I am doing some research on whether it is considered good practice (or evil), to give more options to logged in users... there are practical reasons why we may want to do this - eg, we don't want to overload the server with search queries, but I am just a little concerned about whether or not doing it this way is evil, or not.

As you can see in the screenshot below (ignoring the actual dummy text), the question is whether or not we can give a logged in user 6 options, and one who hasn't logged in just 3 options.

Any thoughts, or experiences that you can share?

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  • Think of how the unregistered user will know about hidden option? While restrictions policy itself is not bad. Oct 11, 2013 at 14:07

2 Answers 2


I don't see any issues with what you are suggesting, although focusing on if it is "evil" may be thinking about it the wrong way. The question you should be asking is "is the business benefit worth the loss in users who might object to this requirement"? There is nothing wrong with limiting functionality to an unknown user, but to prevent them from leaving in frustration you should give them a reason why. "In order to assure unaffected service to our registered users, users who are not logged in are restricted to three options."

I think people can understand that. In testing, I have found users are ok with things being what they have to be, as long as they understand the reasoning behind it. (Of course, if your reasoning is "because we want your email address" then you can see how it will be a tough sale.)



Source: As a conscientious objector to military service, my moral compass is proven to be intact by a German military commission.

Well, seriously:

In the general case, some features can be delivered only with e-mail.

In your case, not directly. You are offering "casual users" - those not registered - limited service. This is not only normal for many businesses, especially what once was called the New Economy, but also reasonable.

Questionable aspects might be: What do I have to do to sign up? What do you do with my email?

If this is purely a sign-up wiht saving my options across devices and / or a non-mandatory newsletter, nothing to worry.

You may want to provide another tangible use where an account / signup is necessary. Otherwise, you might come across as email-farming, and be perceived evil,, whether you are or not.

Another aspect might be the "first one is free" hook. Generally considered evil with drugs, it's nonetheless business as usual with software.

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