Why Log-in?
November 30, 2007 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Why do most web-sites you want to check-out require you to "sign-in" with a user name and password to access there comments or free videos etc.. Is it a way to spam you or is there really any real use to the site owner?
posted by orlin to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Best answer: It makes it easier to track unique visitors. Also for comments, etc. it helps prevent comment spamming.
posted by GuyZero at 8:31 AM on November 30, 2007

Echoing GuyZero.
posted by dondiego87 at 8:32 AM on November 30, 2007

It also helps direct advertising to specific individuals (well, specific profiles). If it's a free video site and you're looking at a lot of cat videos, they'll be able to know to advertise a whole bunch of cat and pet stuff. If you're looking at a lot of British comedy, they'll know to advertise a lot of British comedy stuff. And so on.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:33 AM on November 30, 2007

Damage control.
Besides, popularity tends to be a big thing in the internet so being able to say '362367 registered members' is important.
posted by Memo at 8:35 AM on November 30, 2007

I run a couple of non-profit sites and we use it to prevent spamming.

Because spammers will fill any open nook or cranny with complete shit. They really will. Scumbags, all of them.
posted by unixrat at 8:37 AM on November 30, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks to all for your explanation...
posted by orlin at 8:43 AM on November 30, 2007

Best answer: for many non-profit/not-for-profit sites/blogs it is largely an obstacle to spammers.

for commercial enterprises, that's your subscriber base. It's a set of demographics which you can then inform potential advertisers about, or mine for your own marketing purposes. There's a lot of interesting work to be done here, really -- most people are blowing it: they know they need to get the data, but once they have it, they don't know what to do with it aside count uniques. There are some new approaches being taken, however, and marketing online is going to get really interesting in the next 5-10 years, as good techniques and processes for flexing the data you've gathered are established.
posted by fishfucker at 8:45 AM on November 30, 2007

Some current examples of this sort of thing are:

* when i call my pizza place, they have my last order on file. It's really simple, and stupid, but it is handy. They know i use a 'coupon', and now my interaction is pretty much just giving them my phone number and telling them cash/credit.

* Many grocery now print out 'relevant' coupons when you checkout -- often for items you purchase regularly.

Now, these are sort of inelegant and obvious uses of data, but there's so many people NOT even doing these sorts of things. The first time I was a repeat customer at the pizza place, i was somewhat impressed, just because that doesn't happen very often in my offline transactions. Now let's imagine a somewhat more sophisticated example: a restaurant doesn't have a lot of customers on a Tuesday, and they run their 'get customers' script from their website, which sends out a text-message/email coupon offering a 20% off a meal deal to an opt-in list of people who fit the demographic. This sort of thing is already possible with the data people are collecting, but nobody is really doing it yet.
posted by fishfucker at 8:53 AM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is a good time to put in a plug for BugMeNot.
posted by procrastination at 9:11 AM on November 30, 2007

So many sites are implementing or planning to implement Web 2.0 features (i.e., social tagging, social networking, customized search results, personalized recommendations, etc.). That's one reason. The other reason is for advertising.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:54 AM on November 30, 2007

I mainly use it to add a community feel to the site and improve site "stickiness" i.e., you're more likely to come back if registered.
posted by GregX3 at 10:39 AM on November 30, 2007

In addition to the reasons already mentioned:

If there is any community aspect (for instance commenting or ratings), a login provides some measure of accountability. If the person doesn't behave in accordance with the community's standards, they can be disciplined.

If there's a liability issue (for instance, with uploads), registration is crucial for getting the terms of service liability waiver signed before letting the user do anything that could cause trouble.

On sites where they're selling ads/sponsorships, accounts can be a way to gather more accurate usage stats (e.g. "Mr. Advertiser, your ad will be seen by 10k unique users") than can be extrapolated from server logs.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:03 PM on November 30, 2007

So they can turn off ads for logged in members.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:37 AM on December 1, 2007

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