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When I click share below a question I get a small box containing the share link to that question like that:

enter image description here

Apart from the question number, this link also contains my user ID (last number).

What are the reasons for a share link to contain my user ID?
Are there any circumstances where I should remove it before posting the link?

  • 1
    I don't know the answer, but if I want to link to an answer, I now paste the share link in a new tab and let it resolve and then use that link so that the question title shows up on mouse over – Zanna Feb 10 '18 at 13:16
  • Upvoted but I think this question should be moved to Meta Stack Exchange. – Melebius Feb 12 '18 at 13:56
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    @Melebius Just realized, it's already there: meta.stackexchange.com/q/113638/371617 Well, which question isn't… – dessert Feb 12 '18 at 14:12
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User ID in the sharing link is useful in at least one situation. There are some badges:

  • Announcer

    Share a link to a question later visited by 25 unique IP addresses. This badge can be awarded multiple times.

  • Booster

    Share a link to a question later visited by 300 unique IP addresses. This badge can be awarded multiple times.

  • Publicist

    Share a link to a question later visited by 1000 unique IP addresses. This badge can be awarded multiple times.

Your user ID in the link keeps track of the number of visits following the link you shared even if you post the link outside Stack Exchange network (in social media, personal website etc.).

To answer the second part of your question, viz.

Are there any circumstances where I should remove it before posting the link?

I reckon it's completely up to you. You might not want to associate your Ask Ubuntu username with your online persona in other places. In that case I think it's wise to remove the unique user ID before posting the link.

  • 1
    are you sure the user id is required for the system to count those links? – Zanna Feb 10 '18 at 13:17
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    @Zanna yes, this isn't only intra-SE, so there would be no other way to count it when you share via social media or on your webpage or wherever. – terdon Feb 10 '18 at 13:18
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    Thank you for researching this! I had the badges in mind, but wondered whether this really is the only reason. It seems a bit childish to me – I cherish gamification, but making (short!) links as short as possible is much more important IMHO. – dessert Feb 11 '18 at 8:50
  • @terdon It is also possible for SE to generate unique link, not including user id and store user id who generated it. This way badges still can be awarded and it is not possible to get user id from link. Main reason for not doing this is that it is more complicated. – Mateusz Konieczny Feb 13 '18 at 12:41
  • @MateuszKonieczny yes, way, way, way more complicated. You would also need to store all this in a database, and given that some of us share thousands of links over the years and that there are millions of users, that would add up really quickly. You would also need to keep track of any changes to the URL etc etc. – terdon Feb 13 '18 at 12:43

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