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Tech:Require registration for editing Wikitravel

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This was mentioned on another page but not fully discussed. This page may be short lived, but it's worth at least airing out the community's concerns here.

SPAM prevention/remediation being as big of an issue as it is, it's worth talking about why WT does not require users to register an email address and password in order to edit the site. Virtually no sites of any kind allow users to even post the most benign new content, such as comments on existing posts, without a simple registration.

What are the arguments against eliminating anonymous edits on WikiTravel?--IBobi 20:35, 19 August 2011 (EDT)

Forcing people to login is a barrier to entry in providing maintenance towards 'fixing broken windows' (source). This also prevents actual users from providing content. All Wikimedia sites allow for anonymous editing, deletion, and creation of article content, including Wikipedia. For reference, here's Wikitravel's anonymous users activity. -- IBWes 21:50, 19 August 2011 (EDT)
Agreed 100% with Wes. The majority of the anonymous edits here are good ones, and the bad ones can be dealt with easily enough using the tools available in Mediawiki. Similarly, just because someone has registered doesn't mean that they are any less likely to make problem edits, as we've seen with various trolls and spambots over the years. -- Ryan 22:19, 19 August 2011 (EDT)
While registered users are the site's backbone, anonymous edits are Wikitravel's lifeblood. Without them, site growth and even more importantly real-time updates would slow in an extreme way. --Peter Talk 22:22, 19 August 2011 (EDT)
I agree with the above three comments. Besides the fact that even long-time users edit anonymously from time to time in order to save time or whatever, anonymous editing is how many people first try out and get in interested in wiki editing; they happen upon the site and see something small that could be fixed or improved, and they see the edit button so they try it out. If you kill anonymous editing, we will lose a lot of them, because I am sure a great number of them can not be bothered to go through the rigmarole of making an account first, just to fix something small or try something out or whatever. Hell, you might have even precluded me becoming a regular had you done this back 7 years ago... texugo 23:05, 19 August 2011 (EDT)
"Virtually no sites of any kind" indeed... except, of course, for the very site we emulate, Wikipedia, which (not to put too fine a point on it) is one of the most successful sites on the entire Internet. LtPowers 09:43, 20 August 2011 (EDT)
Quite frankly, I'm guessing that to unable anonymous edits, is to kill this site. Although active registered users are the ones that do most of the structuring, writing star-articles and general intros, their number is tiny compared the size of the world and the amount of destinations and information. Anonymous users play a key role in keeping it up to date, adding and changing the small but vital details that make this a usable guide. I for long did nothing else, and only recently made an account for some more serious contributions and because I realized that my edits had to be patrolled. I would never have registered just to change a train connection or mention that a hotel is now closed. Rather than shutting all anonymous users out, we should be discussing how to attract more of the good ones and how to further discourage the bad ones. Justme2 07:50, 21 August 2011 (EDT)

The arguments for anonymous editing appear quite strong. What are the arguments for requiring registration? Pbsouthwood 01:45, 21 August 2011 (EDT)

Primarily, identification; note that IBobi mentioned e-mail registration as well, which would at least prove that there's someone on the other end going to the trouble of creating an e-mail account. It's no barrier to the determined tout or malicious vandal, but it would put a damper on drive-by anonymous vandalism. LtPowers 14:19, 21 August 2011 (EDT)
OK, I think we need to be more informed to make any decision to change. This means we need the stats. Does anyone have reliable numbers? Pbsouthwood 12:51, 22 August 2011 (EDT)

I am totally against this plan, anon editing is why Wikitravel is such a success. We'd lose a lot of content and updates if registration was made compulsory. I even think the reCAPTCHA should be removed for anon edits, as those pop-ups are really annoying for those often contributing to the site. --globe-trotter 16:02, 22 August 2011 (EDT)

As we are trying to find more ways to eliminate vandalism, I doubt we'll be rolling back *existing* efforts any time soon without compelling reasons to do so (and ready-to-go plans to replace them); that said, this is the impetus for tossing this question out to the community. From what I have heard, the most compelling reason is identification, as LtPowers said, which goes hand-in-hand with the ability to block users from spamming the site. If everyone must go through a simple registration process in order to edit, it makes it that much harder to spam our site, and gives us one more weapon against them: blocking vandals at the user level, which can only be done today if they are stupid enough to register before spamming.
Also, to be blunt, I don't really consider "because that's how Wikipedia does it" to be an answer; there's no reason why Wikitravel might not be a leader in this regard, rather than a follower. If Wikipedia is doing it for a good reason, however, I am all ears. Like Pbsouthwood, I would love to know what kind of actual impact (i.e. metrics) we could expect to feel from disabling anon edits; I think it's easy to say it would be big, but that's partly because it’s never changed -- so we don't really know. Why would a simple email/password registration keep you from adding your 2 cents to Wikitravel -- or Wikipedia, for that matter? Saving the time it takes to log in doesn't really wash, does it? If you've got something to say, I'd guess it's important enough to spend 5 seconds to log in (not to mention getting credit for your edit). And the registration process is very cursory as well -- the flip side of which is, how much *would* it deter vandals if they had to register first? Admins: apart from your desire to keep anon edits available, how much do you believe disabling this would in fact lead to less spam?
This would be easy to roll back if we found that it was stifling contributions. If it significantly reduced vandalism, we’d have a discussion about the value of the trade-off between spam remediation and site growth.
I want to stress that this is in no way a plan or even a suggestion to go forward and do this, but just an exploratory discussion, and it's great that people are so passionate about responding.
I also strongly agree with Justme2 about efforts to attract more quality contributors. I have thought a lot about this -- but that is a discussion for another place.--IBobi 18:21, 22 August 2011 (EDT)
Regarding your comment that you don't think that "because that's how Wikipedia does it" is an answer-- I think that's being rather dismissive again. Wikipedia is way bigger and has way more traffic than we do and if they have gotten that far without blocking anonymous edits, I can not imagine why we are even wasting our time talking about it at this point. We regulars are the ones who take care of the spam in the first place, and if we are overwhelmingly telling you cutting anonymous edits would be counterproductive, I think you should believe us. I personally find it very hard to believe that anyone here besides you would have ever brought this up for actual discussion-- we don't need to discuss this even theoretically to know that it is a ridiculously stupid idea to put any more barriers in front of potential new editors. We don't need an exploratory discussion about something that is boneheadedly obvious to all the regulars here. It is hard enough to attract new contributors as it is. To the extent that I feel it necessary to come here and help convince IB not to get any more counter-productive ideas in their heads, this thread is a sad waste of time that I could better use contributing to our guides. I would really like to see this thread get buried as soon as possible. texugo 01:44, 23 August 2011 (EDT)
Totally agree with Texugo. Instead of discussing features we do not want, how about taking care of a huge backlog of features, such as fixing Wikitravel Shared that has been down for almost a week? --globe-trotter 12:39, 23 August 2011 (EDT)