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