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Think small free web application. Users create a session, share the link, and friends join via the link. This is a quick, simple, free service, and user registration seems to be overkill, since the only data stored on the account would be the user's name, and it would seem a name/alias is just as easy to type upon each visit as a username and password would be.

The service is a collaborative tool, featuring communication where the name is used. So even though no additional data is stored, and I'm interested in implementing it without user registration / login, a user's name / alias is needed.

So my question is, is it better to prompt the user each time they enter web page for a name/alias, or provide a temporary alias "Guest 1 <, 2, 3, etc>" automatically and allow the user to customize it afterwards if they choose?

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Or simply put a unique identifier in the users cookies. When they return to your webpage, they see a message at the top: “Hey you, welcome back.”

“Guest# 41996” seems kind of awkward to me.

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