Notification when a moderator or admin deletes your message

Given @codinghorror’s stance, I think @Dan_G’s suggestion is the best. Prompt the moderator so they have the option to notify easily or not:

ASCII mock:

Inform @user via PM why you are deleting this post? No, Delete Silently

[textbox: Enter your PM here... ] Yes, Send PM


So, you’ve linked this twice in this thread, but I’m not getting it. To me, this argues against your position, because you don’t want people to realize that they’re acting contrary to site norms, so they’re likely to keep doing it.

The way I see it (and have reacted to it in the past) is that when I know that you’re (I’m) losing my precious nuggets of wisdom, I want to figure out how to avoid that in the future. That prevents having to keep cleaning up after someone. Maybe you have it out in a single fight or whatever, but the poster is more likely to behave in the future.

How do you see it differently?


That would be super, super onerous – I do a lot of deletion of old irrelevant topics from Feb '13 to remove noise from search engines.

Getting a dialog pop up on every single deletion, would be extraordinarily painful, a massive barrier to cleanup.

And @boomzilla sometimes when you don’t give feedback it’s because you don’t have any historical evidence that something positive would come of the interaction. That’s why it is at the discretion of the moderator.

Maybe something could be added to the Flag dialog for mods then… so in the case they do want to PM the user and delete the message they can choose to do it as a single action up front.

(I haven’t looked closely yet at how things currently work when you flag a post as a mod. Maybe something like this is already possible?)

The vast majority of forums don’t.

You could always add some kind of cleanup mode.

This makes me very sad. :frowning: Good open source projects keep a public history of decision making for the sake of Science. Also, search engines tend to discount old data that hasn’t been updated in a long time, so locking, archiving, and otherwise flagging information as outdated is much better than removing it altogether.


It seems we aren’t quite talking about the same thing as @codinghorror. We’re talking about deleting posts and he’s talking about deleting topics.

If you target individual posts, I don’t see how the UI that nudges you towards providing a reason can be seen as too onerous.

Sure you could – say it’s a support topic and 5 of the 40 posts are no longer relevant due to something that happened downstream. How does that justify a) notifying 5 people and b) dismissing 5 pop-up dialogs?

I just want to know when we start getting paid for our posts? Or is there a random side-section about how economics theory applies to forum postings? Is your stretch of an implication that the mods would avoid deleting posts to avoid the fights, or that users would stop posting controversial material to avoid having mods get in their face about having to delete posts? Even if I were to directly equate a forum post with economic goods, I don’t see anything in that article saying that people are automatically belligerent about losing something? Just that a loss is worth ~2x what a gain is worth to people… so maybe you mean the jerks would post 2x for every 1 post deleted?

If you’re that caught up in loss aversion, just word the PM as so: “You’ve gained 1 deleted post.”


It’s possible that those 5 people remember those posts being there and might want to find them later for reference.

Here’s another question. What if the user thinks he’s making a good post, and can’t figure out why his posts aren’t there any more? Maybe he figures they just disappeared into the æther? Server error or something? Is he likely to get into more trouble if he keeps trying to make his point in the same fashion instead of addressing whatever the problem is?

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Or to extend this idea, what if a user can’t remember exactly what he wrote that no longer exists? How exactly does that work to change behavior (or at least communication errors/mistakes) in a positive way?


I can’t understand how silently deleting posts can be presented as a good approach. It’s only going to cause confusion and does nothing to address the underlying problem.

I agree, silent deletes should probably be an option (that’s debatable), but it certainly shouldn’t be the only option.

If you’ve got a member who is that much of a problem in the community that you don’t believe they will learn from a dialogue, then they should probably be banned or suspended. This should be an absolute edge case, not the default.

Can you imagine if anything else worked like this? Getting fired from a job (no reason specified), getting prosecuted (no reason specified), getting disconnected by your ISP (no reason specified), getting banned on a social network (no reason specified). People must be given a chance to enter a dialog and defend their position.


What I can’t understand is how Jeff turns his edge case into everyone’s default.


Exactly, it’s clearly an edge case.

I’d like a principal other than Jeff to chime in with their opinion - @sam @eviltrout


Once upon a time I made a game called Forumwarz that was, quite literally, a troll simulator. This game itself had very active forums and moderating them was quite a challenge. My co-founder there even did a talk at GDC about dealing with trolls, and it got a lot of coverage.

Trolls thrive on engagement. There’s a reason why Don’t feed the troll is practically universal knowledge for those who frequent online discussions.

On Forumwarz, we deleted posts liberally and ruthlessly. There was no automatic notification about why their post was removed, we just took it out of the stream to let other people discuss things. Sometimes we’d attach a temporary ban with a reason, but that was up to the moderator’s discretion.

If we’d had an automatic notification, it would engage the troll. You might as well pat them on the head and feed them a treat! They’d run back into the topic and cry censorship, or bring up why their post got removed or all sorts of other manipulative techniques to derail or create a whirlwind of drama that focused on them.

So, sorry guys, but I agree with Jeff here. It’s the moderator’s discretion if they want to engage someone once they delete their content. Our software does nothing to prevent follow up conversations and in fact makes sending a PM related to a post quite easy. It’s a couple of extra clicks. (As an aside, it’s funny how often heated arguments about software boil down to 2-3 extra clicks.)

I will offer this though: Many of you WTF members are programmers; how about a plugin that creates the behaviour you guys want? If you can encourage many people to install and use said plugin, I’d certainly be more willing to change the default behaviour.


Most of us do not try to cultivate / manage a population of trolls. That might even be an edgier case than Jeff’s.

Not as funny as people not understanding the power of defaults.


Trolls shouldn’t be considered the default scenario in “a Civilized Place for Public Discussion”.

Shouldn’t we assume good intentions, even when those intentions lead to something that requires a deleted item, and build software for those mainstream scenarios?


No, to be clear the average user is not a troll.

But generally when you delete a post that’s the reason. Someone is doing something they shouldn’t, posting something they shouldn’t, etc.

Maybe I’m mistaken - can you give me some examples of mainstream scenarios where posts are deleted when not by a troll?

Newbie with good intentions didn’t read the rules before posting.

He’s not out there to cause grief but he posted something he shouldn’t have.