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It's thankfully getting rarer, but a lot of web apps seem to want my whole life story before letting me sign up.

What use does (for example) a online image editor have for my phone number? Shouldn't these apps just be username, email, password, yes I agree to the TOS?

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1  
selling your data for money? –  neo Jul 15 '10 at 15:17
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@neo : Oh, well whoever has an all-zeros phone number will not be happy with me :P –  Macha Jul 15 '10 at 15:27

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

In an ideal world yes these sites shouldn't ask for more than the basic information when you sign up.

However, a lot of sites are built for marketing purposes and one of their goals is to get personal details that they can use in their marketing or pass on to others.

So you have two choices:

  1. Don't sign up.

  2. Sign up, give your information and make sure you set the "don't spam me" and "don't sell my information" options the right way.

If you are really bothered you can give false information as most of the sites will just be checking for some input.

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Gmail asks for it as well, never had a phone call from Larry or Serge –  Ivo Flipse Jul 15 '10 at 16:58
    
@Ivo - you must have checked the "no marketing" option correctly. –  ChrisF Jul 15 '10 at 18:33

Yes they should but some developers are just used of doing things that way (other times the manager with no clue tells them to do it like that).

Do as ChrisF said, enter false information if it makes no sense for them to have that information.

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Because a lot of people who run web sites like to get this information for marketing purposes. Unfortunetly, a lot of people don't think about the user-friendliness of asking for this information, which is both inconvenient for the new user and can often prevent people from using the service. -Speaking as someone who has designed/developed web sites for a few years and have talked to multiple clients about this very issue.

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Google/Gmail now asks for it to send a confirmation text message (or make an automated voice call) to verify that it is a human signing up. So in this case you can't put garbage in the field because you need the confirmation code.

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Although there is a fair bit of marketing going on with web apps, some of the time that information is used to verify your identity if you lose your password.

Give the privacy policy a quick read to see if there is anything about selling your information.

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