Although reputation is nice, on parenting sites, people typically have signatures which indicate how old their kids are. This is obviously relevant to their experiences, as to sex and number of sprogs. Any intentions of being able to enter that information (and have it auto-update ages) and display in some easy graphical form in the badges?

  • this prompted me to post another question about whether or not questions and answers on this site should avoid referencing specific children. This is the first parenting site that I have participated in, so I don't think that I fully appreciate the value of using children to indicate parenting cred. Mar 30, 2011 at 2:52
  • @david I don't think it's done to indicate cred. at all -- it's merely a way to provide needed detail (that said, it's a pretty bad one, as I explain in my answer)
    – HedgeMage
    Mar 30, 2011 at 5:22

4 Answers 4


Using a profile field or signature is a very bad way to indicate children's ages for the purpose of making it easier to relevantly answer a question.

If I ask a question now about something my son (8 years old) is going through, then someone finds it in a search two years from now, it won't make sense because he/she will see sig(in my updated sig/profile) that my son is 10 years old.

One of our goals at StackExchange is to create an enduring reference. The practice of referring to a signature or user profile for supplemental info on a question would directly impair our ability to reach that goal.

The correct practice is to state the age of the child(ren) in question when they are mentioned, if it is relevant, so that each question and answer can stand on its own.

  • @HedgeMage nice points, except the last - the correct practice is to state the name? Age/sex/personality could be helpful, not so much the name. Mar 30, 2011 at 5:28
  • @David Sorry -- that was a typo! I was having a RL conversation while typing that and I think I crossed the two. :o
    – HedgeMage
    Mar 30, 2011 at 5:32
  • The point isn't to make it easier to answer someone's questions about their kids, it's to allow the asker to more easily evaluate the applicability of the respondent's knowledge/answer. If I ask a question about teen behavior and I get an answer from a parent of a teen and an answer from a parent of a toddler... I'm sorry but the parent of the teen's answer is just more credible. (similar theories apply on other SE sites, Nikon vs Canon on photo-SE, xbox vs ps3 vs wii vs iOS vs pc on gamedev-SE... to evaluate an answer it often helps to know more about the answerer than just the answer.)
    – cabbey
    Mar 30, 2011 at 8:25
  • 1
    @cabbey But as I pointed out, that information will NOT be displayed correctly, because it will reflect current ages, not the age when the post was made, so it harms the long-term usefulness of the site as a living reference. Not to mention that it's a pretty bad metric: I only have an 8yo, but my experience includes years of teaching many ages and helping look after kids in my extended family - meanwhile, having a kid of a particular age doesn't imply competence. Anyone can breed, and everyone does age.
    – HedgeMage
    Mar 30, 2011 at 8:26
  • the not being displayed correctly issue we've talked about on the other thread. The whole reason I asked for more than just the gender/age data the OP wanted in my answer (that someone downvoted w/o explanation) was so that you could put that kind of experience in your 'about me' section and folks could see it. Instead of blank yours could say "Mom of a boy since 2002, and many years teaching all ages." or something. That's the whole point of that box anyway, introduce yourself and give your credentials.
    – cabbey
    Mar 30, 2011 at 8:49
  • Certainly profiles are for sharing some info if one chooses to, but I think we have a value disconnect here: I'm all about logos (the reasoning behind an answer) while you seem to highly value pathos (one's ability to identify with, or credentials that cause one to trust, the person offering the answer). I rarely even look at who wrote an answer -- I care if the idea is good, not who it came from (or who the person it came from pretends to be on the internet).
    – HedgeMage
    Mar 30, 2011 at 8:54
  • 1
    @HedgeMage: We'll see when the question was originally asked though. However, I'm not sure that information about a participant's children is ultimately very useful. Sometimes an answer from an elementary teacher (who doesn't have any children of their own) is more useful than an answer from a mom of 8.
    – afrazier
    Mar 30, 2011 at 20:36

This is information that you can put into the About Me section of your user profile (which you can get to by clicking on your name at the top of any page).

The user card is the same across the network. On Stack Overflow, the appropriate place for someone to mention they are on the C# team is in their About Me section. If someone is a PhD in Math, that should go in the About Me section on the Math-SE, not on each question.

It won't auto-update any years - it is just a free-form field.

  • Right - but it doesn't show in people's answers, so it doesn't give you any immediate indication of their kid experience.
    – Cade Roux
    Mar 29, 2011 at 22:02
  • @CadeRoux, I added in a bit to clarify things in relation to the way it is done across the network. Mar 29, 2011 at 22:06
  • I know - signatures are de riguer on parenting sites - it would be nice if SE sites had some way to accommodate this particular site need. I know on a lot of other forums people put a bunch of crap in their signatures which isn't often relevant on every question (clans and PC specs and junk like that), but in this case, I think it could be a big value.
    – Cade Roux
    Mar 29, 2011 at 22:19
  • 5
    If a user wants more information about the user, they can view the profile. Otherwise the info just becomes noise on the page. Mar 29, 2011 at 22:21
  • 1
    I'm torn by this answer. On the one hand I agree with @Rebecca that this would just be clutter, especially because if you give an inch on this people are going to ask for a mile. (Just look at the signature blobs on some parenting sites... shudder.) But on the other hand I agree with @Cade that knowing a bit more about what someone's experience is helps judge how to value their answer.
    – cabbey
    Mar 29, 2011 at 23:48
  • I was just thinking some pink and blue dots in the badge.
    – Cade Roux
    Mar 30, 2011 at 0:23
  • 2
    I'd prefer green dots as they are little monsters. Mar 30, 2011 at 22:39

I vote against this

I have teenage nephews and nieces which have shaped my parenting skills, but my own children are very young. Stating my young childrens' age next to each answer I give about teenagers would cast unnecessary doubts on my 'credentials' to give advice about older children. Similarly, if I put the age of the teenagers, the advice I give about babies may come under scrutiny and the 'how to get pregnant' article I just wrote would seem rather weird if I only have teenage girls.


Can we get a middle ground? I think a two fold solution would help, not only for parenting-SE, but for all the stacks in the network.

  1. some kind of hint somewhere to put that data in the bio. Preferably on the bio edit page. I actually think this would be a useful thing for all sites to be able to put some verbiage in the profile edit page directing users on the kinds of things that would be useful. photo-SE for example could suggest putting a link to your galleries in the website box and a list of gear (very common in photo communities) in the about me box, gamedev-SE could ask for platform experience, etc.

  2. A hover over on the signature box that brings up a more detailed bio of the user. Including their about me section. (or at least the first X characters of it.) Something bigger than their current signature block/flair image, but not the full on profile page... a summary of who they are on the site, maybe the last couple questions they've asked and the most popular answers they've given. And of course the link out to their full profile.

  • I vote for "less is more". We have the bio page. If users want to check out a contributor, they go there. I do that, in specific situations when it makes a difference. But I wouldn't clutter the interface with added (or even halfway hidden) information. Mar 30, 2011 at 10:02

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