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Ok, this is a rhetorical statement, rephrased as a question:

I just read a very helpful solution to a problem I had and wanted to click the 'uparrow' approval to show my appreciation. Wanting to do this though sent me on a wild ride beginning with forcing me to become a member of this site in order to do it and also taking me away from the solution I want to approve, so now I'll have to go back and search for it again to complete the task.

This is an extremely convoluted process to complete a very basic need to give gratitude to others who have earned it.

I appreciate wanting users to become members to ask questions and respond, but surely it works better to allow passing visitors to approve of comments without forcing them to have memberships to do so?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Feb 13 '13 at 7:28

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

    
PS. It then aslo makes me go through the capcha check too causing a one or two second task to take ten minutes of concentrated effort! Please, let's just be able to check good comments without having to jump through hoops first! –  user2067256 Feb 13 '13 at 6:04
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Anonymous users can answer,suggest edits etc. But crucial privilages like Voting are restricted since it affects the functioning of SO. And is provided to Registered user only. Read FAQ –  user208637 Feb 13 '13 at 6:10
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In short: to prevent anyone from gaming the system too easily. If you need not even have an account to vote, then a vote would be worth nothing. –  Joachim Sauer Feb 13 '13 at 7:31

3 Answers 3

There is a lot of other processing that is linked with a simple thing as voting at the back-end that decides fate of various decisions like whether a badge is earned with this upvote or whether the user has gained any new privilege. There even is a detection for spam votes which would be harder if that had been left open.

So, these votes should come from the registered users.

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While you can't vote for stuff while logged out you can still approve of them (via the anonymous feedback mechanism). You should see:

enter link description here

This means that your feedback was recorded in the system, just that it doesn't count as a "vote"

The issue is, voting (as well as the reputation system tied to it) is an essential part of the working of this site. Allowing people to inflate their reputation/post score by adding extra votes from a non-logged in account will be a very easy way to game the system. We already have problems with sockpuppetry.

So yeah, I doubt that anonymous voting will ever be allowed.

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The single most essential part of the StackOverflow network is to provide answers to questions. That functionality is available to anyone. SO does not require a user to be logged in to the site to search the questions, and to look at the answers, unlike some other "help" sites on the Internet. You can more or less look at everything that the site has to offer without logging in.

It even allows you to suggest helpful edits and answer question anonymously, a feature that is helped out by the awesome stackoverflow community, because in most cases your edits will be approved or rejected withing the minute.

However, some functionalities that are not essential to using the site, and that are about participating in said community are restricted only to the registered users, and also tied to the reputation of the user. SO is unique in that regard that the site is basically yours. If you manage to rake up enough reputation you can do almost anything on the site - edit other people answers, vote to close questions, vote to reopen them, etc. While not ideal, this system establishes trust between the users that whatever is done, is for the better.

Also, IMHO, stackoverflow has one of the better OAuth implementations. As long as you have an account on Google or on Facebook or on Yahoo, you can just click a button and be logged in. No need for entering any additional information or remembering an additional password, or even setting your own username, user2067256.

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This is a great answer. Only thing I would add: the requirement to be registered to vote also protects the integrity of the voting system. Otherwise, it would be easy for someone to cast multiple votes (even on their own questions/answers) –  Andrew Barber Feb 13 '13 at 14:09

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