Improvements to self-deleted posts


(Jeff Atwood) #1

We added the ability to self-delete posts very early after release. Using the delete function on a post replaces the body with a predefined self-edit of

(post removed by author)

… to elide the content of the post. You can still see the original post in the revisions, so nobody can hide weird or abusive content behind deletion.

But we’ve noticed it is a bit of a chore for moderators to see

(post removed by author)

… then check the revisions, find nothing untoward, and click the “real” delete button available only to staff. (This is still a soft delete, we have no concept of hard deletion yet.) Cleaning up topics of unneeded delete stubs helps keep topics concise, but it’s also kind of busywork – and self-deletion of posts is more common than we thought it would be.

So, we decided to improve things a bit on the self-deletion front:

  1. If a self-deleted post has no flags, it will automatically be deleted by the system after 24 hours*. The effect is exactly the same as a moderator manually deleting the post, except it’s all automated now!

  2. For 5 minutes* after deleting a post, users will be able to change their mind and click ‘undelete’ to undelete the post. This simply reverts the post to the prior revision. Right now the only way to “undo” a delete is to manually edit a post back to its prior state… not exactly a good time. But with this change, for 5 minutes after the delete at least, it is a one-click operation to undo. To err is human, so easy undo is good!

* This will be an admin setting so you can configure it to 1 hour or 96 hours or whatever you like.


Why are posts withdrawn instead of being deleted immediately?
Why are posts withdrawn instead of being deleted immediately?
(Andrew Hunn) #2

Does this mean a hard delete is on the roadmap? Or that the case for a hard delete has still not been made?


(Sam Saffron) #3

hard delete happens automatically, mods still can hard delete.

I am open to a site setting that allows high trust level users to hard delete right away but it get very complicated and would certainly be default off.


(Jeff Atwood) #4

Where is this hard delete? Hard delete is complete removal from the database, I know of no place we can hard delete a post or topic currently?


(Sam Saffron) #5

Sorry, I misread … we have 2 types of delete:

###soft soft delete

When non staff click the delete button

“(post removed by author)” is visible to all users who browse the site.

###soft delete

When staff click the delete button

The process promotes “soft soft deletes” to “soft deletes”

We have no concept of hard deletes, we may have to add it as an admin function at some point for cases where user’s paste in a “secret password” or “illegal material” and so on.


(Jeff Atwood) #6

Well, no, we should only use that red color for actual deletes…

We have no concept of hard delete, there is just one soft delete. And intent to withdraw / retract a post, that’s a different thing. We can edit the message to …

(author withdrew post, will be deleted in 23 hours unless flagged)

… so it’s clear what is going on. That message should not be in “soft deleted” red, it is just a regular revision to a post, so it should be in the normal post color.


(Andrew Hunn) #7

Hence my question. Are hard deletes now on the roadmap at some point?


(Sam Saffron) #8

We will add this, eventually as an admin only function. As hard deletes have no “undo” it will have to be gated pretty hard.

For the time being, if you need this, you will have to run SQL against the db.


(Jeff Atwood) #9

Logging the hard deletion is an undo of sorts, if we log the content that was deleted…


(Sam Saffron) #10

The use case I was thinking of was somebody posts instruction on how to build an atomic bomb, and you absolutely need to nuke it with no way of ever reverting back.

At SE we had a handful of these a year “OH MY GOD, I POSTED MY PASSWORD TO THE INTERNET”

Its so rare.


(Nik N) #11

Or maybe if you’re setting up a discourse forum, and you’re messing around with the topic/post features. A hard delete would be nice for admins, at least on posts they create themselves.


(Jeff Atwood) #12

Well, you can at least hard delete users. Posts and topics not quite yet.


(Sam Saffron) #13

Closing, this is now implemented.


(Sam Saffron) #14