Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




To Guest or Not

I am trying to decide whether to provide a guest account, or screen shots, or just force registration (or other suggestions?) to a site I am developing.  I am developing a game-based site where users will be allowed to play, establish ranks and collect items etc.  The site is 100% free, so there is no a huge barrier for registering.  The registration will be simple, and no email harvesting etc.

I am sure there will be a wide array of opinions on this.  I am basically just looking for some good discussion to help me make my decision.

Thanks,
---Seeker

Seeker
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I generally despise web sites that require registration.  My latest pet peeve is newspaper sites that force you to register before reading articles.  (The New York Times I can perhaps understand, the Minneapolis StarTribune -- my hometown -- I can't.  <g>)

However, there are cases where there's a bona fide reason for registering -- like your site, where you want to identify users individually to store ranking information.  My thoughts:

1.  Allow guest accounts.  In the long run, you'll get more traffic (and more registrations) if you allow users to sample your site without registering.  If you require registration before playing, many potential users will probably not bother.

2.  Explain to the users the benefits of registration (the ability to be ranked, etc.)

3.  Keep the registration as minimal as possible -- i.e., screen name, email address and password, nothing more.

4.  Be very clear on the registration form about how email addresses will be used.  (Don't bury it in a longwinded privacy policy.)  If you have a "Yes, send me annoying email offers"-type checkbox, have it off by default.

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

"I generally despise web sites that require registration.  My latest pet peeve is newspaper sites that force you to register before reading articles. "

I agree.  Likely just about everyone has added the username: test, password: test user (or "testtest") at some point.  I just type that in and keep on reading.  ;)

Almost Anonymous
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Totally on a sidenote:

While it seems to obvious and straightforward, the use of email addresses as login names is, quite simply, brilliant. While it seems ridiculous now, there was a time for a few years in the history of the internet where absolutely no-one did this - You had to enter 20 different usernames to try to get one that didn't conflict, and then the entry of your email address was a setup configuration. Somewhere along the line someone wised up that "Hey...these email address are universally unique". The rest is history, and most sites now use your email address as the login name - no more trying to rememeber what your login is on every site. Just something this made me think of - A brutally obvious idea in retrospect, but it most certainly was no par for the course.

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, October 28, 2003


If I'm required to register, before I can spend some time checking out your site to determine whether or not it's worth my time, then I'm just going to give you a phony name and e-mail adress anyway, so what's the point?

Marvel Comic's Stan Lee
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

> I agree.  Likely just about everyone has added the username: test, password: test user (or "testtest") at some point.  I just type that in and keep on reading.  <

As far as the Washington Post knows, I was born in 1900 and live in ZIP code 90210.  <g>

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

If you want bad data then force registration. If you want good data then make registration entirely optional -- email and all.

sdl
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

One thing Dennis:  the only problem with the email as id is that it violates the COPA (children's online privacy protection act) http://www.ftc.gov/ogc/coppa1.htm.

If your users may be 12 and under, you can not store their email address, except to notify them of a successful registration.

Seeker
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Mailinator.com rulez!

NoName
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Another important reason for allowing guest access is to allow search engine crawlers to spider your site - if a logon is required then obviously none of the pages past that point can be indexed unless theres a nice guest link to bypass it.

r1ch
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

"Marvel Comic's Stan Lee"

Stan, you are the man!  Loved you in Mall Rats.

Excelsior!

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home