Anonymise user

(Sarah Hawk) #1

Do you frequently get requests from people asking to have their account deleted? It used to happen a lot at SitePoint, but we had a policy against it (for data integrity). I would offer to change their username to something that couldn't be associated with them, in cases where they were concerned for their safety.

Discourse has introduced a new feature called Anonymise User, which changes the username to Anon12345 (or whatever) and removes all personal associations, which retaining the posts. I'm interested in how members will respond to that option, when requesting account deletions.

Do you think that would work in your community?

Anonymous questions
(leahmouse) #2

Yes, I used to get fairly frequent requests to delete accounts (maybe only once or twice a year) and if possible I used to persuade them to deactivate their account instead which would remove their profile info but keep their posts. I can't remember the details but that's the gist. 

This is in the context of a community where we insisted usernames be anonymous (not real names).

Sometimes people would insist and because of the personal nature of the information posted, which would in some cases have enabled quite easy identification (in some cases people wanted to delete their posts precisely because someone they knew had found them), we occasionally did delete their accounts. I don't know whether that was the right thing to do but it seemed like ethically it was.


So in most cases, an "anonymise user" function would have been sufficient - and it would have been great to have this as a simple feature - but there were times when it wouldn't have met the needs of the person requesting the deletion.

(Susan Burton) #3

Although it means our users are less hesitant to post, we insist on users using real names. We are trying to encourage real meetups offline and find users behave better when there is a chance they may bump into other members in real life.

(Alena Rybik) #4

Yes, definitely, great feature.

We also have a policy in place that we do not remove posts, only change the name and personal associations. It has been working fine with those who wanted to have their accounts deleted. However, one month ago I had a user who went and edited all his posts and OPs in the topics he started - he removed all the texts and inserted "Please delete", so we didn't have any other choice but delete all of them. It was especially bad when the topics were active and had a lot of participants but without the OP didn't make much sense. Plus it took the moderators and myself ages to clean this up.

Since then we've implemented a time limit to edit posts.

(Bas van Leeuwen) #5

As long as it's a choice, I think the majority of people will agree. Which is good, removing a member basically kills all threads that that member has participated in, which is bad.

I'd only remove when there are pressing reasons.