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Profile URL's and You

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The profile will be an important part of every Pony.fm user's identity. Much like a deviantART account or a YouTube channel, your Pony.fm profile will be your personal space on the site that pulls together all the content you have created and shared on the site.


When telling people to check out your music, you'll be giving them the URL to your profile. As it carries a great deal of social importance, it's an aspect of the Pony.fm experience that I really want to get "right".


The easiest option would be to use a URL scheme that contains your user ID. Here are some examples:


Feld0, with user ID #1


Aural Awe (a fictional artist), with user ID #6542




The primary advantage of URL's with your user ID in them is that old links to your Pony.fm profile will continue to function even if you change your display name at some point (because your user ID is immutable - it is your permanent identifier on both MLP Forums and Pony.fm).


But user ID's aren't exactly "human-friendly"... so, it is possible to use so-called "vanity URL's" instead (seen on many sites like SoundCloud, Facebook, GitHub, YouTube, Google+, deviantART, and Bandcamp).


These could look like this:





Or they could even be mapped into the domain's root namespace, for the ultimate personal feel:




I expect that, as an artist, you'll probably like that last option best - a "slug" URL in pony.fm's root namespace. Amirite? :D


This leads to a pretty serious issue, however... name changes (to that end, please check out this topic for some further thoughts on that). If everyone on Pony.fm has a slug based on their display name, every time they change their display name, it would break every link to their profile.


I expect this will be a lesser issue for artists, as they are more likely to maintain a consistent identity over the long term (but please correct me on that if I'm wrong... if you, as an artist, change names often, I'd like to know).




So... there's a hybrid approach that may be possible. Option 1:

  • All users get a URL with an ID number by default (ie. pony.fm/users/6542-aural-awe).
  • If a user wants to upload any music, they must claim an artist name, which will become their permanent, immutable vanity URL (ie. pony.fm/aural-awe).
    • The user's ID-based URL will redirect to the vanity URL if one exists (think Facebook).

Making the vanity URL a requirement before users can upload music, and making them unchangeable, will ensure that links to your artist profile never break, and carry a personal touch.


But I'll be honest... maintaining two separate URL structures for artists and non-artists is going to create a lot of moving parts in terms of code, and may ultimately accomplish little more than simply confusing people. I also don't entirely agree with the idea of setting anyone's display name in stone, even if it is only to protect them.





That brings us to Option 2:

  • All users (regardless of whether they're artists or not) get an ID-less URL based on their Pony.fm display name (ie. pony.fm/aural-awe).
  • If a user tries to change their Pony.fm name, they will be given a very clear warning that doing so will 404 their previous URL and leave it open for the taking again.

This way, people won't be stuck forever with a crappy name they made up at 3 AM one night, but everyone still gets a slick "human-friendly" profile URL. The decision to change one's name or not lies with the user, and they can be made fully aware of the consequences of doing so, so that they can make an informed decision.





Option 3 is a slight variation on option 2 - GitHub-/Twitter-style treatment of display names and profile URL's as two entirely separate settings.

  • All users get an ID-less URL, just like in option 2.
  • Users have the ability to change their display name without changing their profile URL (ie. our fictional artist Aural Awe gets bored of that name and changes to PonyBeat911. PonyBeat911 is the name that is displayed everywhere on the site, but their profile URL remains pony.fm/aural-awe).
  • Users will have the ability to change their profile URL without affecting their display name. Attempting to do so will result in a clear warning that you're about to 404 your old profile.

This last option leaves the most control in the user's hands, as they can change their identity without changing their URL. However, if they really want to change their URL, they can easily do so in an informed manner. This approach has worked really well for Twitter and GitHub, and I think it makes users feel comfortable knowing that they can choose to change their name, URL, or both.



It should go without saying, but most of these options would all really be feasible only if Pony.fm has its own display name system separate from MLP Forums.




What are your thoughts on these three options, and which one would you personally feel most comfortable with? And if you have any ideas of your own to throw in with regards to name changes and profile URL's, I'm all ears.

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Those are some pretty in depth options. I would have to aim for option 3.


I think if they have more of an ability to customize their profile, in the long run people can just make their choices. Option two works really well, but has potential to create confusion as, I have had occasions where I wanted to visit an artists page only to find out their username is different than their display name elsewhere. 


Although any option where the URL could change has similar confusion potential, I still lean toward option 3. It just has the most choice over it all.

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well feld0's ideea has it's pros and some minuses...as silver arrow said it might create confusion but on the other hand it might be interesting and might help us a bit...



Meh just my opinion please don't judge me

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Heehee, I already talked with you on Skype about this (in the dark hours of the night I might add), but I suppose I'll drop an edited transcript here:

(Funny that we started this conversation at exactly midnight. :P)

[12:00:35 AM] Feld0: I'm working on a very interesting discussion topic about PFM right now, regarding artist identities.
[12:00:47 AM] CloudFyre: Hm?
[12:00:59 AM] CloudFyre: Oh goodness...midnight already.
[12:01:04 AM] Feld0: How often do you think artists will be changing their names? ;)
[12:01:06 AM] CloudFyre: Where does the time go?
[12:01:12 AM] CloudFyre: Hmm...
[12:01:23 AM] CloudFyre: Not sure. I've wanted to change names once or twice before.
[12:01:23 AM] Feld0: You can think over the answer and save it for the topic. I'm about to post it.
[12:01:28 AM] CloudFyre: Oh XD
[12:01:41 AM] Feld0: Though there is also the other identity-related topic I created: http://mlpforums.com/topic/41227-choosing-a-ponyfm-artist-name/
[12:01:57 AM] CloudFyre: I write under the name "Drift", but after a year or so, I realize that it's a rather generic word.
[12:02:09 AM] CloudFyre: I'm at a slight disadvantage there.
[12:03:01 AM] CloudFyre: I've known some great artists who changed their names for the better, (like "Smoothiesforme" to "Holly Drummond").
[12:03:25 AM] CloudFyre: If it's a question of whether you should allow name changes, then I'd definitely say yes - but only to a certain degree.
[12:06:33 AM] Feld0: Save the big thoughts for the topics. :)
[12:06:54 AM] Feld0: It's a question I've been tinkering with almost as long as I've been developing this site.
[12:07:10 AM | Edited 12:07:21 AM] Feld0: The next topic I'm about to post goes into excruciating detail over profile URL's, and how they may tie into name changes.
[12:07:19 AM] CloudFyre: Okay, I'll give it a look-see
[12:19:40 AM] CloudFyre: Neato - I gave my initial response.
[12:19:46 AM] CloudFyre: I've got to get some sleep now XD
[12:20:00 AM] Feld0: But.. followup topic coming up within the minute! :(
[12:20:11 AM] CloudFyre: ...curses. Now I must stay here.
[12:20:42 AM] Feld0: http://mlpforums.com/topic/41232-profile-urls-and-you/
[12:24:14 AM] CloudFyre: Not sure if you can do this - but can you take a Steam approach? They assign a permanent id to every user, and from there it doesn't matter what url they pick (or even if they change it), as long as the url isn't taken.
[12:24:34 AM] CloudFyre: For me, I have steamcommunity.com/id/somejumbleofletters (you get the idea)
[12:24:51 AM] CloudFyre: However, my vanity name is steamcommunity.com/id/MystWalker.
[12:24:54 AM] Feld0: Where you have both a "permalink" and a "slug" that you can modify at any time?
[12:24:59 AM] Feld0: Is that right?
[12:25:03 AM] CloudFyre: Or I could change it to steamcommunity.com/id/CloudFyre
[12:25:21 AM] CloudFyre: Either way, it all redirects to that one id with numbers.
[12:25:47 AM] CloudFyre: However, they've managed to put the numbers behind the scenes - as long as you have a vanity name, the numbers are never shown.
[12:26:11 AM] Feld0: In all likelihood, I will have http://pony.fm/u6542, where 6542 is your ID number, available as a redirect to whatever the "proper" profile URL is decided to be.
[12:26:41 AM] CloudFyre: So would it ultimately show as u6542, or as the "name" name?
[12:27:04 AM] Feld0: /u6542 would redirect to /vanity-url, in my current plans.
[12:27:06 AM] CloudFyre: With steam, you techinically view the # page, but the url still shows the chosen username, which can be modified at will.
[12:27:16 AM] CloudFyre: Yeah, pretty much that.
[12:27:25 AM] CloudFyre: (If I'm still following you...)
[12:28:08 AM] Feld0: The thing is, if you're chatting with friends, or sharing links around on Twitter and stuff, it's a helluva lot easier to say, "check my music out at http://pony.fm/cloudfyre !" than "check my music out at http://pony.fm/u6542 !"
[12:28:20 AM] Feld0: If you even remember your ID number.
[12:28:29 AM] CloudFyre: See, that's the thing. With Steam, they manage that somehow.
[12:29:13 AM] CloudFyre: You can do the website.com/cloudfyre, and it *directs* you to the u6542 page, but it still *shows* in the searchbar as website.com/cloudfyre.
[12:29:15 AM] Feld0: Well, there's the reverse approach: make the vanity URL redirect to the ID-based permalink.
[12:29:31 AM] Feld0: [12:29 AM] CloudFyre:

<<< You can do the website.com/cloudfyre, and it *directs* you to the u6542 page, but it still *shows* in the searchbar as website.com/cloudfyre.That creates a duplicate content problem, which honestly isn't very good.
[12:29:48 AM] Feld0: It's really easy to do that - point two URL routes at a single page - but it's a bad idea.
[12:30:10 AM] Feld0: It ultimately leaves users confused about where the content's "proper" location is.
[12:30:16 AM] Feld0: Search engines as well.
[12:30:43 AM] CloudFyre: I see.
[12:30:53 AM] Feld0: Though search engines can be given some guidance with the rel=canonical tag, it still doesn't help human users any when two different URL's appear to generate the exact same page.
[12:31:02 AM] CloudFyre: I'd rather have a permanent ID, with a faux name that I can change up for an easy-to-remember url.
[12:31:29 AM] CloudFyre: I agree, remembering numbers is a bit of a pain.
[12:31:34 AM] Feld0: There's deviantART's approach... two name changes a year for premium members, with redirects.
[12:31:47 AM] CloudFyre: Hah, don't go crazy here :P
[12:32:13 AM] Feld0: You never get an ID-based URL there, but changing your slug will redirect your old one to the new.
[12:32:22 AM] Feld0: You just need a premium membership to do it.
[12:32:44 AM] CloudFyre: I've never been premium, nor have I worried about it XD
[12:32:54 AM] Feld0: How does SoundCloud work?
[12:33:02 AM] CloudFyre: Haven't tried to change names yet...
[12:33:03 AM] Feld0: I notice that they use vanity URL's.
[12:33:11 AM] CloudFyre: It used to be permanent. Whatever you chose, stayed.
[12:33:18 AM] CloudFyre: It's changed in the last few months.
[12:33:40 AM] Feld0: http://help.soundcloud.com/customer/portal/articles/243759-how-do-i-change-my-username-
[12:33:44 AM] CloudFyre: Well, it REALLY changed the other day.
[12:33:58 AM] Feld0: It's equivalent to the option #2 I posted.
[12:34:13 AM] Feld0: Your display name dictates your URL.
[12:34:20 AM] CloudFyre: Apparently so...
[12:34:27 AM] Feld0: You change your display name, you 404 the URL.
[12:34:45 AM] CloudFyre: In some ways, that might be advantageous.
[12:34:46 AM] Feld0: Honestly, that's the simplest approach to implement on a code level.
[12:35:13 AM] Feld0: I more or less already have that in place right now, as a matter of fact; I just need to add the "change display name" form.
[12:35:26 AM] CloudFyre: Interesting.
[12:36:40 AM] Feld0: SoundCloud has done pretty well with that approach.
[12:36:49 AM] Feld0: And... it's brutally simple to understand for the end-user, I think.
[12:36:57 AM] CloudFyre: That's true.
[12:37:40 AM] Feld0: Honestly, I don't expect that the average Pony.fm user will care about or even understand URL's, redirects, slugs, ID numbers, 404's, and all that crap.
[12:37:47 AM] CloudFyre: Hahaha
[12:38:12 AM] CloudFyre: Maybe not the "average" user, but some of us care.
[12:38:12 AM | Edited 12:38:19 AM] Feld0: Frankly, I think 90% of artists that use it will simply want to claim their username, throw their music up, and tell people to go download it.
[12:38:17 AM] CloudFyre: Yep
[12:39:03 AM] Feld0: I did consider tying track URL's to your slug... so, http://pony.fm/feld0/grim-tellings would be an example of a track.
[12:39:24 AM] Feld0: But that opens a ludicrous can of worms for avoiding FURL collisions. X_X
[12:39:42 AM] CloudFyre: Haha, fun for the whole family!
[12:39:50 AM] Feld0: Imagine you have an album and a track sharing the same name.
[12:39:58 AM] Feld0: Imagine you change the name of an album.
[12:40:03 AM] Feld0: Imagine you change the name of a track.
[12:40:09 AM] Feld0: Imagine you change your display name.
[12:40:15 AM] Feld0: Feld0 (angry)
[12:40:34 AM] CloudFyre: SoundCloud does away with that by separating tracks and albums altogether.
[12:40:57 AM] CloudFyre: Albums are known as "sets", or simply a list of links to the songs that make up that album.
[12:41:15 AM] CloudFyre: More or less, it becomes a list of embedded music players connected to the respective tracks.
[12:41:44 AM] CloudFyre: And it can be filed away under soundcloud.com/user/sets, instead of /user/sounds/ or just simply /user/
[12:42:11 AM] Feld0: Sets get their own namespace.
[12:42:16 AM] Feld0: That's one way to deal with it.
[12:42:21 AM] CloudFyre: ^
[12:42:47 AM] Feld0: But... /tracks/15623-twilight-sparkles-theme-song is so much easier to work with.
[12:43:08 AM] CloudFyre: Hah, I suppose that's why SoundCloud is a worldwide company.
[12:43:42 AM] Feld0: As long as there's an ID number in there somewhere, changing the URL scheme and redirecting it appropriately is going to be possible.
[12:44:05 AM] Feld0: So, I'm launching with tracks in their own namespace, albums in their own, and users in the root namespace without ID's.
[12:44:16 AM] Feld0: So far, that's where I'm at.
[12:44:25 AM] Feld0: (btw, it's probably worth posting a transcript of this discussion to the topic)
[12:44:42 AM] CloudFyre: Wait - so users won't have ID's? Will it be name based then?
[12:44:48 AM] Feld0: Users have ID's.
[12:45:05 AM] Feld0: With options 2 and 3, they just won't be used in profile URL's.
[12:45:32 AM | Edited 12:45:39 AM] Feld0: The ID number is absolutely critical to maintain referential integrity in the database, even if it is never seen on the front end.
[12:45:59 AM] CloudFyre: [12:44 AM] Feld0:

<<< So, I'm launching with tracks in their own namespace, albums in their own, and users in the root namespace without ID's.Ah okay. ^That threw me off for a moment.
[12:46:06 AM] Feld0: It is also critical to maintain referential integrity with MLP Forums, as the two sites do not have any access whatsoever to each other's databases.
[12:46:31 AM] CloudFyre: Really? I would have expected them to with the linked usernames...
[12:46:42 AM] Feld0: Nope - it's all handled via API's on both ends. :)
[12:46:55 AM] Feld0: The end-user experience will be completely seamless nonetheless.
[12:47:06 AM] CloudFyre: Very nice.


Edited by CloudFyre
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I might have to go with option 2.

You must try to not to change Artist name should be the same even when you're bored, tired, mediocre, or whatever it is because its what you're listeners have identified your songs with. I once was known as galiant609. I had many followers and all that kind of stuff. Until I changed my name to Arkane because I felt that galiant609 lost its touch. A few weeks after, view count started to decrease at high numbers even when I relayed to my listeners over and over again that Arkane is the new galiant609.

That is why I'm going with option 2. Even when the Artist's name has changed, listeners will recognize later through the URL that its still the same Artist with the same content.

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I must be honest, i think option 1 would have to be the best. Although I'm not so sure about the part where the user has a number which disappears when they become an artist - I'm not sure if that's entirely necessary, unless you're planning on changing your name.


And i must admit there was a period of time when i hated my name xD because literally, my name is

crappy name they made up at 3 AM one night

But, if you're serious about being an artist, i don't think you'd be changing your name much. I can't speak for everyone though.


the Phony Brony

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  • 1 month later...

I feel as if this thread needs a good solid BUMP


I'm leaning towards option three.



Now, guys, this is especially important, not only from an artist's perspective but also from the perspective of our resident alpha listeners as well.

Edited by Anorax
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I would say go with Option 3. Why?


Option three separates our current MLP Forums display name from any PonyFM musical identity. It would be interesting to note that perhaps people in vanity might want to change their display name away from their designated artist name. An artist name remains a fairly immutable thing and changing it is unlikely to happen at all. It may be worth it to lock it in permanently after some time. But in all honesty, it is mostly there there to facilitate use towards users, so they can easily find an artist. The artist changing it would merely have to be aware that changing it breaks the current links he would have to his profile.


I am a great fan of choice in that respect. That and if people have to set their artist name, there will be far fewer people making an actual musicians profile on there. And it would allow us to use names that have been taken again or use a name which better identifies.


It provides many more advantages.

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Honestly, I have to go for Option 2.


Whilest I like the idea of being able to choose different usernames and links, I think that it may also cause a slight problem of confusion. I think people may get confused when the go to the link with something in it, only to find that the username is different from the link, thinking that they have reached the wrong site or page. I do like the idea of being able to change the link, but couldn't that go through the username instead of a nickname for the username? When you'd change your username to, for example, ProfX but keep your link as ProfY, people may think you're ProfY while you are ProfX, which is, ultimately, confusing.


I wouldn't recommend Option 3, but I do see why most people will want to have a link layout similar to option 3. Again, the only issue I have with it is that it may be confusing at some point.

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Final option looks like the best one. I think it is important that if someone changes their name that you will have the option to change their url at some point as long as it's free. Been in that situation before.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What about hogging then? I could just change my display name to 'thewoodentoaster' and thus stop him from using it, despite that it is not my real name, nor do I plan on using it for music. ( Or worse, someone could convince someone that he is the real one by doing this. )

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What about hogging then? I could just change my display name to 'thewoodentoaster' and thus stop him from using it, despite that it is not my real name, nor do I plan on using it for music. ( Or worse, someone could convince someone that he is the real one by doing this. )


Nothing stops you from trying to impersonate someone like this on almost any website that allows you to set your username. In the event someone reports an issue, though, I'll happily look at the data and do some username shuffling + warning/banning if necessary to resolve it.

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Nothing stops you from trying to impersonate someone like this on almost any website that allows you to set your username. In the event someone reports an issue, though, I'll happily look at the data and do some username shuffling + warning/banning if necessary to resolve it.

Just make sure that they know that they can contest for their name.

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