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[AKA: what the geek family does on Super Bowl Sunday…]

I've been telling people I know about SE sites, and I've seen this behavior twice now:

  1. Person hears about SE and thinks the idea is cool.
  2. He goes to stackexchange.com and creates a new account.
  3. He goes to an SE site and finds a question he can answer.
  4. When answering, he finds, to his surprise, that he's not signed in.
  5. He asks me, "I signed in once—why am I not signed in now?"

And then I have to explain that creating an account at stackexchange.com does, basically, nothing at all for novice users, and he gets frustrated.

Suggestion: when someone is at stackexchange.com, instead of having them create a new user account, have them instead log in by picking an existing SE site and then using that account to sign in. That is, there may still be a stackexchange.com account created behind the scenes, but it will require—and be automatically associated with—an existing account.

Sure, I'll still get questions—but they'll be at step 2 (when he hasn't done anything yet), and not at step 5 (when I have to explain that he wasted his time).

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2 Answers 2

I'm not against this, but I am questioning step #2 -- why do they need to create an account on se.com, exactly?

  1. Person hears about SE and thinks the idea is cool.
  2. He goes to stackexchange.com and browses around.
  3. He clicks through to an SE site and finds a question he can answer.
  4. When answering, he simply enters the blog-style username, email and gets an ambient unregistered account -- or he can log in and register at that point.

The only reason to have a se.com account is to set up unique tagsets; I'm not really seeing the utility there for a brand new user.

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I think it's the fact that the person doesn't always have an SE user guiding them on the ideal path, like this: "Hey, you should try Stack Exchange! It's super fun!" "Ok, I'll try it when I get home." *goes home and searches stack exchange, arrives at stackexchange.com and tries to register* – waiwai933 Feb 7 '11 at 6:51
Perhaps they think that by creating an account on se.com, the account will be good on any of the sites they see mentioned. Some people are ok with signing up immediately, or maybe they think they need to. – Rebecca Chernoff Feb 7 '11 at 6:56
"why do they need to create an account on se.com, exactly?" and "I'm not really seeing the utility there for a brand new user": yes, they don't need an account, and yes, it does "nothing at all for novice users." But when a novice lands at stackexchange.com, they are (I've found) likely to think that an account there is sufficient for all the SE sites (versus the none of them that's actually the case). – Dori Feb 7 '11 at 7:10
I'm with @Dori on that one! – JonH Oct 20 '11 at 17:46

Yes,I just tried to "sign up" and was uncerimoniously dumped onto some random page right after clicking "agree" to whatever terms were required to create a new account. In my limited experience, the next step is ALWAYS to go to my email for the verification link. So, I hit the "back" button to try again. This earned me a "suspicious activity" message, to which I started to write:

Confusion producing account creation process for first-timer yields "suspicious activity" message.

I think that a reasonably literate person such as myself who possesses good writing skills and blah blah blah could have been an asset to this site. I dared click on "improve this article": dumb-ass move, so sorry.

What's even dumber is writing all this, only to be shot down again, so I stop here.

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It could be helpful if you posted reproduction steps so we can verify what might be wrong. Login was overhauled and only recently released so there might some edge cases where the system needs to be optimized. Such a shame you decided to post an answer with so little room left for the SE devs to get it right.... – rene Aug 9 at 19:11
Hi! It looks like you signed up using your Google account as a login credential. In that case, we don't send a separate email confirmation link since we trust Google to have verified your email already. If I'm reading our logs right, we put you on the /tour page after you signed up, which is the page designed to explain what the site's about and how things work around here. I'm sorry this turned out to be a jarring experience for you. That's certainly not what we go for. – Adam Lear Aug 9 at 19:21
This is someone else's question, and not really relevant to your issue. You should ask this as a new question by clicking the Ask Question button. Someone will answer and provide more info as to what went wrong. – James Aug 9 at 22:21

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