In the future all visitors will be required to register and log in to view, read and participate in our community forums. This is in line with what's being done on a lot of topical sites out there that provide a platform for off-topic discussions. In our case there are 2 major drivers for making this change:
The topics discussed in there are obviously not often skydiving related - so the argument goes: "You are welcome to access and read the skydiving forums. That's what the site is about. If you want to read and be involved in the stuff that relates to the community, at least make some effort to become part of the community first." I get requests from users from time to time to require registration for these forums and this is the reason they usually put forward.
The second reason has 2 considerations and both stem from the fact that Google and other search engines has access to those forums. They will not be able to crawl and index those if registration is required.
First - users often post stuff to these forums that they would prefer other people not find with a simple Google search. Be it their kids, boss, ex, pupils, girlfriend, boyfriend or parents. While I'm a firm believer that people should take responsibility for what they post to a public forum, I also see no reason to make everything in those forums readily available to the world.
Second - there is a business consideration. Google determines the nature and importance of a site to a large extend by it's content, and the relationship between the content and the perceived "topic" of the site. The sheer volume of content in the community forums, and the variety of subjects discussed in there leans heavily on how the site is seen by search engines for the purpose of rankings in search results etc.
Besides Incidents the following 3 forums will require that users register and log in to participate in the discussions:
(This post was edited by sangiro on Aug 2, 2007, 10:26 AM)