Did you know that Discourse has had the ability to anonymize users for quite some time? Lately we’ve improved it so the scrubbing involved is even more thorough.
How do I anonymize a user?
At the bottom of a user’s admin page, there is an “Anonymize User” button:
You’ll be asked to confirm. If you agree, the user will be anonymized.
How thorough is the anonymization?
A new username will be randomly assigned to the user such as
anon123456. This new username will be applied to all their posts in the system, and we will update all
@mentionsand quotes too.
- The new username is not applied to: deleted posts, post revisions when the current post doesn’t mention or quote the renamed user anymore, oneboxed user profiles, queued posts, or staff logs
Their email, name, date of birth and avatar will be removed
Their user profile will be removed
Any api keys generated for the user will be revoked
Any authentication mechanisms (google/facebook/etc) will be revoked
Discourse will retain the user’s IP addresses in our logs associated with the anonymous user. However, there is a new mechanism to clear those out too available to developers.
When using our
UserAnonymizer class, you can pass in an :anonymize_ip option with an IP to replace, for example
If provided, Discourse will go through several tables in our system and update the IPs associated with the anonymous user to the new value.
If you’d like to enable this feature on your Discourse, we recommend creating a plugin to handle your particular workflow.
It’s worth mentioning that new users can delete their own accounts. If you sign up for a forum and regret it, you can back out as long as you haven’t had too much activity.
A note about GDPR compliance
The anonymization tools in Discourse are available to all administrators, but we recommend you contact a legal professional if you require GDPR compliance. Said professional will be able to audit your systems and tell you if you meet the requirements.