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We're finally building user profiles on our site (gelaskins.com) and we'd like to allow our users/artists to publicly display their external networks like Twitter & Instagram. Is it considered bad practice to provide empty fields for external networks? The rationale being that it's simple and quick and may have higher uptake. Or should we enforce a proper API-based connection because we can learn more about the user and have a better (i.e. non-username based) link?

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Hi @Jamie. Welcome to the site! Can you provide a little more context? What's your motive for adding these links to external networks? What will the links contribute to your site? –  3nafish Oct 9 '13 at 3:25
    
Yeah for sure! Basically it would be for visitors on the site to learn more about their favourite artists and connect on their other networks. Conversely, if users opt to connect, we'd gather their friends and gain the chance to suggest artists to follow on our site. Usual stuff, really. –  Jamie Pichora Oct 10 '13 at 15:16
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@jamie Please consider rephrasing your question. That may help you getting more useful answer.

As far as i am getting your question, i would answer that NO, that is not considered as bad practice as long as that empty field is only shown up in "User-profile-editing" page. Many sites use that.

for example, take 500px.com's that page:

500px.com User profile page

but, however, don't show those blank's on the profile page, again 500px.com

enter image description here

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Got it. Thanks for taking the time to help! –  Jamie Pichora Oct 10 '13 at 15:19
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