Can anyone give me a single reason why so many websites ask users, when making a purchase or creating an account, to type their email addresses into the form twice?

cnn really wants your email address

Is there anything inherently more secure, reliable, or useful in forcing users to type the same thing over again?

ebay also wastes your time

I fully understand why most forms ask for a password twice; when a users can’t see what they’re typing (because most password fields obscure any input behind little dots or asterisks), then a good way to increase the likelihood that they type what they intend to type is to have them to type it twice.

more repetition at

But when email addresses are displayed right there for users to proofread as they type them, it’s incredibly annoying to have to pointlessly type them in a second time. Hell, the forms might as well ask you to type your name in twice, too.

and even more at the dallas morning news

(Second pet peeve: why do websites offer a “reset my password” function that fails to start the process off with email that makes the user confirm that they want their password reset? It’s amazingly shortsighted; it lets people who want to mess with others just reset their passwords at will.)


An amazing number of people (based on my experience) aren’t sure what their email address is and/or have trouble typing it in the same way twice. Because an email address is what’s used to keep people informed about whatever it is they’ve signed up for, the double-check is a way of avoiding that single point of failure.

• Posted by: Dori [TypeKey Profile Page] on Sep 27, 2005, 9:04 PM

For many sites/apps email is a critical piece of the sign-up process, often doubling as a username, single point of contact and the only way for a user to get their password back. Because it’s important, because the average user can’t type and because same average user doesn’t proofread there’s a strong case to be made for the second confirmation dialog box.

• Posted by: alan on Sep 27, 2005, 9:17 PM

If there is one piece of information that is important be correct on a form, it is the email address. (important to the site owner because it’s the cheapest way to contact the user). By requesting that a user enter it twice you can make sure that a typo will not render that piece of information useless.

It happens more often than I ever thought possible. I can remember in the mid 90’s have a single entry field and seeing a 5% error rate. With sites having a double entry, we see error rates around 0.1%.

• Posted by: James Spahr on Sep 27, 2005, 9:18 PM

So why do so many sites not require it to be entered twice? (TypeKey, Amazon, Paypal, Blogger, and the list goes on.) It’s likely because they have a positive confirmation step to signing up — you sign up, you’re sent an email that forces you to confirm your signup (and in so doing validates the email address), and only then is your account active.

My point is that making you enter an email address twice doesn’t prove it’s right, it just proves that the same address was entered twice. The only way to prove that it’s right — that prevents the single point of failure, and enforces how critical or important the email address is — is to use a positive confirmation step involving sending an email to the address which includes a step the user must take in order to complete the transaction or signup. Anything else just pisses the user off for no guaranteed added benefit.

• Posted by: Jason on Sep 27, 2005, 9:36 PM

I think James Spahr nails it: error rates on form entry are higher than many people might think.

Having said that, I realize I’m not your average home Internet user, but I usually enter my email address once, the copy and paste into the second field! So much for this bit of double-checking.

• Posted by: Stan Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] on Sep 28, 2005, 10:26 AM

I think that after dealing with users on the web for any amount of time, developers find that it’s just easier to assume that all users are idiots. This is one of many tools in a developer’s arsenal that can help idiot-proof a site. Sure, it’s not elegant or user-friendly. But it’s cheap, and it helps.

• Posted by: Scott Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] on Sep 29, 2005, 12:42 PM
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