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Registration Before Downloads?

What do you think about registering, before getting open source files? I ask this because it is rather challenging for us, as a non-profit organization, to provide reports on how our efforts are received by the public. How many people are we reaching and serving with our programs? Are we fulfilling our mission? We could develop better server solutions for tracking download statistics, behind the scenes. However, I'd prefer to go with a full disclosure policy, from all parties.

Is registration "bad", when we're a growing community? Identity supports responsibility, and respect for fellows.

My impression is that this is a sensitive issue, and I'd like some well considered thoughts from the community at large. If you are unfamiliar with GalaxyGoo, we are a small non-profit dedicated to increasing science literacy.


Generally I won't register for $$$ software but I usually have no problem with registering for open-source software as long as there is some statement that my contact info won't be sold and only used to keep me up-to-date on updates, etc.

In most cases, if I must register to access content, such as downloads or news articles or something, or even to leave a comment somewhere, I will skip it and move on. You'll only get me to register if there's some long-term value to registering.

For instance, if I might only download your software once, I probably won't want to register. Will I be back to get the next version? I don't know yet, and registration might seem like a lot of work for no guaranteed value.

If a blog owner requires registration because he or she is too lazy to moderate, I'll get annoyed, and I probably won't leave that comment that I wanted to write. Will I comment again? Maybe not.

Registration works well in an environment where I pay for something. If I'm throwing around money, I've probably already determined that an item is valuable to me in some way, so I'll be willing to register.

Conclusion: Make sure there's long term value to your customer that will make them want to login to their new account again in the future.

I'm not real into registering for leaving comments, let alone to download (but hey, I entered my name here).

One advantage however to forcing a simple registration is what it does for your list of users/registrants. It increases the 'quality'. Those who are likely to randomly download your files and never get around to opening and using them aren't likely to register. Those who go through the effort are more likely, giving you a far more accurate count and some demographics since they will have opted in and 50%+ will opt out of registering and hence downloading.

It decreases your server/hosting costs. Best of all, you get much better data. I have simple registration pages in order to download product PDFs for a few client sites that focus on very niche oriented engineering/manufacturing products. Sure, we get obviously bogus info occasionally, but most registrants are XYZ engineer at massive corporation QWERTY who leave full contact information with the intention/knowledge that their contact info will be used to send them relevant product information. And yes, we openly state their information is for internal use only.

I think a distinction needs to be made between open source software (say Open Office) and open source files (say the FLA's we provided for the Blogathon), the latter is what Kristin is hinting at I believe. These are two different things meant for different purposes.

I think GalaxyGoo, and sites that provide open source files, is about building a community, about sharing ideas and feeding off of each other (in the best of ways). And in that respect I think registration is not a bad idea, I don't think it is too much to ask to, in essence, be part of a community.

However, I also feel that if one is opposed to registration for whatever reason, the files should still be available somehow, perhaps even thru a default 'anonymous' account.

If particular source of information is valid and trustworthy I have never ever problem to register for downloading.