Getting lurkers to join - Annoyance versus Gains?


Formerly null0
I run a not-for-profit forum wherein my only goal is to make a successful community.

In March, we switched to XenForo from PHPBB on a complete impulse. Here are the numbers from 2014.
stats 2014.PNG

For this time, we required accounts to view attachments. I also had a small 300x250 ad on the Index page that only guests would see. This was my nagging to get people to register. At the very end of January, a massive event relevant to our site took place that jumped us from about 1350 signs to 1850 on our biggest day.

I got a lot of complaints on other websites about logging in to see attachments and as a result a lot of my website's content was aggregated to different places without link backs, so I disabled this requirement to view attachments in hope of getting proper links to our threads. I feel this has had a negative long-term impact as this is the only time since our move we've lost users at the end of a month.

stats 2015.PNG

However, our analytics will show we've kept a lot of our guest traffic. In fact, if anything, it shows we've continued to grow in terms of raw traffic. This week, we had 1,000,000 hits, which is about what I'd expect at our rate of growth.

But, since it's a community, that doesn't mean anything to me. Money comes from donations and donations come from users that love the site. What I want is registrations and posters, and I fear that by respecting guests and not forcing them to get accounts to read the website properly, I've hurt new user numbers.

Today I modified templates a little so that this message appears under posts where the quick reply box would be.

account begging.png

What do you guys think? Should I be more of a jerk and force people to register to see accounts, or should I respect a lurker's right to lurk and be less annoying?


Well-known member
Nice steady growth. well done!

Tough thing to juggle isnt it? I personally serve attachments to guests, because at the end of the day my site is to serve people who are members or not. The more people that visit, the greater the site benefits (adsense) etc. I like your idea about putting that message up. Definitely seems less intrusive than pop notifications which i had ages ago.

Once in a while in busy periods, i enable an addion which allows guests x number of views before they dont get shown content. That always spurs on membership. Other than that i try to cater for both members and guests. However guests also get a sidebar in their threadviews with a big ad slapped on, whereas members dont.

Good luck.