Possible to change “anon” usernames?

We’re using Discourse for the forum on an adult website, so given the nature of the content we don’t allow anonymous traffic. Only members.

When a member deletes his profile, though, the username on all his past posts is changed to an anonymous one, format “anon12345678”.

This is causing confusion among our members, who think that anonymous traffic is being allowed or that some people have the ability to ‘anonymise’ their profile.

I’d therefore like to change these to something like “deleted12345678”. Is this possible somehow?

Thanks for any help :slight_smile:

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I think that it would be a fairly simple plugin.

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Is this really what happens? On our instance, if a member can actually delete their profile themselves, then everything is gone, including posts.

If they can’t delete their profile (because they are outside of the delete user max post age setting), they have to ask site admins to have all personal data erased.

So an admin would anonymize the account, the posts actually stay and the username is changed to “anon12345678”. As this step requires the attention of an admin, the admin can also just change the username afterwards to whatever naming convention you want to have in place.

You could further give more clarity to deleted profiles by:

  • changing profile pictures to a generic one for anonymized profiles
  • changing the title of anonymized profiles
  • having a group for anonymized profiles and having a special group flair

Using a group with a flair and a title looks like this then:

You have to enable “primary group” in the group settings for the flair and the title to show up:

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Ah, I think maybe I wasn’t clear enough about our set-up…

The forum on Discourse is running alongside our main site. When a member visits the forum for the first time, it imports their username and profile pic from our main site. This is why, when they delete their profile from our site, their posts are not deleted from the forum. There’s just no longer a username or profile pic associated with them and the system automatically assigns this “anon” username retroactively to the posts.

You may have realised I’m not the techie here :sweat_smile: but I’ll look into these ideas. Thanks.

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You could also change the forum settings, so these posts do get deleted and not just anonymized. When users are able to completely purge their profiles on your main site, they might not be aware that content they shared on your forum will not be completely removed as well. That could be a privacy issue, especially when it’s an adult website.

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That is actually a very good point. I’ll bring this up with the rest of the team.

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Actually, I find the anonymizing function really useful. Deleting posts can cause a real problem with the flow and comprehension of a Topic.

Usually if someone wants to leave a site of mine (extremely rare) I negotiate to keep the posts and agree just to anonymize their account. Everyone leaves happy :).

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Well, we’re talking about a site with over 80,000 members and rising, so it sounds like we may have more turnover among our membership :sweat_smile:

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Good going! Another option is simply to educate them how to switch off digests and notification emails. Not sure there is much harm in maintaining an account?

Back to the OP - I think making it clear an account is anonymized and no longer active is really important for other users, so sticking to a standard username format for anonymized users is a good idea imho.

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Yes, I’ll take advice from my team about the privacy implications.

I agree, which is why I’d like it to be clear that these users are “deleted”, not “anon”. As an adult site, guys don’t like the idea that anonymous users may be able to browse the forum (which is one of the reasons we have it set up so they can’t) and they don’t like the idea that they’re putting themselves ‘out there’ while other guys are hiding behind an anonymised profile (which isn’t what’s happening, but I understand the “anon” makes them think that).

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Yes, the default can be misleading, especially when there’s similar random usernames. I’m just setting this up for our site and I went for a generic profile picture and “Removed profile” as default title. Well, we have 400 members, so everyone gets a personal service :wink:

Shows up like this, with a transparent profile pic :ghost: :

Screenshot from 2020-12-08 14-29-35

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Ah, that’s a nice solution, love the title change especially!

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