Procedures for editing, deleting posts and removing account

I see that in this Humane Tech community forum:

  • Users can not edit or delete past posts after a certain period of time
  • Users can not delete their accounts

I can’t believe it. I wish these could be fixed, as these are telltale signs of “inhumane” software and companies. Thank you.

Yes, you have to make a request to have your account deleted.

Another thing that admins should attend to is responding to sincere requests for information.

Or the forum should be dissolved.

These are some valid points you make, @anon76657042, though maybe a bit harshly stated as signs of ‘inhumanity’ (I know, you used quotes :slight_smile: ).

First of all I’d like to address @patm, by saying there is an distinction to forum admins and moderators on the one hand, and the CHT core team on the other. In the first group there are mostly community members that are not in the loop of the CHT strategy and plans, and therefore can only address information requests regarding forum settings/improvements and the like.

I myself belong to that group. I am both moderator and admin, but otherwise just a community member volunteering his time to improve the forum, and I have addressed all requests coming my way. I know @patm knows this, but am stating this for others who read this topic.

Now on to @anon76657042’s points:

I wasn’t aware of the first bullet point, but I have looked at the settings, and this is indeed true. Deletion is no longer possible after 60 days (the default setting of the forum software) and editing after 10,000 minutes.

@patm is right on the second bullet point: a user who wants to leave the forum has to place a request to a moderator or admin. This can be done via a private message or in the category you are now posting. This should really be explained better in the FAQ, I fully agree.

When a member leaves the forum and closes the account all his/her posts are anonymized and any personal information (in this case only IP’s and email address) are removed, together with the account, but the posts remain, showing anon + a random number as the user name.

So these are the procedures…

Now I’ll give my opinion on whether these settings are right, or not, and we can discuss improvements.

Consider this:

  • This is a public discussion forum that is open to anyone to read. It is not members-only
  • If you are posting here you are effectively ‘speaking in public’ and contributing to the public domain

Now consider how ethical and humane it would be if you edited or deleted your prior public contributions:

  • If you delete your posts everyone that reacted to you will be left in the cold. It looks like they responded to the member ‘above’ you, and their response might no longer make sense
  • The same would be true if you edited and subsequently ‘improved’ or entirely modified your posts. It would be like falsifying history

So I think there is some merit in having these settings, and it is the reason why the Discourse developers added them.

Also the CHT forum is not really a general-purpose ‘social media platform’, but a dedicated discussion platform on humane tech. In such a social media platform it is easier to delete posts, and usually also delete all responses by others as well. Even on platforms that offer this feature you see that users take care not to do that. For instance on Hacker News you can downvote a comment until it disappears, and responses disappear as well in that case. But the HN users are very considerate not to give the last downvote if the responses by others are significant and thorough. It would be very frustrating to these users otherwise.

I am open to suggestions for improvements, but I can’t make changes on my own without conferring with the other staff.

Also I’d like to mention another time that a big forum reorganization is still underway, but it is going slowly due to the continued overload on the core CHT team. This last part is a sign of success, rather than failure, IMHO.

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I would like to delete this social media account. However I went to the Humane Tech Community (this forum) settings pane, and it’s not even an option! Can’t even delete old posts I wrote either.

@anon76657042, I have moved your post here, as it was not on-topic for the other thread.

Please delete my account and all personal information you have about me. Its the only resort given that this software does not respect human privacy.

Thank you @anon76657042 for your great contributions to this forum. Sad to see you leave, but your account has now been removed and the posts are anonymized.

I assumed that if I deleted my account all of my posts would be deleted. Please I beg you given humanity please delete all of my posts, please delete every trace of my account from your databases.

I think what’s going on here may not even be legal since I’m in the EU. We like to complain about other social media, but what’s going on here is just not right either.

I had explained the procedure before in the post above, so I assumed you were in the know about that, especially since you replied to it afterwards.

If you did not read it, even though it was directed to you, I would like you to read it now. Because deleting all those posts will means you would be unethical towards all the people that responded to you in the past.

And also, if you want to go through with that, I will defer the issue and decision to the CHT organization. Remember, this is not my forum, I am only volunteering as one of the moderators/admins, together with others from whom only some are employees.

The forum software AFAIK is GDPR-compliant - I think that is where the anonymization feature came from, and if not compliant, then it should be. So that needs to be followed. I’m fully with you on that.

Thank you for addressing this so quickly, @aschrijver. I and the whole CHT team are so grateful to have attentive community members like you volunteering to take care of this forum!

Speaking for myself, I think it makes sense for people’s posts to remain in the context of forum conversations, even after their accounts are deleted. Because any personally identifiable information associated with the user’s account would be anonymized / removed, I believe that procedure is GDPR compliant.

I will raise this with the rest of the CHT team to get their official stance.


This is a pretty discursive forum, where people are mainly sharing their personal views and perspectives. Similar to reddit, where people can indeed delete all of their own comments.

I’m fine with letting people delete all of their posts; if we can extend that timeout well beyond 60 days, we should. And if there are particular exceptions that are crucial to a thread, an admin can decide on a post by post basis (after anonymizing the author).


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I wish everyone all the best. You will be better without me and my posts. Adieu.

I feel the soft evening breeze blowing over the riverside and hear my partner’s gentle voice caressing me. Goodbye to technology and it’s inescapable grip. Please aid me in my departure, as my ship sails over the horizon to the West never to be seen again.

Farewell, and please delete all of my posts as I had requested. May you all also find your journey away from the evil grip of technology.

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Beautiful words! I’ve come to see, that, as @metasj suggests, we should have a procedure that allows full deletion, including posts. So I vote for that as well.


Great! So what is needed to take action? As I understand it, we need to:

  1. Explicitly write & post this policy somewhere
  2. Make it possible for posts to be deleted

Is #2 a setting we can configure as forum admins?

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There are 2 settings that are relevant. There is delete user max post age, set to 60 days now. And there is delete all posts max, set to 20, which means you cannot delete the account and delete all messages at once after 20 posts. Both should be set to a maximum number, as there is no value setting that means ‘forever allow’

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It turns out you can set ‘max post age’ to 0, which allows authors to always delete their own posts.
So people can always delete their own contributions.

To resolve:

  • What happens when you created a topic that others replied to, and you try to delete that original post? We may have to change the authorship of any created topics by hand.
  • It’s hard for an admin to bulk delete a user’s contributions: discourse’s defaults sometimes also delete posts that replied to it. This may make sense for spammers, but not for serious contributors who wish to vanish. What we want is closer to reddit’s solution (a stub indicator that a message at that point in the thread was deleted).
    As a stopgap for the latter: ask vanishing people to delete their own posts, for now?

(Note: Moved from staff topic to public discussion)

When a user deletes a post, it will be withdrawn after 24 hours. Other users see a notification, but can still look at the previous revision and see what was written.

Not only that but in many cases emails are sent to other members right after posting, and before the deletion. This is not desirable.

I would like to propose a change in the forum setting so that user privacy is better protected. This can entail either:

  • Shortening the time period before deletion occurs, or setting to 0 (immediately). I suggest 1 hour.
  • Making it impossible to see old revisions of posts (now possible by clicking the small pencil icon)
  • Both of the above settings


(Note: Moved from staff topic to public discussion)

I have not received feedback on my previous post, so I will make changes to the settings now.

Also I want to honour the account removal request of one former member, who also wants all his posts deleted from the forum. This is discussed here: Procedures for editing, deleting posts and removing account

Forum settings changed:

  • Real deletion of a new post now occurs after: 1 hour
  • Seeing previous revisions (edit history) of a post is now: no longer publicly visible
  • Max no. of days before deletion is impossible is now set to: 100,000 days
  • Max no. of posts before automatic account deletion (by a moderator) is impossible is now set to: 100,000

I will go ahead and delete the users’ posts. This procedure needs to be done manually, post-by-post, because automatically removing all posts, removes entire topic threads, if the user created the topic!!

For the topics that the user created, I will add a placeholder text (Deleted on request of the user) that replaces the posted text.


Okay, I have not started deletion. This deletion is a humongous moderation task. In this case it is about 90 posts, and you need to open them in a separate window one-by-one. Need further discussion:


  • Should we also delete responses to the deleted posts?
  • Or only responses that contain quotes of the deleted posts?
  • When deleting responses, should these users be notified? They may have put significant effort in formulating their post
  • And like @metasj rightfully says: Should we hold this discussion in public?

(Note: Moved from staff topic to public discussion)

Yea, let’s make this a public chat. Adding thoughts in that thread :slight_smile: I would not delete responses, no; the right to vanish doesn’t give you a right to remove anyone else’s replies to you.

Done! The thread is now public. And how shall we handle quoted texts, @metasj ?