Let's take a look at the login model for multiple sites. 1 site or more, with account or not.


Let me explain this table.

  • A: Unknown user arrives at a SE-site.
  • B: Registered user has an account at a SE-site.
  • C: Registered user arrives at another SE-site.
  • D: Registered user has an account at another SE-site.

The natural order to transverse through this is from A to D (z-order).

  • User role A is an Unknown user (either new or logged out).
  • User role B is a logged in user.
  • User role C does not exist in SE (visitor role).
  • User role D is a logged in user.

Let's look at the actions that any role can take. Actions

The user B can go to D with the Global Network Auto-Login feature.

The visitor role does not exist. On SE any user that visits a site where he/she does not have an account, (s)he'll be treated as an unknown user (role A).

I propose the C role (visitor) should be created. Any B role (known) user that visits another site is known to the system, but has no badges nor points at the other site. A 'create account' link is presented, so the user can become a D role user with one click. Otherwise, the visitor behaves like an A role user (unknown).

Note that I haven't mentioned the auto-create account feature. That is because I am against it, just like anybody else.

  • 6
    I knew who posted this as soon as I saw the first table. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not – Michael Mrozek Aug 16 '11 at 21:54
  • @Micheal, me neither. – GUI Junkie Aug 16 '11 at 22:05
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    tl;dr Replace the login "link" with "create account" when someone is known to have an account on other SE sites, to more accurately reflect their relationship with the network. – Jeremy Banks Aug 16 '11 at 22:29
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    I'm not opposed to this, but I don't really see the problem it is trying to solve, either. I'm happy with other SE sites treating me as a stranger until I click the "login" button. It's never been a problem for me. – Pëkka Aug 16 '11 at 23:21
  • @Eat more Twisters, it's to prevent the 'Welcome to Q&A' banner and to be able to have a one click login. – GUI Junkie Aug 17 '11 at 8:58
  • So, do you have the feature marking typos with red squiggly lines inverted to where correctly spelled words are marked? There's something wrong with your spreadsheet app. – Cody Gray Aug 17 '11 at 9:28
  • @Cody. Nah, must be in Spanish. – GUI Junkie Aug 17 '11 at 13:49

There are a couple of technical reasons not to do this, and it's awfully minor gain.

The primary one is that a global log in check (to see if a user is a "visitor") is quite expensive, and would adversely affect page ready times.

  • Thanks for the answer. Wouldn't this check be just as expensive as the Global Network Auto-Login check (that's done asynchronous)? – GUI Junkie Aug 18 '11 at 5:45

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