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Semi-Annual Message to ScienceDirect About Its Atrocious Registration System

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 1/6/07 (3:40pm)

Dear ScienceDirect,

This is my semi-annual message to you explaining how awful, frustrating and ultimately self-defeating your registration process is.

As I explained in my message from four years ago, having your system automatically generate a user-name for someone as part of your registration process is a complete disaster. No one on the face of the planet is going to remember what your system has assigned to them.

There is no other website -- none -- that forces machine-generated user-names down the throats of its users. Just look around. The only reason I can imagine you have such a system is as a way to guarantee that the least amount of people actually use your service.

But don't believe me, just look at your own stats!


Leo Klein
Chicago, IL

P.S. Making the machine-generated user-name case-sensitive(!!!) only adds insult to injury.



by Leo Klein on Sat, 1/6/07 (4:53pm)


-----Original Message-----
From: ScienceDirect
[Sent: Sunday, January 05, 2003 11:18 PM
Subject: ScienceDirect Comment

Sent by : Leo Klein

The following refers to creating a profile in ScienceDirect.

Because you automatically assign a user name instead of asking the user to come up with one, the likelihood of forgetting the computer-assigned name is much higher. I use countless services all requiring a user-name through the course of my day and I'll be least likely to remember those which an automated system has chosen for me rather than one I've chosen for myself.

The only thing I routinely remember about the user name when logging into Science Direct is that it's not one of the normal ones I use. What I have to do then is rely on inputing my original email address and retrieving the ScienceDirect username and password indirectly through my email application and only then proceeding to do what I want at the ScienceDirect site. This is not the most efficient way of doing things.

Here's a bet: if you allowed users to create their own user-names, the use of email fall-back solution such as I've described would diminish considerably. Use of profiles might increase as well.


Leo Robert Klein

by Leo Klein on Fri, 1/12/07 (3:58pm)

Hot off the digital press via email (with permission):

Hi Leo,

My name is Judson Dunham, I'm Product Manager for user interface at ScienceDirect. I saw your blog post on our system-generated user names and thought you deserved an answer.

You're absolutely right. Not being able to choose your own user name is probably the biggest nag in our registration/sign-in process. I can understand that from your standpoint it must look like we don't care, since this problem has been around forever. But please believe me when I say that we are most certainly aware of it and are doing our best to address it as soon as we can.

We're currently in the middle of a multi-year effort to rebuild the system that controls registration and access to all of ScienceDirect -- a system which was built in the mid 90's, when the idea of system-generated user names did not seem quite so backwards as it does today. ScienceDirect has grown quite a lot since then, so any changes we want to make to fundamental systems like this take a long time, and are very complex to implement.

One of the many improvements this upgrade will make possible is to finally let go of those system-generated user names, and allow our users to choose their own.

This is a project which will not be complete until early next year, and unfortunately while the rebuild is in progress it's just not possible to make changes to related functionality. But in the meantime we've begun a review of the entire registration/sign in process to evaluate what we can do to make it easier and more user friendly. I can't make any specific promises about other improvements, but the issue you've raised is one thing we all agree on, and is sure to be fixed as soon as we have the capability....

Thanks for your time, best regards,

Judson Dunham
Product Manger - ScienceDirect

by Leo Klein on Fri, 1/12/07 (4:22pm)

Well, it's good to know that something is in the works but five years seems to be a long time to wait.

In any case, good luck!