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User profile pages currently indicate the user's location, if they have added one. I've thought recently that it would be convenient to know what time it is for another user. If they mention the time, or I know their location, I can figure it out. But it would be simpler for me if this was calculated by the server and displayed on their page. Obviously, this would only exist if the user set their location (or maybe this could be implemented as a separate field for timezone).

This would be similar to the way ages are automatically calculated and displayed, while not displaying a user's actual birth date or year. I also know that this is done in email notifications I get regarding chat sessions.

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  • $\begingroup$ Possibly helpful: if a user is active in chat, his chat profile will display a graph of the times he tends to be active. $\endgroup$
    – Shog9
    Dec 7 '12 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ The system would get a bit confused at my location... And what about people who put stuff like "THE MATRIX" (Grammatical error; there can certainly be more than 1 matrices!) for their locations ? And what about Dilaton's F-theory location? Would it display 2 times ? ! $\endgroup$ Aug 12 '13 at 16:30
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The location field is neither necessarily the user's actual location, nor is it force-validated. For example, my own personal location is listed as "6", which is an in-joke from my first days on Meta Stack Overflow. This is probably less of an issue overall on Physics, as there's probably a greater portion of users who have valid locations.

We once did an attempt last year to standardize location strings across profiles. That didn't go over too well, although it gave us the means to suggest a standardized format (as opposed to forcing it on).

The chat timezone is not derived from your location field. Rather, it is derived from your machine itself, through JavaScript, and reflects what time your machine thinks it is. This lets it give you "local" time for you where-ever you are, no matter how much you may travel. We don't actually store this information, which prevents us from a proper means to relay these times to other users who would be, say, stopping at your profile page.

I think for now, the simplest implementation is that a user who opts to want their time zone known to others can add it into the "About Me" section of their profile. Or, even, right into the location field.

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  • $\begingroup$ Of note, Gardening Stack Exchange actually developed a custom for using their About Me sections to perform a very similar effect, to help convey location information that is important for their question and answering. But even when it's not relevant, to paraphrase the users there, it's still a nice "getting to know you" kind of standard expectation. $\endgroup$
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Dec 7 '12 at 22:21

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