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  • Martin Vogel
  • 15 Jun 06, 11:02 AM

We're making some changes to the way users' names and locations appear in Action Network.

We've always asked people to contribute to the site using their real names. We think this gives more credibility to whatever they're trying to achieve using Action Network. We've also found it gives the additional benefit of reducing offensive or spamming contributions as users are more accountable for what they say.

When iCan relaunched as Action Network last year, we made a small change which had a big impact. We started displaying the names of registered users on the location page for the council area in which they live. Here's an example. Our intention here was to make users more visible to each other in their neighbourhoods, and for the most part the change was well received. But a small number of people did not like to be exposed in this way.

So we're planning some changes which will allow you to choose whether or not to display your name and/or location. By default, we'll continue to include members names in the lists of registered members on local authority location pages. But, in future, you will be able to opt out of appearing on that list. If you don't want to use your real name on Action Network, you'll have the option of using what we call the "U number" which is associated with your account. This is the number our system generates automatically when you create a new membership in Action Network. It can be seen in the URL when you click on "My Network" at the top of any Action Network page. For example, my "U number" is U517448.

We also received some emails from people who were concerned that their Action Network profiles were coming up when they typed their name in to internet search engines. This was a mistake on our part, and we've now changed the computer code behind the member profile pages so that search engines won't include them when they scan our site.

If you have any thoughts on these changes, we would be very happy to hear from you.

Comments  Post your comment

Well, it's a bit of a circular argument. It was a mistake because, in asking people to display their real name and location, we were asking them to display more information about themselves than many people feel comfortable doing on the internet.

Most users who registered with Action Network seemed happy for us to display this information on the Action Network site. Then, last year, we did some work to make it easier for search engines to index the pages on the Action Network site - and included profile pages along with everything else without really thinking about it. Many users were shocked to see their details appearing in internet searches.

In retrospect we should have anticipated this. The best practice would be to give users the option to decide whether or not their profile appears in search engines. This is something we are now considering - but, in the meantime, search engines will no longer be able to index users' profile pages..

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