A User Who Deletes Their Posts

The scenario that you’re missing is that you, as a user, have rights to pull your content. Just not all at once :wink:

I did not know people could still delete posts after the edit-time expired. This is very dangerous - as mentioned in other Topics, a small number of once regular users can harm a site significantly by deleting all of their posts as so many Topics will be rendered useless/difficult to follow.

Please can we make this an admin configurable option or just make it respect the edit-time setting?

Forums are different to social networks - whenever anyone contributes to a forum they are willingly contributing to a resource created by and for the good of the community/public. There have even been legal cases that I have heard of where users who have wanted all their posts deleted (and the admin refused) resulting in a court ruling that by signing up and posting content they were willingly submitting content to the resources of the site. It’s why we (and many forum-like commenting systems, such as big sites such as the BBC) specifically ask for perpetual publishing rights in terms.


It’s already a site setting, I suggest using it. Is there something preventing you from editing the site setting?


I can’t find it :confused: I searched for ‘delete’ and found:

delete all posts max

The maximum number of posts that can be deleted at once with the Delete All Posts button. If a user has more than this many posts, the posts cannot all be deleted at once and the user can’t be deleted.


max post deletions per day

Maximum number of posts a user can delete per day.

I’ve set both of those to 1 for now - are there any other settings I may have missed?

I think ideally users should be able to delete their post only if it’s within the edit-time period (and work like it does now - where a notice is shown saying it will be deleted unless flagged).


Yep, you found it. There you go. Done and done. Mission accomplished.

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It’s not quite the same as respecting editing times but definitely better than the 50 per day that it was set to by default.

(I still think we need to have the option to make it respect editing times instead.)


I also feel users deleting posts in the middle of a conversation is very destructive.

I sort of feel there could be a distinction between posts that have and haven’t had a reply. It should be harder to delete a post that has received a reply.


Can someone find some specific legal case history about forum content defaulting to ‘public domain’ publishing?

USA, Europe and UK are of immediate interest (to me).

They are totally different, but same at same time. USA and UK are problematic because those countries have ancient legislation system where judges can create laws — I blaim their grain based measurement over logical metric system :rofl:

But in generally forums doesn’t matter here. Platform per se means nothing and it is just matter of copyright of content. So there isn’t any law cases about forums and public domain (disclaimer: in the States is law cases about anything and rules and restrictions depends per county, state and federal :man_facepalming: ) because public domain is just another lisencing system. If an user gives publishing rights away (mostly falsed called as copyright), aka. public domain, it doens’t ask if it happends on forum, website, social media platform or paper book. It is just matter of content.

Sure out there is tons of law cases because of copyright violations — photos, music, videos and games are perhaps the most familiar ones. But again: it depends of agreement, T&C. If a creator knows for sure that publishing platform is public domain there is no place for legal cases.

Here on Meta is a lot of content that is public domain. I’m a typical user and I never red T&C here, but rights are given away by company or creator telling this is free for use and copying.

And most of content of forums (or on social media) aren’t works that would have any copyrights at all. Yours question and my answer are such.

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This is what I’m asking for, specific legal cases covering forums. Someone will challenge their copyright ownership (the correct term in the USA and not related to “copywriting”). NOTE: I’m not inviting an off-topic discussion of the comparison of legal systems because the legal details will be in the case record if we can find one. I’m just asking if there have been any formal challenges reviewed by copyright and intellectual property specialists. (In the USA there is a separate legal system and court set up to handle intellectual property cases like copyrights and patents.)

There may actually be room for a full legal case. The European “Right to Be Forgotten” and other rulings on privacy laws came from individuals insisting on their rights. The EU’s “Right to Be Forgotten” was formally established by a man in Spain demanding that references to his past financial problems be removed from internet access. This right is based on a law that was already in place. Google was ordered to follow that law and Google asked the Court to decide if the law was being correctly applied. I’m asking if a case has been heard and a decision issued.

In the USA, the purpose of the copyright, patent, and other intellectual property laws is to encourage creation of intellectual and artistic content. You can hire me to fly to a location and make a painting, pay for all of the materials AND travel/living expenses and I still own the painting. Even if I give it to you or sell it to you, you can have posession rights and “use rights” but only to display it (or not) and you may not alter the painting to turn it into a different work (like add a mustache to a portrait :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:) unless we have a contract that uses specific recognized terms to transfer full ownership of the intellectual property (the painting) to you. [1]

In some cases, a writer’s contract with a publisher has been canceled because their work turned out to be far more valuable then the publisher or writer thought it would be. The U.S. system heavily favors the creator. I would expect this preferential treatment to also apply to “public” forums. The copyright law I referred to above includes a famous case about a statue that was contracted specifically for public display. The artist retained full ownership and control over the creative content of the statue while the client retained possession and physical control of it.

This depends on how creative the post is. It’s very easy to say what should be–especially on the internet ( :cowboy_hat_face:)–but establishing a legal reality requires more than even broad agreement, no matter how “obvious” the principle might be. Anyone can discuss and speculate and even loudly declare the principles involved. We may even have wonderful insights into how things should be. The way that modern societies resolve questions like ownership of work output and other broad social questions, though, is through [1] law and [2] court review. In short, our individual opinions don’t mean as much as we might like them to, even if those opinions are brilliant. We can only hope that the legal specialists are as bright as we are. :wink:

These discussions have been goin on a very long time now and probably started in the 1970’s when the Internet was first put into working form. Bulletin board systems from the 80’s would also have these copyright situations. Meta.discourse.org has a topic on it from 2013. Because we’ve been using forums for so long now, I would expect some formal review and decisions about individual copyright of forum posts. The ability of Terms of Use to force users to transfer their copyright ownership could be limited. These discussions have been
going on for along time, so surely some court somewhere has looked at the question.

  1. I’m an inventor and have studied the applicable U.S. law, including a Harvard Law School online course and retain two patent/IP attorneys but if I ask them this question they’ll charge me a handsome fee for doing research or writing up their knowledge. I also doubt that they know about publishing in a forum. ↩︎


You can’t avoid that. In EU you can’t raise a civil case because there isn’t then any unlegal acitivity behind it. In USA it is possible.


Our terms pretty clearly explain the licensing rights over any content posted by individual contributors to this forum, which extrapolates to other forums. Have you read Terms of Service - Discourse Meta?

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Thanks, Hawk. I usually do read Terms of Service but evidently skipped or clicked through those when I created my account since I was on a mission to address an issue we were having at discuss.python.org.

I’m impressed with Discourse’s liberal terms basically granting the user with full control and ownership of content they post and only reserves the most reasonable exceptions for Discourse and other users. But I’m not surprised, since the folks at Discuss appear to be uniformly decent people. :heart:

If I read the intent of this topic correctly, it’s about…

  1. whether the platform owner can claim ownership and control of the content posted by a user

    • through TOU?
    • by default?
  2. what would be the default “common law” Terms in the absence of an explicit TOU?

Mind you-- I’m not advocating for a ruling since I think that the right to private contract should be respected (I’m just surprised that we can’t find a ruling this far down the road of internet usage). [1] Private contracts do sometimes lead to messy situations where weaker parties have wrongfully been put at a disadvantage, though, and society may then decide to step in via parliamentary law + the courts (it takes both, though sometimes judges overreach and try to make law) and decide how to “best” conduct the activity in general practice. The context here is “does it happen often enough and with severe enough consequences that it adversely affects society at large?”

Do you mean ‘other Discourse instances?’ (I wouldn’t expect this to mean “all other forums”.) I don’t know that such legal nexus between forums exists in the various international legal venues and it definitely doesn’t seem that an implicit extrapolation or extension would occur. The (my) expected view is that an instance owner can create a different contract with their users–and that owner/operator would be on the hook for violations of individual copyright.

This is the sort of technical question that almost makes the professional fees charged by the typical lawyer/barrister worthwhile–if they were half or a third of what’s typical in the U.S. and UK that is. ($350/hr | €350/hr | ₤300)

  1. If I create a great platform that people want to use, and part of the explicitly known arrangement is that I own all content, I think that’s a straightforward case of free enterprise. If the terms are objectionable, it will reduce my traffic and I should be able to decide what the right balance is. ↩︎


That is correct. What I meant was that Discourse ships with that template but people are free to edit it.