Friday, March 31, 2006

Removing registration and traffic

Blake at reports that removing mandatory registration in their forums substantially increased posting frequency and traffic.

Surprisingly, their "post kill-rate", apparently a measure of spam, dropped by a factor of two as well.

From Blake's post:
Back on December 12th, we released a site redesign that included user forums on each of our news pages .... One month after launch, we were still under 200 posts a day.

Could we take the registration down? Of course the volume would go up, but what would happen to the quality of the posts? ... Was this going to double or triple the amount of spam and profanity we needed to parse through? Would an army of trolls invade and set up a siege?

Since removing registration, our volume has exploded and just this morning we just passed a quarter-of-a-million aggregate posts on our system.

And the quality of posts? To our surprise, our post kill-rate has actually dropped -- hovering below 2%. This is less than half of the number incurred when registration was in place.

We think it's the "Ni-chan paradox" .... Registration keeps out good posters ... Registration lets in bad posters ... Registration attracts trolls ... Anonymity counters vanity.
If the intent is to control spam, requiring registration may do more harm than good.

Slashdot is another great example. Slashdot allows anonymous posts in their forums. To control spam and surface good posts, Slashdot relies on user moderation.

It might be possible to extend this lesson to other areas. For example, many newspapers require registration, repelling many visitors.

Mandatory registration at newspapers has been a heated topic of debate. Here is a sample of some of it: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7].

Some newspapers, most recently the Houston Chronicle and Toronto Star, decided to eliminate mandatory registration, citing their desire to improve usability and increase traffic as the major factors in their decision.

Eliminating registration does not mean giving up on targeting advertising and content. Findory, for example, does not require registration, but still helps readers find relevant content and advertising by carefully paying attention to which news stories interested each person.


doug said...

Loved the bit that a side effect was that spam went down. Just goes to show that spam bots don't mind registering to post, but people do.

Anonymous said...

If registration is abandoned, what safeguards are there for the anonymous defamatory and libelous statements mounted by character assassins and other cyberstalkers who have no moral compunction against posting lies about others on your site. Defamatory damages are very real, and can ruin lives and careers. Does share responsibility for those damages.
Does preserve user id and other identifying information for access by the courts in actions for defamation.

Anonymous said...


"An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion"

Wikipedia 2008.

Greg you and others you should think very carefully about un-registerd sites such as Good forums are destroyed by troll abuse and mentally insane people posting onto un-checked and uncontrolled forums. Forums lose all credibility as internet sites and people simply will not use them anymore. is now full of trash, hate and abuse from long term and new trolls that post onto its forums on a daily and weekly basis. Reporting it to topix results in little action and topix never bans trolls. However, in defense of topix some trolls use Proxy Servere IP's which makes banning them hard or impossible but the site is poorly managed and trolls have a free playground to stalk and abuse anyone they want to.

Trolls destroy lives and reputations and I think its the reponsibily in a "civilized society" to protect others from online bullying/stalkers and abuse.

Forums should always be pro activly managed. Sadly this is not the case with a few web forums including 2008

Anonymous said...

Topix has destroyed their company with the lack of registration. In the last few years it has become nothing more than a cyberbullying site. I know the media reports on other social media companies more when it comes to deplorable behavior but Topix takes the cake.