STOP With The Forced Conversions!
I have been seeing this more and more lately, and it's really getting under my skin. I am sick of companies inflating their user numbers by forcing you to sign up for their service. This is done in two ways, either they don't give you the information about what their service/product is until you sign up, or force you to register before you can do anything. I'm going to pick on Pinterest for a minute.
These guys piss me off the most. If you're not already a user, you MUST register if you want to see any of my pins. Granted, you can see thumbnails, but you can't see full images, descriptions or links. So if I send you a link to my Pinterest, you click one of the boards (You've Been Hacked shown here) and you're immediately prompted with a window to login or sign up. You cannot close this window. The only way past is to login or sign up. This is a forced conversion and users hate them.
Whenever I hear about a startup having X amount of users, I usually check their homepage. Most of the time, I get a page with a login, a sign up and one sentence about what they are. You don't get any information about the service or product, there are no more feature pages or walk through, they are just interested in converting you to a "member" without the afterthought of "What do we do when we have 5million inactive users on the system"?
Just because somebody registers for your service does not mean they will use it. It may look good in a presentation to show that you have millions of users, but what happens when investors or top brass start asking to see details on these users? Like when they ask to see engagement rates? What are you going to do then? You're creating an artificial bubble that cannot last and does no good for anybody. You're providing a piss-poor experience to users and you're lying to yourself. While I still post to Pinterest once in awhile, my use has dropped significantly and do not recommend using it to most people (Unless you're targeting a female market). I used to use it as a place to post information for my students to easily find stuff I thought was useful, but now that they MUST sign up, well, I will simply use something else to post my links instead. Pinterest has lost me as a dedicated and happy user.