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I have seen forums do this both ways in the past, but I thought it might warrant a wider discussion.

My question is, when a user posts in a forum which supports signatures, should that signature be appended to their post at the time of their post, locking in their signature at that point in time. The alternative would be to load their signature dynamically each time - meaning the latest signature is always shown...

If the idea of a signature is to emulate the way it works on email, then the former is the way it should be done. I would love to hear peoples ideas on what their preference is and why.

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Just curious... which forums have you seen that append the signature statically to the post? –  w3d Jul 24 '12 at 16:35
    
@w3d only ever in a few custom built forums, quite some time ago. gamearena.com.au was a major one, but they have since migrated to phpBB. –  cstrat Feb 12 '13 at 3:35

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I would always load the signature dynamically. That just makes it easier for moderators: if a user has an inappropriate signature, but a good post, they don't need to go back and edit every post with that signature. That lets them deal with the signature separately.

In addition, that means that the signature wont be accidentally altered if someone edits the post. And, a signature is often what gives people information about the person, and locking the signature in time means that information will no longer be current. If contact information is posted in a signature, that will become out of date and unhelpful if the signature can not be easily updated.

However, I would not append signatures to posts at all. Signatures take up valuable page space that could be used for the actual content. And, often times signatures will get huge from all the stuff that users put in it, so a post will look like this:

Signatures take up more space than the actual post content

I would move the signature to user profiles, or display it when a user hovers over the users avatar/profile picture instead, where it wont take up as much space but still be easily findable for anyone who wants to know more about that person.

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I don't think the signature should be stored with the post, it should only be appended at the time of display.

  • Some users do not like to see the signature and many forums allow this to be turned off for display. The signature in forum posts is generally unnecessary since the user who made the post should be identified by other means and it just takes up extra space.

  • Some users post links / contact info in their signatures and this should be globally updated if necessary.

  • An email is a contained piece of static information so the signature provides additional information. In a forum, that additional information is usually available from the users profile. This is why custom signatures are not allowed on the Stack Exchange sites.

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Let it change dynamically, i've seen ridiculous content in people signatures. Not spam just links to their own sites and sometimes one too many smiley graphics. It'd be a cleaner site if you let them change dynamically so you have more control over them in the future than having to figure out a way to clean them up from posts they were appended to.

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