Below each question and answer, there's a "Share" link that contains a URL to that question or answer. That URL also contains your user ID number. For instance:
In that link, "326528" is the identifier of the linked content, and "113306" is my user ID. The link works just as well without the user ID.
I understand from this question that the purpose of having the user ID in these Share links is to track users who post links on the wider internet and draw others into the SE network so they can be awarded the Announcer, Booster, and Publicist badges.
I just noticed this feature today, and as a mod on ELL, it occurred to me that in every mod message I've sent where I cited problematic questions or answers, I also unwittingly included my own user ID. This means that even though these mod messages were supposedly sent anonymously from "the mod team", it's trivial for the user receiving the message to trace them back to me personally by checking the trailing user ID.
There's obvious value in encouraging users to promote the site, but it's a problem that mods are unknowingly sharing their user IDs in mod messages. I realize we can just as easily fish a question URL from the address bar, but there's still issues:
- Not all mods know about this issue
- Not all mods who know about this issue will remember to anonymize their links
- Expecting mods to remove our user ID each time is bad work flow
I'll leave the fix design to someone else, but I know this could be done in an intuitive and elegant way that allows users to continue earning those promoter badges, and which doesn't require all mods to know about this security hole, or remember about it each time, or to manually remove our user IDs from URLs in mod messages.