Looking at my own profile and the edit profile form, it isn't really clear to me which data will be publicly displayed/visible to registered users/visible to mods and which won't.

When I look at users who have recently been awarded the Autobiographer badge, I can only see name, member for, seen, website, location and age.

Here's a few points that could help in this matter:

  • On "my own profile", display a little lock symbol (e.g. this) next to entries that are only visible to me (or mods).
  • On the edit profile page,
    • make note of the use of the data put in next to the field, e.g. tell the user that the birthday will not be displayed, but used to calculate the age, the e-mail-address won't be shown and only used for certain purposes (which should be named?)
    • sort the fields in "public" and "private".
  • In the Autobiographer badge description, clarify if a field like "real name" needs to be filled in in order to get the badge.
  • 3
    The descriptions off all badges should be clarified, not just that one. Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 20:44
  • @Martin: Agreed, but that should probably a separate huge CW-question with one badge per answer?
    – doncherry
    Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 20:47
  • 1
    I don't know. Anyway, such really general site questions are really better asked at the main meta.stackexchange.com site. You will reach a lot more users this way, which puts more pressure on the staff to change things. Commented Jul 8, 2011 at 20:51
  • @Martin: Is this referring to this question here or the big badge question? If the former is the case, you could just migrate this question, right?
    – doncherry
    Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 10:21
  • I meant the big badge question, but this one would also do better there IMHO. We on TeX.SX don't have direct influence on this things. They are identical for all SX sites. You simply reach more attention there. Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 11:37
  • @Martin: Could you then migrate it there, please?
    – doncherry
    Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 11:52
  • 1
    This used to exist, albeit in a very confusing and non-obvious way. I agree it should be more obvious.
    – Jon Seigel
    Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 22:22
  • The Autobiographer badge description is very clear: "Completed all user profile fields"
    – RivieraKid
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 20:22
  • The status-completed refers to Private section in the profile.
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 8:46
  • @Arjan Sorry, but this is definitely not status-completed: consecutive days and helpful flags are private but not in the private area.
    – doncherry
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 20:09
  • Also, things are still not very clear while editing. That said, it wasn't me who added that status-completed tag, but I assumed @random did it because of that very post I linked.
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 20:25
  • As noted by @Arjan the part that is completed is completed. Which is why overloading a request makes things messy, drawn out.
    – random
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 20:37
  • @random Should I post another request about fully clarifying the profile privacy?
    – doncherry
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 22:44

2 Answers 2


I agree this still is very unclear. Like in Why are some profile fields (contents) grey, and others black?, someone figured:

  • Black: info you entered [for age: calculated using info you entered, Arjan]
  • Grey: calculated or generated values
  • Red: urls

That may be true, but is hardly obvious, I feel. It also does not explain why bold is used for some fields. And if true, then "visited" (once grey, now black) and "seen" (now red) should be grey too?

While editing one's profile, for Email one is told "never displayed, used for optional notifications and your gravatar". And for Birthday one sees "only used for displaying age". But not so much for Real Name:

So, some other possible changes:

  • Please add placeholder text for Real Name too. Or even better, like suggested in the question: also somehow indicate this when viewing one's own profile, or while editing if a value has already been entered; one might not remember that placeholder text after some time:

  • Please make all public fields (like "member for" and "seen") black and remove any bold.

  • Please make all private fields (like "email", "real name", "visited", the optional "recent names", and maybe "helpful flags") grey.

  • Maybe make the "visited" easter egg a bit more obvious?

  • Maybe add a tooltip about the refresh rate of "Seen"?

  • When adding descriptions is deemed to much, then what about a link to "View your public profile"? When looking at other people's profile, you can never be sure what they entered. And not everyone might think about logging out or using some incognito browsing mode to check.

(As an aside: earlier, even the labels had some color coding, but that was removed.)


While I agree in principle with you that such things should be clearly displayed, its actually easy enough to figure out. Simply look which informations are displayed publicly at the other user profiles. The "real name" isn't, just to moderators and staff. About the Autobiographer badge: the (very short) description of that badge states "Completed all user profile fields.", which apparently really means all fields.

  • 1
    I agree that I've never seen a "real name" displayed here, but the order of the text fields in the edit profile page is really confusing to this respect: Display Name (public), Email (private), Real Name (private), Website (public), Location (public), Birthday (indirectly public), About Me (public). As for the badge: What leads you to think it "apparently really means all fields"? Thinking about autobiographies, they're usually written to be published, so it'd be deceiving to need non-public entries to be called an autobiographer.
    – doncherry
    Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 10:19
  • Seems I was wrong. I took your post as a complaint that you didn't got that badge just because you didn't provided the real name (which is the only thing not filled out on your profile). Now I see you got it anyway, so I got that one wrong. Beside that, you shouldn't take the badge name to literally. Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 11:43
  • No, I got the badge indeed, but I used to have my real name put in as well, I just took it out yesterday, so maybe the badge will be taken away. But as you said, I'm not complaining about getting or not getting it, I'm just looking for clarification what's actually needed in order to get it. Obviously, the name can't be taken too literally, I just wanted to point out that it isn't totally selfexplanatory.
    – doncherry
    Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 11:51
  • 2
    @doncherry: Badges are never taken away. Only badges which you can receive multiple times will be affected by not meeting the requirements any more. You will then simply not get the next one. Commented Jul 9, 2011 at 11:56

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