On the "top" network profile page, top questions appear before top answers. For users with several top questions, the top answers may not even be visible without scrolling down.

Jeff Atwood Profile

The network profile pages are in part, a way to show a user's work in relation to community values. The "top" page is also the default page on the profile, which makes it the most visible. If our community values answers over questions, "optimizing for pearls, not sands", should we not give prominence to the top answers before the top questions? Is there a reason why we place questions above answers?

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    Maybe one possible explanation as to why the top questions is above top answers is the fact that the vast majority of users, i.e new users, on Stack Overflow have posted more questions than answers. I would guess that SO hi-rep users are the ones who answer these questions, and they are far and away the minority of users. Thus the network profile mirrors the majority of users' situations. Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 5:40

1 Answer 1


@Ollie prompted me to promote my comment to an answer. I suggested that the system could determine the score of the user's top-voted answer and top-voted question. Whichever is higher would be shown first, such that whichever way that user has contributed most to the community is shown most prominently. Your most valuable contributions are shown first.

However, in putting in the effort to craft a well researched answer, I went to grab some screenshots, and learned that the per-site profile page intermixes them both (by default) and also shows which tags to which you've contributed most. Here's my network profile:

enter image description here

And here I am on StackOverflow:

partial screenshot of JakeRobb's StackOverflow profile

That seems to me to be even better than my original suggestion of simply promoting whichever section had the best top score.

When I'm logged in, my network profile is the same, but looking at one of my own site-specific profiles I get a third UI:

partial screenshot of JakeRobb's StackOverflow profile when viewed as JakeRobb

Obviously there are aspects of the profile that you only show to the user who owns it, but for the purposes of showing questions and answers (and tags?), I think the per-site, not-logged-in-or-not-your-own profile has it right.

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    Yeah, that's cool..."That way your most valuable contributions are shown first" - I like that. Upvoted :P
    – Ollie
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 20:36
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    I think your point that we already do this on per-site profiles makes the case that the network profile page should be redesigned especially strong. Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 3:34
  • While I can understand a desire for this, one of the things that I found most frustrating about per-site profiles is that the position of the list of questions and list of answers are not in a consistent order. Personally, I solved this by having a userscript which fixes the order. However, before that existed, I was constantly assuming the questions list was the answers list and visa versa, depending on which ordering happened to be used on that user's profile. Sure, I could read the headings, but people generally assume when looking at pages like this that the ordering will be consistent.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 6:47
  • @Makyen that’s exactly the problem. The three different ways to view a profile should display questions and answers using the same grouping and sorting choices. I personally like the combined sort (Qs and As together, sorted descending by score), but consistent use of literally anything would be an improvement.
    – JakeRobb
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 17:18
  • @JakeRobb While it's somewhat related, it's not the same issue. The pages you're talking about are on different sites with different formatting, which sets up an expectation in the reader that they may actually be different. Where things are placed in each user's profile's summary page varies from user to user on the same site and is effectively random from the POV of the person viewing the page. This is disorienting, reduces efficiency, and can result in miscommunication/errors for those who look at users' profile pages on a regular basis and act on the information contained.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 17:43
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    That variation in placement isn't explained anywhere and isn't indicated clearly in the page (i.e. the sections which swap position look very similar). As a moderator on Stack Overflow, I look at a lot of user pages almost every day and make decisions based on the content of those pages. That unexplained, barely indicated difference was something I didn't even notice until after I'd assumed I was looking at questions when I was really looking at answers (or vice versa; I forget which one I first noticed it on). Fortunately, it was possible to fix the positioning with some CSS.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 17:43

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