Be somebody (and show your best profile)

Your user profile is how the rest of the world learns about you. It’s also a yardstick for measuring the value and veracity of your shared items and groups. Whether you’re making maps and apps for others in your GIS department, for users across your organization, or making maps and apps for public access, it’s both a good idea and a best practice to show your best profile if you want others to consider your content seriously.

The importance of a good profile

Not sure about the importance of a good profile? Which of the profiles below inspires confidence, and whose maps, apps, and layers are you more likely to use or trust?

Be somebody

After getting your account the first thing you should do is create a good profile. After signing up you you’ll be presented with your current account information (blank by default). It’s a good idea to complete your profile when your first sign on, but you can change it anytime by clicking My Profile in the drop-down under your name after signing in to your account.

Make sure your profile is visible

When you edit your profile, ensure that your profile will be visible to others. By default, your profile is only visible within your organization. Click Everyone to ensure that no matter how you share your items that others will know who you are, and the organization you represent.

Note: Your Administrator may disable the ability for you to control these settings. See Configure security settings for more information.

Formatting your profile

You can format your profile for easier reading by inserting carriage returns. While the profile editor does not currently support WYSIWIG editing or HTML, you can add carriage returns and other special characters using HTML decimal codes. In the example below, carriage returns and line feeds (highlighted in yellow) were added to improve profile formatting.

What makes for a good profile?

A good profile includes pertinent information about you, or the group or organization you represent. Things to consider including in your profile are a good thumbnail, some information about you, your roles and responsibilities (if appropriate), and contact information.

You can make your profile as long as you want, but it needn’t be a full bio or resume – just the important facts that will help others identify who you are. Here’s an example from a colleague:

This next example is short and to the point, with just the necessary information.

When representing an organization, consider including the organization logo in your profile.

A profile for your organization

When you share items on behalf of a company or organization you may want the organization to be the recognized source instead of yourself, or some other individual in the org. This makes it easier to identify authoritative content from the organization, rather than an individual.

You can create an account with a profile representing the organization, and the Administrator can transfer ownership of items as needed to that account. Note that ArcGIS terms of use prohibits sharing of account logins, so this must be a separate account.

Here’s an example from the State of Utah Trust Lands Administration. Note the official logo, contact information, and link to the organization’s website.

Below is a slightly different style than the profile above, but still indicative of an authoritative source with all needed contact information.

This is another good example, and it’s easy to identify this as an authoritative source. Contact information might be nice addition.


You can edit and update your profile at any time, so it’s never too late to put your best profile forward. By doing so you’re letting others know who you are, or who you represent, offering context for others who may want to use your shared items.

For more information see Manage profile.

This post was originally published on June 1, 2012, and has been updated.

This entry was posted in ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Online and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply


  1. geo-elektrika says:

    I don’t see any explanation in this article, or in the help topic, on how to add hyperlinks. I tried html tags. Looks like the editor only accepts plain text. Which is why my profile looks so crappy. Can you tell more? Thanks.

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Thanks for your comments. The existing capabilities will be enhanced over time to offer additional styling and content, but for now they offer only basic capabilities. You can have a link appear if you enter the entire link address (including the http://) and then hit a carriage return at the end. Here’s an example profile from esri with a link in the text.

  2. marieesten says:

    Is there any way to change the name of your profile? For example, I created a basic user called “Public41″, but have been working on some project specific stuff, can I change the user name to something else like “RINEMO”?

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Marie – no, you cannot change your account name once you have it. But you can register a new account(s) and use that alongside your existing one. The trick is transfering ownership of your map items from one account to another. With a personal account you would have to open and “save as” from the old to the new account. If you were a member of an organization (still in beta, release soon) your items could be transferred from one user to another by the site administrator(s).

  3. juq says:

    I don’t see Edit my profile link. Do you need a specific browser?

  4. tjibbe77 says:

    I cannot for the life of me figure out how to create a profile like the one from “Conservation Biology Institute”….How do I include carriage returns? How can I enter a link like that? I’ve tried html-codes but these are just ignored and disappear. Any tips?

  5. pjdohertygis says:

    Thanks for using me as a “good” example Bernie.