ArcGIS Online

Be somebody (and show your best profile)

Your ArcGIS 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 in, but you can change it anytime by clicking My Profile in the drop-down under your name after signing in to your account.

Then click Edit my profile.


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. If you share items publicly for others to find and use, when your profile is clicked Click Everyone to ensure that no matter how you share your items that others will know who you are, and the organization you represent.

When organization administrators add new members, Profile visibility can be set during the invitation process. This is found in the Settings tab in the Set member properties panel.

Note that your Administrator may disable the ability for you to control profile visibility. See Configure security settings for more information.


Formatting your profile

You can format your profile Bio 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 (like the mail and phone symbols shown below) using HTML decimal codes.

Here’s how the formatting for the above looks like in the Bio editor.

 – line feed

✉ – mail symbol

☎ – phone symbol


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 essential 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 organization. This makes it easier to identify authoritative content originating 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.


Summary and more information

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.

About the author

Tech evangelist and product strategist at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping users succeed with the ArcGIS Platform. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Follow @bernszukalski or email


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