Possibility to list the personal activity of a specific user

Elgg 1.9 will have a feature that allows admins to list the activity of a specific user. They can access it through an url like:

Regular users can only list all site activity:

...or the activity of their own friends:

How would you feel about giving all users the possibility to list the activity of a particular user? This list would display only the content that has been allowed from the content access input. So it wouldn't expose anything that isn't already public to the observing user.

But would this feature become a tool for stalking other users? Would you want to have this feature on your site? What do you think?

  • We do have this already and find it incredibly useful, especially in an educational context, where students might be doing stuff all over the place and stuff is easily lost along the way: it's probably one of the most used features on the site, and none of our thousands of users have ever raised it as a problem. It is, after all, only a means of organizing information that is already readily available. We also provide activity tabs so that people can see what people in specific collections and groups have been doing across the site. Again, incredibly useful.

    However, and it's a big however, we limit visibility of activities solely to object creation - posts, edits and comments, basically. The ability to see friending, joining etc is an intrusion on privacy because users have not explicitly made such information available, which breaks Elgg's otherwise commendable attitude to privacy. On that note, it would be useful to have a personal setting, with admin-settable defaults, which would allow users to make that kind of information explicitly available using standard access settings.

  • I have also gotten requests for this feature from educational organizations in particular.

    Good point on the fact that users do not have control over the privacy actions like friending and joining. I hadn't considered that one.

  • I think seeing a single user activity stream should be standard.  It's done on every other platform - twitter streams, facebook wall, etc.

    As long as the privacy can be controlled by the user there shouldn't be an issue (ie. can we make those non-content river items access controlable?)

  • It would be easy to set the access_id on creation using 'creating', 'river' hook. The default option could be e.g. that friending would be visible only to friends and joining only to group members.

    Also we would need good UI for river item privacy settings. There propably would have to be a site-wide option, user default option and also the possibility to later update the visibility of a single river item. At the moment there is no function for updating a river item, so we would have to add that also.

    ...and there has been talk about upgrading river items to entities. So I have the feeling these features won't be making their way into the core in a long time.

    If we want to have this in 1.9 we must find a very simple solution for it. My suggestion would be to just allow it by default to all users. As stated before: all the same river items are accessible through the default activity page anyway. Sites could then disable the feature using a plugin if needed.

  • Imho, profile Activity widget does just that, so for as long as a there is a user setting somewhere to opt in or opt out, I do not see any privacy violations. We could make these granular based on 'action' attribute.

  • Let's just add a user setting: "Personal activity stream access [input/access]" just like the Activity widget, but with default public.

    As for things like join/friending actions in the stream, I'm conflicted. You can see a user's groups and a user's friends, but not the creation of those relationships? Maybe both of those need their own setting like the above.

    Basically the widget system sheds a light on where this should go: each feature of a site that exposes particular info about a user (especially the owner block) should have an access level, as if it were an implicit widget.

Feedback and Planning

Feedback and Planning

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