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On Stackoverflow/Stackexchange, users are allowed to add posts without requiring login, just wondering what should be considered before allowing this kind behavior on a site?

Couple of things spring to mind...

  • Recording the users IP address
  • Limiting number of anonymous posts from a single IP

Are there any other things to consider?

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5 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Captcha.

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absolutely, can't believe any of the 3 current answers didn't mention this! Having a CAPTCHA is absolutely required for any kind of anonymous access, unless you want to be tied up and brutalized by spammers within hours.. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 31 '10 at 7:14
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Also using automatic Spam detection via Askimet (http://askimet.com). Askimet is induced with popular Content Management Systems. So, probably self-moderation is easy.

Many users (including me), hate to login to comment. Integration of OpenID makes it easy to comment.

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Depending upon what type of site you host and the content you allow within anonymous posts, you might find yourself dealing with botnets, spammers, and trolls hiding behind free proxies.

Requiring authentication and verifying the unique e-mail address provided on new account creation slows down most of the malicious activity... (and slowing it down is as much as you can hope for, really)

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Preventing cross-site scripting attacks by "escaping" the contents (i.e. prevent any HTML/script being interpreted as such when you serve them back up) would help stop abuse. Also, if you allow links in comments then including the rel="nofollow" HTML attribute negates the value of people doing so just to game search engines.

You could "teach" the site to filter out undesirable comments in the same way that modern email spam filtering works - see Paul Graham's writings on this.

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The biggest thing that comes to mind is, "How are you going to handle moderation?" StackExchange avoids a lot of spam because it is self-moderated. However, if you don't allow your users to moderate or you don't have users willing to moderate, the onus falls on you. Moderation becomes much easier if you require authentication.

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