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There are many recent changes to the frontpage of SE sites for users that are not logged in. Those changes are very useful to users that don't know about Stack Exchange yet, but those aren't the only users that visit SE sites without being logged in.

Until recently, if you didn't want to vote or post, there was no significant reason to ever create an account on a site. If the only thing is to occasionally read some posts on a site, maybe only if they appear in the hot questions list, you didn't really need an account.

The changes are probably not final, but what I see when not logged in includes:

  • a large banner on how the site works
  • only signup and login links at the top of the site, no meta, chat or faq links
  • no badges and unanswered tab
  • the list of questions on the frontpage is replaced by a more static list that isn't sorted by date

These changes are not useful and even distracting for users that already know how SE sites work, and they remove functionality that used to be available even for anonymous users. While I think it makes sense to adjust the site for completely new users, it should not be shown this way to users that already have experience with SE sites.

Now you might say I should just log in, and I won't see the sites this way anymore. But there are a few aspects that make this more difficult than it should be:

  • The auto-login is not completely reliable and predictable. Sometimes I just don't get logged in automatically in sites where I have an account

  • You have to manually create an account for every single site. It's only a few clicks, but there are over a hundred sites now.

There are some ways this could be improved:

  • SE could detect if a user is logged in in any SE site, and then show the old anonymous view (might be problematic across domains)

  • An opt-in feature to automatically create accounts on all SE sites (but maybe hide them in the profile if one never posted anything on that site)

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Related discussion: Hot and Week tabs not shown to non-logged in users (except on SO) –  JohnB Jun 4 '13 at 17:09

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