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Registration: yes or no?

My company forums require no registration, it was inspired by this board here. I have a filter that keeps out most spam and volunteer moderators kill off the ones that get through a few times a week.

That leaves people posting 'hateful' things. Generally I leave those ones alone, they are not a lot of posts overall.

There seems to be a movement afoot on news sites to ban anonymous aka no-registration posting since they think it leads to low quality posts.

But I found a couple of interesting case studies that suggest that allowing anonymous posting IMPROVES the quality of posting, namely that the kill ratio goes down.

This article found that registration is a huge impediment to attracting site traffic. Removing registration their growth went from linear to exponential, and the quality went up:

The same designer later writes an article in reaction to discussion about this topic, noting that banning the anonymous would greatly reduce the number of quality posts since a lot of quality posters won't post if they have to register:

I also noticed that they have something like Joel, if you DO choose to register, you get a special color background. I have seen that on their site that background, like Joel's green checkies, heightens the respect given to the poster by the community and people take their posts more seriously. They also allow an avatar and a quote and such, which does help a bit to tell who is who. Something I noticed is that normal registration sites with avatars are very busy looking with too many avatars everywhere! The voluntary registration gives 1/4 registered and 3/4 non, and avatars are optional and only a few have them, they are not required. So as a result only a few people use them and the layout of the site looks ten times better than the sites that require registration and avatars.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Oh I forgot, the first article references this article that explains the design of some of the largest forums in the world, which he claims to be much larger than the largest of american forums:

Their design is similar and the article discusses some of the reasons for the "Ni-chan paradox", which is that allowing anonymous posting improves the quality of the discussion, which is one of those counterintuitive findings that the 'must control everything' people just can't believe.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
This may sound strange, but the quality of my posts goes down if I have to register.  On forums without registration I make sure to provide quality posts.  I want to be a good citizen.  Once I'm forced to register though I generally feel that I have the right to be an idiot.  Afterall, I had to fill out a form.  Plus, as the quality of posts on those forums is lower I kind of just go with the flow.
Tom Send private email
Friday, February 22, 2008
That's an interesting point. If we see a lot of posts by idiots we feel free to be an idiot.

They suggest that professionals with much to contribute and little free time will not post since the registration/email verification routine is too much of a hassle for a contribution at lunch time while reading the news (as for a professional it involves the step of first getting a fake email address since you don't want spam at your work email). This makes sense, it is also a pain to keep track of the registrations at all the sites so you sometimes have to register for every post.

Compare that to teenagers at home, prisoners, and the mentally ill. They al have unlimited amounts of time to master registration systems needed to support their trolling habit. Registration is no problem for them and if they are banned they make up a new one and return within minutes.

So with registration optional, you have ten or one hundred or one thousand times the participants and get some good posts and some bad ones. With forced registration, you have fewer really good ones and soon the trolls take over.
Friday, February 22, 2008
As a roaming user; I tend to switch from desktop regularly and most of these desks are (semi-) public. The last thing on my mind is signing-in each time I want to read a forum. Lots of forums with RSS-feeds, lots of stuff to read. Lots of signing-in if I were to post a reaction each time. One should not use the same password for each securable, so this leaves a lot to be remembered.

One of the most obvious variable is the value of your forum to the readers. Second perhaps a filter, since Off Topic posts do not add much to the discussion. You could omit publishing posts with certain keywords and have the moderators add new keywords for anything offensive.

I'm registered on the MSDN-forums since it doesn't require me to remember my username. It just requires an antique hotmail-account. The forums there allow me to ask stupid questions and get smart answers - with a not-too-intrusive registrationsystem. Once signed in, I can use almost every passport enabled website out there. Same goes for the GMail-account.

There's also OpenID, off course.

Last variable perhaps is the public itself: the reactions you get are those of your audience.
Eddy Vluggen Send private email
Friday, February 22, 2008
I found the stupidest thing in the world recently: a forum that not only requires registration to post, but also requires registration just to search the archives!  You can bet that is not a community I'm hurrying to join.

Nope, I've seen plenty of web forums that do and don't require registration.  And it seems there are three types of forum: places that require registration and have crap communities, places that don't require registration and have crap communities, and places that don't require registration and have great communities.  I honestly don't think I've ever seen a place that required registration and had a great community.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
No registration means no reputation, and no reputation means no reputation to protect. Look at wikipedia - the articles are some of the best signal-to-noise (considering they are written guys who would otherwise be trolling slashdot) on the net, while the discussion boards ...
Monday, February 25, 2008
Wikipedia is a bad example for "registration required". It allows unregistered edits.
Monday, February 25, 2008
"No registration means no reputation, and no reputation means no reputation to protect."

Untrue. I'm not registered here and still my reputation is important to me.

Without registration it's easier for other people to *pretend* that they are me, that's true. They could also pretend to be me if registration was required.

At least this forum leaves me the option; I can register if I want to (whatever the reason is) and I can decide not to register (whatever reason).
Eddy Vluggen Send private email
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Also, the "advantages of registration" (not being "impersonated" by anyone else; being able to "star" your favorite threads...) are not the point discussed here. The point is if registration is optional or required, hence, if there can be a positive value from allowing unregistered contributions.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
That is very interesting information. I would have thought requiring registration would eliminate a lot of the low quality posts. If the anonymous posts were manually verified before posting, it should eliminate spam. I would think some professionals would probably not post because of the registration process. That is hard to believe but the results are very interesting.
Adam Cox Send private email
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
If I am required to register to make a comment on a site that I do not regularly go to or expect to go to, I usually do not bother.  It is yet another ID to remember.


Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

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