size in pixels of a font. I hope SE doesn’t use the 1x1 bitmap trick to position text just right? :) – Cris Luengo Dec 4 at 15:21
  • 7
    "Zoom is not supported" Seriously? – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 4 at 23:45
  • You should just change your answer to "Support Zoom! 2018!" (little late for the election reference some place, I know ;) – JGreenwell Dec 5 at 13:47
  • @MonicaCellio Well, when Microsoft itself doesn't support zoom (even though it's the 3rd most requested feature), it may be tempting if you are Stack Overflow to follow suit... – TylerH Dec 10 at 15:54
  • What zoom levels should be supported? Do you really want Stack Overflow to do the necessary testing at 25% and 500%? Should a site really be legible at a 25% zoom? Should anything work at 500%? At that point a single letter takes up a decent proportion of the screen. Saying "support zoom" is easy; actually supporting zoom is much more work than people seem to consider. – Heretic Monkey Dec 11 at 17:48
  • @HereticMonkey As you can see SE supports zoom in questions page but not in profile page. – user604594 Dec 12 at 8:30

My Super User profile page is missing my job title and employer:

Super User Profile Page


And there is no place on the Edit Profile & Settings page to add these items:

Super User Edit Profile and Settings page


In fact, I can add my job title and employer to my Stack Overflow profile, but not to any other profile. (I use Stack Overflow, Meta Stack Overflow, Super User, and Meta Stack Exchange.) Please allow us to add our job titles and employers to our other site pages.

But overall, I like the profile page as is. :-)

  • 12
    Developer Story and anything related to Jobs is part of Stack Overflow only. It's meaningless on all other SE sites. – Shadow Wizard Dec 4 at 8:41
  • 6
    @ShadowWizard Indeed! Let's make it meaningful. – S Jade Dec 4 at 18:44
  • 5
    @SJade By their nature it is not possible for them to be meaningful outside of SO. – TylerH Dec 4 at 20:12

Monica's answer and Thomas's answer has some valid points why a common profile might not look good. In addition to that I would like to add that, having a common place for settings would be great.

TLDR

Keep profile separate for each site and provide a unified settings page.

  • There are some settings which are site specific (tags, etc). Also, for settings which apply to the network, they are accessible from all of your profiles. I see no need to change anything in that regard. – hat Dec 4 at 12:07
  • 3
    It's counter-intuitive that some of the settings on site profiles are actually global. I don't know what the best solution to that is (the network profile probably isn't very discoverable for new users), but some interface clarity would be nice. – Monica Cellio Dec 4 at 15:00
  • 3
    @MonicaCellio, it shouldn't be too hard to cluster the global and the per-site settings in the same page and add headers to the two sections. – Peter Taylor Dec 6 at 11:06

At a minimum, please, please, please* add a prominent "log out" button.

The one tucked away under the "site switcher" icon (which I had no idea was called that until I just looked at the html) is just too hidden.


One more thing (the rest I'll keep to the survey), but in regards to:

Imagine you could have one unified profile vs. many unique profiles. Which would you prefer, and why?

A couple days almost asked an question (well, more of a diatribe) here on meta, to be entitled:

"What is the best way to manage logging in/out of StackExchange sites without going insane?"

It was to be begin:

So, I've been using this site I-don't-know-how-many-years now and I still cannot figure out how logging in and logging out, or joining Stack Exchange and or its various sites works, and sometimes wonder even if these are a meaningful concepts.

So for me, a "casual user" (but still in like the stop 2%-16% on some rather prominent communities), the answer is unquestionably one unified profile.

I eventually thought the better of posting my "question", but I spent maybe three hours writing it. It basically came down to what I think you're asking. I could post more of it if you wanted, which basically just breaks down why I find the fragmentation so frustrating and confusing, and how I think its a major turn off to other "casual users", and drives them to places like Quora instead.


Edit: One more part of that question I didn't ask:

I think you might find more evidence supporting that general users want more "integration" if you dig around here, for example: Why am I not logged in to all of my communities when I log into StackExchange?

I would say that that question was completely incorrectly marked a dupe. I very much read that question, not a question of why (by what means is this happening)—but much more why (for what cause is it such).

  • 1
    So you suggest that clicking a user name (anywhere) would lead to what is now the network profile, where it will show general info about the user, and if user viewing own profile, will have a big "log out" button in a visible place? That's not a bad idea, can be a good feature request if written properly. :) – Shadow Wizard Dec 10 at 12:38
  • @ShadowWizard Yep, basically. Although I think the network profile should look more like a site profile (sort of an aggregate or "best of"). Think about if I first "met" you via your profile on Skeptics. It prominently shows you have 113 rep and has a big blank space. Would you not want the first thing someone clicks, if casually curious about you, to resemble something more like your profile here or on SO? To see your >100,000 rep here over 113 there? I'll look into what it takes to put together a feature request! :) – Geoff Nixon Dec 10 at 13:22
  • Yeah, good point. I'd go with showing "top 5 from each site" sorted by rep, but also focus or highlight the site where the viewer came from. – Shadow Wizard Dec 10 at 13:24
  • Yeah, definitely. Some type of split. But right now your "network cred" on the "front page" (via that community) is limited to a couple tiny boxes. Another problem for me is for lack of a better term, the "meta vs. Meta vs. network vs Network" problem. Again, look at that Skeptics page. it says you have one meta question. A link to "View meta profile" (and above "View network profile"). One here? And notably, "Skeptics Meta" is skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com, not meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com. Basically, it requires a significant "deep dive" (not enormous, but still) to figure it out. – Geoff Nixon Dec 10 at 13:42

Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange have needed a better, fully responsive profile for a long time

"A long time" is relative: the profile got a full overhaul about three years ago. There are many other items users have asked for that are longer outstanding. In my opinion, the profile page should not be considered a priority; there is nothing significant that is broken or missing, especially compared to other features.

Something related to the Winter Bash opt-out/opt-in: for those who prefer to NOT participate in it, they have to repeat, each year, something like "I do not like hats". Because by default, every year, the hats are enabled. And to actually disable the Winter Bash hats, they have to wait until the Winter Bash period has started. Which puts them at risk that they already earned hats before they noticed the Winter Bash period has started.

If you'd move that option to a permanent profile option, then you could remember that preference for subsequent years. Whereas by default, for new users, you could still have the hats enabled.

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