A New Account System
It took much longer than I initially expected, but today's update includes a new account registration system. In this post, I intend to explain why I did it, and what this means for the site going forward.
Websites used to be free to access, but it is all too common nowadays to run into some kind of a wall. Many news sites have taken to requiring subscriptions to access any (or more than a token amount of) content. Others allow you access, provided that you register an account (and verify your email, and come up with yet another password) first. When the web was young, registration was a tolerable and sometimes even exciting process. By now, when virtually every website requires it, and you are stuck either managing hundreds of accounts on your own or delegating it out to a big tech corporation like Google who will use your personal information for advertising, I think most users are sick of having accounts for things.
That said, there are some features that require user authentication - meaning that the site has some way of knowing who you are. And when that is the case, it seems to me that the best overall way to do it is to let people sign up once and log in.
The Synchronous Messages (SM) system is an example of something that requires authentication. As is, it supports no less than three different ways of doing this:
1) If you don't provide any other information when you're making a post, SM will simply assume that anything coming from your IP address is you. This will probably work well enough in some situations (a desktop computer connected to a modem or router), and not so well in others (like mobile devices accessing cellular data).
2) You can provide a username and password when making or posting to the batch, and you'll have a 'single-use' account that exists only on that batch. You need to provide the username and password every time you want to post to that batch.
3) You can register and log into a SooperGrape account. Assuming you don't provide a batch-specific username or password, your posts on batches will be attributed to that account.
Of these options, 1 is the easiest to do, but the least reliable. 2 skips a longer registration process, but needs repeated verification. 3 offers the best overall experience in the long run, at the expense of the initial hassle of registration. I feel this gain is sufficient cause to justify this feature.
The benefits of registering an account are displayed on the registration page, and I expect will be updated whenever notable additions are made to it. Right now there isn't much to it, but this is likely to change as new features are added to the site, and existing ones are fleshed out. As always, keep an eye out for new developments.