Forum: Ruby on Rails OT: Require e-mail during sign up process?

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Ryan P. (Guest)
on 2006-05-05 22:56
(Received via mailing list)
Sorry that this thread is a little off topic, but I'm looking for some
varying opinions on the subject and I think this group has a breadth of
experience on this matter :)

A little background info... the registration process for a web
application I
am developing will be targeting those ages 13+ with the bulk of the
being in the 13-25 age range. We are in the process of developing the
up/registration and we're run into a kink on our team on whether or not
require an e-mail address during the process. An argument for not
e-mail during registration within our team (one I am arguing against) is
that not everybody has an e-mail address, so we shouldn't require it.
being in the MySpace generation, I'd imagine that the majority of this
demographic have at least one e-mail address they check on occasion.
However, I don't have any hard stats on Internet users who don't have
e-mail, but I'd imagine it to be very low, but this is only a guess.

Now, I am curios on people's thoughts on requiring or not requiring an
e-mail address during the sign up process for a web application given
above demographic. I can see the pros for requiring one much more than
pros for not requiring one at all. I just see there being a nightmare if
somebody forgets their password, their log in ID, or something else
to their account. Now, if we don't require that e-mail address, they are
a tough spot since they have been locked out of their account. So, if
wanted back in, we don't have a way to send them information to get
information back. However, not requiring it... at least as far as I can
only solves one thing, they don't need an e-mail address. But, with
being so ubiquitous now, is this even a problem? There are so many free
e-mail hosts, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, just to name a few, that I don't
see this being a problem. Is requiring an e-mail address a barrier to an
application's adoption?

Any thoughts, examples, facts, you can provide are greatly appreciated.
Gravy F. (Guest)
on 2006-05-05 23:06
(Received via mailing list)
Keep the e-mail -- if they have Internet access, they have an e-mail
Ryan P. (Guest)
on 2006-05-06 00:58
(Received via mailing list)
How do you then deal with the situation where a parent doesn't allow
them to
have an e-mail account? Keeping in mind that if this is a service that
provided by a class or something and they need to use it, can you get
not having an e-mail?
Gravy F. (Guest)
on 2006-05-06 04:20
(Received via mailing list)
My nieces and nephews share an account with their families and I'm
sure this is common practice for younger children.  As for 13+ ?  I'd
wager that if pre-teens/teens can get their own phone lines, they can
have their own email accounts.

However, you could fork your registration process into two paths: ask
if they have an e-mail address first.  If yes, go to normal
registration.  If no, display a message indicating that, "this site
requires an e-mail address... privacy issues ... we won't sell it
If you're under age, please ask your parent or guardian for assistance
with the registration process."

If they don't have an e-mail address or even access to
"removed_email_address@domain.invalid" then they're probably under supervision 
they're surfing the Net and Mom or Dad should be involved in the
registration process anyways.

If you want proof, go to,, etc. and sign-up
for some online games or newsletters and see how they interact with
their users -- they probably spent a few million on Usability
Architects and Lawyers getting theirs up and running -- why not hop on
the bandwagon and milk it for free? :)
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