Member psychology - outspoken member who wants to leave but doesn't actually leave

We have a member that requested their account be removed. Normally we wait a couple weeks after the request is made to perform the deletion or anonymizing because in our experience, people change their minds. It’s happened often, especially after a “passionate” dust up with another member

This member, though, rather than simply leave and be forgotten due to account inactivity, continues to engage the community, thoughtfully and rather thoroughly through dozens of posts per day, liking posts, flagging spam posts, etc. Yet every couple days they come to us to have their account removed.

Please give me your thoughts on what you think is going on. Have you experienced this in the past?

6 Likes

I don’t own a forum [anymore] but I think that the user probably wants to leave and doesn’t want to leave at the same time. So I’ve never experienced this or was the person doing this, but I know some people who want their account to be suspended multiple times but end up staying. It’s usually because they want to leave sometimes and change their mind and the process repeats.

I think you should ask the user if they truly want to leave and see what they say. If they say no, then maybe ask the user to only message you guys when they truly do not want to be in the community. If the user says yes, then maybe bring up how they’ve asked many times and stayed active.

2 Likes

Yes, but not on forums, however on my website still. If it’s a DM, I ignore it, and ask them to write a well written email if they really want to.
If I receive a email, I check if there’s a valid account with the mail mentioned and simply remove it from everywhere. However, I give them a 1 day period if they change their mind, and also some legal blah blahs about storing and deleting the accounts from the servers (automated) .
After that one day, either there’s a response, or there’s no response. Since there’s no response, according to the email they sent me, I am legally obliged to delete their account, so I just do so. And simply say that I can’t do anything, you asked me for it, I asked for confirmation, you didn’t give a response, I assumed that your decision was final so I deleted it, no if’s and but’s. If they argue, I simply have the proof as in the form of a email.

Remember, there’s a lot of people who do this, ask them to do it in a fully legal procedure, they don’t want to do it suddenly. If it’s in a format that’s fully legal, you basically are required to do so.

3 Likes

We’ve done this, reiterating the fact that we do it after a period of inactivity. So for us, their continued use of the website tells us they want to stay.

We’ve had users take a week away, after their account was anonymized per their request, only to come back requesting we reinstate the account.

But your way is clear cut. Less hassle for sure.

6 Likes

Yes, when I get asked in a formal manner through formal ways, I take it seriously and do what’s needed (obviously with my own terms included that I have already mentioned in all documentations).

Otherwise, I just ignore everything informal.

I too have it written in the TOC and policy. I just have a way to sue them in case of extreme circumstances, many times users send threats about doing court case and stuff…

My advice, invest in a good legal advisor :wink:
Might as well save 68$ (and extra +1$ transfer fee) as a fine.

2 Likes

We have this in our terms. So we’re covered.

I just find it strange a member who wants to leave but hasn’t left on their own.

3 Likes

Everyone thinks different, I could say nothing for sure… An actual psycologist might help with that.

I too find myself repairing a defective product even when I have filed for replacement and then cancelling it at the last day. I guess, the human brain just likes to do wierd stuff… Or perhaps my brain only :upside_down_face:

Maybe they are just like me, not sure what’s going on with their life.
Or like my wife, who can’t settle on a single thing :slightly_smiling_face: (Honey, if you’re seeing this, pls dont kill me, it was a joke, just a joke, yeah only a joke :sweat_smile:)

Edit:- She did indeed see this, fortunately I am alive :slightly_smiling_face:
But now I have to spend my savings on her dresses :smiling_face_with_tear:

2 Likes

I would respond telling them that ok, your account will be removed on [a date 5 days from today], and then do just that unless they stop you before.

4 Likes

This to me sounds like the best option. It sets a deadline in which the account will be deleted/anonymized unless the user changes his/her mind. Also, a comment about once the account is deleted or anonymize it will NOT be reinstated. If the user wishes to continue from that time forward, he/she is to create a new account. That forces the user to make a final decision, no ifs, ands or buts.

7 Likes

I would be transparent just like you have been here with ultimatums so that you are not wasting your time or their time. Explain that their actions and their request are contradictory. If they confirm again that they wish to have their account be removed, regardless of their activity, you should remove it. We are not mind readers and the best we can do is to take people at their word.

4 Likes

Attention seeking?

If they can’t self delete and ask you to do it then simply either do it or cite your reason for not, often it involves removing posts that make the board ugly.

But short of being a real problem just enjoy the fact they post/visit which helps to build your site value.

4 Likes

Exactly what I do, just with a smaller time period.

Here’s the template of what I send:-

Subject: Final Notice: Account Deletion and Data Removal

Dear [Client’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well.

We are writing to confirm the receipt of your request for account deletion. As outlined in our policy, we offer a 1-day redemption period during which you can reverse this request and retain your account. If we do not receive a response from you within this 1-day period, your account and all associated data will be permanently deleted and cannot be recovered.

To summarize:

  • Redemption Period: 1 day from the receipt of this email.
  • Action Required: If you wish to cancel the deletion request and retain your account, please respond to this email within the next 24 hours.
  • Permanent Deletion: If no response is received within 1 day, your account and all associated data will be permanently deleted, and no further actions can be taken to recover it.

For your reference, we have attached our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which are also available on our website. Additionally, we have included documentation detailing how we store your data, what we do with it, and the procedures we follow to delete it upon request.

Attachments:

  1. Terms of Service
  2. Privacy Policy
  3. Data Storage and Deletion Documentation

Should you have any questions or require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[Your Contact Information]
[Your Company Name]

3 Likes

If you are trying to comply with GDPR or similar privacy legislation, the request does not need to be in any particular format. A request is a request.

For any other [that I can think of] it is at your discretion.

This isn’t a legal discussion though – it is a people discussion. @Jumanji I’m curious as to why you are on the fence about how to behave here. If someone asks you to remove their account, I would just remove it. If they change their mind, that’s on them. You don’t have to be accountable for that.

Yup, I’d do this. But when the deadline comes up, actually do it.

It sounds to me like this person is just struggling with their own boundaries. They want to leave but they kept getting sucked back in because technology can often become an addiction.

6 Likes

Simply, don’t stand for flouncing. If they want to cancel their account, delete them,
Up to to them then to re-plead their case if they wish to rejoin. Don’t become a hostage to fortune with such people.

2 Likes

Is it a requirement to delete their account or can you simply make it anonymous? Is there anything in GDPR which claims it must fully be erased and cannot simply have all personal details removed?

1 Like

Simple answer: no there is not.

2 Likes

So just anonymize it and if they ask again, merge it.

2 Likes

I wouldn’t even re-merge. If they want to start a new account, they can do that. It’s a penalty for quitting, that there’s no connection to the old account’s postings.

Also, this approach means there’s no need to verify that the person claiming to be the returning quitter really is them.

2 Likes

I’d change this policy if I were you. Asking for details to understand why a member is leaving iis a good idea, but forcing them to wait for a couple of weeks is not helpful.

From the title of this post, I assumed the situation was “rage-quitting without the quitting part”. It’s an all-too-common problem. In your case, however, it seems like someone who feels compelled to participate. In the past I’ve had members ask to be suspended so that they could avoid getting sucked into their addiction to a community.[1] Community software often uses psychological tricks to keep people engaged. That’s normally for the good, but can cause problems for certain people.

Well-run communities can be addicting too. Nothing satisfies social creatures more than social interactions. Normally this is to be encouraged, but we do need to be aware of edge cases where people are causing problems for themselves by compulsively interacting with an online community. It’s not a kindness to keep that sort of person hostage to their perceived obligation.


  1. One common reason was they needed to study for finals and kept getting distracted by notifications from the community. ↩︎

3 Likes