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Great site. I've already gotten excellent answers to a question I just posted as a visitor.

My experience with the infrastructure was surprisingly time-consuming.

I posted the original question w/o registering. (Nice feature. Thanks!)

Then when an answer showed up, I tried and tried to figure to to flag post a comment to a posting ... and failed to find one. ( Now I understand, I guess, that I've got to be registered?)

Then I tried and tried to figure out how to flag a response as an answer ... and failed to find it.

So, I went through the registration process (OpenID sounds like a good choice for you all) and (although it's not your fault) ClaimID took 20 minutes to send a confirming ID.

In the interim, I got a VeriSign ID and used it (while still logged in as the questioner) to register at SO.

Now, I still can't figure out how to flag a posting as an answer. There is no shadowed checkbox where it should be...

And although I have an "add comment" link on the bottom posting, there's no "add comment" link on any of the other answers, including the one I want to acknowledge as the answer.

I participate in dozens of on-line sites... and I'm psyched about SO -- having heard good things about it and having already discovered it's value. But, jeez, I just spend 30 minutes dicking around with infrastructure issues rather than doing real work.

I'm not really complaining ... since I chose to spend the time ... and since I can easily walk away w/o acknowledging the post that answers my question. But I thought maybe you'd like to hear how one motivated and saavy newcomer experienced the site...

Sorry to be so wordy.

Feature request: why do you hide options (like comments and checkboxes) that are unavailable? Keep them visible AND enabled and if someone who isn't entitled to them tries to use them, you can explain why they can't use them and how to rectify that. This would've saved me a bunch of time!

Keep up the good work ... I'm sure my experience will improve now that I'm registered!!

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Heh, it is interesting to read about the experience of a new user. I have been gradually introduced to all of the features through blog posts as they were released. I suppose it might be a little bit confusing at first. – jjnguy Aug 5 '09 at 17:51
Personally I found the experience quite straight forward (registering less than two months ago). – Ian Elliott Aug 5 '09 at 18:00
@Ian: me too... I had several ready-to-use accounts with OpenID providers, even though i'd never actually needed to use them before. With Google (and soon (?) even MS) acting as providers, it's getting more and more likely that new users already have an account somewhere that they can use. Indeed, i'd be surprised if SO doesn't eventually drop support for cookie accounts entirely (perhaps changing the choice to "post anonymously" and "log in with OpenID") – Shog9 Aug 5 '09 at 19:35
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It sounds like you lost your browser cookie to your unregistered account in this process. Do you have aggressive cookie settings on?

Unregistered users are tracked through cookies, so if anything interferes with that, you'll have serious problems.

share|improve this answer
Cookies may have been the problem. Makes sense. – user133102 Aug 5 '09 at 21:23

I'm sorry to hear that your experiences as a new user has been confusing up to this point. I don't think I ever remember having that type of problems when I first joined.

Anyway, I find it a bit of a coincidence that you are requesting that options not get hidden if you aren't entitled to them or they are unavailable to you. That almost sounds like a complete 180 from what a user suggested earlier today: Click here

share|improve this answer
You're right - strange coincidence and a great lesson that there's no way to please everyone all the time, especially when two people hold exactly opposite desires! – user133102 Aug 5 '09 at 21:25

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