A User Who Deletes Their Posts

(Timothy) #1

Hello There,

I have wondered on this topic for a while and searched a bit but could not quite find a clear answer. My condolences if I missed it.

A while ago, a user just deleted their hundreds of posts and so their previous comments just sat there “deleted” which now looks almost like spam.

Can you please either point me to a discussion on resolutions for this, or to which feature in my admin area allows me to configure the amount of deletes allowed? I found the “delete all posts max” feature but it confused me: does that pertain to an admin or a user?

Also, a user has asked if I can delete their account. Does this affect their posts?

The relation between post deletion and account deletion altogether has confused me a little. Thank you.

(Jeff Atwood) #2

There are built in rate limits on how many posts can be self deleted per day. However if you were patient and kept at it for a while (or if you don’t have many posts) you could eventually delete all your posts.

(Dje4321) #3

i dont think there exists such a features in discourse. Someone else who has more knowledge can clarify though.

Pretty sure that only applies to mods and admins in the admin panel when it comes to deleting whole accounts.

Gaps may appear in converstaions where people are replying to someone who doesnt exist. A better solution would be to just make a account anonymous as this allows conversations to not be broken

(cpradio) #4

You can control this using the post edit time limit site setting. Granted, it will limit how long a user can edit their post too, but it also solves the deleting problem.

(Jeff Atwood) #5

Does it? I would expect delete to be unrelated to edit but is that not the case?

(Dje4321) #6

If you delete your post your edit count goes up by 1

(cpradio) #7

Based on the description and the experience on Sitepoint, they are tightly coupled.

Description of setting
"The author can edit or delete their post for (n) minutes after posting. Set to 0 for forever."

Based on my limited testing and my experience on SP, a short post edit time limit prevents users from editing and deleting their posts.

(Jeff Atwood) #8

Different issue, a self delete is a forced warning edit on the post first:

(post deleted by author, will be deleted in 24 hours unless flagged)

(cpradio) #9

For the record, I did just confirm this on my Sandbox.

I have a few fake users with posts well back to 2016. If I set the post edit time limit to 5 (for 5 minutes), they are unable to delete those posts. If I sent it to 0 (forever), they can delete the posts. It is definitely tied to that site setting.

(Jeff Atwood) #10

I think this is entirely accidental though due to the forced edit. Odd we did not notice this earlier.

(cpradio) #11

I’m not sure I follow? The site setting I mention prevents users from seeing the edit or delete button on their posts after a set time limit. So they have X number of minutes they can delete/edit their post, after that, they’d have to flag it to get it deleted/edited.

If the site in question sets a shorter edit time frame, they can likely prevent this (this is why Sitepoint uses a 5 hour window, IIRC)

(Timothy) #12

Can you share any logic behind the ‘86400’ as the pre-configured number behind the post edit time limit? I have revised mine to 60 minutes. Does that not seem a reasonable amount of time for a user to edit a post?

A user has also asked that I delete their account. Will that delete their posts? Can anyone provide an ethical suggestion here for whether I should?

(Michael Howell) #13

You probably want to anonymize their account, not delete it. You can’t delete an account that has posts (even tombstones, I think), but anonymize it works just fine. It’ll otherwise be the same as deleting it, since nobody can log in as that user every again.

(Andrew Waugh) #14

The problem with a user “stealth deleting” like that is that unless your mods/admins are watching /logs, and keeping who is deleting in the back of their mind, then they won’t notice that user X is slowly expunging himself until there’s nothing left but the grin.

Depending on what your forum is about (and the kind of content the user Cheshire_Cat was creating) this can leave discussions fragmented to the point of being meaningless.

(Mark Wilkin) #15

The European GDPR legislation provides for a “Right to be forgotten” so we’ve had to shift from making people jump through some hoops when requesting “delete all my posts” to just complying with their wishes if we’re asked.

That might not be relevant depending on where you are in the world but a lot of civil society groups, campaigners, industry types and others have had input into that legislation so you certainly could consider it best practice.

(Martin Eriksson) #16

After a user did the “rage quit” thing and delete all of his posts, I turned the “post edit time limit” setting down to 60 minutes. However, some simple testing shows that it is still possible for users to delete their own posts, even when the posts are several months old.

Am I supposed to do something more to stop people from deleting their posts?

Also, how do I undelete posts? When I delete a post of my own I get a special undelete icon next to the post, but I can’t find anything similar for posts made by others, even when logged in as an administrator.

Any help you guys can provide would be highly appreciated!

(Jeff Atwood) #17

There’s already rate limiting on deletion, a user can only delete (x) posts per day. So I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

(Unless it is a user who only had ~5 posts all time, or something.)

(Martin Eriksson) #18

Thank you for the prompt reply!

The user in question deleted 40-something posts. In other words, within the default daily deletion limit (50) but still enough to cause alarm among other users.

I am still not clear about what the best practice would be for me as a forum owner…

Is it in fact not possible to stop users from deleting old post by lowering the “post edit time limit”?

(In that case, it seems that the description for that setting is incorrect since it currently says: “The author can edit or delete their post for (n) minutes after posting.”)

Should I instead use the “max post deletions per day” to stop users from mass-deleting their posts? Perhaps I could set it to 0? But then users would not be able to delete any posts at all…

What I would hope for is the stated behavior of "post edit time limit”, i.e. allow users to delete posts but only recent ones.

Also, I am still curious if there is a way for me as an administrator to undelete posts in cases like this.

(Jeff Atwood) #19

The default daily deletion limit is FIFTY? That seems a bit high @techapj can we cut that in half? Sorry, I should have caught this, I didn’t realize it defaulted sky high…

edit: I’ve made this change and reduced it to 20 post deletions per day. Sorry about that. I should have paid more attention.


I don’t think that 20 or thirty deletes a day are reasonable as most deletes are disruptive. This topic shows how jarring they can be.

Is there some scenario that I’m missing? Faux pas can be edited; moderators can assist.