Should online communities require accounts? @makoshark & @aaronshaw provide an answer in a new paper that was recently published in the journal Communication Research.
We've put together a short video (below) and blog post ( that summarize the work.

It's a timely and relevant question! Portuguese and Farsi @Wikipedia recently banned contributors without accounts and other language editions are debating doing so. Should they?

We are skeptical. Our analysis of data from 136 natural experiments on @fandom shows that doing so incurs substantial costs—many hidden and some indirect. We find that requiring accounts reduces both bad and good contributions. But much more good than bad, on average.

The paper is online at (paywalled...) and in preprint form at (online for everyone).

We've also put full replication material (code and data) online for to ensure the work is replicable.

The paper has been a long time coming and you may have been seen it presented at various places or in earlier versions online or with the journal. @WikiResearch and @tilmanbayer did a write-up a couple months ago. It's a nice summary!

Tons of thanks to @NSF who funded the work and @CASBSStanford who supported both authors on working on it. And mostly thanks to Danny Horn (formerly at @fandom, now at @Wikimedia) who planted the seed/idea and did invaluable work to share key pieces of data.

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