5

The 'Hide Communities' page in 'Edit Profile and Settings' says:

Choose which communities will appear in the Communities and Top Network Posts sections of your profile.

Hiding a community means other users will not see it in your Communities list or Top Network Posts. It does not, however, mean your activity is private.

Although this explicitly states posts from hidden communities will not be visible in your top network posts, the top posts tab on your network profile still shows posts from hidden communities. While technically this may not be incorrect, since the network profile doesn't list them as Top Network Posts, instead it calls them Top Answers and Top Questions, this is still misleading.

IMHO the text should either be changed to make clear that this settings does not affect the network profile, or (as I'd prefer) the network profile should be changed to not include posts from hidden communities.

(Before anyone starts pointing out, yes, I do understand my activity is not private. But that doesn't make the text on that page any less misleading.)

2
  • 2
    @Luuklag Not really. That post is sort-of complaining that hidden communities are not hidden well enough. I want to point out that we have a misleading description on our Hide Communities page. Either we fix the description, or fix the feature to match the description
    – nobody
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 13:35
  • Well... if there is enough sample data, it is possible to identify you by your formulation. Probably various services are doing this already. In 1-2 decade, and there will be likely free grabber / database for that. The era of the anonymous internet is soon over.
    – peterh
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 20:59

1 Answer 1

5

The entire feature is just broken, it leaks information in far too many places. It is entirely trivial to discover the connections between hidden accounts, even by accident like in the network profile top posts tabs like you mentioned. But also intentionally if you know where to look for. And if you can use SEDE or the API, you can even do it systematically, as the information is all there.

This feature is giving people a false sense of privacy, I'm not even sure if you can make the warning clear enough. Maybe it should be disabled entirely (though you obviously can't retroactively unhide profiles of course). It simply does not hide communities, it just removes them from a few locations, and still shows them in many others.

I don't think the feature is fixable, this kind of privacy mechanism can't really be bolted on afterwards. You would need to change the entire way users, profiles and accounts work to create true separation for hidden accounts.

4
  • 2
    Agreed, and think the way to solve this, or make it somewhat better, is change the wording. Sadly, can't think of better wording myself, but hopefully others can, Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 13:25
  • 1
    You're totally right. Just wanted to point out the description is misleading.
    – nobody
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 13:46
  • 1
    @nobody it is, and that is even the already improved version from the original. You can see my complaint about the original wording here: meta.stackexchange.com/q/260138/151385 Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 13:53
  • Why can't it be bolted on? Simply hide the hidden communities everywhere (including SEDE/API calls from other users).
    – root
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 13:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .