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I'll suggest that Math Educators SE turn off the ability for unregistered ("guest") users to submit answers.

I'm told that this is a new capacity, as of a few months ago, that can be set per-site on the SE network. Previously there was a long-standing position of SE that guest answers were always welcome (per founder Jeff Atwood's experience with coding sites, although he left SE eight years ago as of this writing); but that has now changed. See this answer for details on the recent change (note that asterisks and the footnote indicate sites where guest answering has been shut off).

It's been observed that on less narrowly technical Q&A sites (those with somewhat more subjective questions and answers), that the value of guest answers is either null or much reduced, as compared to something like the original Stack Overflow. For example, this is expressed well in a request from about 5 years ago by a moderator at another site: Can unregistered users be blocked from answering on some sites?

In our case with Math Educators SE, we have a recurring issue with one poster in particular (*) who remains unregistered with a "guest" account and effectively spams most of the questions with the same response (i.e., don't teach for understanding, just run more rote mechanical drills), and often rude comments. If and when their answers gets voted down, they can just recycle the guest account to bring their moderation back up to zero. It also prevents regular visitors or newcomers from identifying/recognizing this poster, looking at their prior history of posts, and short-circuits moderation tools such as possible suspensions or bans.

Therefore, I recommend that we turn off guest answering for Math Educators SE, as has been done for a number of other SE sites in the last several months.

(*) I'm pretty sure it's one poster, but the ambiguity itself is part of the problem here. See the ME Meta post from 2017 where this problem was asked about previously, now 3 years ago. (Thanks to Joel Reyes Noche for the reminder.)

Edit: In a comment below (and less clearly here on the main Meta site), SE Community Manager Catija has told me that I was misinformed, and this feature is not available to moderators on individual sites. I'll be refreshing my feature-request on the main site to ask for this; but at this time it's apparently not an option to activate it by the members of Math Educators SE.

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    $\begingroup$ It's not individual to site mods... no. It never has been. Developers for the site can turn it on or off but the mods never have been able to do that. Even I can't do it. $\endgroup$ – Catija Jun 22 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Catija: I'm asking again that a clear statement be made about this in an obvious place. At this point I've had to hunt around the comments in a half-dozen different questions across multiple sites to get this information. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Jun 23 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ ... I feel like we're talking past each other... "but at this time it's apparently not an option to activate it on Math Educators SE." ... I didn't say that... Ever. The feature that exists is that we can block asking or answering (or both) by unregistered accounts - and by "we", I mean "the company". Moderators do not have this ability but they can request that it be turned on - but we would require a strong argument for it. So... it is absolutely possible to limit who can post answers but mods can't do it themselves. $\endgroup$ – Catija Jun 23 at 2:25
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    $\begingroup$ You said in a comment on the other thread: "We almost never turn answer blocks on permanently... we only use it in very extreme situations and it's nearly always temporary." I am asking for a permanent block activated by moderators on an individual site. If that is never done, then the feature I'm asking for does not exist. I'll ask again that SE make a clear statement on the situation, in an easily referenced location, not scattered in comments across multiple sites. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Jun 23 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "anonymous users"? Do you perhaps mean those with user names that are obviously pseudonyms? Or do you mean unregistered users? $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Jun 25 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ @JoelReyesNoche: Unregistered users who appear as "guest", as given in the first line. I'm using "anonymous answers" in line with the usage in the other linked questions previously. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Jun 25 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest you don't use the term "anonymous"; it can lead to misunderstandings. (For example, the moderator quid is an anonymous user.) The name "guest" was chosen by the user. Is your post referring to all unregistered users, or just those whose username is "guest"? $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Jun 25 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ See this post for context. If I'm not mistaken, the user currently using the user name "guest" originally used a different user name. (I forgot if it was "user" or "person.") $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Jun 25 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ It was "Person." $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Jun 25 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ @JoelReyesNoche: Okay, I did that (even though SE founder Jeff Atwood used the phrase "anonymous posts" for the same feature here). $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Jun 25 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Brahadeesh: How would that help in this situation with users who don't have accounts in the first place? I'm not seeing the connection. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Aug 4 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ I’m not sure I understand, how will this help? If someone wants to go as far as recycling accounts and such to post rude comments, nothing prevents him from registering multiple acounts and cycling through them. As far is I know, you only need an email to register, and getting multiple emails is easy. $\endgroup$ – razivo Aug 9 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ @razivo: Any barrier to entry will help. It gives a mechanism for moderators to communicate with responders offline. It's standard practice for most social media in 2020. If it were useless, the SE Meta site wouldn't do this same thing. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Aug 9 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ This seems like an impossible problem to try and solve, any measure you put in place to try and prevent people from doing it has a simple, easy to execute counter.(or at least as far as I know), and the more barriers to entry you put to try and stop bad people, the more barriers you put infront of other people. $\endgroup$ – razivo Aug 9 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @razivo: If it's good for SE Meta, then it's good for SE ME. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Aug 9 at 23:20
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We should ask SE to do this.

For voting purposes, I propose the following: We should ask SE network staff to turn this on permanently for the Math Educators SE site. Guest answers give practically no value to the site, and are an ongoing time-sink for visitors and moderators alike. (Furthermore, in our case we have a chronic problem since the inception of the site of at least one spam-posting guest who submits basically the same content in response to almost every question.)

Noted that it seems to be SE staff policy that (a) site moderators do not have free reign in this decision, and (b) guest answers are never turned off permanently for any site. See this question on general Meta for more detail, where I've asked that policy be changed. Nonetheless, it's worthwhile to decide here what our preferred state would be for Math Educators SE, in case that option is permitted to us at some point.

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    $\begingroup$ I’d be happy to see this across the network. On Money.SE we frequently get a question that attracts interest, but has comments inviting an edit from OP to clarify. Chances are, a registered member is more likely to visit again and edit. Different from your reason, but another to add to the list why a member who wishes to participate should register. $\endgroup$ – JTP - Apologise to Monica Aug 8 at 0:24

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