Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Anything about use of this forum : NOT about cycling
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gaz
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Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby gaz » 10 Jan 2014, 10:26pm

The board membership stands at a little over 24,000.

37% have never posted, which must include would be spammers.

So how about closing down accounts after 13 months without a log on?
There'll be tarmac over, the white cliffs of Dover ...

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Mick F
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby Mick F » 11 Jan 2014, 10:17am

I wonder what would happen if you stopped using this forum for 13months and your account was de-activated ..........then someone else joins called gaz?
Mick F. Cornwall

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Graham
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby Graham » 11 Jan 2014, 10:39am

gaz wrote:So how about closing down accounts after 13 months without a log on?

In the past I have done a rolling deletion of ancient unused accounts.
That was a manual procedure which was rather tedious. I'm sure it could be automated, but I don't get to poke around in the database any more.

Apart from keeping things tidy and efficient I don't really understand why people who leave the forum want their Username deleted.

If you don't want to use it then don't use it !!!

In theory, deletion stops the Username ever being used again ( but I would have to test that to be certain ).

When I delete a username I specify that all the user's posts are retained, to avoid corrupting the sense of any topics involved.


A Username can be deactivated / reactivated on request, but again that implies that the user does not have the self-control to stop himself from posting - weird !

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661-Pete
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby 661-Pete » 11 Jan 2014, 7:12pm

Well, as someone who's (in a former life) had a reputation for 'flouncing', I suppose I'll just say: people sometimes want to tell all their ex-fellow-forummers, emphatically, "I've gone, and I won't be posting any more, and I want you all to know I've gone..." Call it perverse if you like! :oops: Anyway, how deleted usernames show up depends on the forum 'engine' - on here I believe your posts get labelled as 'guest'.

Incidentally, I don't know whether there will ever be any plans afoot to change this forum to a different 'engine'? Or is this out of your hands? PhpBB is not bad as it goes, but some of the more advanced engines like vBulletin offer lots of extra bells and whistles. This may or may not be a Good Thing...
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
--- Arthur Eddington (creator of the Eddington Number).

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gaz
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby gaz » 11 Jan 2014, 7:55pm

At present we seem to be a bit like the Hotel California, "you can checkout any time you like but you can never leave". 24,000 members seems disingenuous.

There is quite rightly a procedure for closing accounts due to a breach of forum terms and also on receipt of a user request to leave. Hopefully such occassions are rare. The reason for posting the question was purely one of housekeeping, which I hoped could be automated.

I would agree with Graham that a users posts should not generally be removed upon departure, nor should their user name be available to a future user.

Somewhere in the housekeeping side of things the DPA will rear its head, personal data held should be relevant and should not be kept longer than necessary. I'm no expert on the DPA and my recollection of registration to the forum is that I was asked for little (or nothing) more than an e-mail address. Even so that is personal data and whilst it was relevant to ask for it, how long is it appropriate to keep it if a user has not logged on; 13 months, 73months, the twelfth of never?
There'll be tarmac over, the white cliffs of Dover ...

thirdcrank
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Jan 2014, 8:49pm

Funny you should mention that.

When I started with email, I had quite a length period when I was receiving emails replying to somebody who had wrongly entered their email address (so wrongly, in fact that they had entered mine.) The basic reason was that when they had tried to sign up, I'd already bagged the address they wanted, although sometimes people took at stab at their friend's address. In most cases, I replied to the sender, pointing out the mistake and that resolved it. With automated replies, unsubscribing usually worked. I had a prolonged run-in with the now-defunct internet bank called "egg" which persisted in sending emails to me for one of its customers, in spite of my repeated and increasingly frustrated emails.

Eventually, I complained to the relevant toothless watchdog in the form of the Information Commissioner, on the basis that my email address was personal data. I got a reply from a junior functionary saying that they could not understand what was happening, in spite of an explanation from YOS which included a printout from the email provider's FAQ's. This numpty did agree to write to egg, and somebody there with the gumption to understand what was happening agreed to write by post to their customer to ask for their correct email address and that finally resolved it. :evil:

I believe the actor's union Equity prevents name confusion by insisting that new members may not use the name of an existing member. eg Harry H Corbett had to use the H to avoid confusion with Sooty's original operator. In the world of Cycling, we had Gilbert Desmet I and Gilbert Desmet II and I think everybody managed. We had two Tommy Godwins in action at broadlly the same time as each other and I can't have been the only one who thought they were both the same person. :oops: Presumably everybody who needed to know the difference did know.

FWIW, there are several forum members with a similarly formatted username to somebody else who I persist in thinking of as the same person, even when I've realised they are not. :oops:

I'd have to say that inactive usernames isn't prominent on my list of worries. It would disappoint me if people joined and then felt this forum was too hostile to risk a maiden post.

Mark1978
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby Mark1978 » 11 Jan 2014, 9:08pm

How many members have actually posted? A responsible policy would be to delete accounts with zero posts which haven't had a login for over 12 months. So once you've posted that name is always reserved.

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gaz
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby gaz » 11 Jan 2014, 9:23pm

thirdcrank wrote:It would disappoint me if people joined and then felt this forum was too hostile to risk a maiden post.

+1

Some will have joined recently with every intention of posting at some future date.

Some will have joined because they wanted to PM a For Sale / Wanted ad or even a private reply to a question posed publicly on the forum.

People have also joined to spam and those few who chose to put a spam web address in their profile have succeeded, albeit to an exceedingly small degree, because those spam addresses continue to exist on the member list. There are web addresses to be seen which seemingly lead to suppliers of handbags, e-cigarettes, escorts (not Ford), gold dealers and all manner of other things, I haven't followed them.
There'll be tarmac over, the white cliffs of Dover ...

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gaz
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby gaz » 11 Jan 2014, 9:28pm

Mark1978 wrote:How many members have actually posted? A responsible policy would be to delete accounts with zero posts which haven't had a login for over 12 months. So once you've posted that name is always reserved.


With the proviso that any process would be automated and would close the account without deleting posts there could even be a sliding scale, e.g.

0 posts since last log in 7 months to closure
1-9 posts, 13 months,
10+, 23 months,
etc.

Or we could just leave matters as they are :| .
There'll be tarmac over, the white cliffs of Dover ...

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661-Pete
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby 661-Pete » 11 Jan 2014, 11:08pm

I'd suggest, leave as it is for any member who's actually posted, or sent or received a PM. Otherwise, if not too difficult to accomplish, delete the zero-posts ones after a certain time lapse. Possibly leaving the name available for them to re-register, provided they use the same E-mail address. After all, what's lost in that system? It helps to clear out membership bloat which a lot of forums suffer from.

Whether it's technically feasible however is another matter.
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
--- Arthur Eddington (creator of the Eddington Number).

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Mick F
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby Mick F » 12 Jan 2014, 7:31am

gaz wrote: ............... Or we could just leave matters as they are :| .
The thing is, we wouldn't be having this conversation if the figures weren't publicised.

Does it matter that the membership figure is a specific number?
Who cares?
It's not consuming space or electricity.
Same as post-count.
Does it matter?

Maybe if data can be displayed, there is a wish to display it ............ but it isn't necessary really.
Mick F. Cornwall

TonyR
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby TonyR » 12 Jan 2014, 8:11am

If you are worried about the downsides of all those unused accounts you could always use recycled electrons to maintain them and keep the new electrons for the active account holders :wink:. But seriously what is the downside of leaving those accounts dormant other than they consume a small amount of storage space? Given the cost of storage it would cost you far more in time and effort to go through removing them all.

thirdcrank
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby thirdcrank » 12 Jan 2014, 8:38am

gaz wrote: ... People have also joined to spam and those few who chose to put a spam web address in their profile have succeeded, albeit to an exceedingly small degree, because those spam addresses continue to exist on the member list. There are web addresses to be seen which seemingly lead to suppliers of handbags, e-cigarettes, escorts (not Ford), gold dealers and all manner of other things, I haven't followed them.


Until I read that, I was baffled why you were bothered about this. The current arrangements for preventing spam seem to be totally effective, from the POV of a regular forum user. I never log on to find every section with a new thread advertising something. I don't know what the arrangements are now if somebody registers a user name and their initial post is rejected (suspected spammer) or if they realise that they are wasting their time and abandon the attempt without making that initial approval post. :? What's the risk of somebody scrolling through the lists of members and deciding to open a dodgy www? How many of the long-term zero posters have a www in their profile?

If that bit is a problem, then perhaps it needs a single-issue spambuster to deal with it. A long-serving forum member with the time and dedication to delete these latent spammers. After an initial clearout, it shouldn't be a big deal in the longer term.

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Mick F
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby Mick F » 12 Jan 2014, 9:53am

Initial posts from new members don't get into public view until one of us has Approved the post.

Some are dismissed straight away - those selling handbags, mobile phones, game software, training shoes etc etc etc etc.
Some are less straightforward and the mods email the new poster to ascertain if they are genuine and to ask them to resubmit in accordance with the forum rules.

Spammers never get past first base, and they are more often than not immediately banned and deleted.

We do have other newbies who come on with their first post that is just about fine and it gets approved. Maybe it's later when they start to spam ............ cheeky and underhand! The Alert function brings it to the attention of the staff, and it's removed asap.

When you've seen a few like that, you can sniff them out PDQ and they get challenged.

I cannot say for definite, but there will be very few ex-spammers on the membership list. Most of the dormant members will have joined to buy or sell something on the For Sale sections.
Mick F. Cornwall

nez
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Re: Once a forum member, always a forum member?

Postby nez » 12 Jan 2014, 11:26am

thirdcrank wrote:Funny you should mention that.

When I started with email, I had quite a length period when I was receiving emails replying to somebody who had wrongly entered their email address (so wrongly, in fact that they had entered mine.) The basic reason was that when they had tried to sign up, I'd already bagged the address they wanted, although sometimes people took at stab at their friend's address. In most cases, I replied to the sender, pointing out the mistake and that resolved it. With automated replies, unsubscribing usually worked. I had a prolonged run-in with the now-defunct internet bank called "egg" which persisted in sending emails to me for one of its customers, in spite of my repeated and increasingly frustrated emails.

Eventually, I complained to the relevant toothless watchdog in the form of the Information Commissioner, on the basis that my email address was personal data. I got a reply from a junior functionary saying that they could not understand what was happening, in spite of an explanation from YOS which included a printout from the email provider's FAQ's. This numpty did agree to write to egg, and somebody there with the gumption to understand what was happening agreed to write by post to their customer to ask for their correct email address and that finally resolved it. :evil:

I believe the actor's union Equity prevents name confusion by insisting that new members may not use the name of an existing member. eg Harry H Corbett had to use the H to avoid confusion with Sooty's original operator. In the world of Cycling, we had Gilbert Desmet I and Gilbert Desmet II and I think everybody managed. We had two Tommy Godwins in action at broadlly the same time as each other and I can't have been the only one who thought they were both the same person. :oops: Presumably everybody who needed to know the difference did know.

FWIW, there are several forum members with a similarly formatted username to somebody else who I persist in thinking of as the same person, even when I've realised they are not. :oops:

I'd have to say that inactive usernames isn't prominent on my list of worries. It would disappoint me if people joined and then felt this forum was too hostile to risk a maiden post.


I changed my original user name because it was uncomfortably close to someone else's and I didn't want her to think I was taking the mickey. Why am I so sensitive to it? Because there's a namesake at work who gets loads of my emails and has to pass them on, like some sort of sous facteur. He is patient about it, but if the roles were reversed I think I'd find another job!