I develop an online classified advertising web/mobile service. Right now users don't have to be logged in to place an ad. It is enough to use a valid email address. Having an account has other benefits now; it allows you to send and receive messages and keep track of everything you have posted.

Lately, I have considered requiring users to be logged in because it will be easier to program. Are there other advantages or disadvantages?

One possible advantage of doing so would be that we can track and know the users' details and prevent spam ads.

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    Does having an account give other benefits to the user over posting anonymously? For example, does the user's profile link to everything that user has posted, like it does on SE? – Monica Cellio Jul 29 at 22:54
  • @MonicaCellio Yes, having an account makes you able to send and receive messages and keep track of everything you have posted. – Niklas Rosencrantz Sep 9 at 9:54
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Requiring registration/logging in to post ads will add a bit of friction to the process. Adding friction will put some people off posting - it's one of the reasons that (except for posting questions on Stack Overflow) Stack Exchange doesn't require that you register. You can ask for as much, or as little, information about the advertiser as you like. The more information you ask for, the more friction there is in the process, the more friction there is the more people you'll put off posting.

Hopefully, that small amount of friction will put off a lot of spammers, but won't deter those who want to post useful ads. You have to weigh up the trade off. Is the amount of spam causing problems? If it is then go for the registration. It won't eliminate the spam completely but it will reduce it.

Minimising the spam on your site will also go a long way to reassuring other visitors that the ads they see are genuine and make them more willing to continue to use your site.

Registration will also provide you with a concrete communication channel to the advertisers should there be any issues.

Craigslist has a setup where you can post ads without an account (just an email address) or you can log into your account. I always use the account. Why? Because it remembers the ads I've posted in the post. So if I need to repost something, it's a lot easier than finding where I put the wording I want to use (and maybe typing it in again if it was on paper). I've had issues with CL not always having that info (IIRC, it loses photos) but a system that did would be really useful.

Sending and receiving messages is a big plus too. CL allows a reader to send the ad's owner a message without knowing the latter's address, but the sender's address is visible and the ad owner has to use regular email to reply. Sometimes it's nice to have that layer of privacy even if the ad is nothing more than selling a car or a dresser.

If you make auto-login really easy (if the initial login has a box that says "this is a private computer" then you can just log them in or remember them. If that's not possible, at least make it work seamlessly with password savers. There is nothing that makes me avoid a site more than having to remember how to log in.

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