Wikinews:Why create an account?
You don't have to log in to read Wikinews. You don't even have to log in to edit articles on Wikinews—anyone can edit almost any article, even without logging in. Nevertheless, creating an account is quick, free and non-intrusive, and it's a good idea to do so, for many reasons.
Note: to create a user account for Wikinews, go to the login page.
If you create an account, you can pick a username. Edits you will make while being logged in will be assigned to that name. That means you get full credit for your contributions in the page history (when not logged in, the edits are just assigned to your IP address). You can also view all your contributions by clicking the "My contributions" link, which is only visible when you are logged in.
You will have your own user page where you can write a bit about yourself. While Wikinews is not a homepage provider, you can use this to display a few pictures, write about your hobbies, etc. Many users use their user page to maintain a list of the articles they are most proud of, or to collect other valuable information from Wikinews.
You will also have a permanent user talk page you can use to communicate with other users. You will be notified whenever someone writes a message on your talk page. If you choose to give an e-mail address, other users will be able to contact you by e-mail. This feature is anonymous—the user who emails you will not know your e-mail address.
The privacy implications of this vary, depending on the nature of your Internet Service Provider, local laws and regulations, and the nature and quantity of your edits to Wikinews. Be aware that Wikinews technologies and policies are not set in stone.
People's opinions differ on the desirability of perfect anonymity. Some people find anonymity reduces perceived accountability, which can lead to unproductive behavior. Some people find contributing without having a fixed identity to be disempowering and unpleasant. Creating an account is one way to resolve such feelings.
New editing options
There are many features of the MediaWiki software (which powers Wikinews) that are only available to registered users. For example, registered users can mark edits as "minor". Minor edits can be filtered from the list of "Recent changes". We do not give the privilege to mark edits as minor to anonymous users because we do not know who is behind a given IP address at any time, so we cannot build a basis of trust. (Marking edits as minor if they are not is considered very rude.)
One very important feature which active contributors will likely use a lot are watchlists. You will get a new link "Watch this page" on every page you view. If you click that link, a page will be added to your watchlist. This list is basically a filtered view of the "Recent changes" page which only shows changes recently made to items in your watchlist. This way you can keep track of pages you work on without having to follow all changes.
Only registered users are allowed to rename pages, a feature that is very important to maintain structure and consistency on Wikinews.
Also, you must be logged in if you want to upload images.
Many user preferences
Aside from these features, you can customize the way MediaWiki behaves in great detail. You can change the entire appearance of the website by picking, for example, the previous "Monobook" skin over the new default "Vector" skin, you can choose how you want mathematical formulae to be displayed, how large the editing box should be, how many pages should be displayed in "Recent changes" and much more.
Administrators (or sysops) can delete and undelete pages, protect them from being edited, edit protected pages, and block users for violation of our policies. They generally carry out the will of the wiki community on pages such as Wikinews:Votes for deletion. For obvious reasons, only signed in users can become administrators. Usually it is sufficient to have done some semi-regular work on Wikinews for a few months without clashing too much with others, though standards seem to be becoming stricter. If you are a signed in user and want to be a sysop, see Wikinews:Administrators.
Voting, polls, elections, surveys and reps
While in most Wikinews polls, anyone can express their opinion, whether logged in or not, your opinion may be given more weight if it is attributed to a fixed identity with a record of sensible commentary and informed edits.
There will be two users' representatives on the Wikimedia board - one of them represents the interests of all users, where the other represents the interests only of users with an account. Thus, if you have an account, you have a choice of representatives who can intermediate between yourself and the board in cases of dispute.