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Lately I've seen that a lot of user profiles have unregistered written on them. Does this mean they are using the site without having an account?

And they seem to have a list of questions and points just like the rest of us. What then is the difference between between creating an account on the site and posting without an account? Shouldn't unregistered users be posting as anonymous-user or as community wiki?

I know its not an important question but I'm curious.

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This is addressed briefly in our own site FAQ:

Do I have to log in or create an account?

You can ask questions, answer, and suggest edits as an anonymous user, much like Wikipedia. There are some things you won’t be able to do on the site without registering, such as vote. But it’s easy to register.

It is also covered in a little more detail over on the main SE meta:

Why should I register my account?

Basically unregistered users are just like the rest of us, but their account hasn't been verified and their access to it only lasts as long as a temporary cookie stays in place. If they switch to a different computer or clear their cookies they will not be able to access their previous content. They also have restricted privileges like not being able to vote.

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  • "access to it only lasts as long as a temporary cookie stays in place" As a programmer something just doesn't seem right to me. I mean they're allowed to fill in about me, location, a list of Qs & As maintained and points counted all on a dangling cookie? It's like loading a lot of data in memory and not maintaining any pointers to it. What's the point? Wouldn't it have been better if the content were just posted under a name without a pseudo profile and all the details? – Monika Michael Sep 8 '12 at 15:06
  • @MonikaMichael: This way people get to participate without verifying their email but don't just make a mess of the site with random disconnected pieces of content. Probably most significantly, they are able to comment on and accept answers to their own questions. This would be impossible without some sort of ephemeral profile. Why not let them fill in a few profile details along the way? Once they get the hang of things, they often end up registering and this way all the stuff they've done comes with them. – Caleb Sep 8 '12 at 15:13
  • "all the stuff they've done comes with them" How come? Isn't that linked to a disappearing cookie? And suppose they fill in a name and and personal blog link but later realize they're better off without their personal info on this site. But oopsie the cookie's gone. And they can't even contact the site staff because how're they going to prove it was filled in by them? – Monika Michael Sep 8 '12 at 15:42

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