This seems like it has been discussed before, but not specifically as a feature request. Generally speaking, many users have asked Stack Exchange about "hiding" certain information on their profile(s), or hiding profile links in the UI, etc.

One very relevant discussion about search engines took place a whopping 11 years ago:

Is there a way to hide my profile from Google search?

My suggestion here is to allow users to choose a "canonical" profile of sorts (but not using that HTML metatag, obviously). What I mean is letting users noindex profiles from given communities.

The "hide communities" feature is mostly useless, as users have pointed out many times, since the Network Profile still contains a complete list of communities, anyway (and since search engines still see all your profiles, too).

The biggest competitor to SE is Quora, which allows users to emphasize certain "topics" on their profile, and make their profile generally appear in a sort of "topic expert" formatting of sorts. As with many of the complaints about SE, it always goes back to the fact that the subdomain-community approach introduces so many problems...

But in the meanwhile, if a noindex option could be rolled out, maybe a lot of users would feel more comfortable using their real name in these communities and become more involved.

Even if SE is hungry for page views, I'm not sure how denying users such a feature helps them, because nobody is searching Google for "anon-user-389294"... all the current situation does is reduce trust (and interaction). Thanks!

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    This all seems to hinge on the idea that using real names is important - is that the case? Why do you think that? – Catija May 21 at 17:40
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    @Catija Not necessarily, it could be SEO reasons, reducing user/employer confusion, all kinds of related concerns have been raised over the years on this. – Jesse Nickles May 21 at 17:42
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    I don't understand how this helps with that - if someone doesn't want their questions about their coworkers on The Workplace to be traced back to them, the answer is the same as it's always been - use a second account. No-indexing a profile won't fix that. – Catija May 21 at 17:44
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    @Catija Thanks for your feedback, but I'd like to hear from others. Telling people to create multiple accounts or use fake names, etc, is just more of the same old regressive responses that have driven so many users away from SE in the past. "But it's always been this way" is how way too many SE users respond to feature requests... – Jesse Nickles May 21 at 17:46
  • Not all change is good. – Luuklag May 21 at 17:48
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    I don't think those are the responses that drives users away. Most of them are mad that their crappy questions weren't answered. – Braiam May 21 at 17:51
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    Please note that downvotes on meta do not necessarily mean your post is low quality, but simply that somebody disagrees with you (in this case they want your feature request to not be implemented) – Ekadh Singh May 21 at 17:54
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    I'm not sure what exactly a noindex on the profile page would achieve if you're going to go posting things on the site anyways. The name would still come up directly attached to any contributions on the site. Your logic for the request doesn't really make any sense. We can't noindex every single page where your name appears. – animuson May 21 at 17:59
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    At the onset of this, I expected this to be a request for the setting that Reddit has, Settings > Safety & Privacy > Show up in search results, "Allow search engines like Google to link to your profile in their search results". This setting prevents your profile page from linking, but obviously doesn't stop your username from being indexed on pages where you've actually posted. – zcoop98 May 21 at 18:58
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    @animuson It really surprises me how little most SE users/mods know about modern search engine algorithms. In 99% of cases searching "John Smith" is not going to show results of his response to "How were Roman aqueducts constructed?" unless the search qualifier was e.g. his username "JohnSmith72". And no need for pedantic responses of "SE is for Q&A we don't care about SEO concerns" because 99% of users participating here do care about it. I wish more mods/high rep users treated this more like a progressive community instead of a 1994 Usenet board... – Jesse Nickles May 21 at 21:26
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    The display name is the only name that gets displayed anywhere on our network. After working support for years, I can say we do get plenty of requests from people who are annoyed that searching their name does link back to specific posts. And there's not really anything we can do about that. Their profile page has nothing to do with it. – animuson May 21 at 21:27
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    @animuson, technically speaking you could disassociate a problematic post from a user account. So if a user has a strong case to no longer have a certain, very limitted number of, posts linked to their account it could be done? – Luuklag May 21 at 23:12
  • And then again doing so is only partially effective since using the @username in comments from other users will always persist. There is no automated way to get those sort of things deleted. Someone must go through all comments then to find their username and flag them for deletion – Luuklag May 21 at 23:14
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    @Luuklag Doesn't really solve the problem of SEO though. Once it's indexed, it's very hard to get Google to "forget" the information. Most users who contact us have since changed their display name and are confused why Google still shows their old name in results. Disassociation achieves nothing there. – animuson May 21 at 23:15
  • Yeah thats also true @animuson, but that is then an issue between the user and google. Nothing SE can do about that. – Luuklag May 21 at 23:15

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