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Given the following form fields:

  • Name

  • Email

  • Content (textarea)

What are the pros and cons of having the Name as a required field? (The Email and Content are both required)

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  • 1
    Generally speaking, remove any field not absolutely required. However, in the case of contacting someone, social norms would expect an exchange of names, so this seems perfectly acceptable.
    – DA01
    Aug 30, 2013 at 21:48

4 Answers 4

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In my opinion all three fields you mentioned should be required in a contact form if you are looking to reply to the message. Typically the name field is the easiest out of the three fields to fill out, therefore if you're already making the other two fields required then you might as well include the name as well.

I don't think there is a reason why users won't provide their name when trying to contact you, however they'll just make up a fake name/email if they really don't want to let you know who they are anyway.

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As always it depends on the context. But typically a name is provided as a courtesy so that I know how to address you when I'm replying to your message rather than saying "Dear Mysterious User, thanks for contacting us!"

Worst case scenario is that you require it, the user wishes to remain anonymous and provides a fake name.

In reply to resorath, email is required so that you have a way of actually replying to whoever is using the contact form.

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One reason I have heard for keeping the name required is to do with spam detection. If the name is missing from the email, it has a greater likelyhood to be interprested as spam.

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Pros of requiring the name field

  • If you reply to submissions, it's nice to be able to start the reply with the user's name.
  • It can be easier to configure anti-spam rules for your form (I often got spam submissions that included names like xt519023; these are easy to block.)

Cons of requiring the name field

  • Some users do not want to provide a name. As others have pointed out, they could just make up a name, but some people feel that using a fake name is dishonest and also do not feel comfortable providing their actual name. So, requiring the name field may result in such users not submitting the form.
  • If you require users to provide a name, it may be a different level of legal liability in terms of PII (Personally Identifying Information) than if you ask users to voluntarily provide a name. Check the regulations applicable to your site.

In general, I would not force users to provide any information that wasn't strictly necessary, including the name field.

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