On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

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joachim33
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On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by joachim33 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:52 am

Hi,

I want to make a comment for consideration on the regular deletion of in active accounts. While I think it is very honest to delete the old accounts and not to gloat with a membership number that isn't real, the current way this is done devalues the archive. When I find an interesting contribution from a member, which I don't know so well, I often look at the posting history and in particular to his/her original introduction message. I feel this gives me a better idea of the background behind this contribution. It this posting is from a former member (now deleted account) this is not easily possible and the contribution is more difficult to evaluate.

As I said, this is for consideration and discussion.

Joachim

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GeoffB
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Re: On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by GeoffB » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:08 pm

I take your point, Joachim, and I've occasionally suffered the same frustration myself, but I believe the disadvantages of leaving all inactive accounts open indefinitely outweigh the one advantage that you mention. You can see one reason in Mr. Delcamp's announcement here.

Another is that if we didn't do it, there would be many thousands of inactive accounts sitting there on the database and having an impact on the performance of the forum. Sometimes the server and forum software struggle to cope with the amount of activity and the size of the existing database. You may have noticed slowdowns and SQL error messages on the forum periodically, and you may also remember when the forum's inbuilt search engine had to be disabled altogether for quite some time and we had to rely on Google instead. Although it was eventually re-enabled, further limitations on searches may be needed if it starts struggling again. I haven't counted up any recent figures, but I see that when I replied to a similar query in 2014, I mentioned then that the latest purge of inactive accounts had removed nearly 5000 of just over 7000 accounts. That is a lot of dead weight slowing down the search engine. You'd perhaps be surprised how many people join up, post one or two messages, and then never post again. So when you balance all that against the occasional benefit of being able to look up earlier posts from an inactive member, unfortunately a tough judgement has to be made.

Even so, there is still a chance that you may be able to track down the introduction from an inactive member, if you really want to. You can try sorting the "Introduce Yourself" topics in ascending order by author, using the drop down menu at the bottom of the page, and then paging through the posts until you find the username you want. (To speed things up, you can use the arrow icon at the start of the page numbers to jump to a later page in the sort results). Even usernames that are no longer linked to accounts in the database will still be alphabetically sorted in this way. And if the introduction is old enough to have been archived, you can try the same thing in the Archives of Public Space and its subforums section. Finally, if someone had an unusual username it can be worth searching on that, in case others have used it to address the member in their replies.
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joachim33
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Re: On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by joachim33 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:41 pm

Hi Geoff

thanks for your time to reply to my contribution. As I wrote, I think the removal of "dead wood" is very honest. I am used to internet fora never purging their accounts and gloating with the number of registered users, including the "post once and never seen agains". So this forum is pleasantly different.

I wasn't aware that keeping dead accounts alive puts so much stress on resources that it becomes and issue, since nobody else seems to do it.

I highly appreciate the effort Mr Delcamp, the moderation team and the contributors put into this resource.

Joachim

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Re: On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by andreas777 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:04 pm

GeoffB wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:08 pm
Another is that if we didn't do it, there would be many thousands of inactive accounts sitting there on the database and having an impact on the performance of the forum.
Is my assumption right that most of the accounts that were deleted have only a few posts? I would assume that there are many people who find this forum by chance, create an account, maybe write an introduction post, but then forget the forum and the account quickly. Or other people who just want to raise one single question but have no intention to be active here in various discussions. If there are forum statistics and my assumptions are right, then I would suggest that only accounts are deleted with a post count lower than let's say 100 or 200. I think this would remove most of the unused accounts but give a chance to other active members to make a longer break without loosing their history.
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Re: On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by GeoffB » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:23 pm

An interesting point, Andreas, and one I could put to Mr. Delcamp for consideration, though it still wouldn't address the reason he himself gives in the message I quoted, so he may be unwilling to adopt it. A year is a long time to be away from the forum, and the requirement isn't even to post an annual message, but just to log in once a year.
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Re: On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by joachim33 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:59 pm

Having read Andreas' contribution, I am wondering whether here is a chance to compromise. When I try to look up old postings from former members it is typically members that were quite active in their time, which trigger my interest. The ones with a total posting history of a few messages (intro + a few) are typically not so important when accessing old input.

To keep the archive working, it may be an idea to de-activate highly posted accounts like e.g. Tarbaby, who was very active before my time, in a different fashion than the "seen once and never again"-crowd. I am not enough of an expert on database resource levels, to know whether this would improve the search engine performance to sufficient levels.

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Re: On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by GeoffB » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:37 pm

Hi Joachim, I made the case to Jean-François, but he has replied that he prefers to keep to the current system, which is more straightforward and less work for him to administer, and which he feels allows members to see at a glance from the colour of the username where it is worth pursuing a discussion with another member and where that is no longer possible, and likewise where it might be worth sending a PM and where they would have no hope of a reply. He made the same suggestion as I did earlier about searching in the Introduce Yourself section, and said it might also be worth searching on the username in Google in some cases. Sorry to disappoint you.

Geoff
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Re: On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by Pat Dodson » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:04 pm

I have just small sample tested Professor Delcamp’s last suggestion. With 3 of 4 closed accounts it worked very well, bringing up a lot of posts by those ex-members. (In the fourth case the ex-member’s name was a fairly common word and Giggle couldn’t cope with that.)

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Re: On the account deletion - it devalues the archives

Post by joachim33 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:55 pm

GeoffB wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:37 pm
Hi Joachim, I made the case to Jean-François, but he has replied that he prefers to keep to the current system, which is more straightforward and less work for him to administer, and which he feels allows members to see at a glance from the colour of the username where it is worth pursuing a discussion with another member and where that is no longer possible, and likewise where it might be worth sending a PM and where they would have no hope of a reply. He made the same suggestion as I did earlier about searching in the Introduce Yourself section, and said it might also be worth searching on the username in Google in some cases. Sorry to disappoint you.

Geoff
Geoff

Thanks to you and Jean-François to consider my proposal. I will try google next time I have the issue.

Best wishes
Joachim

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