XF 2.2 Writing before registering

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Participation. It's the life blood of a forum, and once you have a group of dedicated members creating and discussing content, your forum will flourish.

But there's a barrier to entry when it comes to participation. When a new visitor stumbles upon your forum from a search engine, they may read the content that piqued their interest and then feel inclined to add their own thought-provoking response, but at that point they are confronted with the dreaded

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... at which point, in many cases, the whim disappears and they disappear like a stranger in the night.

The prospect of having to complete a form and go through the rigmarole of signing-up to a new service is quite a turn-off to new visitors, for obvious reasons. Visitors have a reticence to registration because they often consider it not to be worth their time.

So, what if they had something to lose by not completing the registration process?

This is the thought behind Writing Before Registering. When enabled, guest users will be granted access to the New Thread button and the Quick Reply editor and various other tools that are available to registered members. The experience is almost identical to that of a logged-in user, allowing the guest to create rich content before having registered, such that they can compose the message they want without obstructions.

What a lovely post. Now register or lose it.

And then, when they've spent time lovingly crafting their message and hit the submit button, then we smack them with the registration form.

Now, the hapless visitor has a conundrum. Are they prepared to have wasted the time they spent composing their message and abandon their contribution, or will they spend a few moments completing the annoying registration form? We're betting that a good proportion will choose the latter.

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Once the guest has completed registration, the content they composed will be submitted automatically, and they'll be sent an alert with a link to it.

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The landscape has changed

Occasionally, there may be instances where the environment in which the content was created changes during the registration process, such as the thread being locked by a moderator or moved to a forum to which regular users do not have access. In these cases, where the created content can no longer be submitted, the newly registered user will receive an alert similar to the one below.

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Setup

The experience afforded to guests is configurable. Behind the scenes, administrators can configure how this works by setting which permissions should be inherited by guests. For example, if users in the "Registered" user group are able to post in a particular forum, it'll be possible for guests to also post in that forum but they will need to register before their post is submitted.

Normally, you will want to inherit permissions from whichever group or groups users automatically become members upon registration, but the scope is there to allow whatever weird and wonderful combinations may be required by your particular setup.

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Of course, sometimes visitors will not complete the registration process, especially if they are not particularly committed to a short response they composed. In order to prevent that stuff clogging up your database, content that was submitted but did not lead to a completed registration will be pruned after a short period of time.

Developer goodies

Initially, we're supporting the creation of threads and replies but as you'd expect from a XenForo core system, "writing before registering" is entirely open and extensible and can apply to any registration-privileged action, so third-party developers will be able to incorporate this functionality within their add-ons, wherever it makes sense to do so.

Post scriptum

A few questions have been raised already as to what happens if email verification or manual registration approval is enabled on your forum.

In these instances, the content that has been posted in kept in a pending state, awaiting whatever steps are required for registration to complete. The content is automatically posted as soon as registration is completed, whether that is by means of email verification, manual approval or whatever other things may be set up in the registration process.

If registration is not completed within a reasonable period, the content is purged.
 
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Kier

XenForo developer
Staff member
Will there be a notice on the post itself telling the user to confirm their account in order the post can be seen by others?
This system doesn't use the moderation queue - the post or thread isn't created at all until registration is completed.
 

Mike

XenForo developer
Staff member
Can the registration form open up in an overlay instead?

Will the content written be saved in the text editor like a “draft” as if you are logged in, for example if clicked away for whatever reason and wanted to come back to the content to post it?
It was an overlay but it was changed primarily for UX reasons (notably surrounding the overlay being dismissed and not being recoverable because it was triggered through a POST action).

Drafts wouldn't be saved as they are attached to a user record.
 

JoyFreak

Well-known member
It was an overlay but it was changed primarily for UX reasons (notably surrounding the overlay being dismissed and not being recoverable because it was triggered through a POST action).

Drafts wouldn't be saved as they are attached to a user record.
I can see that can be frustrating for new members joining as they could click away by accident or go back or whatever happens during the process of posting and them losing it but doesn’t take away the fact it’s a great addition and I’m hopefully won’t be much of a concern overall!
 

sbj

Well-known member
I don't think that's possible with the way registration works. Once the user submits the registration form, his account has been created but the registration isn't finished, so the content has not yet been submitted. If you have email confirmation active, you could maybe redirect him when he comes in from the confirm email, but if you have manual approval enabled, you suddenly can't do that anymore, so sending an alert out was just a way to cover all these cases.
Correct me if I am wrong but the system is intelligent enough to send an alert, no? And in the alert the post url is saved. So, what stops the system to forward the user to that url after completion?

This system doesn't use the moderation queue - the post or thread isn't created at all until registration is completed.
Hmm, thanks. But isn't that confusing to a new member? I write a post, it asks me to register, I register (but not confirmed yet) and my post is nowhere to be seen. So, perhaps I write the same reply again because I think something went wrong? So woudn't this encourage duplicate posts because people are not aware to confirm their accounts?
 

Lukas W.

Well-known member
Correct me if I am wrong but the system is intelligent enough to send an alert, no? And in the alert the post url is saved. So, what stops the system to forward the user to that url after completion?
Nothing, but it's not an intuitive flow. If you're stuck for manual approval, you can continue browsing the site with no issue. When a moderator then approves your registration, your post is created in the background an alert is sent to you, while you can continue to browse the site, e.g. read a thread. If you now want to force-redirect the user to his content, you'll have to do so whenever he opens his next page, and he will not do so with the expectation to cycle to his content that he created a while back, but the content that he actually clicked. You're basically ripping him out of the context he is currently in to force him back to content that he potentially created hours ago, maybe not even remembers anymore at this point.
 

RallyFan

Active member
Congrats @NixFifty on your promotion to The X Team!

Xenforo really is killing it with their Xenforo Fantasy League Team!

Who will be next :D. Xon? Siropu?

The writing before registering idea is a pretty sound one, but my concern is how spambots and spammers (BOO BLOG SEO SPAMMERS!!! HISS!!!!) will possibly have a field day with it. How is this issue addressed? Or shouldn't it be a problem?
 

electrogypsy

Well-known member
I'm sure I'll get some flak for disagreeing with the masses... this looks like it might be useful to some people, but there's so many other things that should be in the core of XF that i feel like this option is kind of 'reaching' for new things to put in XF that don't need to be there.
 

Mike

XenForo developer
Staff member
I doubt we'd do any sort of full redirect to the content (as that would necessarily not show you some confirmation pages which may potentially have significant information), but we have tracked a task internally to investigate whether we can make it clearer when there is a pending action and whether we can make it clearer on these pages whether your content has just been posted. (Just because there's an alert that does link to the content does not mean this is straightforward in a different context.)
 

sbj

Well-known member
Nothing, but it's not an intuitive flow. If you're stuck for manual approval, you can continue browsing the site with no issue. When a moderator then approves your registration, your post is created in the background an alert is sent to you, while you can continue to browse the site, e.g. read a thread. If you now want to force-redirect the user to his content, you'll have to do so whenever he opens his next page, and he will not do so with the expectation to cycle to his content that he created a while back, but the content that he actually clicked. You're basically ripping him out of the context he is currently in to force him back to content that he potentially created hours ago, maybe not even remembers anymore at this point.
I think we are talking about 2 different things. What you say is about after the approval. Of course after approval, it makes not much sense to redirect the user.

I am talking about redirecting immediately after the registration form is filled out. So if no approval is required (such as in the video), he gets back immediately to the post. If approval is required (e-mail confirmation or manually), still without the approval the user is redirected to the post. So he can re-edit it and re-read it.

But from what I now understand is, that the post actually is not created at all if there is no confirmation. I think this part is the problem. IMO the post should be there, no matter if account is confirmed or not. I find it as a bad design behaviour when suddenly my post disappears which I have written a minute ago. Not all people will understand that they have to wait for the approval of the account. They will be confused why their post is not there.

So, I would suggest that the reply is immediately created after the registration. But it can only be seen by him (or by mods) until the account is confirmed, then everyone can see it. I find this much better and if there would be a notice embedded to the post reminding them to confirm their account, it would help tremendously.
 

Chris D

XenForo developer
Staff member
Who will be next :D. Xon? Siropu?
We no longer have any developers working in stealth mode. You've now all been introduced to the full dev team.

The writing before registering idea is a pretty sound one, but my concern is how spambots and spammers (BOO BLOG SEO SPAMMERS!!! HISS!!!!) will possibly have a field day with it. How is this issue addressed? Or shouldn't it be a problem?
They can try and have a field day with it but their registration and the content itself is still subject to the same spam checks as normal, it's just things are happening in a slightly different order.

I'm sure I'll get some flak for disagreeing with the masses... this looks like it might be useful to some people, but there's so many other things that should be in the core of XF that i feel like this option is kind of 'reaching' for new things to put in XF that don't need to be there.
It's ok if this isn't for you. We'd respectfully disagree and think that contributing to the forum should be less daunting and as frictionless as possible. Hopefully there will be more features coming that you find more useful.
 

Kier

XenForo developer
Staff member
So, I would suggest that the reply is immediately created after the registration. But it can only be seen by him (or by mods) until the account is confirmed, then everyone can see it. I find this much better and if there would be a notice embedded to the post reminding them to confirm their account, it would help tremendously.
The problem is that this approach is not content and action agnostic. Although we have only implemented the behaviour for threads and posts at this point, the system allows any privileged action to be performed by a guest, which is why we don't rely on the moderation queue or similar facilities.
 

Mendalla

Well-known member
Congratulations @NixFifty and looking forward to using some of your work when I get 2.2.

I am waffling on this. In principle I like it but I see potential for generating lots of drive-bys. People who register to get that one post up and then are gone, especially in threads on controversial topics (we have a long running thread on the president of a certain country to the South of us that comes to mind).
 

RallyFan

Active member
They can try and have a field day with it but their registration and the content itself is still subject to the same spam checks as normal, it's just things are happening in a slightly different order.
Nice! This could be really handy for specific types of forums where everyone wants a say but hasn't registered yet.

@Xon should this work fine with your anti spam solutions?
 

arn

Well-known member
fwiw, I think presenting the standard registration page after submitting will be a little confusing. especially with email verification, it seems unclear to the user when/if the message gets posted.

I think a custom flow would make it feel better. Ask for an email address alongside the message. Once they hit submit, say "Thanks! Please confirm your email address to post the message". Then when they click on the link, you can ask for a username / password / accepting terms and conditions (final hurdle). This would be the very last step, rather then the 2nd step.

I'd guess most forums have email verification enabled, so the email round trip is going to be wanted.

just my gut reaction, I'm sure actually using it will feel different
arn
 
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