I tend to have one username that I use for most of the sites that require it (and thankfully it is almost always available). There are a number of sites where the user ID is an email (this post was inspired by yoxos), and this is OK, but it breaks up my flow of work when I have to login and I am asked to enter my "user id", and what they are really asking is my email.

I was wondering if there is some reason why the sites still ask for a "user id", even though they should be asking for "user email"? Maybe asking for a user id is more personal, and people don't like being asked their email up-front. But it also creates a very bad experience (at least for me). Any ideas why this is done?

  • Its nice to be able to use both for login - but it may be important to also have a UserID for privacy reasons.
    – user28446
    Jun 10, 2013 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


The whole use of a user ID predates email, and the term has stuck with developers. If your email is your userID, you should ask for email instead.

There are many cases where a user has a userID as well as an email address, and in those cases the login should allow you to use either of the two.

I did some testing with a system where users had an email address and a userID, and I found that it was easier for most users to log into the system if we only asked for email address. We allowed the used of userID as well, but we didn't state it. That way more advanced users could use just their username (which was usually short) but new users would only be asked for something that they didn't have to think about - namely their email address.

TL;DR: Ask for email address when logging in if every account has one.

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    I agree 100% with that. As a bonus you get the uniqueness of the ID, as emaila are unique. If you need to use some more 'natural' name for the user, you can add a screen name (it always looks better when you display "Welcome, Mark." rather than "Welcome, mark@somedomain.com"). But it's good to remember that people change their emails sometimes (especially when changing jobs), so it would be perfect if a system allows them to change this email (even when used to log in) in their user account page. Jun 10, 2013 at 9:38
  • @DominikOslizlo: E-mail addresses are not as unique as you may think. Plenty of people share their e-mail address with for example their spouse. In businesses as well e-mail addresses may be given out on a "job"/"function" basis (servicedesk@...) etc. Jun 10, 2013 at 18:18
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    @MarjanVenema - I understand your point point. E-mail addresses are unique, but sometimes multiple persons use the same address, which is insecure. But after all, you are never sure if an account (which is not email-address based) is not shared by a group of people. While speaking of uniqueness, it is never possible to say, how many people use one login. Using email as login, you don't need to care about the uniqueness of the nick and worry that "Jake" is taken and only "Jake32" is free, so there is no need to remember another account name. Jun 10, 2013 at 21:26
  • @DominikOslizlo: Ah, now I understand what you were saying. That most people don't have multiple e-mail addresses, so just need to remember one item as opposed to multiple account names. D'oh. :-) Jun 11, 2013 at 11:55

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