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I know SO's policy is "you don't have to register to ask questions," but there are so many new members and so many hit-and-runs... The majority of the questions I see now are coming from new users (i.e., it's their first question).

Although unregistered users should still be able to ask questions, I think we should encourage users to create an account. Here is a couple of ways we could do that:

  1. Explicitly encourage people to get an account: there's currently nothing telling people to do that. Maybe tell people something like "Get an account, it's easy!" and maybe show some of the perks of having an account (and having rep).

  2. Maybe give a few bonus points for registering; and have that enable a basic privilege. It could be taken from one of the new user restrictions, for example.

Of course getting people to register is just half of the battle. I don't know what the stats are on this, but I think there's a number of users who create multiple accounts anyways. We could curb that by:

  1. Having smart(er)? duplicate account detection systems, alerting someone who is about to create a new account and possibly has an account already. Give them a message like "Hey, it looks like you already have this account, are you sure you want to create a new one?"

  2. Create a new privilege (10k? 20k?) that gives users tools to detect possible duplicate accounts, eg: "List users with the same e-mail," "List users with the same IP addresses," etc. (without revealing said emails and IPs).

    Then the 10k/20k can look at other stuff (e.g.: posts) and refer the new user to a moderator for a possible merge.

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Yes, I particularly find edits in the edit queue "funny" where the OP apparently lost the cookie and is trying to edit his own post from a new account... –  Wladimir Palant Sep 23 '11 at 7:16
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Your #2 tool would be useful for moderators too! –  ChrisF Sep 23 '11 at 8:36

2 Answers 2

up vote 46 down vote accepted

I know SO's policy is "you don't have to register to ask questions,"

I have decided this policy no longer makes sense, given a question volume of 4k-5k questions per day.

So from this point on, registration is required to ask questions (but not to answer).

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Wow, are you serious, or just kidding around? Seems like a major paradigm shift. –  Lance Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 8:33
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Wow that's going to be huuuuuuuuge, but desperately needed. It's so depressing seeing the type of questions and "answers" that come out in certain times of the day... –  Jeff Mercado Sep 23 '11 at 8:36
    
If this is an attempt to prevent crap questions being asked, I think you shot yourself in the foot by making it so easy to register ;) (proof). –  Matt Sep 23 '11 at 8:58
    
I guess that takes care of the first part... But how about the 2nd part (ie: stop people from creating duplicate accounts)? Will that be considered? Should I start a new feature request? –  NullUserException อ_อ Sep 23 '11 at 9:16
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@Jeff It doesn't need to be there to stop people from intentionally creating new accounts, but it would help those who accidentally create them. –  NullUserException อ_อ Sep 23 '11 at 9:26
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I think the FAQ should be updated accordingly. –  Daniel Hilgarth Sep 23 '11 at 11:41
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Well, I guess you were serious. I don't think making SO less inclusive is really taking it in a positive direction. –  Lance Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 16:23
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This is a bold move, and I think it's a good one. –  Matthew Read Sep 23 '11 at 16:37
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It's too bad that little experiment failed. I remember how highly you touted it when SO launched. –  Ed S. Sep 23 '11 at 21:38
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@eds it still works, just not at the scale of Stack Overflow. And to be brutally honest, the important part is unregistered answers; we don't really care about putting barriers in front of question askers. See blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/06/optimizing-for-pearls-not-sand –  Jeff Atwood Sep 23 '11 at 21:57
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@Lance I welcome this. It'll speed up flag processing. It can be time consuming where there's a question by a user with an unregistered account who then goes on to lose their cookie. They re-appear with a new unregistered account or have worked out how to register a different permanent account. They then start posting updates to their question in the answers because they've become disconnected from that original unregistered account. I've even seen three different unregistered accounts belonging to the same user in the answers section. Verifying that they are all the same takes time. –  Kev Sep 24 '11 at 0:21
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@Kev, I can see where it'd be handy, and that is how all the other sites do it. I'm just amazed from the about face, since SO had proudly proclaimed this as one of the main aspects. It doesn't matter that much to me, everyone is used to signing up, just a surprise. –  Lance Roberts Sep 24 '11 at 0:24
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@LanceRoberts I disagree that this will make SO less inclusive, most other sites make you register before you can create new posts. However the Stack Overflow registration is pretty light-weight compared to some forums I've visited where they make you fill in up to 15 mandatory fields with everything from your inside leg measurement to your granny's favourite brand of boiled sweet. –  Kev Sep 24 '11 at 0:26
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@LanceRoberts yet again, answers are the real unit of work in any Q&A system. Answers require no registration. I guess I'll just keep saying this over and over until it sinks in... –  Jeff Atwood Sep 24 '11 at 0:40
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Note: This only seems to be enabled for Stack Overflow right now. Other trilogy sites and SE 2.0 sites don't require registration ask or answer questions. –  nhinkle Sep 24 '11 at 19:20

I think letting those who register have a 15-rep bonus which would allow them to upvote would help a lot. Upvoting is addictive.

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this would create a massive hole in the voting system. Need sockpuppets? Just click away.. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 23 '11 at 7:57
    
Well, you use captchas to test for humanity elsewhere, why don't you insert a captcha in the registration process to stop automated sockpuppets? (maybe it's already there, been a while). Manual sockpuppets will just do a little work to get 15 rep, and be there anyway. –  Lance Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 8:00
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You're talking about removing a serious barrier that would require multiple accounts and multiple questions/answers to get around, and replacing it with a few mouse clicks. Not going to happen on my watch. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 23 '11 at 8:04
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@JeffAtwood It's not like it's terribly hard to get 15 rep anyway. If I'm creating sockpuppets, how hard is it for me to just upvote 2 answers on the new account? –  NullUserException อ_อ Sep 23 '11 at 8:04
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@null you have to make posts, which people will notice (do they suck? are they rational questions and answers? why would anyone upvote them?). Nobody can "see" you magically getting 15 rep for registering and then voting 40 times in a day. Again: not going to happen, really bad idea, you and Lance honestly should know better than to propose such a catastrophically bad idea. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 23 '11 at 8:30
    
@JeffAtwood Well, you do get 100 bonus points "magically" by associating your account with other SE accounts. –  NullUserException อ_อ Nov 22 '11 at 18:57
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@NullUserExceptionอ_อ: Well yes, but in that situation you have already proven to understand the basic rules of an SE site by earning 200 points "the hard way" first. –  awe Sep 17 '13 at 12:28

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