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Upon my first exposure to the Stack Exchange Network profile (https://stackexchange.com/) I thought that it is the top level profile template in the hierarchy of profiles, i.e., the Stack Exchange Network profile is the top profile and all other community profiles fall under it.

In other words, all individual community profiles inherit their initial settings from the main Stack Exchange profile. Once inherited, each individual community profile could be modified to override the default template values.

But this is not the case.

Here are a few things I’ve learned through experimentation about the Stack Exchange profile.

  1. The Stack Exchange profile is public. Other users can access and view one’s Stack Exchange profile just like they can a user’s community profile.
  2. The Stack Exchange profile cannot be edited directly as can community profiles. The only way to modify the Stack Exchange profile image and/or display name is to copy the content from an existing community profile.
  3. It is possible for the Stack Exchange profile to have a unique image and display name. Because the Stack Exchange profile cannot be directly edited, one must edit an existing community profile to reflect the desired image and display name for the Stack Exchange profile, copy the community profile settings to the Stack Exchange profile, and then edit the community profile once again to return it to its prior settings.
  4. The Stack Exchange profile is not used as a template for new community profiles. When a community is joined, the profile image and display name for the community are acquired from an existing community profile. I don’t know how the Stack Exchange app decides which existing community profile to use.

My findings have me wondering what the purpose of the Stack Exchange profile is.

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  • 1
    Number 4 has me puzzled too, not sure what the rules are there.
    – W.O.
    Nov 18, 2022 at 20:19
  • 1
    Note: there was a totally useless edit that I rolled back. Please avoid such edits, and I hope MSE reviewers will also not approve such edits in the future. Nov 21, 2022 at 18:22
  • If you consider the previous edit to be totally useless, then do you consider all the previous grammatical edits to be useless? As it stands, the first sentence of the current revision is grammatically incorrect. The edits made in revision 5 by Robert Bradley should not have been rolled back. Revision 5 corrects grammatical errors inserted by previous edits. The word thought, as it is used in the first sentence, is the past tense of think. Therefore, using was and fell rather than is and fall respectively is correct.
    – SLax
    Dec 1, 2022 at 21:41

1 Answer 1

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Your list (1-3) of your understanding about the main profile is correct.

"I don’t know how the Stack Exchange app decides which existing community profile to use.".

One answer of which profile is chosen is that it's your currently active profile (the last one accessed) but apparently it used to be your highest reputation profile, according to a Stack Exchange developer, except when coming directly from a site link ([Network Profile] button).

"My findings have me wondering what the purpose of the Stack Exchange profile is.".

It is simply the main entry point: a link to all of your accounts, your complete inbox history, an all site's reputation graph, your most recent 5 pages of activity, and your filter subscriptions.

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  • I have been confusing the broader sense of profile with the sub-part that can be edited by the user, i.e., the information that can be changed by clicking the ‘Edit profile' button. My question pertains to the sub-part of the profile that is editable. Is there a way to refer to this part of the profile that would keep it from being confused with the broader sense of profile?
    – SLax
    Dec 1, 2022 at 22:25
  • @SLax, Perhaps this question will help you with the terminology: meta.stackexchange.com/q/149636/282094 - each section is named, the overall term for everything is "public information" (in your profile): i.stack.imgur.com/oaSOV.png
    – Rob
    Dec 1, 2022 at 23:00
  • I am not sure whether we are on the same page. The question you referred me to is about who has access to each profile component. I am interested in those profile components that are explicitly specified by the user, and why the network-level Stack Exchange profile does not incorporate the same user specified components as does the community profiles. The user specified components I am referring to are those listed in the Edit your profile section which is displayed when a user requests to edit their profile.
    – SLax
    Dec 6, 2022 at 5:06
  • You stated, “the overall term for everything is ‘public information’ (in your profile)”. I do not understand. In the Edit your profile section, there are 3 subsections: Public information, Links, and Private Information. I am trying to find a way to refer to all the components in the Edit your profile section. Perhaps user specified components would suffice.
    – SLax
    Dec 6, 2022 at 5:08
  • If the network-level Stack Exchange profile had the same user specified components as the community profiles, then all profiles would have a similar look and feel. In addition, the network-level Stack Exchange profile could assume the role of master profile, i.e., the profile from which all newly created community profiles inherit their initial settings.
    – SLax
    Dec 6, 2022 at 5:09
  • In answer to this comment and the 3rd: compare the differences of the SE.com and MSE.com profiles to area51 and its meta profile (since they are about as old of a design, and differently laid out too) area51.stackexchange.com/users/16589/ax area51.meta.stackexchange.com/users/16589/ax - MSE's profile has individually named sections and SE's profile isn't individually named (and misses some sections).
    – Rob
    Dec 6, 2022 at 8:06
  • As for your 2nd most recent comment, The term for everything, all those sections, is "your profile", as shown in your profile and mine.
    – Rob
    Dec 6, 2022 at 8:14
  • @ Rob, Sorry for the delayed response. I appreciate your help and patience. At this time, I think I understand the system well enough to appropriately use it. I haven't got all the terminology down, but I
    – SLax
    Dec 20, 2022 at 17:11
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    I tried to edit my previous comment, but I was unable to submit my edits because I took longer than 5 minutes. The last sentence should read, "I haven't got all the terminology down, but I think I can now do a better job of identifying the key aspects of a user's profile.
    – SLax
    Dec 20, 2022 at 17:25

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