As the guy who wrote one of the first open-source status update systems in 2007, the main developer behind Acquia Commons social business software 2.x, and an evangelist of social communications technologies, writing the title of this post feels strange. I've spent the last 5 years of my life building software to make it easy for people to build social networks, so why would I suggest that sometimes you shouldn't do it?
Finding the Balance between “Contribute Now” and “Register First”
People don’t like to sign up for things. Signing up is mentally equated with receiving
spam marketing emails. For example, at a blood drive event near me last year, only a handful of people signed up ahead of time, but almost six times more people showed up.
Web designers face a similar dilemma. It’s important that users sign up for websites where users contribute content, both to reduce spam and to track and identify users’ contributions. But often users don’t want to sign up, even though they want to contribute – and the barrier of signing up will keep some people from contributing. I’ve experienced this personally; especially when dealing with something contentious, people often don’t feel comfortable giving an unknown website their identity in this age of limited privacy.