OT: Require e-mail during sign up process?

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 :slight_smile:

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.

Keep the e-mail – if they have Internet access, they have an e-mail

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?

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_addr[email protected]” then they’re probably under supervision when
they’re surfing the Net and Mom or Dad should be involved in the
registration process anyways.

If you want proof, go to Disney.com, treehouse.com, 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? :slight_smile: