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I remember the discussion which led to allowing only registered users to ask questions: Let's require registration to ask a question. (It was marked in October 2016.)

IIRC, unregistered users were still allowed to answer questions. As far as I can tell, this is no longer the case1 and that this was changed some time ago.2

Basically I wanted to ask:

  • When was this changed?
  • Was this changed for our site, or globally in the whole network?3,4
  • What were the reasons behind this change?
  • Is it possible to switch back on our site? (Naturally, a discussion among this site's users would be needed before that. Personally I do not have a preference either way - but it would probably be good to know about the reasons why this was introduced.)

1Here is a screenshot showing what I see when I visit the site while I am not logged on. There is a text saying: "You must log in to answer this question."

screenshot

2Trying the Wayback Machine on a rather random (but not too old) question, I get a snapshot from November 2023, which includes the text: "You must log in to answer this question."

A bit more searching revealed a snapshot from December 2022 where the answer field is visible to the Wayback Machine - and, consequently, to a user without an account. But here is a snapshot from January 2023 which contains the text "You must log in to answer this question." So it seems that the change happened somewhere around the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023.

3I found this question on Meta Stack Exchange: Can unregistered users be blocked from answering on some sites? The accepted answer says that it is possible, but it was never used on any site. This answer was posted in 2020 - so it probably reflects the status at the time.

4There is this post on Meta Stack Exchange: Why are unregistered users not allowed to post questions on some sites? The accepted answer contains a list of such sites and it says that the sites marked with asterisk also require registration to answer questions. In the current revision, Mathematics is listed without the asterisk.

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    $\begingroup$ It is not a global change for the whole network. On Stack Overflow and on Code Review, for example, I can see an answer field with a “Post as a guest” option when not logged in. $\endgroup$
    – Martin R
    Commented May 15 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ Even MathOverflow has the “Post as a guest” option for answers. $\endgroup$
    – Martin R
    Commented May 15 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ I hand't noticed. I don't remember any discussion or announcement about this. $\endgroup$
    – davidlowryduda Mod
    Commented May 16 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ This was discussed in Math Mods office and math mods chatrooms and was done to deal with a spate of poor questions by unregistered accounts. I had made a formal request to CM team in Dec 2022 to enable this setting for mathse. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Commented May 17 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @ParamanandSingh: A “spate of poor questions by unregistered accounts” is an understandable reason to require registration to ask questions. But this is about the required registration to answer questions. $\endgroup$
    – Martin R
    Commented May 18 at 2:54
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinR: I need to check the exact chat message discussion to see if this was about questions or about posting any content. The reading of the accepted answer on meta.stackexchange indicates that restricting questions on mathse was done in 2016 and therefore the change in 2022 applies to answers as well, but the CM team perhaps did not update the meta.stack answer. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Commented May 18 at 4:27
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a link to a brief conversation in chat related to this question. $\endgroup$ Commented May 20 at 11:56
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    $\begingroup$ TIL you could even post an answer as a guest at one point. $\endgroup$ Commented May 21 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak I don't see a problem with requiring users to be registered to answer a question. If they are going to participate, they may as well register. What do you see as a concern with this? $\endgroup$
    – PatrickR
    Commented May 27 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ @PatrickR I never said I see a problem. Still, this seems quite an important change - I'd say that the users of the site probably should have been notified about that. It's a bit unusual that even some moderators were unaware that this has changed. (Not to mention the inconsistency, that the list of sites requiring registration still mentions only questions for Mathematics.) $\endgroup$ Commented May 28 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ Please see transcripts from math mods office room chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/20352/2022/12/17 and chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/20352/2022/12/18 $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Commented May 28 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ I will also check the messages from math mods room on similar dates and will share information (whatever is allowed). $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Commented May 28 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ In particular this deleted answer math.stackexchange.com/a/4600726/72031 triggered this discussion. The account used to have very vulgar / NSFW avatar and they kept on coming back even after destroying the account. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Commented May 28 at 5:28

1 Answer 1

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The requirement of registration to post answers on this site was done sometime during end of Dec 2022. I had made a formal request to CMs on Dec 20, 2022 for the same.

There was a problematic user who used to post non-sense spam answers and they had very offensive / NSFW avatar and they kept coming back with new accounts on frequent basis. Some relevant discussion is available in these chat transcripts from Math Mods Office: transcript 1, transcript 2.

However this was not discussed on meta and neither notified on meta. Apologies for the same. Further this has not been updated on meta.stackexchange.com answer. I will request via comment for an update there and also ask CMs for the same.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am just curious: How does the requiremen of registration protect against nonsense/spam answers? They can always register with new accounts, can't they? $\endgroup$
    – Martin R
    Commented May 28 at 9:38
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinR: It's just one step block by requiring registration making spammers life an iota more difficult. The problem at the time was due to unregistered account and the user did stop after this change. At least I didn't get any flags or information about similar behavior at that time. In any case the change can be reverted if we find this to be problematic in the sense of preventing nice answers from well intentioned but unregistered accounts. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Commented May 28 at 10:06

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