New signups who never validate email deleted after 7 days


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #1

I just found out that I’m losing subscribers in my invite-only forum.

It’s in the logs, but silent unless you [know to] look for it:

Automatically deleted due to being old and unverified

I’m at a loss here… I’ve invited people who accept, I have approved many accounts.

I assume they are getting emails from our forum, but something’s going wrong.

I’ve asked that welcome emails get sent out, and I can only imagine that if they were, people would know to go look.

In any case, what do I need to do

  • Find out everyone who was deleted
  • Prevent anyone else from being deleted

To be notified when user signed up
Email updates without signing up
Sortable Admin pages
Does Discourse automatically delete unactivated users?
(Jeff Atwood) #2

Unverified means

  • they received a confirmation email but never clicked on it.
  • they have no user page
  • they cannot log in to the site

These users are not “real” users; they can’t even log in. They are abandoned signups.

I just invited my other gmail address to join try.discourse and here’s what it looks like. On the left is an invited user who accepted the invite, on the right is a user who abandoned signup and never clicked the link in the confirmation mail:

Manually activating via that “activate” button is the same as the user clicking the link in the email, btw.


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #3

TIL I have to check the people I add to our community, in addition to approving them.


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #4

So I can prevent their deletion, where in the admin panel can I view a list of my users who need activation?


What columns are available for export?
(Jeff Atwood) #5

In the user list, look for the ones with grey usernames – these are unactivated / unverified users subject to deletion policy. You can modify the policy via site settings, look for users grace period days

Warning: I just renamed this particular site setting… since the word “inactive” was used, and that’s confusing IMO. We don’t delete users who are inactive (implying they don’t post or whatever), we delete users who have never activated their account by verifying their email address in the validation mail.

I also changed the purge reason copy to:

Automatically deleted as abandoned, unactivated account

(Dave McClure) #6

Would “unverified” be a better word than “unactivated” here?


(Jeff Atwood) #7

Verified = user clicked on link in email – their email address is verified. Users technically aren’t verified, only their email addresses are.

Activated = either a staff member manually clicked “activate” button, or the user clicked on the link in email, triggering activation because their email is now verified.


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #8

Everyone in our database is Active. Is this purge a new feature?

Now that the logs are no longer on the admin page, and with no scrollback feature, any tips on how to see just who was purged?


(Jeff Atwood) #9

@techapj is going to make Export work for all subtabs there.


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #10

Steps to repro:

  1. User creates an account in our invite only forum.
  2. Admin approves account.
  3. user gets an email saying “Subject: Your account has been approved…”
  4. User never opens the email to see a link needs to be clicked.
  5. User is silently discarded, without ever getting any other content from the forum.
  6. Admin is sad, but only after happening to look at the logs at just the right moment to see that user had been discarded
  7. else - Admin is blissfully aware that the approved user was never able to get content.

(Jeff Atwood) #11

This seems correct though. The user did not respond to the verification email. Approval still requires email verification.


(cpradio) #12

I haven’t been part of the receiving end of one of these notifications (so pardon my ignorance), but does the email make it absolutely clear (including in the subject) that action is required?


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #13

The issue here is that it’s an accident that I found out he was purged.

Just like there’s a list of pending members, I’d like to know who has an account that needs activation.


(Mittineague) #14

So pending Invited accounts aren’t in the pending list?


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #15

I’ll be adding [Action Required] to these emails now, but that’s only because I found out, and I manually re-edit my server.en.yml after every upgrade anyway.

But no, it’s not abundantly clear, and my user confirmed he never opened the Welcome email in the first place.


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #16

Correct. This account was Pending, I approved him, and didn’t think anything else of it.

Later he was purged.


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #17

An update.

Users who would be purged ARE visible in admin, and you can tell who they are because they are grayed out.

They are also included in the Users export, with Active = false.

So, now that I know this, I just need to keep an eye out, and decide if I should manually activate them after approving them, or let them click the email they get after approval.


(Jeff Atwood) #18

That is why I said earlier

It is an open question if we should nag people more than once about not activating their account. Right now they get the activation email at signup time to confirm their email. We do not send reminders if they do not.

That said I don’t recall any other online services sending failed to activate (verify email) after signup reminders?


(Allen - Watchman Monitoring) #19

Yes, you did say that, thanks… this is the first time I’ve seen that, and seeing is believing (for me).

The issue here is that I didn’t know that they’d be deleted. I thought my approval of their account was enough.

I have to go back through the logs and see who was purged, bug going forward it’s a manageable job.


(Jeff Widman) #20

I get where Jeff’s coming from–these folks didn’t ever complete the signup process so it seems logical to delete them.

However as a forum owner/admin, I’d never want these email addresses purged, and find it surprising that the purge is on by default. If they took the time to start to signup, they were at least at some point interested. Signing up in the first place takes more work than clicking the email link, so it’s still a relatively strong indication of interest.

As long as I have a copy of their email address, then I can get some of them to activate by re-emailing them a few times. Plus if I have their email address I can create a custom audience in Facebook or Twitter and advertise to them there in the hopes of enticing them to complete the signup process.

But if a cron job deletes their email address, then I don’t ever get a chance to get them back.