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With StackOverflow and Careers 2.0 it's becoming easier to use the SE network as a professional profile. Yet at the same time there are more and more sites on the SE network, some of which you might not want your employer to know about. Either because they are too personal (like Relationships and Dating) or because, like The Workplace itself, they are actually about your workplace.

I am wondering if it is more professional to have a "work" set of SE accounts and a "personal" set, or is it not worth troubling to keep them separate? What other factors might you need to consider?

In particular I am wondering about:

  • how it might affect how you are viewed by potential employers if non-professional SEs are linked to your Careers 2.0 profile
  • similarly, how it might affect how you are viewed by current employers
  • what other disadvantages there might be to having all questions on the same account that I haven't considered, why they are a disadvantage and how they could be mitigated other than by using two accounts
  • if there are any advantages (besides convenience) of having everything on the same account - in particular regarding (though not limited to) professionalism and the workplace

Thanks everybody who has contributed so far. In light of the answers received so far I would like to make the problem clearer.

I would like to:

  • leave the option open to use Careers 2.0 at some point in the future if I decide it is a good idea, and
  • participate fully on the SE network, including some of the less professional sites (as described in first paragraph)

How do I reconcile these two desires?

  • Right, and now the replies are back on topic again. Thanks! :) I've been asking for guidelines on that since the second reply to this question. Can you explain to me how "what disadvantages are there to having all your SE posts on one account?" is an opinion and "how can you avoid the issue of how potential employers will view some of your SE posts?" is not? Or even how the former would elicit "because I said so" opinions and the latter would elicit backed-up opinions? I'm having trouble identifying the key differences that make one fall into one category and the other into the other. – starsplusplus Feb 6 '14 at 13:22
  • @starsplusplus - The short answer is that sometimes it's hard to tell what works here and what doesn't. Both questions could theoretically be answered, but you'd want to make sure you word them in a way to where the answers will involve explaining why and how. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Feb 12 '14 at 3:12
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Interesting topic! If you use a range of different Stack Exchange sites, and you use you Stack/Careers2.0 profile professionally for job-hunting, etc., then sure, it's worth considering.

You basically answered you own questions with the reason why you might wish to do this. Effectively, if you participate on work-related (in my case, core Stack Overflow, Programmers and Workplace) and also non work-related (in my case, Genealogy & Family History and the Arqade) sites, that's the equivalent of, say, having a technical blog and also a personal blog. Do you link the two together? Up to you.

Personally, I don't think there's any reason to stress too much about mixing work-related and non work-related things on the one Stack profile. Instead, I'd look at it from the angle of whether or not you want any given question or answer to be linked to your main profile. For instance, we often see people creating new anonymous accounts to ask questions here on the Workplace because they don't want their questions about their workplace connected to their known profile. It's probably easier to do it case-by-case and use a fresh profile to ask a question if and when you need to.

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Definitely.

One consideration is that in many places anything you do during work time belongs to your company. While few companies are going to consider SE reputation worth while, the ongoing Q&A about company issues may be.

I find that having a company-related SE account for technical questions (and possibly linking it to programmers.SO for similar questions) account is well worth while, so that everyone working on a problem can easily access any questions related to the problem. We have the login details in the company wiki (small company, <20 people and usually only 2-3 programmers working in one area), but for a bigger company you'd probably want to limit it to the small team working on one issue.

This is probably more important if you expect to hand over your work to someone else in the future, because if it's just you most of the above won't apply. But as someone who has come in to replace an unexpectedly absent former employee I found it really helpful that they'd left themselves logged in on their workstation. It meant I could really easily get a list of all the questions they had asked which helped compensate for their lack of documentation.

Having to always log out may be enough hassle to justify creating a work-specific account.

The one annoyance is that as a new user it'll probably take a while to get enough reputation to even upvote, let alone comment. Don't be tempted to use your other account to help the new one though, that's not allowed and may get both accounts banned if you're egregious enough.

edit: I would probably not use the shared account for people-related questions like TheWorkplace because those tend to be more specific to the person asking or answering the question. I suppose if you had a common issue between your team and someone else it might work. But I see a shared account as much more useful for technical questions that you've all looked at and are still stuck.

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    Thanks for your answer. To clarify, are you suggesting using the shared company SE account on just SO and maybe Programmers? I am not sure if by "the ongoing Q&A about company issues" you mean technical questions or TW-type questions? – starsplusplus Feb 5 '14 at 10:24
  • @starsplusplus Clarified my answer. – Móż Feb 5 '14 at 19:45
  • Hmm. Whilst having a shared account for one team is a neat idea, I'm not sure it really answers the problem I was describing. Neither account in your example would be suitable as a careers/professional account - one because it is a shared account so not really your own work and the other because of the personal information that was the reason I was asking the question to begin with. – starsplusplus Feb 6 '14 at 15:19
  • @starsplusplus you could do what everyone else does and create a new account to ask the personal questions, leaving your "business account" undamaged and your shared "project accounts" for the projects. – Móż Feb 6 '14 at 20:12
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I think they chose wisely when they decided to call the points tallied in the StackExchange system "reputation". Anything you connect with your name will affect your actual reputation. Employers are unlikely to care about the numeric connection, but if/when they read your responses, those responses are going to reflect back on you. Even if you maintain separate accounts, ultimately there is a good chance to slip up and accidentally link them somewhere. Possibly an email address, a cross post, an accidental post, etc. Once they become linked by any of the search engines the exercise of separating the accounts will have proved pointless.

My advice, as someone who interviews software engineers (and I do check them out online), is to remain entirely anonymous for any activity that you don't want publicly associated with your name. However, from the same standpoint, I typically disregard 90% of what I see online regarding a candidate that does not specifically impact their work habits and behaviors. I can understand the desire to keep some things from being related to you in this respect, but I don't think multiple accounts will do you any favors in the long run.

  • Hmm, so is your answer "It can't be done"? :) I can either use the SE network fully as I would like to or use the Careers feature? At present I am anonymous on here as you suggest, so it doesn't matter - but I would like to leave the option open to use Careers 2.0 in the future without having to start reputation etc from scratch due to the account being associated with non-professional answers. – starsplusplus Feb 6 '14 at 15:25
  • @starsplusplus: I wouldn't say that it can't be done, as much as I don't think you'll gain any benefit from doing it. Are you so ashamed of your non-professional answers that you wouldn't want them to be associated with you? Or do you feel they might be too controversial when viewed by someone looking to inspect you on a professional level? – Joel Etherton Feb 6 '14 at 16:03
  • I gave examples in the question. It's not that I would be ashamed of asking (for example) relationship advice, I just don't think it's appropriate in a professional environment. Similarly any questions about colleagues, problems at work, etc. I wouldn't be ashamed of the question itself, but would want to keep them separate from my work account for the same reasons that I wouldn't ring a friend for advice about my colleagues loudly in my lunch hour sat at my desk. – starsplusplus Feb 6 '14 at 16:11
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There is a difference and if there isn't a mechanism to separate the sites that are more personal in nature, you should use a separate account.

Using social sites for background checks on employees is becoming more prevalent, so everyone should be concerned with their online presence. I would be more inclined to only link to professional contacts on LinkedIn and personal contacts on Facebook. Neither of these are going on my resume. If they do a background check/search, I'm comfortable with the information they would access.

The SO Career site is used more like a CV and you would encourage a potential employer to view this information; otherwise, what's the point. You have to be careful of everything you put on it. Even spelling may count more.

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