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Sign up forms are the most popular method of acquiring identifying information from users of an online service. In most cases, you generally only need an email address and a password, though most sign-up forms often ask for more personal information like a user name, mailing address, company name, etc. and involve some form of HumanVerification. Many forms are cluttered with gratuitous and intrusive requests for information that is irrelevant to the next immediate task of the user, and serve only to help marketing to demographically profile the new user or to prepare the user for future marketing campaigns. While asking for task-free information is an AntiPattern, it is extremely very useful from a marketing perspective to ask the single question, "How did you hear about us?"

Sign up forms create a huge barrier to entry. If you can, avoid asking for personal information until well after the value of the service has been proven. See http://www.alistapart.com/articles/signupforms


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