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I find the number of incomplete profiles on the site to be a weakness. When considering an answer from, or a reply to another user, the profile can provide important information that enables a more user-centric approach to the task.

Backgrounds, experience, and locations all add value to the experience of using the site to communicate with others. So it's a real bummer to regularly click through to a profile page only to find the cupboard bare.

I put forward for consideration the idea of incentivising profile completion by awarding a small number of points for doing so.

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There already is an incentive and reward for completion of the profile section : the Autobiographer badge. Points should really be reserved for rewarding people helping other visitors out - asking good questions and providing good answers. Updating their profile isn't so important. It's not a social network, it's a Q&A site, so that's where the points are awarded.

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  • This seems a little too straightforward, almost to the point of disingenuousness. Having more complete profiles would hardly result in a social network. I happen to disagree strongly with the view that profile completion isn't important. If it's not "so important", then why have profiles at all? – dennislees Dec 6 '14 at 1:07
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    It's not so much about whether complete profiles make it a social network or not, it's that the purpose of reputation is to show that user has benefitted the site to a degree. More points means they've actively improved the quality of the Q&A site. Be that asking questions, answering them, editing and improving content, accepting answers etc. Improving their own profile page is not really a benefit to the site. The site focus is on the Q&A content. It's fine to have badges awarded for a bit of fun, but the score stats should reflect how much effort people put into making the site useful. – JonW Dec 6 '14 at 15:21
  • In addition - people can put anything in their profile. I could say I am Bill Gates and invented Windows OS, I could say I'm Santa Claus, I could say I'm Japanese... Should we award people for filling these fields in with just any old stuff? I wouldn't want to find someone had been given 100 rep points just because they've added 'Hogwarts' as their location. – JonW Dec 6 '14 at 15:24
  • What seems obvious from all this is that acquiring 20K+ "reputation" on this site doesn't make one immune to pushing subjective opinions backed up with logical fallacy, instead of engaging of an open an intellectually honest investigation of ideas. You present reputation points as an infallible measure of valuable contribution, yet there are easily thousands of points-worth of bullshit one-line answers that somehow earned a upvote or two. How how many valuable points have been voted away in noob circlejerk threads? – dennislees Dec 6 '14 at 21:47
  • I might argue that I never suggested 100 points for anything. (2pts seems plenty of incentive for new members to invest time in all sorts of trivial edits). I might argue that there's already a review infrastructure in place that might be leveraged to prevent against spam profile submissions. I might also try to dig up some research that shows the influence of profile completion on the psychology of adoption and engagement, but it feels like no matter how erudite or well reasoned my arguments might be, they're not getting anywhere here. – dennislees Dec 6 '14 at 21:57
  • I'm done here. Have a few more 'accepted answer' points for a positive and valuable contribution to the site. I'd say thanks for taking the time to consider my feature request, but it doesn't quite seem appropriate. – dennislees Dec 6 '14 at 22:00
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    @dennislees if you want a response from thar wider Stack Exchange community team then I suggest posting this question over on the main meta.StackExchange.com site. You may get a better answer then I can write here. My answer is just my interpretation of how the site works. – JonW Dec 6 '14 at 23:32
  • Fair enough. Thanks. – dennislees Dec 7 '14 at 1:18
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You imply that understanding a person's background can be used to better evaluate her answer:

the profile can provide important information that enables a more user-centric approach to the task.

If that is the case, then the act of completing her profile could already serve to increase a user's reputation points because it would make people more likely to upvote her answers.

However, I don't feel like people generally upvote based on the perceived ethos of the post writer, so the increase in points would probably be negligible. The total increase in points would be commensurate with how useful people found the profile to be in judging the value of the answer.

By this line of thought, we already do give reputation points for profile completion, but it's not enough to serve as an incentive. We could offer additional points to incentivize the profile creation, but that would make the points rewarded incommensurate with the value to the users reading the profiles.

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  • Perhaps instead we could have a feature to allow upvotes of the profile itself, with a tooltip like "this profile is useful. It allows me to evaluate the knowledge and background of the post author." However, this voting system would likely be abused, with people voting for funny or quirky profiles rather than actually useful ones, so it should not be tied to reputation. People could only see these upvotes next to the About section of their profile page. – Graham Herrli Jan 7 '15 at 21:49

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