Generally speaking, any person can become a registered user by providing some credentials, usually in the form of a username (or email) and password. After that, one can access information and privileges unavailable to non-registered users, usually referred to simply as guests. The action of providing the proper credentials for a website is called logging in, or signing in.
Advantages of using user registration
Since the site knows the identity of persons using the page, it can:
- Display personalized data (the simplest way is saying "Hello, John!")
- Switch to personalized settings (e.g., "Disable pictures" or change site language)
- Let the viewer perform actions from his identity (like post in a forum using his nickname)
- Access private data (like email or pm)
- Control automated edits, also known as spamming
- Allows the Web Developers to email registered users with updates on their site.
Registration has many disadvantages for web users.
Registration is effectively a backhanded way to allow cookies, something most users try to avoid. In many cases, it even mimics third-party cookies. Once one has registered for a site, it can effectively store the browsing history on its own server where the user cannot delete it, and it can also share it with other commercial databases.
In fact, gathering personal information on users is the main reason that some websites require registration.
According to the web site for BugMeNot, a service for by-passing registration, here are reasons to avoid registration:
- It can be a breach of privacy.
- It facilitates spamming by sites.
- It's can be pointless due to the significant percentage of users who enter fake demographic details anyway.
- It's inconvenient for the user to register/login, for viewing content.
- Hacking becomes easier (e.g. spamming people, and grabbing things like, saved data, and private info.)
This is also a major disadvantage for both users and the site owners.
Most users will not use the website if they have to register because registration takes time. Most users visit most sites only briefly. When a user is searching through the results of a web search, it takes many times over as much time to register for each site. In most cases, the user will just move on to another site.
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