• We are getting lots of problems with the quality of questions from new users.
  • The unwillingness to register shows a lack of commitment to the site and hence is a good indication that the person will not spend the time learning how to post good questions.
  • We are getting a lot more questions than we need, it could be claimed that Stack Overflow is becoming less useful due to the volume of questions.

Should unregistered users only be allowed to answer questions and not post questions?

In the old days Stack Overflow benefited from lots of questions being asked, so it made sense to make it easy for anyone to ask questions, I no longer see the bandit from increasing the already great volume of questions.

(The site I use other the Stack Overflow, don’t seem to be getter the same problems with the volume of poor questions.)

The way I think of it is when a nation is first formed, anyone including convicts are let in, but once something worthwhile has been built, a system is put in place to only allow in people that are a net benefit to the current residence. I am now thinking that a lot of the new unregister users that are asking questions will never become a net benefit to the current committed users.

  • I'm sure this a duplicate, but I can't find it at the moment. – ChrisF Mar 17 '11 at 11:48
  • 4) There seems to be quite some confusion of how to retain ownership when a question is migrated. – Arjan Mar 17 '11 at 11:49
  • @Arjan, that is another issue, I have seen very few very poor questions that have been migrated – Ian Ringrose Mar 17 '11 at 12:08
  • True, different issue. Same solution? :-) – Arjan Mar 17 '11 at 12:23
  • I also do not see the bandit. – Glen Wheeler Apr 6 '11 at 13:28
  • status-completed – Jeff Mercado Sep 26 '11 at 21:16


Time and again (in any business), lowering the barrier to entry increases adoption. If we prevent unregistered users from asking questions, we will negatively impact the utility of Stack Overflow (and Stack Exchange at large).

  • 5
    This misses the point the OP is trying to make. The high adoption rate is the problem. But yeah, convincing the investors that less users is better has to be difficult. – Uphill Luge Mar 17 '11 at 14:24
  • At present we need a lot more good answers, but I don't see a need for more questions. Making it harder to ask a question may be enough to stop some of the poor quesions being asked - if someone has an inportant questions they will go to the efford to get an answer. Also, I don't see an increase in adoption of being of much value to current users of SO. – Ian Ringrose Mar 17 '11 at 14:25
  • 1
    @Ian Ringrose There are nearly an infinite amount of combination of technology and usages in software development at this very moment, and it grows each day. There will never be a point where every possible question has been asked, let alone answered. – George Stocker Mar 17 '11 at 14:52

One of the core principles of Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network has been the frictionlessness of allowing people to ask questions and get answers. It's one of the things we pitch all the time, that commitment is not required if you just have a question.

It's not just a matter of free price, the lack of requirement to register puts us above dozens of free-to-register forums that can provide similar services. This ability to get an answer to perhaps a singular question one might have without being tied down to yet another account, this is almost the only benefit to remaining an unregistered user.

When you're answering questions, there's not much reward other than the satisfaction of helping people and reputation. Because of the nature of the cookie system, it's not simple to maintain an unregistered account, and so it's far less reasonable to want to stick around for answering questions without registering. It's not so much for asking questions, which provides a much greater gain outside of the community than it does inside.

If we take away the privilege of asking questions from unregistered users, I fear that it becomes almost pointless to remain an unregistered user. And I feel that such an action destroys one of the valuable resources that Stack Overflow has always provided.

Also, honestly speaking? Based on the trends I see all the time on Gaming, I imagine that limiting unregistered users to only posting answers will lead to more questions being posted as answers. Which I think is actually worse.


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