Possible Duplicate:
“Last seen” time appears on Google

Some people don't like being spied on by bosses or others, or revealing the frequency and intensity of their participation on SE sites.

Is an option to hide "seen" and similar fields on the summary page viable? Or, could the field be changed to day-level granularity?

  • The visited field is already hidden. It's only visible to yourself (and moderators, I assume).
    – sepp2k
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 18:29
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    Oh dear, you might have to do some work :P
    – MrABC
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 18:31
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    @sepp ah that's good. I suspect that leaves only "seen" (maybe others have other fields they don't like public?). Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 18:31
  • @litb: I definitely would prefer 'seen' be optional, but aside from "member for" (which is trivially discernible from other public info, anyway), everything else is just stuff you just shouldn't fill in if you don't want it public. It's not like website/location/age/bio are stuff the mods or SE staff really need for anything, so there's no point in putting it there if not for public consumption. Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 3:00
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    @Nicholas, i agree. There does not seem to be a "similar" field as "seen" :) I recommend changing this to day precision, like "last seen today". I think that is reasonable accurate for people to see someone is still alive and reads their comments, but not too accurate to check someone out. If someone actively participates, he cannot hide it anyway (since everything is shown in the actions tab), but just viewing questions should not be that interesting to really report it accurately down to seconds imho. Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 7:24
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    See a related question as well; especially the day granularity is been discussed/favored there as well, though personally I don't see any reason for not making this optional entirely indeed (i.e. limit it to those activities that are visible in itself on the 'activity' tab). Commented Aug 30, 2010 at 11:10
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    The bounty is sponsored by SO anonymous. Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 21:48
  • One problem I can see is that this information is already accessible via the API (and not optional) and removing it might break existing applications. I can't speak for the team, though.
    – Gelatin
    Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 21:59
  • @Simon: If removing it isn't an option it could just return a daily/... date. Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 22:00
  • I wrote a similar question, but it redirects here and now my whole explanation text is gone. Short: I dont want anyone to see my online times. Make it an option, so anyone can decide when he is being surveilled.
    – user230894
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 6:20
  • found it through my inbox, very confusing redirect: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/192541/…
    – user230894
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 6:28
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    I don't think this is quite a duplicate. The other seems to be about removing or vaguifiying the field; this question is about an option to keep it private. That an option is proposed in answers there doesn't make the questions duplicates. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 16:03

1 Answer 1


I'd vote for an explanation on the profile page, about the visibility of this and other fields. Then those who feel spied on, can either choose to use a more anonymous display name, or choose to not log in when just browsing the site.

I often check the "seen" field to see if someone might, or might not, already have seen comments on posts. Or is likely to respond to new comments.

Like: if I have postponed a downvote until the poster has had the opportunity to see and act on comments. Or if I asked for more information and am trying to determine if the question asker is likely to respond. And this does not only apply to recent posts: being lazy, I sometimes also peek into it when considering answering really old questions. So: I actually use that field, and can't think of alternatives that would work for me too.

  • A display name change alone is not sufficient - users would have to keep all their questions/answers anonymous which won't always be sensible for work-related subjects. I also like it if people stand with their name behind their content and i don't want to see that decrease. Not logging in doesn't give users all the notifications/... etc. Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 17:33
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    Regarding your use case: Just because a user took a look at the site doesn't mean he had time to respond. For really old questions daily seen granularity should be sufficient, no? Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 17:33
  • I actually changed my display name (too late) when seeing my (CC-wiki) content being copied to all kind of other sites I have not affiliated myself with -- which in the end falls into the same privacy category this feature request is about, just a different "solution"... (@Georg, I don't get the point about work-related subjects: either the boss allows one to use SO in work time, or not. When not, why still bother about the name?)
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 17:49
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    The privacy issues are two completely different ones: i can stand with my name behind what i choose to post and still not like to be tracked in "real time". Consider how that works for newsgroups or most forums. Regarding work-related - even if i'd choose another display name, it still makes sense to share links to questions/... with co-workers, friends, ... Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 17:56

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