This article from “Research in Learning Technology” concludes “it depends”.

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There seems to be four schools of thought:

  1. I need to see profile information and photos to feel connected to other people.
  2. I’d rather not have photos and give away personal information as I’m worried about my own privacy.
  3. I can interact with the individual postings and topics – who posts them isn’t relevant.
  4. I don’t see why photos and profiles are needed.

Full journal article here: Social presence in online learning communities: the role of personal profiles

Research in Learning Technology – Print ISSN 2156-7069; Online ISSN: 2156-7077This journal is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) License.