Author Topic: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?  (Read 9980 times)

moremojo

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Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« on: September 06, 2007, 12:24:34 pm »
To my BetterMost friends:

This is not my situation at the moment, but as many here know, last month I fully intended to withdraw from BetterMost for a complicated and personal set of reasons. I learned to my dismay that I was unable to delete my account on my own, and had to appeal to an administrator to do it for me--the administrators' position being consistently one of sitting on one's feelings in the hope that it would pass in a few weeks.

This was quite frustrating to me at the time, and though my sense of urgency and despair has passed, I still, upon reflection, feel it should be a basic right and dignity of mine to join and at least leave any online forum as it suits me to do so. There can be any number of reasons for a person to undertake such a choice, and it should be the person's prerogative to act as their own free agent in pursuing such a choice, without being compelled to argue or explain themselves to an owner/moderator. This strikes me as the same kind of potentially manipulative and/or misleading stances and actions that played a part in my consideration in withdrawing from online communications altogether.

So I submit this poll to gauge other members's feeling on this question, and perhaps present it as evidence, one way or the other, to administrators as either support or rebuke of their own position.

Respectfully,
Scott

Offline ifyoucantfixit

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2007, 12:48:24 pm »
       i was of two minds on this issue Scott.  i Do believe it is your right to do that if you choose.
Now having said that.  It did bear out to be the best that you did not do it.  You have stayed  and are still, happily, i hope with us...So there is wisdom on both sides....
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 09:39:11 pm by ifyoucantfixit »



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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2007, 01:28:26 pm »
I didn't know we couldn't.  ??? I figured you could "open" and "close" accounts sorta like at a bank. I guess not.  :-\
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline louisev

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2007, 02:00:59 pm »
This option is set by the owner of the forum, and having heard the reasons, I think they are sound ones.  Nothing prevents users from leaving, or from deleting all of their messages, either.  But control over when accounts get  deleted is reserved here for the owner of the forum - in this case, Phillip.  One of the truly compelling arguments for not having users delete their own accounts is to prevent users from deleting an account and creating a stealth account to return in order to cause mischief on the forum.  Another, more common use for it, is in the case where a member decides quite impulsively to leave the forum and wants to leave no trace of their passing, and in most cases (according to Phillip) they change their minds after that impulse passes, and by the time the forum administrator asks "But are you SURE" which is why there is the cooling off period.

But if the purpose in deleting an account is to LEAVE the forum - nothing prevents anyone from ceasing to post, from deleting their writings, or leaving.  All that the administrator has retained is the right to decide when (and if) to delete the user's account.
“Mr. Coyote always gets me good, boy,”  Ellery said, winking.  “Almost forgot what life was like before I got me my own personal coyote.”


moremojo

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2007, 02:03:48 pm »
But if the purpose in deleting an account is to LEAVE the forum - nothing prevents anyone from ceasing to post, from deleting their writings, or leaving.  All that the administrator has retained is the right to decide when (and if) to delete the user's account.
Then this stipulation should be stated very clearly before or when a prospective member joins. I'm also not sure if members who joined before a change in policy should necessarily be subjected to every nuance of that policy change.

Offline dot-matrix

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2007, 02:24:47 pm »
Like Janice I can see both sides of this issue.  Bettermost is an unusual place within the world of on line forums on the the Internet.  Folks here seem to be more concerned about what happens to their cyber friends and aquaintences.  There seems to be a need to KNOW what is happening with people to want to control the ability to obtain that knowledge as if they were some how entitled to it.  Don't get me wrong I'm not saying this caring and need to know is necessarily a bad thing just not the usual state of affairs on the Internet.

But I still feel strongly that a member should have the option available of either leaving with the ability to return or deleting their account completely thereby making their break complete.  The decision to delete an account is not the same as the decision to delete posts.  One wipes out your contribution to the forum the other only ends participation in a very final way.

Since we are all adults here a member should not have to explain or justify their decision to depart and or delete their account to anyone including the forum owner or any moderator or administrator.  IMO
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 02:30:13 pm by dot-matrix »
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2007, 02:41:55 pm »
Like Janice -- and Dottie! whose post just appeared -- I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, I understand the idea of wanting autonomy.

On the other, I know that it's possible to make an impulsive decision to leave and then change one's mind later. I've felt that way myself a few times at imdb (never at BetterMost, I hasten to add). At imdb you CAN delete your own account, and the only thing that has stopped me is that there, unlike here, all your posts get erased automatically when you do it.

Why did I want to delete my account at imdb? 1) I would get upset about something and want to make a big dramatic statement to express it, or 2) I would want to cut down my time online and found it too hard to muster the discipline to stay away on my own without taking drastic action. Both feelings come up from time to time, and then they pass. I've found that dramatic or emotional actions, taken impulsively, generally aren't the best decisions -- at least not for me.

I can think of at least one or two people here who have requested to have their accounts deleted, then changed their minds and stayed on. Sometimes that initial request is the result of some disagreement or misunderstanding that can be worked out to a happy (or at least satisfactory) ending. And everyone knows people who are no longer active here for whatever reasons but have kept their accounts open, to no ill effects as far as I know. It's not like the Hotel California, where you can never leave.

As Louise said, it's Phillip's decision and he has good reasons for it. At the very least, I always, always, always would favor a cooling-off period -- whether enforced by an administrator or electronically.

And no offense, Scott, but if any further argument is needed against having members abruptly delete their accounts, it's the fact that you're still here!! We're all very glad of that.  :)



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2007, 02:43:37 pm »
One of the truly compelling arguments for not having users delete their own accounts is to prevent users from deleting an account and creating a stealth account to return in order to cause mischief on the forum.

While I admit to very little understanding of how these things work, I'm not so sure this is that compelling an argument. This sounds to me like another way of saying a disgruntled former member might come back as a troll--and doesn't Phillip already have the ability to deal with those situations?

Or is a "stealth account" something else, more like a virus?
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline louisev

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2007, 03:01:23 pm »
What I meant by "stealth" account is to return pretending to be someone new.
“Mr. Coyote always gets me good, boy,”  Ellery said, winking.  “Almost forgot what life was like before I got me my own personal coyote.”


Offline Phillip Dampier

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Re: Should a member be allowed to delete her/his own account?
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2007, 04:11:27 pm »
The policies that are in place here are remarkably few in number.  The only hard and fast rule here (beyond the usual stuff about illegal activities and such) is no personal attacks.  Beyond that, we have very liberal policies in place about what is allowed here and what isn't.  Just having the right to delete one's own messages is extremely rare on many forums, but we give people that option here.

The governing of this community specifically has been mostly through experience.  In the majority of cases, a one time incident doesn't mean we need a new rule to cover it.  I am quite conservative about implementing new rules or regulations here.  But when something happens repeatedly and it becomes a problem, just like steering a ship, a course correction may become needed.

BetterMost residents retain the right to have their accounts deleted, but I have added a cooling-off policy by requiring an administrator process the request.  We have had repeated instances of people using that option as a dramatic tool to engage in needless theatrics on their way out the door (last summer in particular), followed rapidly by applications for new accounts from these same people to lurk and watch for any reaction they may have gotten.  I've also had several occasions where people have asked for account deletions only to change their mind a week later, reapply for a new account, and then try and carry on threads under a new handle, having to remind people they have a different handle now.  All of this would have been unnecessary had they just given a week or two to consider whether their decision was "heat of the moment," and in the vast majority of cases, what was causing the problem for them then had been resolved, blown over, or just wasn't as important any longer.  You aren't required to use your account either, and in some cases, a vacation from the online world isn't a bad idea.

Once a user's account is cancelled, their identifying information (IP address and such) goes with it, so it makes it much more difficult to track stealth accounts unless I start keeping records on deleted accounts, and that really doesn't interest me.

When a resident asks to delete their account, it is common for one of us to ask why, but only because we do care about our community here and want to know if we can help in some way.  But a reason or explanation isn't a requirement.  We just ask the person to confirm their request after a 14 day waiting period.

This policy has worked extremely well for us, and I think the fact we reach out to our community here when something does go wrong makes us unique and special.
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