Proposal: Materials Modeling

Recently I advertised this proposal on a mailing list, which accounted for our big recent surge in committers. Since making any mistake during the commitment process (such as clicking commit before being logged in, or clicking "log in" before clicking "sign up", even if they already have a StackExchange account) can lead to the infamous "unregistered user" bug: I gave very precise instructions to first log into StackExchange, then click sign-up (not "log-in") for Area51, and only then commit:

1) Log into Stack Exchange: https://stackexchange.com
2) Visit the Stack Exchange staging zone for new sites: https://area51.stackexchange.com/
3) When you click "sign up" it will automatically log you in with your Stack Exchange credentials
4) The materials modeling site is then here: https://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/122958/materials-modeling
5) Click "commit" and then you will get a verification code in your email.

I also told them to clear their cookies, and use Chrome's in-cognito mode. Over the next few days we saw a surge of about 50 new users that were successfully committed, and still about half of them were "Registered" and half of them were "Unregistered". I personally knew many of their names and they told me that they indeed committed based on my advertisement on the mailing list. The instructions in my advertisement were precisely the same for everyone, so how did about half of them become registered users and half of them become unregistered users? It seems that no "algorithm" has been able to escape this bug, but if anyone knows anything more about how or why this happens to some users, the whole Area51 community will benefit from understanding this better! So please answer below!

The second part of my question is simply this: Will the "unregistered" users that have successfully committed still get the email that invites them to Private Beta? Note that these users have successfully verified their email address and received the +50 reputation for doing so, and are showing up in the commitment list (which only happens if their email address is properly verified), you can see though that if you click on some of our new committers in April, many of them will still say "Unregistered User" even though they have the correct gravatar of their face displayed, and they have 51 reputation.

  • Why do you believe everybody followed the instructions exactly? I'm frankly surprised half of them managed to not confuse logging in to SE and logging in to A51, then managed to clear cookies properly, and remembered to use incognito for every action. Unless this mailing list is extraordinarily different from the general population, expecting perfect adherence was not realistic.
    – Nij
    Commented Apr 18, 2020 at 22:55
  • @Nij I suppose you could be right that some of them did not follow the instructions exactly. But is using incognito for every action hard? Don't you just open an in-cognito window and do everything in there? Anyway, I don't think deleting cookies and using in-cognito is actually necessary, but 1 or 2 committers/followers over the last 8 months said it worked when they switched to incognito or cleared cookies, so I included it in the instructions just in case. Now why are you surprised that half of them managed not to confuse logging in SE and A51, when I gave different URLs for each site? Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 4:19
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    Anyway, it is possible that about 50% of the people failed to follow the instructions exactly: This surprises me very very much, as I would think maybe only 10% would fail, but I also appreciate that you were surprised that 50% got it right (perhaps you would think 60% or more would fail, which is a valid estimate too). The first half of my question is basically if anyone has experienced other reasons why people might become Unregistered Users. You're probably right that these instructions are sufficient and 50% just made mistakes, but there might be something else going on. Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 4:34
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    As for the mailing list, I do think it's extraordinarily different from the general population because it's a mailing list full of professors or senior academics developing matter modeling software. They have excelled at this type of thing throughout their lives far better than the average person. For example I know Peter to have a reputation for being immaculate in everything he does, and I'm sure he followed the instructions to the letter :) But anything's possible! Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 4:35

1 Answer 1


It still remains to be seen whether or not there's factors causing people to become "Unregistered" users, apart from the factors already mentioned (which were: not following the above instructions, not using in-cognito mode, and not clearing cookies).

As for whether or not unregistered users do get the email invitation for Private Beta, it seems that the user Rory Alsop committed to Drones as an "Unregistered" user: https://area51.stackexchange.com/users/206916/rory-alsop, but in this chat message he says that he did get the email.

Therefore we might not need to dig through all 100 of our unregistered users and send them invitations to Private Beta each separately :)

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