As a new feature, non-logged in users see below every question:

enter image description here

On threads where there are more numerous brief answers, this fairly long line with its colored links is a bit flashy for how irrelevant it is for the majority of visitors. By way of comparison, the add-comment link for logged-in users is grey, muted, and short.

I'd propose rather than showing this too-obvious, colorful string for every single post in a thread, either:

  1. Recycle the same pop-up a logged-in, low-rep (<125) user sees when attempting to down-vote, or
    Attempting to down-vote with insufficient rep

  2. Show the massive "you should log in" prompt like anonymous users see when attempting to down/up vote.
    Attempting to vote anonymously

  • 5
    Why are you quoting the prompt in four separate places? – Asad Saeeduddin Jul 26 '13 at 20:50
  • 1
    Wait, how much reputation is required to add a comment? – animuson Jul 26 '13 at 20:50
  • 4
    Unrelated, why is the comment requirement on MSO a whopping 1 rep? Giving humanity a chance? – badp Jul 26 '13 at 20:50
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    Reading past the multitude of colored messages "add comment, requires an account with 50 reputation" on every SE site where I don't have an account is quickly getting old. Random example. Suggestion: show only add comment, and display the rest of the text as a pop-up when applicable. (I.e., option 1 above). – 40 votes Jul 26 '13 at 21:45
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    Oops, sorry! I just now got the joke. Sorry to spoil the fun. I'm slow like that. Feel free to roll back. – raven Jul 26 '13 at 22:05

We did consider the alternatives you propose. There were a couple problems with them.

  1. Showing an error when clicking on a UI element is something we already do in various places, but it's really a subpar experience. Leading someone to believe that they can leave a comment only to slap them in the face with an error just isn't cool. We opted to warn people ahead of time instead of getting their hopes up and destroying them with an unexpected error message later.

  2. Telling someone to log in or register is insufficient. Most likely they will be someone who is not already a user with 50 reputation, so they'll go through the trouble of signing up only to find out that they still can't comment.

    We show the "log in" dialog when one clicks on the voting arrows while not logged in, but that actually has another bit of functionalilty - anonymous feedback. It's not like someone's click doesn't count for anything at all. It may not be an upvote or downvote in the traditional sense, but they are still leaving feedback for us and for the site's moderators about the overall usefulness of the post they tried to vote on.

At the end of the day, we did consider alternative approaches and settled on what was implemented as the most clear way to convey how the system works to the people who may be visiting our sites without having an account or without being logged in.

P.S. I'll see if we can change the styling on the links to make them pop out less, though.)

  • 2
    Could you shorten them as well; having an account is a necessary condition for rep, so why not "add comment (requires 50 reputation)" – Nick T Jul 27 '13 at 4:50

While I'd prefer the first kind of notifications, another option which can be considered is to provide the current prompt below the question (or the linked post, in case someone comes to the thread via a link such as this) only and show only "add comment" text below all other replies.

On clicking these add comment links, show them the massive sign up or log in modal:

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