Signup: "Please enter a valid email address" if account already exists


I recently saw a complaint about my forum on Facebook.

Apparently someone had tried to sign up and was told “please enter a valid email address” (although her address was a standard hotmail address).

After some digging, I discovered that they’d previously registered with the forum via a social login. Confusingly, Discourse shows the error “please enter a valid email address” in this situation.

It’s a stroke of luck that the user complained. I’m worried that others have had the same experienced, but not complained, and simply given up on the forum instead.

Please could the message be changed to something more helpful, like “there is already an account with this email address - please try signing in instead”

(cpradio) #2

What is the state of the following setting on your site? hide email address taken


hide email address taken = false

I see now that there is another message displayed at the top:

In another of my instances, there wasn’t a “Primary email has already been taken” message - presumably because hide email address taken = true there.

(cpradio) #4

Hmm… then it should be producing

(Sam Saffron) #5

@tgxworld I recall you were reviewing the multi email PR, can you review this as well. That error message sure ain’t great.

(Jeff Atwood) #7

Is this a regression @tgxworld?

(Alan Tan) #8

Not sure yet until I investigate. Might be related to the missing email bug that we’re seeing though.

(Alan Tan) #9

Hmm so it isn’t a regression as we’ve been showing “please enter a valid email address” if the email is rejected for whatever reason server side since 2013. @anon2041049 Did the user not see another error when the email was rejected?

I guess the only thing that doesn’t look quite as nice is that the error message is now Primary Email is instead of Email


I’m not sure what the user saw exactly, unfortunately. They didn’t respond to my follow-up.

(Jeff Atwood) #11

Possibly we should have more contextual reasons here… why was it rejected?

(Alan Tan) #12

O that message will always be paired with a flash message above which is why I thought it was strange that the user didn’t know why the email was not valid.


Despite the well-worded flash message, the invalid email message next to the email field appears to be misleading, based on the feedback from this user. It’s sad to see a user basically discount my forum entirely based on this.

(Alan Tan) #14

Do you mean that the user interpreted the message as the email provided is of an invalid format?


Yes. She said “I’ve had that email adddess for years, there’s nothing wrong with it”

(Jay Pfaffman) #16

Yes. That’s what I would think. I’ve been thinking of a way to distinguish between “this doesn’t look like an email address” and “this is an email address, but we won’t let you use it” in 5 words but I can’t figure it out.

(Jeff Atwood) #17

What is the actual issue here? a duplicate email address? I’m not following at all, @anon2041049


User tries creating an account, forgetting they’d already created an account with the same email address.

A “please enter a valid email address” message is presented next to the email field, confusing the user.

This has affected at least one user of my forum.

(Jeff Atwood) #19

Right but you are omitting information here. In addition to this text is displayed on the screen explaining what happened. Maybe you could try a fuller screenshot with both messages present? Never mind, I’ll generate one.

Also I can’t repro this. When I try to create a new account on meta using my email address, I get primary email has already been taken:

So I think this is UX at best, and I’m not convinced any action is required on our part here.


I did post a screenshot of this a few messages ago: Signup: "Please enter a valid email address" if account already exists


It is UX.

A UX issue that prevented a potential user of my forum from signing in, permanently put them off the forum, and caused them to write a disparaging remark about my forum on a busy social media group, damaging the reputation of my forum.