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I was exploring the SE English Language and Usage site, and clicked on what I thought was just a profile of a moderator, although it was oddly named 'Community‚ô¶' So I clicked on it and found something kind of puzzling. Although it is a bot, why are there no profile views when I clicked on it? To make sure that this was not just a bug, I created a random new account and got the same result. Does anyone else have this problem and does anyone know why this happens? This is a screenshot of the Community profile page on 11/19/2020

Also the profile for Community says last seen January 23 of 2013, which is obviously not true because it is still 'modifying' posts. So, finally, why does it say that it was last seen in 2013, when (if you look at the forums) it is still active?

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    I thought it used to have views, it still does on per site metas meta.askubuntu.com/users/-1/community and has 1 view here for some reason meta.stackexchange.com/users/-1/community. perhaps it got so many views it reset the counter? – Mark Kirby Nov 19 at 19:27
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    More importantly, why does it have the "Not a robot" badge? – Ollie Nov 19 at 19:36
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    Whoops... found it after a bit of research. But still. Confusion incoming. – Ollie Nov 19 at 19:38
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    I think it might be because the Community user's profile (on main sites, not child Metas) is updated manually, by the devs. On Meta sites, like MSO, it's updated automatically. – Ollie Nov 19 at 19:52
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    The "last seen" date is the date the site was created. As an example, it shows July 31, 2008 on Stack Overflow. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Nov 19 at 20:35
  • @SonictheK-DayHedgehog Because the profile is updated manually, or another reason? – Ollie Nov 19 at 20:52
  • @Ollie Keep in mind Community is sometimes easier to understand as a construct/artifact than an actual user. – Mast Nov 20 at 18:51
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So, this question led me through a wild goose chase down the code, to figure out why this would be happening. Since the Community User does have a metadata record, with exactly one pageview recorded. And the logic is in place to record it when the profile pages are loaded.

The process for saving new profile views is actually pretty optimized. It is async from the page loading, and is run in batches per site through a separate process. In order to batch these updates, a row is inserted into a cached list that looks like this:

var itemKey = "vc-" + tableName + "-" + itemId;

In this case, the itemId is -1 for the Community user, so the string that is stored will be vc-UserMetadata--1.

The problem comes from a subtle bug in this process. The code for parsing out the itemId here looks like this:

int id = int.Parse(itemKey.Substring(itemKey.LastIndexOf('-') + 1));

This translates to: take a string, find the last occurrence of a dash (which is used as a delimiter in the string), and then extract the itemId numeric value from the end of the string. This works for all cases, except those where itemId is a negative number. In those cases, instead of pulling out a -1, it is pulling out a 1.

TLDR: all of the profile views for the Community User (for a good number of years), have been going instead to Stack Overflow Valued Associate #00001 (Jeff Atwood), who as of now has over 90K profile views on MSE and over 580K views on SO (and no way of knowing how many of those were donated by the Community User).

We will probably fix this at some point. But a good question like this deserves a thorough answer.

UPDATE: A fix is undergoing review and should hopefully be pushed out at some point tomorrow!

UPDATE 2: Fix is deployed - Community's profile view count here should correctly count views as of 2020-12-01 11:45 UTC and 11:54 UTC for the rest of the network. Sorry Jeff, no more free profile views for you :)


ViewCount stuck on 1
Why no views for Comm User?
Given to Atwood

| improve this answer | |
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    It was all an elaborate ruse for Jeff to appear more popular than he already was! ;) – Spevacus Nov 19 at 20:59
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    I fixed your haiku at the end because "user" is two syllables and the second line was thus 8 syllables and not 7. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Nov 19 at 20:59
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    Also, if this is the case, why does Community have 671 profile views on Ask Ubuntu Meta, and one view here on Meta.SE? – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Nov 19 at 21:00
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    @YaakovEllis Thank you for answering this, it had been bothering me because I thought it was mathematically impossible. – Joe Kerr Nov 19 at 21:02
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    @SonictheK-DayHedgehog in cases where the site is configured to have a low threshold (generally sites with low traffic) the view is sent directly to the DB, without buffering. Lower traffic sites are likely to have more accurate view counts on community :) – Dean Ward Nov 19 at 21:06
  • It's very inconsistent (working or broken) with respect to profile views and people reached, on MSE vs SO (as one example); different values are to be expected, but it looks like it broke at some point: i.stack.imgur.com/wZaDO.jpg – Rob Nov 19 at 22:26
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    Just checked - these days practically all sites use buffering so any profile views for community would have been from a long gone past prior to thresholds being adjusted. @Rob "people reached" is not a factor of the view count associated with a profile, it's purely calculated based upon post activity. – Dean Ward Nov 19 at 22:52
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    @Rob chat doesn't use the same code as Stack Overflow and other network sites - it doesn't do profile view counting. The only negative user identifier on network sites is Community – Dean Ward Nov 19 at 23:40
  • does this mean Jeff loses all the views? :D – Journeyman Geek Nov 19 at 23:51
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    @journeymangeek no, Jeff keeps his views. No way of knowing how to split them up. – Yaakov Ellis Nov 20 at 6:50
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    Ah, being an ex bdfl has its perks :D – Journeyman Geek Nov 20 at 7:46
  • If there where only such thing as regex and one could have made it match the negative or positive numeric value... – shiny-metal Nov 20 at 17:50
  • I literally called this four years ago. – Qix - MONICA WAS MISTREATED Nov 21 at 14:16
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    Love your definition of tomorrow @DeanWard. Wish it would work for me too. – Luuklag yesterday
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    @Luuklag it's been March for 9 months at this point, does tomorrow even have a meaning anymore? :) – Dean Ward yesterday

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