Frequently Asked Questions

This is a single FAQ from the MetaFilter FAQ.

Who can see the information on my profile page?

Short answer: profiles are mostly visible to the public, but non-indexed (that is, not "visible" to search engines like Google). Your Full Name, Picture, Webpage, and Blurb are visible to the public, and by default the profile-page listings of your comments and posts and contacts are too.

Among the user-editable parts of the profile page (where you choose what information to enter), the visible-to-the-public items are those under "Personal Info": Full Name, Picture, Homepage URL, and Blurb about you; and optionally, Social Apps. The visible-to-members-only items are: Email (required; private by default, but you can choose to make it visible to members), Location, Geographic Coordinates (members-only by default, but you can choose to make them private), Occupation, Gender, Relationship Status, Birthday, IM, and Social Apps (you can choose whether to make Social Apps visible to the public or members-only; older accounts default to 'public', new accounts default to 'members only'). The members-only fields have a dark background on the Preferences page to make it easier to remember which they are. Except for Email, all the user-editable fields are optional, so for maximum privacy you can simply leave them blank. For email, you must include a working email for moderators to reach you at, but it's only displayed on your profile page if you choose.

Among the site-generated parts of the profile page, everything is visible to the public by default: Join date, Funding message (unless you choose to hide it), Listings of your Contributions (posts and comments), Favorites, Social connections (contacts), and Tags. With the "Minimal Profile" option, members can hide the profile-page listings of Contributions, Favorites, Social connections, Funding Message and Tags from logged-out readers. To do this, check the "Minimal profile for non-members?" option under "Contact / Privacy Preferences". Note: this doesn't hide your actual posts and comments themselves - those remain visible to anyone on the internet. It only hides the listings on your profile page, and only hides them from non-members.

To illustrate the difference between Standard and Minimal options, here's a standard MetaFilter profile page, as seen by a non-member (or logged-out user):



Here's the same profile, again as seen by a non-member (or logged-out user), but now with the "Minimal profile" option checked:



Regardless of what's visible to human readers, Metafilter profile pages are set to be "non-indexed", which means reputable search engines will not make their contents searchable. For this reason, please don't bring profile information over to the main part of the site, where it can be indexed by Google; doing so is potentially a bannable offense. This MeTa comment discusses a little more about the ins and outs about what you should and shouldn't do with information you get from people's profile pages.
(tags: ) December 15, 2010 - back to questions