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Over the last couple of months, we’ve conducted several experiments surrounding some changes to the sign-up flow on Stack Overflow, all of which we’ve successfully graduated in some fashion on Stack Overflow. The goal of these experiments was to optimize our current sign-up flow and encourage more users onto the platform. We’re now planning on rolling these changes out to the rest of the Stack Exchange network. This post highlights the upcoming changes that we’re planning on rolling out around mid-April, as well as some other changes we’re currently working on and are likely to roll out at some point after that.

Sign-up entry points will open a modal instead of directing users to the /users/signup page

This change essentially makes it so that we no longer have a /users/signup page as a part of the sign-up flow, and instead show the sign-up prompt as a modal on the same page the user was navigating.

Screenshot showing the new sign-up modal on Ask Ubuntu; the background is slightly grayed out while the modal is on focus; the modal can be dismissed by clicking an "x" on its top right corner

Replace existing modal with an updated modal

When logged-out users try to take actions that require registration on a site, we currently show them a modal prompting them to register/log-in. Given the changes to the sign-up flow shown above, we’re updating that modal to match the new one too.

Header prompt replaced with Google one-tap

We’ll be removing the top banner currently shown to unregistered users on all sites. Instead, we will show a quick sign-up option as a smaller modal near the upper-right corner of the page, that allows users to sign-up using a Google account with a single click (assuming they’re logged in to that account on that browser). This is usually referred to as “Google one-tap.”

Screenshot showing the new Google one-tap modal on Ask Ubuntu, on the upper right corner of the window; the modal can be dismissed by clicking an "x" on its top right corner

An exception to this is made for users navigating the site in private/incognito browser sessions, who’ll see a sign-up banner at the bottom of the page.

Removing some sign-up options

Additionally, and as you may have noticed from the new modal mock-ups, we’ll be removing some of the sign-up options that are currently available, given their low usage. The most notable removal here is the Facebook option, which will be removed from all sites. Essentially, from now on every site will allow for signing up using an email/password pair, as well as using a Google account. Stack Overflow and the international Stack Overflow sites will also allow for signing up using the GitHub option. All other options will be removed.

We’ve already communicated this change with the moderation teams from sites that have any other specific options, to let them know about this change. These moderators might notify those specific communities on their respective Meta sites about these changes as well.

To clarify: this change only applies to new accounts being created. Accounts that currently use any other options for logging in will still be able to do so, and we’re not planning on making any changes to that in the near future. If that’s ever on the table, we’ll be sure to communicate with you and the broader community well in advance.

Other future changes

OAuth modal

Currently, when users use a third-party log-in option, the sign-up/log-in process takes over the whole page, and once the log-in to the third-party provider is concluded, the page gets redirected to where the user started the sign-up/log-in process. We’re looking at making changes to that, so that that part of the process instead triggers a smaller, modal-like window to show up for the user to complete the process:

Screenshot showing the new OAuth sign-up modal on Stack OVerflow; the background is slightly grayed out while the modal is on focus; the modal can be closed just like any other browser window

Profile setup prompt

Sometimes users just want to perform some action on the site, and a convoluted sign-up process may cause unnecessary friction for them. As such, and as a way to make sure the actual profile creation is as quick as possible, we’re also looking at removing some steps from it, and then prompting the user to complete them at a later stage, at their convenience. The main goal there is to ensure the user can get back to what prompted them to create an account as soon as possible, instead of making them jump through several hoops that might disrupt their flow. Clicking the prompt to complete the profile at a later time will take them to a screen that is similar to the one they would currently have to go through to complete the sign-up process.

Screenshot showing the new profile set-up prompt modal on Stack Overflow; the modal can be dismissed by clicking an "x" on its top right corner, or the "Maybe later" button


As we experimented with some of these on Stack Overflow, as mentioned above, we gave the mods there a heads-up in their chat room, but didn’t give the wider community notice of these. These are only likely to impact unregistered users, but after posting a similar notice to the Stack Moderators Team, we’re following the recommendation that the notice also be posted here on Meta Stack Exchange for transparency.

If you have any suggestions for further sign-up optimization work we haven’t covered here, please let us know in an answer below.

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    I'm curious about the "Profile setup prompt". However, as I've never registered a new account since almost 10 years ago, I don't know the current sign-up process. Could you expand on what steps are removed and to be completed later stage? I'm particularly curious about the introduction timing to Tour or Help Center (or should I post this as an answer here?) Commented Apr 11 at 13:05
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    See the comment under meta.stackexchange.com/a/399060/208518, @MetaAndrewT. ;)
    – JNat StaffMod
    Commented Apr 11 at 13:16
  • Thanks, that answers my question! Well, about the "Profile setup prompt" though! I'll post my concern as an answer later then :) Commented Apr 12 at 6:17
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    Why is this tagged support? I would have expected discussion (though that never quite made sense to me, either).
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Apr 12 at 19:17
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    Of the 4 mandatory tags, @wizzwizz4, support seemed to make the most sense to me, because the post isn't quite a post inviting discussion. On the other hand, it seemed like it could serve as a historical support reference in case folks need to look up when the change took place, and potentially any conversations about why certain decisions were made — but I don't feel strongly about it. Feel free to retag if you feel the alternative is more appropriate.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Commented Apr 15 at 9:27
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    Should this be [featured]?
    – Bergi
    Commented Apr 25 at 15:58
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    The new changes mostly impact new, unregistered users. For that reason, I don't think featuring it makes that much sense, @Bergi — naturally some unregistered users might look at Meta, or catch a glimpse of it in the sidebar, but I'd say most unregistered users wouldn't really read this. Or is there a different reason for your suggestion?
    – JNat StaffMod
    Commented Apr 26 at 9:42
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    @JNat speaking for myself, big wave of new users (accounts) is something curators might want to have some mental preparation for. (on the other hand, these new accounts are really posting that much).
    – starball
    Commented Apr 26 at 10:24
  • Bit late to the party here (I got here via this), but that sounds like terrible UX. Commented Apr 26 at 21:53
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    Having Google One Tap be the default header prompt seems a bit off to me. Is there no way to at least have a link to "See other sign up options", to take them to the full sign up modal?
    – Robotnik
    Commented Jun 14 at 3:43

8 Answers 8

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Instead, we will show […] “Google one-tap.” […] An exception to this is made for users navigating the site in private/incognito browser sessions, who’ll see a sign-up banner at the bottom of the page.

It's good that you're trying to respect the wishes of users who've signalled that they don't want to be tracked, but this feature tells Google about every Stack Overflow page load, and which domain it's on. (If you think this is benign: the accounts.google.com popup makes POST requests to play.google.com/log.) You should gate it behind cookie modal accept.

I'm a bit concerned that this will exacerbate the "your entire digital life is gated behind four companies, to be irrevocably lost when they ban you for something minor" problem. I'd suggest letting people know they can add other sign-in methods, at some point (perhaps with an inbox notification, after they've got some activity on the site).

The most notable removal here is the Facebook option, which will be removed from all sites

😏 I can't say I have much objection to this. (I'm still a bit sad about the loss of OpenID, but Launchpad OAuth for new accounts isn't a huge deal.)

Everything else seems like a good change. Thanks for the work.

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It seems I'm possibly facing an issue related to this, as pointed out in my post at MSO: Being logged in with a Google account automatically creates Stack account

The system is creating an account for me without even confirming. Worse is that if you delete the account after the action is completed and a redirect happens, a new account is created immediately. It is very confusing and unintuitive. It's also a security issue as the account created takes my name for the account. So now suddenly an account with my real name is created. (As meanwhile I added my real name to that Google account in this case)

You need to revoke Google access in Google accounts management to stop this behavior, which is also not intuitive for most users.

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    Potentially the account deletion is not configured properly so that the sign out state is tracked properly by Google one tap. It should probably be easy to fix this: developers.google.com/identity/gsi/web/guides/… Commented Apr 12 at 6:24
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    Although the one-tap is fine, why do we also have the auto-signin enabled anyway? That's just going to confuse users more. I'd suggest simply disabling the auto-signin. Commented Apr 12 at 6:30
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    In fact account deletion should involve a revocation as well so that the auto-signin doesn't ever happen without the one-tap. Although if the login methods are shared across stack exchange sites that might not actually make sense, it would be better to get the user to delete the login method. Commented Apr 12 at 6:50
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    "as pointed out by another user" + vague Link to some Comment to a Question on 'MSO' that you asked yourself is a bit misleading, simply link to your own Question on 'MSO;... // This current Post/Answer is not very-very clear, I wouldn't have understood what you meant (Rev1), if I didn't come from your other Question on 'MSO'.... (You explained the situation you are facing much better in your Question on 'MSO' than here on 'MSE'...)
    – chivracq
    Commented Apr 12 at 9:18
  • No US company should ever respect the GDPR, but since SO probably tries to... how did anyone ever think that automatic account creation was a good idea? Commented Apr 26 at 22:06
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Stack Overflow and the international Stack Overflow sites will also allow for signing up using the GitHub option. All other options will be removed.

This remains weird. I understood it as a testing thing, but at this point... Why not just allow it everywhere? Certainly plenty of folks reading other sites have GitHub accounts; certainly plenty of folks who've signed up on Stack Overflow have gone on to use other sites. So why restrict the use to Stack Overflow(s)?

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Personalize your profile

Finish setting up your account by sharing more about yourself and (your) interests.

Complete your profile Maybe later

Can you add the word "your" before "interests"? I don't have a citation in the Stacks writing guide here but I think it sounds better.

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The "Log in with Google" and "Log in with Facebook" buttons no longer work:

login buttons screenshot

Clicking them does... nothing. No error in console, no request in Network tab.

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    Same for the Ask Ubuntu Launchpad option for me :(
    – cocomac
    Commented Apr 11 at 14:53
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    This should be resolved as of approximately 15 minutes ago.
    – Dalmarus StaffMod
    Commented Apr 11 at 15:46
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The "Complete Registration" button no longer works. Furthermore, it is very user-hostile to remove the "Maybe later" button. DevTools has a 404 POSTing https://vi.stackexchange.com/user/discard-onboarding-prompt.

Complete Registration screen

I got this ever since "Join this community"ing on Vim.SE. The "Personalize your profile" prompt should not be shown to users coming from elsewhere on SE. I have already decided, to the extent of my comfort level, that I desire my current display name and lack of profile picture! If you want us to see the tour, you can try another way that doesn't repeatedly criticize our profile. It is also misleading to say "for verifying your email address" since I wasn't asked to enter any email addresses recently, and that made me wonder if any malware stole it.

"Complete Registration" takes me to the tour but does not dismiss the "Personalize your profile" dialog. "Finish set up" does nothing but go to or refresh the screenshotted page, and that happens no matter if it's the original question I was browsing, the screenshotted page, or the tour. The X button ostensibly dismisses the dialog, but it reappears after refreshing or navigating to another page. The only workaround was adblocking ###onboarding-prompt-container.

This appears widespread across SE sites:

  • Japanese.SE I joined 4 days ago, Vim.SE I joined yesterday, but not sites I joined months earlier, regardless if I gained more than 101 reputation
  • SO @Ben

  • Academia.SE @Nicola Sap

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a smaller, modal-like window to show up for the user to complete the process:

https://i.sstatic.net/kVwf6.png

Do you mean a popup? If so, please don't.

As annoying as popups are in general, my experience elseweb is that more often than not these actually end up as popunders (I assume the browser is mistaking what the site is doing as potentially malicious and rejecting the window focus change). I end up not noticing these right away most of the time starting a Why is the Login/Signup broken cycle of frustration that in the best case only ends after a few minutes when I've got several of them and the bloat on my taskbar becomes noticeable. If I was using a Mac or default Windows behavior where they're all grouped, the odds of my noticing them before giving up would likely be a lot less.

The other half of the time I end up giving up and don't notice the stale popunders until several hours or even a day later when I go to move a main browser window from one monitor to the next.

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    More likely it would be the same as the close/flag dialogs, not a new window which is indeed known to be blocked by most browsers by default. If SE choose to really use this, they're far worse than I ever assumed, which these days I can believe, but still, want to believe they still have some shred of sense left in them. Commented Apr 12 at 18:34
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    @ShadowWizardLoveZelda the screenshot has traffic lights on the top left that look like the close/etc buttons on a mac windows top bar. Commented Apr 12 at 19:40
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The main goal there is to ensure the user can get back to what prompted them to create an account as soon as possible, instead of making them jump through several hoops that might disrupt their flow. Clicking the prompt to complete the profile at a later time will take them to a screen that is similar to the one they would currently have to go through to complete the sign-up process.
emphasis mine

This does not make sense to me. Why would clicking the button that you want to complete the profile at a later moment take you to the form for completing the profile? Or was there a slight mix-up in the text?

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    Maybe I explained myself poorly, in trying to be brief. Let's say an unregistered user wants to post an answer; the current process requires the user to sign-up, complete their profile, and then post the answer; the new process would prompt the user to sign-up, allow them to post the answer, and only after that would it show that new prompt that would take them to the profile completion page (which was step two in the current flow). Does that help clarify things?
    – JNat StaffMod
    Commented Apr 11 at 13:15
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    @JNat, Yes, it does clarify things. I think the main cause for confusion is the phrase "at a later time" in the sentence I quoted and bolded. If you remove that phrase there, the main source of confusion is gone. Commented Apr 11 at 14:44
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    @JNat Just FYI, you might want to consult with the sites that have requested that answers from unregistered users be blocked. As far as I'm aware, one of the main reasons such sites request such blocks is to add deliberate extra friction to reduce the chances that random trolls post answers. While this is still requiring users to sign up before being able to write and post an answer, the convoluted flow may have possibly helped somewhat in preventing troll answers, but I can't say for sure, but the mods of those sites can. Commented Apr 11 at 18:11

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