Recommendations for closing accounts: Delete vs Anonymize vs Suspend

What is the recommendation for closing accounts? I’m having trouble discerning the difference between anonymizing and deleting users, or whether I should just use suspend forever?

I would prefer post content to remain, but it sounds like deleting a user results in their posts getting removed as well? If I anonymize a user, their content remains, but then, as I understand it, their details get completely scrubbed? So if content remains, then people wouldn’t know who it came from anymore? So would suspending forever be more preferable? Their content remains, and can see who it came from?

I suppose if I start with suspending users, I can always transition to deleting or anonymizing at a later date…?

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As an aside, I see my full name is visible here, is this a plugin? Or a new feature? How do I turn this on?

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It kind of varies on a case by case basis, some people will insist on full deletion… which we consider a last resort because it leaves gaps in existing conversations when their posts are deleted. This can do a lot of damage to a community if the user was very active.

With anonymization the user information is scrubbed and the account is given an anonymous username, so you can still see the posts and their association with the anonymous user. Definitely better than deletion for the community.

Suspending forever works fine too, and leaves the door open if that person wants to return someday. You can still delete or anonymize the account if you change your mind.

There are a couple of settings you can configure on your site:

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I probably wouldn’t mind a semi-anonymize mode, where the person’s name persists in the posts, but the rest, such as email and username, gets scrubbed. Just wary of the look of “Anonymous” in a bunch of posts. I dunno, it’s why I’m currently leaning towards suspending accounts at present. I believe some existing social platforms already work in this way, where a tagged user’s name just becomes normal text instead of a link to their profile.

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That may not work for GDPR users. Their name being on posts is still their name. If they want their data deleted, that includes their name. :neutral_face:

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These aren’t users requesting their data being deleted, this is just their account removed. It’s a team based forum, where only current members are allowed access. So, am thinking I’ll just stick with the suspend account as my workflow…

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With suspending a user, you can set a time period. I believe one may be set by default. So you may have to change that. Anonymizing users removes their account in a way - removing their personal info, but changes the ownership any posts they made to an anonymous user created by the system. That way their posts/replies are still available to keep the flow of the discussions relevant.
Now I’m curious… if someone is suspended permanently, will they be automatically deleted… and if so, what happens to their posts. :thinking: Something else I’ll have to look up. :slightly_smiling_face:

You’re not fully describing your use case here: why do you need to ‘close’ the account?

In our community, the policy is:

  • User requests account removal (for GDPR or other reasons) - anonymize
  • User is on probation (for major infractions against our community guidelines) - short silence with a note (so they can keep communicating with the moderators to resolve the situation)
  • User is banned(for repeated infractions against our community guidelines - indefinite suspension with a note

A suspension is a bad thing for a user. Again, I’m not clear why you need to close accounts, but personally I wouldn’t choose for a suspension.

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I’ll share my use case and reasoning to see if anyone has a better idea.

I use suspend when I need to close an account because my community is for our company. Employee users log in with their company email address and have access to additional groups.

When employees leave I need to remove their access. The employee may go to a competitor and shouldn’t have access to their previous posts or groups suspension solves that issue where silence wouldn’t.

We also get boomerang employees who end up coming back company. When they do I can simply remove the suspension, vs anonymize which would cause them to lose their previous post history. It happens enough that it’s worth it to me.

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