Deleting your own posts - let's talk about things!


#1

Continuing the discussion from Denisroy …anything?:

As the previous thread shows, mass deletion of posts can cause massive problems to other people. I’d like to talk about what we think should be an appropriate policy - ignoring (at least for the time being) if it’s even possible to implement in Discourse should we come close to consensus.

First, I think it almost goes without saying that the moderators have the right - and are charged with the duty to - delete abusive posts and, should they continue from the same user, to ban the user. Consequently, let’s take this as a given for this discussion and address a user deleting their own posts only!

For myself, I’ve deleted a few posts. The reasons have been:

  • I started to take a thread in a new, almost completely unrelated direction because I’m the type that loves tangents. Sometimes I’ve caught myself, and sometimes others have pointed it out to me. In almost all cases, I’ve deleted the reply and either dropped the tangential topic or started a new thread targeted at the tangential topic.
  • When I get involved in a back and forth with one other person in the thread, I’ve taken it private to resolve things. Once resolved, I (and the other person) have deleted our replies so as not to distract from the main line of the original topic.

I’ve also done substantial edits to posts. These come in a few versions:

  • I’ve posted something substantially wrong, but the process of my confirming it to be wrong could be educational to others. In this case, I cross out (using <del> and </del> tags to bracket the strikethrough text) the wrong information and bold an adjacent note that it is wrong, often including a link to where to find the correct information.
  • Someone else has substantially changed or deleted posts to which I’ve replied. Twice now I’ve needed to substantially edit multiple posts in a thread because, in order to be understandable, they needed context that, while present when I originally posted, is now lacking.
  • Sometimes, instead of my strikethrough approach, it’s just better to make edits so that a subsequent reader will simply see the correct information. For an example, see:
    Support for Sketchup 2017?
    In this thread, I did extensive edits to three of my replies to remove any hint that geometry or groupings are “on” a SketchUp layer, after someone pointed out to me privately that “on” can conjure up implications in 3d space (especially for newbies to SU) that have nothing to do with layers. If you want, you can see the detailed edits through the edit history.

So where am I going with all this? Simple - this is a help forum, not a chat forum! (notice that all my edits and deletions were done with an underlying reason that serves to clarify the presentation of correct information.)

As such, the preservation of useful, helpful information should be part of the ethos of this forum. Self-deletion of informative posts go against this ethos. I’d like to find a way to preserve the knowledge base, even if the original contributor wants to choose to “pick up his toys and go home, never to return.” I’m just not sure how to go about it!


#2

It would seem that having a time window set within which you could delete posts would work. That would keep the older posts from resurfacing. I also think the ability to change the user name as suggested in the previous thread was a good one.
Just an opinion…


#3

I’ve seen posts in some forums where posts author information simply said something like ‘user deleted’.

I think it would be great to allow someone to delete their user account, while still retaining the relevant posts.

I also think setting a time limit is a great idea. I mean really… any mistakes you made longer than two weeks ago, have probably already come to your attention. Perhaps require administrator permission to delete posts older than two weeks, or whatever period is deemed reasonable.


#4

The problem with any time limit is stale links - combined with an apparent limitation of Discourse: That authority to delete is also the authority that controls edits. Early this year, there was a time limit (30 days?) that was lifted at the request of a few people who wanted to fix stale links.

Oops! The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again!

If we could some solve the stale link problem, would y’all be on board with reinstating the time limit on self deletion of posts?


#5

Could it be set up so that it requires a request to the admin to unlock/reset the delete clock?


#6

I have no idea. However, I’d guess that it can’t be set up that way. This is just a guess, but I would program a delete lock to be a system global of xdays, then when a post is being served, it’s original date is compared to the system date and, if less than x days old, display the edit and delete icons, otherwise don’t offer them. If this is the case, then it would likely be hard to program “unlock edits/deletions” for a single post.

Ideally, instead of an absolute edit/delete time limit, on the magic day, the action becomes "suggest an edit/deletion. In either case, you would be required to give a reason and, in the case of edits, you are required to show your proposed edit.

This sort of thing should probably be paired with new Terms of Service wording such as:

The primary purpose of this forum is to provide support from both staff and the user community to SketchUp and Layout users. Toward this end, any posts you make are yours to edit/delete for up to x days after posting. After that, they become the property of Trimble. Additionally, after x days you will be able to request an edit or deletion. We will consider the request and, if it doesn’t detract from the knowledge base represented by this forum, allow it to proceed.

Again, I have no idea how easy/hard this would be to do!


#7

I like this. But not knowing the limitations of the forum software, it’s hard to know if it’s doable.


#8

I too don’t know the limitations or the customizations reasonably achievable with Discourse (the software that drives our forum) although I have tried to find out!

The problem is twofold:

  1. Discourse has chosen to distribute documentation only as part of an installation! I have been unable to find anyone who has chosen to publish it in a way that it can be examined without either signing up with a hosting company or doing your own installation

  2. Discourse does have a “help” forum: http://meta.discourse.org, but I’ve not found it helpful. It’s not friendly to users and seems focused primarily on people already running a Discourse installation.

I can think of one partial workaround - particularly for deletion requests: “Flag” your own post! Choose “Other” and write in both that you want it deleted and why. It’s easy for moderators to delete any post. I don’t think this will work well for extensive edits as there is no mechanism for showing the proposed edit. But it could work for stale links as follows (text for the “other” field):

The link “http://thispage.mylink.com” is stale and no longer brings up the information I intended. Please replace it with “http://thisotherpage.thisothersite.org

This is not ideal. In my mind, instead of being (at least vaguely) intuitive, it would require discoverable directions on “How to have an old post deleted” and “How to correct a stale link in an old post.”


#9

Sometimes second best is better than nothing. :disappointed:


#10

One thing I HAVE learned from the Discourse forum is that Discourse has it’s own concept of “Groups” of users. This is important because I also recently discovered that some of the SketchUp staff is assigned - within Discourse - to a “Moderators” group. What surprised me is that the person I found to be a “Moderator” doesn’t have the “Administrator” badge - so we can’t discover who the Moderators are unless they PM one of us.

As I think we’re at the point where input from someone who knows what’s possible with Discourse (and with what difficulty), I’m going to tag all the people with the “Administrator” badge in the hopes that one (or more) of them will chime in here and/or one of them will pass this on to the Moderator group:
@tgxworld @Josh @arpit_jalan @jody @ross @yogesh @bugra @swishstar


#11

* Anonymous_Coward wonders if these people know that they can just flag a post to prevent it from being deleted?

Looks like they don’t. Maybe it is not obvious enough…

* Anonymous_Coward shrugs

¯\(ツ)





#12

anybody deleting useful information, would also know to ‘edit’ the content first, making flagging the deletion pointless…

john


#13

You think so?

Ok then.

¯\(ツ)/¯