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An interesting aspect of the site (to me anyway—you might find my threshold for interesting a little low) is that viewers of a user's profile can learn where the user is… if the user fills out his or her profile's Location field.

Yet many users leave their profile's Location field empty.

I like knowing where people are. This isn't because I'm some creepy stalker dude or anything but, instead, because knowing where people are gives me just a tiny bit of insight into their words. For instance, it helps me put a voice to questions, answers, and comments. I mean, a recent comment said Cheers! but because the user's profile's Location field was blank my headvoice didn't know if that Cheers! was to be read cheers like the title of the long-running U. S. sitcom or, instead, chirs like James Bond. Also, the user's location gives me a bit of context: for instance, it lets me know if the user posted the question, answer, or comment at, like, at 4 AM, noon, or 3 PM the user's time, which doesn't really make a difference in the long run, but if the user later says that, for example, he was tired, that does kind of pull things together.

Now, I know this is really minor, but I'm interested. Is it already known why so many users are reluctant to fill in their profile's Location entry? Is RPG.SE unique among SE sites in having a larger than normal percentage of users who don't fill in their profile's Location field? Can moderators reassure users who are reluctant to fill in their profile's Location field that the information entered goes no deeper than what the field says so that the user privacy is assured despite the profile listing, for example, a user's city or even nation?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As a further example, in this question, the user employs a regionalism (presumably!) that replaces the comma used in 4-digit-and-longer numbers in the United States with a period used in longer numbers in some other regions (i.e. the U. S.'s 1,000 versus elsewhere's 1.000, both meaning one thousand). Because the user's Location field was empty, I wasn't sure if this were this a typo or deliberate. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 5 '17 at 9:18
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Here's another perspective: I just don't like filling that stuff out. Call me paranoid, but I try to keep an air of mystery on anything that would link to me personally unless someone (beyond a text field) asks me specifically.

If I do fill it out, it's only because of one or more of these:

  • It would be relevant to most of the things I would discuss on the site (such as on SEs like Workplace, Travel, and Academia)
  • Being anonymous would be counterproductive (such as when seeking employment, like filling out a Developer Story on SO)
  • Or, alternatively, because the site is perfectly fine with being fed a joke in that field, and so I make use of that fact to help build my persona online.

With that in mind, sites like Workplace, Travel, Academia, and StackOverflow probably have a higher percentage of users who fill that out. Here, though, location has little relevance to the topics at hand, so less people would feel inclined to bother, I imagine.

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It's probably the default effect: most people leave things in forms in their original state.

People are even more likely to do that since our Location isn't really important to any of our day-to-day activity on the site. It's also out of the way; most users wouldn't even think about the fact they have an empty Location field.

I don't think we need to take any specific action or assurance, it's okay to leave things this way.

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For interest's sake, 41% of our users have filled in their Location. (Surprisingly, removing 1-rep users only boosts this to 47%. On the other hand, 76% of the users who have put anything in their About Me.)

For comparison's sake, only 17% of SO users have done the same. Workplace manages 48%. Travel has 38%. Academia, 36%. MSE, 49%.

I'm happy to do any other sites that people are interested in seeing (it's just a couple of clicks), but I'll wait for that rather than picking ones at random. Personally, my conclusion is that we're probably pretty average in this respect. Given that 76% of users who filled out their About Me also filled Location, it seems more likely to be the default effect than privacy that is the issue at play here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Board & Card Games is also 49% \$\endgroup\$ – diego Apr 22 '17 at 4:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! I didn't know how to acquire that information. That neatly addresses Is RPG.SE unique among SE sites in having a larger than normal percentage of users who don't fill in their profile's Location field? By comparison, it seems 40% is pretty good, but that doesn't assuage my sorrow at knowing that filling out the Location field in profiles is skipped by 3 out of 5 users . \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 22 '17 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your links in the first paragraph all point to the same page. Also, do you mean to suggest that the 76% figure is the percentage of users with About Me content who have also set a location? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 1 '17 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Gah, I forgot they assume edits to a query should overwrite it. And yes, 76% of the users who put anything in their About Me also put something in their Location. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman May 1 '17 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Well, it seems ridiculous to create and save 3 very slightly different versions of the same query, so people will either have to trust me or make the changes themselves :) \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman May 1 '17 at 13:52
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As someone who filled in his profile and location only this week, after being a member for over 2 years, the reason I did it was because with the upcoming election is was going over a bunch of profiles and realized mine was still empty, and I wondered if anyone was checking mine and finding nothing.

The reason I hadn't done it before was simply because I didn't really see the point in filling it out. It's only with the election (and the previous one) that I feel a need to try and find out some personal information about people. The rest of the time, it doesn't really matter who you are, where you're from, or what time it is when you post; you are judged on the stuff you write.

(And to be honest, I'm really happy the usernames are under the posts, and I wouldn't mind an option to remove them entirely, as I'd rather judge the questions and answers without being biased by who's writing them. I like the feeling that, for the most part, it doesn't matter who you are here, as long as you're contributing value.)

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Personally, because I haven't figured out how to edit my profile.

It wasn't obvious the few times I looked, and I am not particularly motivated to spread personal info around. So, "not immediately obvious" was a high enough barrier to make me leave everything blank.

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Part of my generally old-school pre-social media mentality in general: My location isn't really germane to the discussion. What I write stands or falls on its own merit, not on where I'm from.

(The fact that I use my real name here is explicable only by a moment of weakness or thoughtlessness when I signed up for the Stack system in general.)

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People judge me based off stuff like that. I don't like being judged on the basis of my race, skin color, religion, gender, nationality, country of origin, country of residence, etc. There's so much authenticity of knowledge BS that goes into anything I say about anything important when people know that stuff. If they don't know, people instead evaluate my statements on their own merits and then decide what they think my race/religion/sexuality/country/political affiliation/value as a person/whatever is based off of that. That means they have to actually listen to what I say, at least a little bit. They can't be like 'oh, you must not know anything about Physics, cause you're a Christian, so I'mma ignore your stuff about Aristotelian ballistic models and the effects of air resistance' or 'oh, you must not know anything about treating menstrual cramps cause you're a guy, so if you so much as mention menstruation I'm gonna judge you'.

Some of it, like my religion and gender, are basically impossible to hide when talking with people for extended periods even online. Other things, like my location, are not immediately obvious to people unless I provide them. I don't want you to associate me with where I live because then you might dismiss claims I make solely on that basis. I don't mind being told I'm wrong, but I don't like being dismissed and ignored for stupid reasons. So I limit what I tell people and, separately, what I tell people frequently.

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