Turning off user statistics

I can only recommend to go through SimonPoole's Diary | The earth is defintely flat (OSM and the GDPR) | OpenStreetMap … as long as the information is visible without login (+ accepting ToU), we have an issue.

To name a few examples:

  • Number of posts read
  • Exact days when you’ve visited the site
  • Total reading time spent on the site per day

These stats would be available on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly basis. If you automate the extraction, you can get to daily granularity over a longer period of time.

I agree, the user page exposes similar statistics. I see this as another candidate where we should stop exposing some of the information, and make them available to logged on users only.

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Making any information only available to logged-in users should, IMHO, be enforced.

Since the user directory data can be also scrapped by anyone from user profiles, can I suggest we enable again the user directory only for logged in users?

I think being able to understand people activity can be important in different dynamics, some examples:

  • Reward users who are providing consisten solutions on #help-and-support, empower them, maybe asking them to become moderators eventually.
  • Understand if people in moderation roles has been inactive for a long time and maybe need a break/support. (this will be a need for the current moderation selection criteria proposal)
  • Identify users whose content receives a lot of likes often, to empower this leadership.

Right now there is no way to do so without stats, they are not even present for admins, mods.


Well, you could certainly work on that bit, without giving access to everyone. All the use cases you’ve mentioned seem to be relevant to a small group of admins/super users. I don’t think a random user Joe could grant moderator rights to anyone else.

Understanding and empowering the community is not something that only admins and global moderators do.

I would say that in general this done by local community members.

Suggesting someone for moderator is mainly done by communities themselves, as well as self evaluating how they are doing.

That’s why I think these stats should be accessible by any logged in user.

We can test this for a few months and then check how useful has been or if there’s been any issues. At the moment I see no flags if this requires login.

@nukeador is it indeed possible that profiles can be made hidden by default? It is a bit ignored in this topic but this is quite privacy intrusion that people can see this. In understand why discord tracks it but others should not be able to see it. Quite some people in the OSM community are very privacy aware.

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@Cartographer10 moving your message to the relevant topic.

We can make users stats require log in, and people can choose from their preferences if they want to hide their whole profile.

I think require login to show user stats is indeed a good step.

The user profile visibility was a small search but found it under preferences > interface. Is it an idea to hide a profile by default? I suppose other users can still send the user personal message etc?

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I think that explicit instructions about how to do this would be helpful. I find everything at the top-right corner of the Discourse window as essentially “pot luck” - as I’ve said elsewhere, trying to change anything in there is a real pain (e.g. the tab paradigm used changes three times as you try and change things).

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I understand tracking activity as a mean to understand which people are more active and should be given more responsibilities.
On the other side, I don’t understand what tracking time reading articles is for.

If it is needed to increase trust levels (and frankly, I don’t see why that should be needed) then the tracking of time should stop after a user reached a certain level.
Let’s say after level 2 it doesn’t matter how many hours you’ve been reading posts but just the amount of replies and reactions you sent.
At that point the server should stop tracking logged time completely.

Even if tracking the amount of time comes out to be necessary for whatever reason, I don’t see why other users should be able to see that.
I’m not going to propose someone as moderator because he’s spending 6 hours a day on the forum, but rather because he is knowledgeable, provides good insights and can manage discussions well.

Thus, I would propose the whole time tracking thing to be disabled or at least not visible to other users.

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time tracking is not working as a metric for those of us who contribute via email


One of the Discourse founders, Jeff Atwood, explains his reasoning here:

There’s far too much talking already. We badly need to incentivize listening. And online, listening = reading.

While I do understand the points that Jeff Atwood makes, I don’t think these are relevant for this particular application of the forum.
I believe conversation on this forum will be more technical than on general purpose forums, thus it automatically discourages posting in and of itself without a valid reason.
People who post useless stuff can be penalized by the community by flagging their posts.

While I do believe that reading this forum is a good thing for someone who is going to be a moderator or something like that, I do not believe that is the most important thing or what should be incentivized.
What should be incentivized is constructive discussion and criticism together with a good knowledge of the topic they’re talking about.
Reading the forum is probably a prerequisite to do this, since you need to know the current state in order to improve on it but reading the forum is not the objective.
Normal users should also be rewarded for providing useful insights, tracking their time doesn’t really provide any reward for that.

Since moderators are elected by the community according to how they behave and what they write, I feel that tracking time for that is quite useless.
I can understand tracking time for the first trust levels, since you want people to understand how the forum works before granting them more powers; but I feel that the time tracking becomes useless beyond that point.

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If we really did want to incentivise listening, we’d use the edits that someone has made at OpenStreetMap as part of the equation - and particularly look at how many times someone has replied to comments left on their changesets and modified their behaviour as a result**.

** That’s the tricky bit of course: if someone just replies to a changeset discussion comment with “you’re wrong” and doesn’t really engage with it they’re not really listening either - and of course exactly the same can happen in forums too.


Although this issue has been set to “solved” the user stats are still visible to anyone, if logged in or not whereas the preference setting (hide the public profile) appears to be working.

At least I cannot open any profile data by clicking on the avatar of a user who set the preferences on “hide”. Is this a safe setting or is there any workaround? Or in other words: who besides the user himself can get access to these data?

I’m going to circle back this with the @forums-governance for discussion and come back with a decision.

Thanks everyone.

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After discussion with the @forums-governance and in line with OSM policy about users’ data, not showing it unless you are logged in, now user profiles in this forum require you to log-in, same goes for the User Directory.

Users can hide their profile to everyone going your top right avatar → image → Preferences → Interface (on the left column) and enable Hide my public profile and presence features


Thanks mate, another problem solved … :slightly_smiling_face: … nevertheless I am still interested who has the privilege to access user profil data even when the profile is hidden to the public. Admin? Mods? Anyone else? Would be grateful for this information.

AFAIK, only global moderators (not category ones) and admins.

OK, thanks for the information.