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Posting a question as an anonymous guest user (without having an account) is allowed but for commenting 50 reputations are required.

A guest user (who doesn't have an account) can't accrue any reputation points.

Now, if a guest user (who doesn't have an account) posts a question and if some people respond with cryptic answers or wrong answers then the OP (the guest user who posted the question) will want to comment on these answers.

But, the guest user (who doesn't have an account) can't comment because he/she doesn't have any reputation points.

And if the guest user (who doesn't have an account) gives his/her comments as an answer then the answer gets deleted by the moderators because it is actually not an answer.

The downside of this is that the OP can ask only a question and that's it. The OP won't be able to get involved further in the posting.

Because of this, it is quite possible that the answers to the question posted by OP are incomplete / wrong / cryptic, etc.

And this is not going to help the future readers of the question.

Besides, if some user comments that the question is not clear, then the OP won't be able to give more details about the question (because he/she can't comment and his/her answers will get deleted by the moderators).

Involvement of OP is very necessary to make a question and its comments / answers meaningful for future readers.

But currently, OP can't get involved other than just asking the question.

So, please either allow guest user (who doesn't have an account) to comment also or please remove this feature of posting a question anonymously as a guest user (without having an account).

I have faced this problem myself and that's why I brought up this point. I had created this account mainly to highlight this problem. After the discussions are complete, I will delete all my stackexchange and stackoverflow accounts.

I am not saying that commenting as a guest user should be allowed. But if it is not allowed, then, the feature of posting a question anonymously as a guest user (without having an account) should also be removed.

Note: I am using incognito mode of Chrome. And I have setup Firefox to delete all history on exit.

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  • 15
    A user can always comment on answers to their own question, no minimum reputation necessary. Dec 12, 2023 at 11:24
  • 13
    The common case is user who lose the cookies used to keep the unregistered account, then indeed they can't comment anymore. But that's their problem, not SE problem. Dec 12, 2023 at 11:31
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    Also, another wrong detail you bring here is "can't accrue any reputation points" - that's just wrong. Please check what you say before posting. Thanks. (e.g. this one) Dec 12, 2023 at 11:33
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    Does this answer your question? New user comment clarification or Why do I need 50 reputation to comment? What can I do instead?
    – Joachim
    Dec 12, 2023 at 11:41
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    Cookies are not usually cleared on browser close, meaning you can reopen the browser without losing the unregistered "account". Unless you have some unusual broswer and/or are running incognito mode, but then that's your problem. Dec 12, 2023 at 11:50
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    Are you using any browser extension that deletes or erase cookies? This could potentially cause the situation you describe. I'm not sure if logging in and out of the Q&A after creating an anonymous question would destroy the anonymous user cookie. Dec 12, 2023 at 11:53
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    I am using incognito mode of Chrome. And I have setup Firefox to delete all history on exit. I don't think that a malformed feature is my problem. However, I can only report. I know that changing the feature is not under my control.
    – Andrew
    Dec 12, 2023 at 11:54
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    Using Chrome and Firefox like that will conflict with unregistered account usage as the browsers will delete all your cookies each time you close them and that disables your access to that account. The answer is not to do that I suppose. I.e. if you're going to use an unregistered account, don't do it in incognito mode. Dec 12, 2023 at 12:00
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    Well, I use incognito mode of Chrome and I have setup Firefox to delete all history on exit to stay safe on Internet. I will not change it just to ask a question on stackexchange as an unregistered user. Obviously, I have learned that asking a question on stackexchange as an unregistered user is not for me. And I don't want to create an account on stackoverflow / stackexchange. I had created this account mainly to highlight this problem. After the discussions are complete, I will delete all my stackexchange and stackoverflow accounts.
    – Andrew
    Dec 12, 2023 at 12:07
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    @Andrew If you use Chrome and Firefox in this way, then just don't use unregistered accounts. Dec 12, 2023 at 12:29
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    You're basically saying: "The fact that I've specifically disabled how websites track me (i.e., cookies and local storage), which is how reasonable/responsible browsers track people who don't create accounts, causes a non-optimal experience when I don't register/validate an account. Thus, everyone who hasn't chosen to cripple all websites should be forced to not be permitted to have this useful feature." That's not reasonable. You've made a security-conscious choice to not permit persistent state to be stored by websites. Don't impose on everyone else the consequences of your choice.
    – Makyen
    Dec 12, 2023 at 17:45
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    Now, there are potential valid issues here, but "disable this for everyone, everywhere" isn't the right choice. First, permitting anonymous accounts to post questions and answer are, if I recall correctly, things that can be separately enabled/disabled for each SE site. Thus, such discussions should really be had on a per-site basis, unless there's an overriding issue which makes an all-SE choice appropriate.
    – Makyen
    Dec 12, 2023 at 17:53
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    A feature request for prominent notification to the anonymous user that they will loose ownership access to the question if they delete their cookies (e.g., if they have set their browser to delete cookies/state upon closing the browser or if they uses a different browser) would be a much more reasonable response to this situation. Helping users make an informed decision as to their choices by making sure they are aware of possible negatives is quite reasonable.
    – Makyen
    Dec 12, 2023 at 17:57
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    @Andrew Only a minority of SE sites allow mathjax. Does this consequently mean this feature is not useful and should thus be disabled on all sites, including math.se? Dec 13, 2023 at 12:02
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    @Andrew the feature isn't problematic, the fact that you didn't know it behaves that way is problematic. A notice to users that deleting cookies will lose them access to the question solves that issue, while leaving the feature in place.
    – Esther
    Dec 14, 2023 at 15:54

3 Answers 3

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The anonymous guest user (without an account) feature of Stack Exchange depends on cookies being preserved on the user's machine when they close their browser.

Those cookies are used to identify you as the anonymous guest user that posted the question and to give you the same permissions that registered, low-rep, users have on their questions.

If you choose to use your browser in a way that deletes all cookies when closing the browser, then the anonymous guest user feature indeed does not work correctly for you. But that is the result of how you use your browser and not a fault of how the feature was implemented.

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  • I am of a different view. But obviously, I can't dictate stackexchange. However, keeping cookies is not safe. Please read this: blog.sucuri.net/2023/01/… - The data in cookies themselves aren’t harmful — and they can’t infect a system or website with malware. However, if the cookie data falls into the wrong hands, attackers may be able to access browsing sessions, steal personal information, or otherwise abuse your cookie data. (So, stackexchange is using an unsafe method. In my opinion, this feature should be removed).
    – Andrew
    Dec 12, 2023 at 13:25
  • Its a surprise to me that people on stackexchange don't think that cookies are unsafe. I thought that the majority of people who use Internet don't like cookies. Please read this: searchenginejournal.com/… - [[Google will block third-party cookies in Chrome for 1% of users starting in early 2024. This is the initial phase of removing third-party cookies entirely by mid-2024. Sites should audit cookie usage now and prepare for impact from the change]]. ).
    – Andrew
    Dec 12, 2023 at 13:30
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    @Andrew, if you have a better mechanism than cookies to track which anonymous user posted which content, I am willing to listen. But I am afraid that any alternative either has the same security problems as cookies (if it involves storage on the user's device) or has severe privacy implications (if it involves storing identifying data on SE servers). Dec 12, 2023 at 13:51
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    In my opinion, this feature should be removed. Anonymous posting should not be allowed. I have not seen any other website till now which allows anonymous posting. And I have been using Internet since 1997. On blogger.com (owned by google), you can post a comment anonymously but only if the owner of the blog had allowed it. But seriously, in 25 years of my browsing the Internet, I haven't seen a website till now which allows anonymous posting (except stackexchange).
    – Andrew
    Dec 12, 2023 at 14:00
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    Also, people are warned in the cookie disclosures that some features may not work if they don't allow cookies. The choice not to create an a account combined with the choice not to preserve cookies puts this squarely in the guest user's court.
    – ColleenV
    Dec 12, 2023 at 14:58
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    @Andrew if you don't like anonymous posting, then don't do it. I'm not sure how the existence of the feature harms you?
    – Esther
    Dec 12, 2023 at 17:54
  • @Esther : I had posted a question as an anonymous user. At that time, I was not aware that I will not be able to comment if I delete all the cookies from my browser. If I had known, then I wouldn't have asked the question. So, now, that question has got some wrong answers / comments and I can't do anything about them because I can't comment. So, this doesn't look correct to me. Also, those wrong answers / comments are not going to help future readers of that question.
    – Andrew
    Dec 13, 2023 at 5:47
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    @Andrew you can ask to merge the unregistered account with your account, if both use same email it should be simple. More details here. Dec 13, 2023 at 12:54
  • @Shadow Wizard Love Zelda : I faced some problems after posting a question as an anonymous user because I have setup my browser to delete cookies on exit. I had created this account mainly to highlight this problem. After the discussions are complete, I will delete all my stackexchange and stackoverflow accounts. I actually don't want to create an account on stackexchange / stackoverflow for asking questions. But since the feature of posting as an anonymous user was allowed on cs.stackexchange.com, so I used that feature but later I ran into problems because I don't keep cookies around.
    – Andrew
    Dec 13, 2023 at 13:04
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    @Andrew what I mean is that what you consider a problem isn't a big one as it can be solved by asking to merge the accounts. Dec 13, 2023 at 13:25
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To enhance clarity, the "Post as a guest" feature can be enabled or disabled on a site-specific basis.

Examples of sites where this feature is disabled:

It is advisable to discuss this matter within each site's meta community and, if deemed necessary, disable the feature with the approval of Stack Exchange.

As an illustrative case, the Japanese version of Stack Overflow has already disabled this feature based on a user request. At that time, no users objected to disabling this feature.

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When you ask a question you have extra privileges on that question.

  1. you can edit your question.
  2. you can accept an answer to your question.
  3. you can respond to comments on your question or its answers with your own comments.

In order for this to happen the site needs to know who you are so that you can have these extra privileges for your questions. We don't want to give them to everyone because then spammers might vandalise your question or add spam comments to it.

You can either

  • register and get a log in and then log in with a password or via a Google or Facebook account.
  • or you can use an unregistered account but then we still need to know you are you.

If you use an unregistered account and then delete all tracking information then you'll lose the above privileges because the site no longer knows who you are.

This is true of most sites, they all need to know you are you in order to give you special access to your data.

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