Could there be a list of checkboxes to single out which information to update when copying profile info to linked accounts? For example, if you had moved and only wanted to update your location information, you wouldn't want to destroy custom display names and custom profiles on various sites.

It could be hidden behind some "advanced copying" button, or the default is to tick every checkbox, so the basic functionality is still there.

I've just accepted that more detailed site-specific profiles are just too much work, but I do keep an extra blurb about code on SO (my most active SE site). Today I decided to sync my other profiles (without that irrelevant blurb copied when they were created). I forgot it copied display names, so I lost my Meta name for a month (I love that feature delay). Regardless of display name, since you can change the other information manually without delay, if this was easier, wouldn't it encourage more detailed and site-relevant bios?

I am mostly focusing on the bio part of the profile page here (rather than the display names, even though I like that too), because I think site-specific bios can be very useful if you can use them easily. I've not even considered it, except for SO and Meta, because it would be so much manual work too easily wiped out (as I've done now for Meta); surely others would start to use them if it was easier?

Instead of the above solution, could there be a "locked" checkbox when editing a profile (and hence seen when changing a bio to be site specific), so that particular bio isn't updated when copying profile information?

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    I really don't see a huge use for this. I've never seen a site specific bio, and having multiple aliases is useless since I can just click the accounts tab in your profile and see all of them – TheLQ Oct 2 '10 at 0:13
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    @TheLQ: Check mine. There are many out there. It's entirely reasonable to want to include programming-specific information in a SO bio that isn't on a Food and Cooking bio, for example. This will only grow as more SE sites are launched. My Meta bio was site-specific until I forgot to save it this time. Will have to see how to recover it. – Gnome Oct 2 '10 at 0:15
  • @TheLQ: Especially on Meta, but also on other sites, users like to use different display names. "I don't like that" doesn't seem reasonable. There are even users who don't want accounts associated, but that's a separate issue. – Gnome Oct 2 '10 at 0:15
  • Hmm, could be a job for a Greasemonkey script. Time to use those underused JS skills :D – Jürgen A. Erhard Jan 10 '11 at 12:52

After discussing this topic with the OP on IRC, I have a different proposal: Have the main Stack Exchange site provide a way to set up a "base template" profile. Each site would then use the base template info by default, unless otherwise overridden.

Each field on each site has its own override flag. If the override flag is unset, then any updates to the base template would apply to that field.

For compatibility with existing profiles, all existing profiles will have the override flag set for all fields. But you can selectively "revert to base" any fields you want (which would unset the override flag), or if most of your fields are similar to the base template, a "revert all fields" option.

Comments welcome. :-)

By "override flag" I don't mean a boolean column in the database. The nullity or otherwise of a profile field would be sufficient.

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  • I can see this working, but it may be too complicated. – Gnome Oct 2 '10 at 0:44
  • It shouldn't be. I updated my answer to talk about site-specific profile fields that could default to null for new profiles. It just needs to COALESCE with the base template profile whenever profiles are displayed. – Chris Jester-Young Oct 2 '10 at 0:45
  • I meant complicated from the user's POV. I don't see any problems with the backend implementation. – Gnome Oct 2 '10 at 0:50
  • Totally. *nods* – Chris Jester-Young Oct 2 '10 at 0:52

It appears this is already handled by only updating the information you changed when saving changes to all profiles. I didn't realize this either, but Undo was nice enough to point it out to me. It will give a confirmation screen when you choose to save to all profiles indicating which information was changed and will be overridden.

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