I don’t care for the way Discourse handles private profiles

Earlier today, somebody complained that not being able to see the poster’s profile because it was private prevented them from putting that poster on an ignore list. A workaround to this was provided by a moderator, so that’s all good.

Today I myself noticed that when the person has privatized his user profile it prevents me from seeing when the poster joined the SDMB. It seems to also prevent me from looking up that posters posting history.

These factors strike me as a bug rather than a feature. To be sure, there are aspects of a user profile that can legitimately be considered private information, but ISTM that the appropriate action for a user who wishes to remain incognito is to decline to fill ou the fields with those pieces of data. I fail to see how a user’s join date and posting history can legitimately be considered private (as in personal) information.

If the “lock the entire profile” capability can be turned off, I recommend that the administration do so, and let users who desire privacy take responsibility for it themselves.

I welcome arguments in opposition to this suggestion.

I agree with your thoughts. Plus or minus as follows.


Right now many people are hidden not because they want to be, but because they have no idea they are hidden by default and need to take active steps to change that.

I’d be happy enough if the default was switched to “not hidden” going forward.

I’d be even happier if everyone was mass-updated to “not hidden”, but were still allowed to switch it back to “hidden”. Of course we’d have to notify everyone of this change, preferably by PM or email, to minimize hurt feelings of the very few folks who’re truly privacy motivated.

It prevents you from doing so by clicking their avatar and following through to their Activities page. But you can do a search for @TheirName and that will pull up all their posts. Albeit not in any obvious order. But you can of course further refine your search by date, category, keywords, etc., to narrow what’s retrieved.

You can’t do any of that from the user’s Activities page. On that page you can filter for OPs or non-OPs, but you can do that in search too.


A contrary point is that Discourse includes an “active” flag that shows whether a user is online right now, either viewing or posting.

Some people are very concerned about others stalking them. Often for good reasons. The idea that I can see that you’re actively posting right now and you don’t know that I’m watching that indicator can be unnerving.

The fact Discourse bundles show/hide of the presence indicator with show/hide of the profile info is unfortunate. Because, as you say, one can neuter almost all of the profile info just by leaving the fields empty. What remains is really community participation statistics and IMO ought to be public domain knowledge about all of us for all of us.

Conversely, the presence indicator is a different order of information and deserves separate treatment.

In case you want to ignore someone who has no visible profile: open your Preferences tab, go to Notifications > Users and add the name you wish to ignore.