Transparent post deletion

(Christoph) #1

For some obvious reasons, I’d like to propose a feature that supports more transparent post deletion.

I believe that Stack Exchange & Co provide a good template: by default deletions are transparent (i.e., users will know that about the deletion, possibly even learn about the reason for the deletion) but for certain situations moderators still have the possibility to silently remove posts.

As necessary as post deletions may be to foster high quality discussions, they are also inherently uncivil, if I may say so. So the least we can do is make them transparent. Or, speaking in more technical terms: provide admins with the tools for being more transparent about deletions.

Off the top of my head I can see three four levels dimensions of transparency (plus no transparency aka silent deletion):

  1. Not actually deleting the post but merely hiding it the same way posts are hidden in simmarized topics. (added based on some replies below)
  2. Deleting the post but leaving a visual marker in the post stream representing the deleted post
  3. Providing a reason for the deletion
  4. Notifying the author of the deleted post about #1 and/or #2

#4 is already possible manually but not at all encouraged UI wise.


Temporarily hide post / mark less important?
Temporarily hide post / mark less important?
(David Taylor) #2

I’d support this feature. It can be very confusing for users to find their posts deleted and really doesn’t help the user/staff relationship. I would consider this as solving a similar problem to the curated topic summary proposal.

I included a brief description of what I imagine this looking like in one of my GSOC proposals:

(Lucas Nicodemus) #3

I don’t want to copy/paste my existing thoughts but I’ll reiterate that moderator actions with optional notification are, in my opinion, the best way to go. How this would be implemented in Discourse’s UI is not immediately obvious to me, but this seems the most valid.

A stopgap measure might be showing the deleted post only to the user who made it with the deletion styling. That would require the least effort as far as implementation goes: just show a user’s own deleted topics to that user.

Edit: Screenshot of how XenForo does it:

(Kai Liu) #4

I haven’t come up with a good thought of how this feature could be cooked, so just some feedback from a user perspective about the confusion without transparent deletion. After my post was removed three ideas come to my mind in sequence:

  1. I’ve run into a bug? The title of my topic referred above in OP shows that.

  2. My account got hacked? I actually check that.

  3. I recalled the content of my removed post to try to find out the problem.

And I do agree that this feature can provide an option for the moderator that would like to notify the post user but sending a PM is a manual workload. And still some post can be removed without notification if necessary, say, deleting spam from user who has been warned already.


If I remove a large number of posts I sometimes turn that into a new topic and then make that topic a PM, and reply as needed.

I have used that methods in all these ways:

  • replied with actions taken and any cautions/warnings needed, and then closed the PM, to let people who have engaged passionately in an argument know what has happened and be able to drop the subject – this is usually where something has got out of hand and many people have engaged in arguments or derailment, but not maliciously or to the point of needing to suspend anyone
  • only turned posts by one problematic user into a PM, and replied in that PM to explain the problem and invite their response and acknowledgement
  • split entire derailments into a new topic and then converted that to being a PM, suspended the culprit/s, removed them from the newly-created PM, and then given the people who took part some closure by explaining what was done, and why. I will usually leave these open so people can blow off a bit of steam and make any final observations.

Turning deleted content into a PM means I can bulk-notify people who took part of what occurred, and has become a useful timesaver which also helps engage members in the moderation process, and promote use of flags and perception of flagging as member-moderation.

It’s something I would appreciate myself as a forum member: people who are passionate about a topic and/or have attempted to steer a derailment back on track like to have closure, and not simply find their hours of input have vanished.

I only wish there was an option to select posts, create a new topic with them, and have that topic be a PM, although the short process of making the new topic a PM has not been a problem.

Requesting 4 moderation tools (mostly satisfied by advanced search)
(Kane York) #9

Wow, that’s a pretty novel way of using the topic splitting feature, and I don’t remember anyone talking about it before.

There’s even a handy notice to others that were just reading, not participating, with the “Split this topic” action.

I think that’s a flow that could use some more UI support to make it easier, as well as to make it apparent to moderators that it’s an option in their toolbox.

I will suggest that if the derailment would be valid standing on its own / not a severe enough offense for suspension, you can leave it up as a public topic and let the conversation continue there.


Thank you.

For sure, yes, I only use the PM option where whatever has occurred isn’t going to give rise to a productive new topic. :+1:

(Wolftune) #11

That complex use of PMs, deletion, closing… it’s all workaround for the inadequacies of the flagging system. Flagging should offer options to quote specific parts of posts, include specific feedback, mark what part of guidelines was violated, and so on… I have a bunch of notes about what a good enhanced-flagging plugin could look like that would actually address all your scenarios and more.

My point in the end is that I agree 100% with your inclinations and the idea about flagging being a learning process and member-moderation. I disagree with the Discourse default assumptions that flagging is about getting mods involved.

Transparent post deletion is one of the functions needed for a really superior flagging system.

(Christoph) #12

Flagging may be related no flagging system can solve the problem described in the OP.

(Wolftune) #13

I agree. I meant my comment the other way around. Solving the problem described in the OP is one of the necessary steps toward a better holistic flagging system as well as being independently valuable.