Account deletion


(David Kaleky) #1

What do people do to accounts that are

  • Banned

  • User wants to delete account

  • Should that email address remain blocked forever?

  • in regard to the content that has been posted on site?

any other items i can not think of


(Sarah Hawk) #2

It depends on the nature of the account and the ban. If it is someone that signed up to spam, I ban the account, remove the content and block the IP.

If the ban is the result of a number of infractions for an otherwise valuable member, I would ban the member and leave the valuable content. Whether the ban is forever has to be considered case to case.

I think that has to depend on what your TOS say. At SitePoint we had a policy against deleting accounts, because on vBulletin that removed the content, which aside from blowing away your data integrity, meant that people in the future didn’t benefit from it. That angered a lot of people (“it’s my right to have my account deleted”) so I would always offer to change their username to something that wouldn’t be associated with them, and remove their contact data from the account.

Some modern platforms (this one for instance) afford you the ability to Anonymise accounts, which effectively automates the process that I mention above.


(David Kaleky) #3

How do you handle content deletion, if it is the OP of a thread, or part of the thread?

What if the person had paid to join?

We were planning on keeping the content, but renaming the user name as you said “Anonymise”

It will be in TOS, but I just want to be completely protected.


(Sarah Hawk) #4

I would handle it as you say – I wouldn’t delete the post, I would just anonymise the user. In certain cases I might edit the post to remove other identifying information, but it very much depends on the case.

In a community like this, I would be much more lenient in our paid forum. In public forums when people sign up, post multiple times and then expect all their content removed or edited, I would be more likely to remind them that the internet is forever and they knew that when they signed up.

I think it raises an interesting topic though – we need to train people to make thoughtful decisions when posting information online across the board.


(Priscilla McClay) #5

I think it depends on your audience.

On the last community I worked on, we left members’ content published if they ask to leave, but if they specifically asked for it to be removed, then, unlike Sarah, we did unpublish it.

It was a charity-run healthcare community so we were dealing with a lot of sensitive content and potentially vulnerable members.

Also, our members were not always particularly internet-savvy and would be signing up at times when they were very emotionally distressed, so we felt less able to take the “they knew the score when they signed up” approach. From time to time we would get someone very upset because they hadn’t realised that posts were publicly browsable/indexed by search engines.


(Sarah Hawk) #6

That is definitely a valid reason to remove content. I agree.

The case that I’m referring to was a tech community, and most of the requests for removal were from people who claimed on their sites or CVs to be ‘SEO experts’ or ‘CSS experts’ and then found their very basic/newbie CSS questions coming up when they Googled their name. The sheer size of the community meant that it wasn’t feasible to edit hundreds of posts for people, so we were strict on the rule.

As @Priscilla says – context has to come into it.


(Robert McIntosh) #7

For reference, I have added to the standard Discourse TOS with the following wording which relates to this and I hope helps us all:


[Our site] may terminate your access to all or any part of the Website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. If you wish to terminate this Agreement or your [account] (if you have one), you may simply discontinue using the Website.

The discussion forum nature of the Website is such that individual posts are integral building blocks of public conversations, and removing posts can negatively affect the value of the site and the contributions of other members. For this reason, the content you post to the Website will remain on the site and will not be deleted except where individual posts are deemed to be inappropriate, in which case these posts can be dealt with on their individual merits. In certain circumstances it is possible to ‘anonymize’ the contributions of an individual member who wishes to leave the community, but [our company] does not warrant that all references to the user, their chosen username, and information and details they chose to provide, can be fully anonymized or removed.