My Members Need to Delete Their Own Accounts

I have members that need to be able to delete their own accounts. Is there a plugin or a way to do it? That way I won't need to manually delete members and answer emails about account deletions.

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  • Why do they need to delete their accounts?

    Sounds like it is frequent thing you are facing.

  • phreakphreak VanillaAPP - White label iOS and Android App MVP
    edited September 14

    @jasongeek: Totally understand you from a community managers perspective. We also have frequent requests and handle these manually.

    @Kaspar: There are several cases where users request that. People who sign up and don‘t find the community to fit their needs like to remove their data or at least e-mail. On the other hand we have users who are angry because of ongoings in the community or too personal involvement so they want to get their account removed. Often it‘s of emotional value for the user but also GDPR rules are set to give users the ability to get their account data removed on request (and people seem to know that).

    Community managers of large forums run into those requests several times a week and there is no „routine“ in place currently how to do that.

    We remove images and replace the e-mail with our own trashmail adding [email protected] to clean the users data from our database. We do not remove discussions or posts unless there is sensitive information in them as this would crush the context of many discussions.

    But we are about to create an addon to let users handle account removal that doesn‘t hurt the forums readability.


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  • R_JR_J Cheerleader & Troubleshooter Munich Moderator

    And I thought to myself: "That shouldn't be too hard..."

    I will upload the plugin some time later, but you can already get it from here.

    @phreak That plugin replaces every name with "[Deleted User]" but keeps the content.

    I would never allow a user to remove content by himself. That should be done by a board admin. Removing content is quite difficult if the user already has deleted himself. Maybe some hint on that should be added to the delete section of my plugin "If you also want to remove the content (discussions & comments), please do not delete your user by yourself but ask a moderator to help you instead" - something like that...


    Shadowdare
  • phreakphreak VanillaAPP - White label iOS and Android App MVP

    @R_J: Always super productive. Although I would look for a function that remains the username intact. People do not necessarily have right to a pseudonym and from my experience a [Deleted Users] mark makes (A) users feel the community is less intact and (B) more and more people getting on the idea of getting deleted (which is of course their right) but will lead to more of (A).

    From a community managers growth and moderations perspective keeping the usernames in place is relevant I think.


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  • R_JR_J Cheerleader & Troubleshooter Munich Moderator


    The plugin uses the inbuilt function which acts like that. I wanted to release it quickly: only a few days until my vacation will keep me from coding 😎

    For GDPR reasons, I see this as a minimum requirement.

    But I fully agree. I would even go beyond that and block user names that have been taken in the past.


    phreak
  • R_JR_J Cheerleader & Troubleshooter Munich Moderator

    Just did a quick test. Content created by a deleted user is linked to a real profile: /profile/[Deleted User]. My first idea was to simply change back the username but that would lead to links to profiles which then would show a frustrating "User not found." message

    Maybe it is needed to change the userBuilder, userAnchor etc. functions from functions.render.php?


  • phreakphreak VanillaAPP - White label iOS and Android App MVP

    A plugin like that is not so trivial. I see the functions like that:

    • User can delete it‘s user in the profile settings (own settings item). This includes a „Do you really want to delete your account, this can not be changed back, blabla“ - YES, NO. Following: „Your data has been removed, you are logged out now.“
    • E-Mail gets removed or better changed for a specific one with increments with a +1 in the mail: [email protected] This way a new Vanilicon can be created.
    • The profile image gets deleted and replaced by a Vanilicon
    • Password need to be set to a random password (users like to try their login if it works and if it does with username and password it doesn‘t make them feel account removal worked).
    • All E-Mail notifications are set to be OFF (we don‘t want to spam our own @myforum.com inboxes)
    • Username remains the same (to not confuse the community and keep mentions working)
    • „About me“ text gets cleared.
    • „Profile Extender“ information could be deleted as well (people add their city, birth date, etc. there if configured that way)
    • Uploaded Images get removed (optional ?)

    Anything else that cones to your mind @R_J ?


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  • R_JR_J Cheerleader & Troubleshooter Munich Moderator

    I have tried that plugin of mine and that is the result of the standard deletion process (which I would use because it fires an event "so applications can remove their associated user data"):


    Name: [Deleted User]
    Password: 474C3232363959373359
    HashMethod: Random
    Email: [email protected]
    Attributes: {"State":"Deleted","OriginalName":"Doomed","DeletedBy":62}
    


    Therefore the only open points after doing standard removal would be the following:

       All E-Mail notifications are set to be OFF (we don‘t want to spam our own @myforum.com inboxes)

       Username remains the same (to not confuse the community and keep mentions working)

       „About me“ text gets cleared.

       „Profile Extender“ information could be deleted as well (people add their city, birth date, etc. there if configured that way)

       Uploaded Images get removed (optional ?)


    Setting the name back is no problem at all but comes with other problems. More on that later.

    Clearing additional Profile Extender fields is easy, but I wouldn't simply loop through all of them, because you never know why they are there.

    Images are content and I wouldn't automatically delete any content. If the user requires so, okay, but there must be a legitimate reason behind it. Otherwise that might .


    If the user name is restored, a link to the profile is shown which makes it impossible for other users to see than an account no longer exists. The problem with that is that they might want to mention such a deleted user and deleted users are excluded from the mentions list (which is good). That inconsistency is fugly.

    If the profile of a deleted user can be visited, it might reveal info that wasn't meant to be revealed. Therefore there should be one standard "R.I.P. Username" page with a short explanation why the page is shown.

    Users should be disallowed to re-register with that name, otherwise the links on old posts would link to the new users profile (Super-GAU!)


    To overcome some of the problems described above, I would prefix/suffix restored usernames with an otherwise dis-allowed character. That way, a deleted "forumhero" would become "+ forumhero +" (yes, that should resemble a cross 😁).

    An added benefit would be that you can do styling on that:

    [href^="/profile/+"] {
        pointer-events: none;
        cursor: default;
        text-decoration: none;
    }
    



    phreak
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