Update 9th September 2013 - the threshold has now been reduced to 10 bean-earning posts (posts in support areas). Once an account has reached this level the hourly script will adjust permissions on recently logged in accounts. If you have logged in for the first time after a period of inactivity, please be patient - it may take up to an hour for your permissions to change.
Update 22nd October 2012 - the threshold has now been reduced to 25 bean-earning posts (posts in support areas). Once an account has reached this level the hourly script will adjust permissions on recently logged in accounts. If you have logged in for the first time after a period of inactivity, please be patient - it may take up to an hour for your permissions to change.
In September 2011, the ability to edit profile information was reluctantly removed from those users with a post (bean) count of less than 50. This was to prevent profile spam. Since the introduction of these measures, the time spent by staff dealing with spam has been much reduced, thus allowing us to do the things which really matter and for which staff joined the forum in the first place: spending productive time with the forum community. We are sorry for the inconvenience to members with low post counts, but the problem had become so bad that many members of staff were spending hours per day in cleaning profile spam.
Once you have achieved
50 2510 posts in support areas, all profile customisation (including avatar and signature) will be available. A script runs every hour on the active (logged in) accounts to adjust permissions so it may take up to one hour for this to happen after your post count has reached 50 2510. Please note that posts in the Community Cafe and its sub-forums, Forum Feedback & Help and its sub-forums, and Ubuntu Linux and OS Chat and its sub-forums do not increase your post count.
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about this restriction.
Q: What is profile spam?
A: Spammers create accounts simply to add their spam links to the various profile fields. If a text field exists, spammers will spam it. There are several text fields in the user profile, but the field that was being particularly abused was the Home Page field.
Q: How does this differ from signature spam?
A: They are variations on a theme. For signature spam, spammers add their links to their forum signature, and this appears every time they post. Profile spam, where the spammer has abused the Home Page field, is only visible if the account profile page is viewed. This makes it harder to detect and more time-consuming for staff to deal with.
Q: If an account holder has not posted at all, it is near-impossible for an ordinary forum member to find the profile page, let alone view it. Why, then, is profile spam a problem?
A: Search engine spiders such as google-bot can find the profile page easily and they index any links they find. Profile spam is an example of black hat SEO (search-engine optimisation) or spamdexing. Let us be clear: the use of the forum for posting links whether visible by humans or not is theft - theft of server resources and bandwidth, theft of the facilities paid for by Canonical. This is an international, very busy forum and is a magnet for spammers. It is more valuable for them to post their links on this forum than many other smaller ones. Indeed, it is possible that much ordinary post spam is now intended for spamdexing rather than in the hope that people will click through and purchase the (dubious) goods on offer.
Q: What about my avatar. That is not a text field. Why cannot I add/change that?
A: We have had avatar spam where the avatar image includes some form of unsolicited advertising. The profile restrictions permit us to control this form of spam as well.
Q: Why can't you allow us access to some profile features that are not text fields, such as the Ubuntu version or other OS choice field?
A: The forum software does not permit us sufficiently fine-grained control. Sorry.
Q: I've had an account for several years. I should have been grandfathered in.
A: We have had sleeper spammer accounts, used to post spam years after creation. That is why we were unable to make exceptions for accounts created before the time that the restrictions came into place.
Q: But I have already proven that I am not a spammer with what I have posted already. I have had my account for a long time. I am a veteran of this forum.
A: If your post count is less than
50 2510, that hardly makes you a veteran, even if you have held the account for a long time. Consider being able to access your user profile as a privilege, not a right, a privilege earned by being a contributing member of the forum community. Contributing means giving help to others in the support sections. A forum member who truly intends to be a contributing member of this community would have posted more than 50 2510 times in support areas if they have been a member for more than about a year.
Q: Then that is simply going to encourage people to post a large number of replies just to get their post count above
A: If the posts are helpful and have useful content then we have no problem with that. Indeed, that is to be encouraged. But if anyone posts a number of posts without useful content in an effort to circumvent this restriction, they will find that staff action will be swift and uncompromising. Persistent pointless posting is no better than spam and will be dealt with as such. Reporting spam does increase your post count - 1 bean for each report - so you can increase your post count and help the forum in its battle against the spammers by reporting any spam post you come across.
Q: I customised my profile before the restriction. Now my Ubuntu version is wrong.
A: Post a request to have this changed in the Resolution Center, and an admin may do this for you. Please be patient. We are all volunteers and these requests will not receive the same priority as other Resolution Center requests.
Q: I have an outdated link in my Home Page which now gives a 404, or other now-obsolete information in my personal details which is misleading.
A: As for the previous item, please post in the Resolution Center, but for these we are only prepared to remove obsolete information, not replace it.
Q: Will you not change my usergroup so that I can make the changes myself?
A: No. Most busy forums place some sort of restrictions on account holders with low post counts, usually as an anti-spam measure. With the threshold now standing at only 10 bean-earning posts, it should not take you long before you are moved into a less restrictive usergroup.
Q: What about my email? How do I change that?
A: There is no restriction on changing your email. Click on the Settings link near the top-right of most forum pages, and choose "Edit Email & Password". Please note that the vbulletin forum password is no longer used now that we have SSO login, so you may ignore the password fields. Please also note that if you change your email you will not be able to post until you re-activate your account from the verification email.
This sticky replaces this thread which has now been unstuck. This sticky has been closed to posting, but if you have any suggestions for additional questions or for clarifications to the answers already given, please start a thread in Forum Feedback and Help.
This post is a collaborative effort by the forum staff and may be edited from time to time to amend or add items.