In the past, it has been possible to hide your profile information on the BBS (that is, when you attempt to view a user’s profile by clicking on their avatar or other means, you could hide this information).
One of the valid use cases for this feature in the past was that profile information was public and could be indexed by search engines or viewed by anonymous visitors to the BBS.
In general this isn’t a big deal, since all (non-DM) posts on the BBS are public anyway, and we don’t require any specific personal information from users that is subsequently displayed on your profile page (except your “name” field, which is entirely optional). However, for some time now, these profile pages have been inaccessible to anonymous users, bots, and spiders.
So, this feature was essentially only hiding your profile from other members of the BBS.
Recently, I began to notice that banned users had been using this feature prior to being suspended, presumably to make it more difficult for users to read their post history. Again, all posts are public, but it’s annoying to have to use the search bar or navigate between topics to track a users posts if you are, for example, trying to supply evidence that they are posting in bad faith.
Additionally, we often received confused messages from users trying to ignore these same posters, and did not know how to do so without selecting that option from their (now hidden) profile page.
This has happened often enough that we asked the Discourse team for the ability to disable this feature, and they have just completed the work needed to do so.
As a result, users can no longer hide their profile. Again, only members of the BBS can see your profile, and the profile only shows your public posts (and your name, if you have chosen to provide it.) Hopefully, this will remove one weapon that bad actors were using to make tracking their movements more difficult.