So I was looking at this post by this user. Can I make a wild assertion? Unregistered users account for a big chunk of low-quality posts (Is this true?). Not to mention those users who never come back to respond to follow up/clarification comments, post comments as answers, etc.

Some sites, e.g. Stackoverflow, do not allow questions from unregistered users. Why do we allow questions from unregistered users?

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  • $\begingroup$ "Some sites, e.g. Stackoverflow, do not allow questions from unregistered users." I don't think this is true. From meta.stackoverflow.com: Should unregistered users be prevented from posting questions on Stack Overflow? The highest voted answer says no, and provides some rationale that may answer your question. $\endgroup$ – user856 Jul 3 '12 at 19:03
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    $\begingroup$ @RahulNarain from stackoverflow.com/faq#login "You can answer and suggest edits as an anonymous user, much like Wikipedia. There are some things you won’t be able to do on the site without registering, such as vote or ask new questions. But it’s easy to register." $\endgroup$ – user2468 Jul 3 '12 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ Huh. Things have changed. Sorry. $\endgroup$ – user856 Jul 3 '12 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ But you're right... "lowering the barrier to entry increases adoption". I'd delete this question, but I will leave it for a while to hear any interesting opinions. $\endgroup$ – user2468 Jul 3 '12 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ Stack Overflow is the only site in the SE network that requires registration for posting, and that is a relatively recent change. All other SE sites allow posting without registration. $\endgroup$ – user9733 Jul 3 '12 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ Note how quickly that user was dealt with. The question was closed within 5-10 minutes, and deleted shortly thereafter. The second question was closed and deleted even faster. Moderators acknowledged my flags on the post very quickly, which suggests that if the OP had continued, further action would have been taken. As annoying as they occasionally are, it doesn't seem worth frothing too much. Frankly, I have bigger problems with contributions, comments and downvotes from (a) specific registered user(s) than what unregistered ones seem to cause. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Jul 3 '12 at 22:16

The goal is to make barriers to entry as low as possible. If allowing questions from unregistered users leads to more participation, that's great. If most of that participation is low-quality, well, that's inevitable and true of all participation. Disallowing unregistered users from asking questions is probably just as likely to prevent a small number of unregistered users from becoming valuable contributors as it is to prevent a large number of unregistered users from making low-quality posts.

That is, it's a trade-off for the sake of growth. StackOverflow has less of a need for growth and more of a need to improve the quality of content, but I don't think we're there yet.

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