julysnowed ([personal profile] julysnowed) wrote in [site community profile] dw_suggestions2016-05-17 03:43 am

Reconsidering the Ability to Delete All Entries/Comments Associated With an Account Upon Deletion

Reconsidering the Ability to Delete All Entries/Comments Associated With an Account Upon Deletion

accounts, entries, comments

With the dramatic increase in recent years in both online and real-world harassment, I would like to consider revisiting the 2010 suggestion to give users the option to delete all entries/comments associated with an account upon account deletion.

The last time this suggestion was raised was in 2010, and it was rejected then. However, I think it's long past time to revisit the possibility of being able to delete all entries and comments associated with an account upon account deletion.

There are a lot of reasons people delete accounts. Sometimes those reasons are just a lack of time or interest, and that's okay. But sometimes those reasons get a lot more serious. We over-share sometimes. The people we meet online become friends, and we get lax about sharing personal information that perhaps shouldn't be shared in public internet spaces. Most of the time that never becomes a problem--most of the people we meet online are great. But sometimes the people who have access to your entries/posts/comments aren't great, and that can have repercussions irl just as easily as it can have repercussions online. The last few years have seen a dramatic uptick in everything from revenge porn to death threats to hacked accounts, and while stalking and real-world harassment are rare, they happen, and they're happening with increasing frequency. They happen often enough that (as of the time of this writing) a tumblr post about tips for how to disappear from the internet has over 760,000 notes.

Right now, Dreamwidth allows its users to delete comments manually, and to see the last 100/150 comments posted on paid/premium accounts, but many of us have posted thousands of comments over several years, and trying to find every single comment and offhand remark ever posted is an endeavor that's anxiety-inducing at best and impossible at worst. Giving users an option to automatically delete every post/comment they've ever made, even those made on outside communities or journals, would alleviate that burden entirely.

The biggest concern with this suggestion-and the concern that I saw raised most often on the 2010 post--was that it would inevitably leave conversations broken. There are ways to mitigate that: a suggestion I saw raised in the 2010 post was to add an "orphan all comments" feature in addition to a "delete all comments" feature. AO3 currently has a popular analogous option for those who want to remove their association with their fanworks without deleting them entirely. A quick review of several LiveJournal posts will also show that broken threads are in the minority, so we may not have to worry about that too much. Even if they weren't in the minority, though, it would still be a necessary evil; our conversations are important, but I don't feel that they should be more important than the safety of our users.

Poll #18021 Reconsidering the Ability to Delete All Entries/Comments Associated With an Account Upon Deletion
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 42

This suggestion:

View Answers

Should be implemented as-is.
10 (23.8%)

Should be implemented with changes. (please comment)
10 (23.8%)

Shouldn't be implemented.
12 (28.6%)

(I have no opinion)
9 (21.4%)

(Other: please comment)
1 (2.4%)

denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)

[staff profile] denise 2017-02-21 06:24 pm (UTC)(link)
(Note: this is an older suggestion that was just let out of the queue.)

To clarify for purposes of discussion: it's already possible to delete your journal, and when you do, all the entries and comments that were made in your journal are no longer visible.

What's being discussed is the comments that you made in other people's journals. As it stands now, if you delete your account, a comment you left in someone else's journal stays visible (and the username is struck through to indicate that the account has since been deleted).

A while back, LJ added an option, when you delete your account, to also delete all comments that were made in other people's journals. It was added after we forked from LJ, so we didn't inherit the option. The past discussion that was referenced was really split. Our general guideline when dealing with a suggestion that has really strong opinions both for and against is to default to the status quo (in this case, the status quo being "don't implement it").

Please read over that old discussion before commenting here!
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)

[staff profile] denise 2017-02-21 06:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Additionally, when discussing the option to orphan comments (keeping them visible while removing your name/username from them), keep in mind the downsides that AO3 has found to the feature:

* it can be done accidentally/without the person understanding what they're doing, no matter how many confirmation steps you add

* it can't be undone, so once you orphan something, you can't claim it back again

* once you orphan something, you are giving up all future ability to control it, so if you want to delete it in the future, you won't be able to
msilverstar: (thard eyebrow)

[personal profile] msilverstar 2017-02-23 12:44 am (UTC)(link)
Orphaning is a lot less destructive than deleting, so it seems like a much better solution.
phidari: (Default)

[personal profile] phidari 2017-02-21 06:50 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't know if I like the nuclear option here, having an automatic process delete every comment you've made. But I do think there needs to be a way to find and delete more than just your most recent comments. Even deleting your most recent ones doesn't allow you to go back and find more, which I understand is a database limitation. Would it be possible to make this an extra paid feature, separate from paid accounts? Similar to rename tokens, I guess: A "Show me all the posts and comments I've ever made" token?

I have no opinion on orphaning. I've orphaned a few stories on Ao3 and don't regret it, but I know people who seriously wish they hadn't done so.

(Anonymous) 2017-02-21 06:59 pm (UTC)(link)
I would feel a lot more comfortable using DW if this option was available. The lack of it is one of the main reasons I have been reluctant to commit to using DW, and one of the main things keeping me on LJ.
juniperphoenix: Fire in the shape of a bird (Default)

[personal profile] juniperphoenix 2017-02-21 08:18 pm (UTC)(link)
I think this is something we need to support for safety reasons. I definitely sympathize with the desire to keep conversations intact, and I'd be sad to see someone's comments disappear from my journal, but my occasional urges to reread ten-year-old comment threads are not as important as commenters' present-day safety.

As a possible compromise, I like this suggestion from the 2010 discussion: What would you think of having the full-mass-delete option being something only the Abuse team can do, by request, so in the event of serious stalking or bullying issues it can be done, but it won't get done casually? — with the caveat that if we go that route we should make sure people actually know the option is available (perhaps by displaying a message about it on the confirmation screen when a journal is deleted).

I also like this suggestion about being able to specify certain journals or communities to exclude from the mass deletion.
syderia: DreamSheep with Eiffel Tower (DreamWidth)

[personal profile] syderia 2017-02-21 09:44 pm (UTC)(link)
I like this suggestion too.
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)

[personal profile] jenett 2017-02-21 09:35 pm (UTC)(link)
One of my concerns about deletion is false assumptions about what it means.

I agree with the comments about how using online information for harassment and abuse is a thing a lot more people are aware of now, and that having mechanisms for managing that is a good idea.

But I also know that people have, say, deleted their journals and not realised that it didn't delete screenshots or other saved files people already had (or quotations of materials on other sites, etc.) Also caching on search sites, the Wayback Machine, etc. (which may be especially relevant for community comments) or in people's emails.

Likewise, deleting all comments may have an impact on legal cases in several directions, some of which people often think of, but not always.

I'd want any system to deal with that in a way that was helpfully informative about the issues and at least a general sense of the implications.

I like the suggestion of making it be available via a support request, where there could be some additional prompting and an additional "So you know, here's what it will change and what it might not." contact.

Alternately, an option that allowed someone to mark their comments entirely private (would not show up to anyone, including community admins) but did not actually delete them would solve a lot of the potential evidence issues but also be more easily undoable, but I suspect that's a much more complex coding problem.
ext_3679: (Default)

[identity profile] fiddlingfrog.livejournal.com 2017-02-21 11:57 pm (UTC)(link)
I know that on LJ when a user chooses to delete their comments along with their journal that the comments are actually placed in a hidden state for thirty days, just in case the user changes their mind about account deletion.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)

[personal profile] melannen 2017-02-21 09:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I think this is (or should be discussed as) two different issues: deleting all comments left by a user, and deleting posts to communities. While they certainly have things in common, I think the issues are different and the implementation options could be different.

I definitely feel less strongly about this than I did in 2010; partly it's the way internet culture as a whole developed, mostly I think it's the way DW site culture has developed. I am way less concerned that the average 2017 DW user would delete all comments and community posts just because they were bored of their username than I was about the average 2010 LJ user doing that. We're a pretty thoughtful bunch.

That said, I'm still not super enthusiastic, especially for community posts, where most of the community's content might actually be on other people's comments on the post. Given that the justification for this is that it's hard to remember everywhere you've posted, I still think it would be too easy for people to casually delete everything just because they aren't using the account anymore without even thinking about many of the places they've posted or the fact that people might still value their old content.

I think my ideal would be a suite of different things that have been brought up:

1. A quick "delete everything" option that can only be used by Abuse, for cases of stalking, doxxing and harassment.
2. A journal-by-journal option to delete all of your content on a certain journal or community (This is useful for being kicked out of communities/locked out of journals separately from a delete all situation.)
3. An easy way to go through a list of things you have posted and delete down the list, ticky-box style, so you can still delete quickly without visiting every page but you have to at least see the list of what you're erasing.

4. I am not sure about orphaning - right now, comments and community posts from a deleted journal stay on the site with the name struck out, but owner of a deleted journal still loses control of them, right? So they are basically orphaned already, just with the name still attached. An option to remove or change the username to a random string rather that just striking it out seems perfectly reasonable.

If it does get implemented, please can we have options for a less than full delete? Those would not only be very useful, it might slow people down and make them think about what they're deleting.

I am thinking maybe a workflow where you have to separately approve:
Delete all content on your journal? y/n
Delete all comments in journals not in my circle? y/n
Delete all public comments? y/n
Delete all remaining comments? y/n
Delete all posts in communities where you are not a member, including all comments on those posts? y/n
Delete all public posts in communities, including all comments on those posts? y/n
Delete all remaining posts in communities, including all comments on those posts? y/n

It would probably be harder on the database, though.
musyc: Silver flute resting diagonally across sheet music (Default)

[personal profile] musyc 2017-02-21 11:12 pm (UTC)(link)
+1 to pretty much all of this, especially the bit about not being quite as against it as in 2010. XD Still on the side of "do whatever to your own blog, but community post/other journal comments aren't yours to delete", but less ... emphatic about it now.

While I do see the arguments for poster's possession of content and/or safety concerns, I do disagree with the idea of making it an easy process. This should be something that is a "did you really, really think about it" flow. If implemented, it should also be really emphasized to the deleter that what they're doing may not erase entirely (wayback machine caching, screencaps, saved email comments, etc.) (And in connection with a recently-released suggestion, would reblogs be deleted? On Tumblr, frex, they're not.)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)

[personal profile] kyrielle 2017-02-22 12:45 am (UTC)(link)
This. I think their right to be forgotten / hide that stuff is more important than my right to continue to see it. But I also think it's important to make sure they really, truly know what they're doing - and want to do all of it. If it's a single all-or-nothing option, they may be willing to nuke from orbit to get rid of the stuff they want gone; but if it's more detailed like this list of questions, there may be some of that they'd be perfectly find leaving while there are other parts they want gone.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)

[personal profile] melannen 2017-02-22 12:57 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I do agree with a right to delete. But especially when you get into community posts, where you are also deleting other people's content, in a context of a shared space, I want to make sure people think about what they are actually doing.

(I will add that if we get a "delete all by putting in support request" option, we need the option because abuse, but just "I want to delete all badly enough to put in a Support request" should probably be enough reason for it to be done, you shouldn't need to prove abuse. But some kind of gatekeeping beyond a tickybox is good. Especially with the "this will delete other users' content in shared spaces" aspect.)
isleofapples: (x-files // scully & mulder (what?))

[personal profile] isleofapples 2017-03-31 10:46 am (UTC)(link)
Perhaps for communities we could do what they do on reddit (...not a sentence I often say)? Where the content of the post is replaced wiht [deleted] and the username is [deleted] but all comments (except by deleted users) persist?
phidari: (Default)

[personal profile] phidari 2017-02-22 04:51 am (UTC)(link)
That said, I'm still not super enthusiastic, especially for community posts, where most of the community's content might actually be on other people's comments on the post.

You know, now that you mention it, it is kind of weird that non-maintainers are allowed to do that. On, say, Reddit and Imzy, the original poster can delete their post and neither it nor their username will be visible any longer, but the comments from other users remain visible.
ninetydegrees: Drawing: a girl's face, with a yellow and green stripe over one eye (Default)

[personal profile] ninetydegrees 2017-02-21 10:00 pm (UTC)(link)
I have nothing useful to say except that I'd like to have this option. I believe I left LJ before the option was implemented over there, and had to manually delete some entries and comments. I regret not having been able to remove everything under my username. You should have the right to be forgotten (I'm not inventing this concept; it's an actual right in the EU).
Edited 2017-02-21 22:04 (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

[personal profile] matgb 2017-02-21 11:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes. I've changed my view on this, I did oppose it but I've seen far too many problems since then and while I dislike the interpretation/implementation the courts gave to that right I definitely think the right should exist.

[personal profile] swaldman 2017-02-21 11:14 pm (UTC)(link)
My "with changes" is that it's something support or staff can do on request, and once sure that the requester knows what they're asking for, rather than having exposed UI. And something in an FAQ that indicates that it's possible.
Edited 2017-02-21 23:15 (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

[personal profile] matgb 2017-02-21 11:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd have it on the screen that confirms deletion and possibly explained in the UI at some point before: we know a lot of people don't read the FAQs and it ought to be something people that need it are told.
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)

[staff profile] denise 2017-02-22 01:12 am (UTC)(link)

(replying to you even though others have mentioned this because you're the first top-level comment I saw suggesting it) I would really, really hesitate to put anything in place (for anything) that would make people come to staff/ToS for this, because it'd be a support burden that we don't necessarily have the bandwidth to assume, figuring out the criteria of "at what point do we believe the user sufficiently understands what they're doing" would be a pain, and having to tell some people No (because they can't log into the account, because they don't seem to get that it's permanent and non-undoable, because we think we're not talking to the account owner, etc) would just be more reasons for people to yell at us and I don't like giving people more reasons to yell at us :P

[personal profile] swaldman 2017-02-22 07:50 am (UTC)(link)
Fair enough!
unforgotten: (Default)

[personal profile] unforgotten 2017-02-21 11:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, there should be an option to delete all comments/community posts etc if you're deleting your DW account. Imo, the act of posting something on the internet does not give other people the right to have access to that content on the internet forever - no matter if it was posted on someone else's locked post, an open community, or anything in-between. I don't think other people's feelings about losing my content should come into it at all, if I were ever to delete my account. If a conversation or other content is that important to someone else, they can save it in some form, or else risk losing it should one of the participants need to nuke everything.
cheyinka: A Blargg (a lava crocodile) emerging from lava. (blargg)

[personal profile] cheyinka 2017-02-22 04:33 am (UTC)(link)
It's not just for important things, though. Suppose I post a recipe to a food community, and someone posts a great modification in the comments, so I bookmark the direct link to the comment for the next time I make the recipe. It isn't something important enough to print out, it isn't something I expect to need proof of so I'm not going to take a screenshot, it's just a great idea I want to try.

Then my fellow cook decides to delete every comment, everywhere, all at once. They're unlikely to have specifically wanted to delete the food comment; they're unlikely even to have remembered having commented; but now it's gone, and my bookmark now points to a deleted comment. This kind of thing, happening all over the site, when usually comments do remain where left, is what I (and the other folks voting do-not-implement) don't want.

And, assuming it was something important, something that the poster actually did specifically want gone, there's no protection from someone else posting a screencap of the comment. "This is what I was replying to. It's gone now, for some reason."
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

[personal profile] marahmarie 2017-02-22 07:36 am (UTC)(link)
My "with changes" suggestion would be...both allow an orphaned comment feature and overall/total comment deletion (nuclear option). Two reasons:

1) orphan-ize, for those comfortable abandoning ownership of/username on comments who want to preserve threads for others to read in the future (but this is not a good idea if you're trying to avoid stalking or harassment, not if you've included any personal info in even one comment ever left on DW, like say: "Hi, my name is Jane Doe and I live at [full address] and my phone number is [full phone number]" or mentioned anything else personal you don't want others to find out after you orphan-ize your own comments)

2) nuclear option, for those who just have to get out of Dodge now, so breaking threads is an unfortunate side effect of what must be done

That said, unless at least one half of this was implemented (orphan-ize) I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want it, but I still definitely agree the nuclear option would come in awfully handy for others.

(Long, boring background no one cares about: I left LJ in 2010; when I did - don't quote me on this, but I believe it was so, or else I have a predictably bad memory - by then we could delete all comments along with our accounts, but I either chose not to - or, if the option to delete all comments tied to accounts wasn't available yet, then once it was, I was just as glad I didn't have it because I don't like breaking threads).

I voted "with changes" but there's logical reasons either way of doing this (or even both) might cause problems.
Edited (typos, clarity) 2017-02-22 07:38 (UTC)
msilverstar: (thard eyebrow)

[personal profile] msilverstar 2017-02-23 12:50 am (UTC)(link)
what would happen to posts started by the user in communities? Would the entire conversation disappear, or could it be screened by mods or some other mechanism?
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2017-02-23 01:46 am (UTC)(link)
After reading through the discussion here, four possible modes come to mind, and I'm not sure how feasible they are.

1) Delete all. No takebacks.
2) Screen all. This would let the user maintain control if they undeleted, and would let the journal owners elsewhere unscreen them.
3) Orphan and screen all. This would remove control from the user, but the journal owner elsewhere could unscreen them. (Probably it should run like screen-then-orphan, when implementing?)
4) Orphan all. This would leave everything in public, with the user forfeiting control forever.
mindways: (Default)

[personal profile] mindways 2017-02-28 03:47 am (UTC)(link)
I feel like the feature should be implemented, but that to whatever extent it's possible, it's a good idea to give the option of fine-grained control over what gets nuked / how it gets nuked - eg, being able to specify deleted vs. orphaned vs. left as-is on a per-journal/community basis if desired.

FWIW, I'm semi-active on another site where when someone deletes their account, it wipes out everything they've created. Forum threads they created persist (but missing the main post at the top), everything else just vanishes, including articles and comment threads thereupon. Over the past 10+ years, a few high-volume contributors have (following heated arguments) decided to take their ball and go home, nuking swaths of useful and interesting material. It's kind of a minor tragedy when that happens... but nothing *near* the order of "I'm trying to escape my stalker and can't erase the footprints I've left on the internet".

(I do think their approach is a little excessive - IMO, "deletion" for anything but a personal journal entry should be "replace the content of the post/comment/article with [deleted] and perhaps hide the posting username", not "it vanishes entirely". Being able to make things disappear like that can actually enable bad behavior, by letting an online harasser retroactively hide that they've made comments at all.)

I don't think the "someone could have taken a screenshot of vital information" is a consideration that should weigh in. Just because a security measure might not be effective in certain specific cases of counter-action doesn't make it broadly useless. (If so, you should never bother locking your house, because someone might have gotten a copy of your key.)