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Giving User Profiles Some Love

Dopp July 6, 2011 User blog:Dopp
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Sometimes we need more than just a name.

Who doesn’t love online personal profiles? Building them, maintaining them, and best of all... checking out other people’s. (It’s not stalking, really!) Active editors in particular often love to look over the User Profile pages of users who pop into chat, leave comments on pages, or make new edits to their wiki. It’s a truly easy and fun way for them to learn more about new users and welcome them — if the profiles aren’t still blank, that is.

Getting editors to stick around

We know how hard it can be to turn new and infrequent editors into dedicated community members. Last month, for instance, we saw that nearly half (48%) of people who edited on Wikia made fewer than five edits. But we’ve also seen that new users who have taken the time to introduce themselves to a community and build a profile that reflects who they are on Wikia are more likely to stick around and turn into active editors themselves — making not five edits, but hundreds! We think that one way to encourage this transition is to make it easier to fill out User Profile pages. The quicker people can introduce themselves, the easier it is for them to become part of the community.

Some User Profile woes

Right now, the “blank canvas” nature of the current User Profiles system is rather discouraging. New users don’t know exactly what to say about themselves, so they tend to just leave it blank until they get to know the wiki community better and feel comfortable building their page. To make things more complicated, there are currently two styles of profiles: the older version (with the smaller avatars and fewer details) and the newer version (with larger avatars and top wikis in the right rail). The avatar upload process isn’t as easy as it could be, and there’s also no way to quickly populate a profile with your usual info when you start editing on a new wiki. These are just a few things we’d like to clean up as we improve User Profiles. We’re also thinking about adding more prompts and guidance. For example, what if we asked basic questions for users to fill out? Would that solve the “blank page” problem?

We want your feedback

As you can tell, we’re just in the brainstorming process, and aren’t anywhere near ready to roll out any big adjustments to the system. We certainly won’t be taking away the blank canvas area that you use now, and we also won’t be touching Monobook. If we add any new content areas to the profiles, they will be completely optional — the way you represent yourself will not need to change.

We’re mainly interested in hearing your thoughts on User Profiles as a whole. Are they useful to you? How? Are there ways that you encourage people to fill them out? What information do you wish more users would include on their profiles? Are there profiles on other websites that work well for you? Please comment below; we’re looking forward to your input.

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