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"You must be registered to view"

Bacterius

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Jan 26, 2012
644
I recently came across these "you must be registered to view ... bbcode contents" notifications while browsing on my phone (not logged in). And I have to say I do not understand the rationale behind requiring users to be registered to view code blocks and external links.

I can sort of understand why you would want users to be registered to download attachments or view images (even if it irritates me to no end when I am the one who has to spend five minutes creating a dummy account just to follow some useful link) but as it is a lot of forum content is basically unreadable as a guest. I'm thinking if you forbid viewing code blocks as a guest (for example, say, in the computer science subforum) you may as well forbid viewing mathjax equations or even the thread contents altogether. Not to mention these alert banners are huge and unsightly imho.

So is this just an accident, or can someone explain to me why this is? In my opinion a forum should be mostly free to read and browse as a guest, and registering an account allows the user to make threads and interact with the community. A locked-down forum that requires users to make an account just to be able to read posts in their entirety generally annoys people more than anything else :)

Thanks
 
Last edited:

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,735
Thank you for your feedback! :D

What you are seeing is certainly no accident. We have recently taken measures to encourage guests to register by making certain things accessible only to registered users. The vast majority of content is still viewable by guests. But if you want access to everything, then you need to take a few minutes to register and join our community.

Personally, I don't feel the site in "on lockdown" for guests, but rather offers a great deal to guests while giving the benefit of full access which includes videos, images, links, the live chat, etc. to those who have made the effort to actually register. Certainly opinions will vary about this, but my opinion is that we need to give incentive to guests to join our community beyond just being able to post.

I am curious though why any registered user would browse our site as a guest, or why you would feel the need to create a dummy account when you already have an account.
 

Bacterius

Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Jan 26, 2012
644
What you are seeing is certainly no accident. We have recently taken measures to encourage guests to register by making certain things accessible only to registered users. The vast majority of content is still viewable by guests. But if you want access to everything, then you need to take a few minutes to register and join our community.
Not being able to view code blocks in the computer science section which are an integral part of the thread is not "the vast majority" of content. It's the equivalent of blocking mathjax equations in any other math-oriented forum section. Would they actually be blocked as well if they were bbcode elements rather than an external service? No? Then what is the difference? How about quote blocks, why aren't those blocked? They aren't *that* important, surely? Don't you see an issue here? Arbitrary features are being cut out simply to provide "incentive" to register even though their being unavailable to guests makes no logical sense!

Personally, I don't feel the site in "on lockdown" for guests, but rather offers a great deal to guests while giving the benefit of full access which includes videos, images, links, the live chat, etc. to those who have made the effort to actually register. Certainly opinions will vary about this, but my opinion is that we need to give incentive to guests to join our community beyond just being able to post.
As I said, I can understand restricting images, attachments, links (and the live chat obviously). But I strongly feel that restricting code blocks is excessive. On one hand there's "giving incentive", on the other hand there's nagging the guest. Not everyone *wants* to instantly register the moment they hit the forum from a random google search looking to solve a math problem or whatever, I don't know about most people but I like to create accounts (that I will use) when I find myself visiting a website inordinately often due to its high quality content :) rather than because I was constrained to in order to read the contents of a post.

I am curious though why any registered user would browse our site as a guest, or why you would feel the need to create a dummy account when you already have an account.
Because I don't have the patience to type out answers on my phone anyway because it's slow and old, and I'm not a phone person anyway, so I never bothered logging in. The fact that I (a registered user) discovered this while logged out as a guest is incidental to the problem; we are talking about guests here, and most guests are not, and never will be, registered.

For the second part, I was not thinking of myself or MHB specifically; surely you've before been in a position where you were browsing the internet for information on a problem and came across a random forum post that seemed to contain valuable information as well as a relevant link or image, only to have to sign up just to view the image/follow the link (and probably never to return to said forum, because it happened to be some math thread on a chemistry forum or whatever).

Not trying to be argumentative on purpose, just throwing some perspective out there :D
 

MarkFL

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
13,735
Let me say I do not feel you are being argumentative at all...I think you are offering valuable feedback and making some good points too. I want everyone to feel free to give feedback even if it is to disagree with something being done here...this is how we evolve and improve. Honest thoughtful feedback such as what you are providing here is extremely valuable. (Yes)

I'm not a phone person either...I use my phone to talk to people and my PC to browse the web. So, please forgive my ignorance regarding mobile device issues. :D

I will bring this up for discussion with the rest of the senior staff very soon, and we will take a close look at everything in post content that is currently blocked from guests to ensure we are not being excessive or doing more harm than good. (Nerd)
 

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,029
I think you bring up a reasonable point, Bacterius. It's important to state that it seems we don't disagree with the idea of blocking some content, rather how much content. This is a question of "where to draw the line".

I am very familiar with the clickbait type sites that force you to click/toggle through endless pages or register to see something very trivial, and it's quite annoying. The purpose of such sites is to completely artificially drive up traffic and skew their community numbers without sincerely trying to give the reader something. In my mind though, the rationale of hiding BBCode here on MHB is to remind the user that they can join the community and in return reveal something worth reading, in full. It might seem obvious to you but someone who found us through Google and immediately scrolled down to their keyword might overlook the banner at the top of the page and never think that this is an active forum. They might also be just curious enough to register when they wouldn't have before (and of course it might be off putting and they turn away). It's really hard to say how effective it's been so far but it's something we decided to try.

I can't say that we will change this but I do appreciate the feedback and I will think it over. If you have ideas of a better way to remind guests that they can register at MHB while browsing, then I would love to hear it. There's a fine line between "a gentle reminder" and "spammy", and it's good to hear different takes on the best way to stay on the good side of the line.