Deletion policy

I am aware that discourse allows deleting ones post – I used it myself once to remove a duplicate reply.

However, what has happen a few times now is that someone started a topic, got one or more replies and then deleted the thread. I do not think that is useful.

Example 1: “Qubes review from qubes user + suggestions” 12/8/20

The OP had reached some incorrect conclusions and I started to point that out to him. All in all nothing embarrassing and – this is my main point: potentially useful to educate others and find ways to improve documentation.

Example 2: “Split-GPG setup failing; Qubes_GPG_DOMAIN not setting”

The OP referenced the documentation, unman asked a question and the OP responded that he’d already checked the policy file, while pointing out that according to the documentation it should just work. I checked the default policy and which is “ask” and the documentation and on the surface it seemed the OP had a point.

Then I wanted to follow the link in the original message to see the screenshot on the forum … at which point it turns out the entire thread is gone!

I suppose the OP figured it out and deleted his post. I do not think that is useful at all.

We all learn through mistakes. Or own and those of others. This is what makes mailing lists / forums of this kind such a useful place. It is an environment for growth. You spend time looking at questions and problems of others, try to figure out how to help them and learn in the process.

While I see the convenience in being able to edit or delete ones post (typos, clarifications, double posts), I think overall it harms.

What do you think?

… I forgot to mention the date of the second example, which is today and also meant to write “suppose the OP figured it out and deleted their post” instead of “his post” … old habits.

I agree. It makes the forum less useful for everyone else. If one person has a question, it’s likely that he or she is not the only one. Other people who also have the same question will not be able to benefit from finding that thread and learning the answer. They may have to ask again in a separate thread.

On the other hand, as a user, I can understand wanting to be have control over one’s own comments and posts, including the ability to delete them.

Internet forums have had decades to work this problem out. We’re certainly not the first to face it. What is the established best practice?

1 Like

I agree.

:slight_smile:

What is the established best practice?

… I am detecting a pattern. :wink:

I find it a bit irritating. A while ago I asked about this policy as well because I got confused with a few posts from the mailing list. Although this issue had probably been my mistake and couldn’t be reproduced I was asking myself the same question because I was annoyed at first that I wasted my time with this.

Deleting posts can make threads less useful or even misleading. Of course, this is a community forum and the world keeps turning if people deleted their posts but I don’t think that it would be necessary. Most discussions aren’t political or very personal but rather revolving around solving some kind of hardware-/software related problem. I don’t understand why someone would feel the need to delete their posts but that’s just my personal opinion.

I just wanted to answer a post that is (well…was) 2 days old. Because of the holidays I wasn’t online much and now it’s gone. Problem solved, I guess…or not.

Interesting discussion. I don’t know how wide-spread this is on the forum. But in general I believe for replies ultimately it should be the choice of the user for the content they have posted and there are very valid reasons for this: embarrassment, mistakes, accidental privacy exposure, etc.

While it true that threads may loose some continuity, but I think for troubleshooting people ultimately will only care about the solution (which is highlighted) and not the whole discussion

On first posts it’s another question because then it also implies deleting the whole discussion. In these cases, I think it can be requested that mods take a look. But I don’t think we get notifications for this so it’s hard to know unless someone brings it to our attention.

Also, if users want to nuke their profile, we can also “anonymize” their accounts. Not sure what it does, though. Probably only replaces the username on all their posts with “anon”.

Yes, on the one hand these are valid reasons but on the other hand people could/should take a little time and effort before posting something. And there is always the “edit post” option.

I think there are a lot of pros and cons regarding this issue and I also think it depends on the forum and the topics.

If people deleted their posts more often it might discourage others from helping. I don’t know.

I think this is a good option.

valid reasons for this: embarrassment, mistakes, accidental privacy
exposure, etc.

Those are not all the same.

Embarrassment and mistakes are good things. They help us become better
people. What is more likely to help one grow and educate others?

a) One can delete the original statement and pretend it never happened,
potentially erasing with it the reactions of others in the process.

b) One can reply/amend the original statement pointing out the mistake
or change of thinking, thereby positively reacting to potentially
received feedback from others.

accidental privacy exposure

That’s different scenario. On a mailing list there is nothing one can do
to take this back. In fact even with the forum, everyone using it in
mailing list mode or having notifications on a particular thread will
have a copy.

However it makes sense in this case for a moderator to be able to remove
the offending parts of the post.

While it true that threads may loose some continuity, but I think for
troubleshooting people ultimately will only care about the solution
(which is highlighted) and not the whole discussion

See above. Also it diminishes the time and energy others may have
already spent reacting to the now vanished post.

In many cases there are also nuggets of (maybe even unrelated) knowledge
in the replies that aren’t ultimately recognized as the solution. I feel
very strongly about this, as almost everything I know comes from
Fidonet/Usenet and mailing list discussions where helpful strangers
pointed me and others to valuable insights.

We don’t require anyone to register with their real name or identify
themselves in any way here. Everyone should feel free to make mistakes
and even experiment with different ways of thinking. I admit my
sensitivities are triggered here. Ultimately, I see to extremes:

a) A highly censored and moderated “safe” internet with real names and
subject to the whims and fashions of current popular thinking at best
and the will of corporate overlords at worst. It comes with lots of
“code of conduct”, “shadow banning” and self censorship.

b) The internet I grew up in: free, decentralized, messy and edgy but
full of awesome people battling the trolls and idiots of this world with
logic, reason and better ideas. And people like the Qubes OS team
sharing tremendous value with everyone who cares to pay attention.

I’m getting off topic, so I’ll stop myself here.

Also, if users want to nuke their profile, we can also “anonymize”
their accounts. Not sure what it does, though. Probably only replaces
the username on all their posts with “anon”.

I’d rather we state upfront that except for rare cases (privacy
exposure, doxing, illegal content) we don’t delete stuff. It’s out there
anyway (mailing list mode etc).

People don’t have to use their real names and if they feel they
embarrassed themselves so badly they can’t handle it, they may create a
new account and abandon the old one.

I see to extremes

two … :slight_smile:

For what it’s worth, I think that users should not be able to delete
posts, particularly for “embarrassment, mistakes” etc. If the message
was worth posting it should remain - if not, it will die on the vine.

Whole threads should not be removed at the whim of a user - there may
(as has been said) be excellent material for other users.
The only grounds that messages should be removed by admins should be
privacy exposure, or where the message runs completely outwith our code of
conduct.
Even the most stupid post can give rise to a sensible discussion, which
other users may learn from.
This is best practice, and we should adopt it.

1 Like

I find myself being persuaded by the anti-deletion arguments. At the very least, one person should not be able to delete another person’s post, which means that someone who starts a thread should not have the power to delete everyone else’s replies to it by deleting the entire thread.

2 Likes

Yes I agree with not being able to delete other’s responses. And as I understand it, it is currently not possible for a user to delete a thread unless a moderator intervenes.

As far as moderation intervention policy goes for topic deletion, I think it should be on a case-by-case basis balancing the following:

  • code of conduct
  • user embarrassment / privacy exposure / simple typos
  • number / effort in replies
  • potential usefulness of discussion (and learning from mistakes)

And keeping in mind, the users may be fine with “anonymisation” of a post (i.e. remove user-related information from the post and change the poster to “DeletedUser”, for example).

Hi. I asked for one of my posts to be deleted because my problem turned out to be a typo in one of the commands rather than a technical problem. I think it should still be deleted. It’s not about user embarrassment / privacy exposure, but about “quality control” of this forum, preventing “spam” and misleading posts, and not wasting the time of Qubes users who are searching for solutions to theirs problems (for example, in a search engine) and landing on my post that provides no solutions to their problems.

This also happens on the mailing lists. Here’s a recent example.

It would be nice to have a unified deletion policy across all Qubes venues. That way we can document it and simply link to that documentation whenever anyone asks.

1 Like

You’re right. Updated my post. But it could also be that someone else makes a typo mistake. I’ve made typos as well in the past and a post of someone somewhere mentioning it could be a typo helped me solve the issue. But this may be only useful in very particular situations where typos are common, since they could happen anywhere.

But in the end I think it should be up to the person who made the typo to decide.

This sounds good to me. Although it may be challenging if the moderation capabilities are not feature-similar.

We’re sorry, but your email message to [“qubes_os+9cdc00b92f50977f175a5dc12a0b3ba2@discoursemail.com”] (titled Re: [Qubes Forum] Cannot access to second hard drive [User Support]) didn’t work.

The topic you are replying to no longer exists – perhaps it was deleted? If you believe this is an error, contact a staff member.

The important part of my message seems to have been truncated:

We’re sorry, but your email message to [“qubes_os+9cdc00b92f50977f175a5dc12a0b3ba2@discoursemail.com”] (titled Re: [Qubes Forum] Cannot access to second hard drive [User Support]) didn’t work.
The topic you are replying to no longer exists – perhaps it was deleted? If you believe this is an error, contact a staff member.

Why do people do this?
Doesn’t matter if it was a user mistake - someone else could easily
make the same mistake/ typo in the future, and just deleting it without
comment is no help to anyone.

I admire people who say “stupid of me, it was …” - it shows more
character and a greater wish to contribute than just deleting messages.
You never know when someone else may find your foolishness helpful.

AND, of course, if many users make the same mistake, that points to
something wrong.

Here’s a policy - don’t delete anything, except “code of conduct” issues.
Edit posts where privacy is at issue. (Remembering that those who
interact via email have a copy anyway.)

Is there a time limit for how long users can go back and edit their own posts? If not, then users can always effectively delete their own posts by replacing the content with [Deleted] or similar. In this case, our policy can be, as unman suggested, that mods will intervene only when there’s a Code of Conduct violation or actual spam. In all other cases, it’s up to users to edit their own posts. No other mod deletion-type action should be expected. This would also ease the maintenance burden on mods, since we won’t have to act on so many requests for deletion. There can be a canned reply pointing to the deletion policy.

Yes I agree with not being able to delete other’s responses. And as I
understand it, it is currently not possible for a user to delete a
thread unless a moderator intervenes.

“Split-GPG setup failing; Qubes_GPG_DOMAIN not setting” from 12/26 had
an answer by unman.

original:
https://qubes-os.discourse.group/t/split-gpg-setup-failing-qubes-gpg-domain-not-setting/2079/1

unman’s answer:
https://qubes-os.discourse.group/t/split-gpg-setup-failing-qubes-gpg-domain-not-setting/2079/2

reply by OP:
https://qubes-os.discourse.group/t/split-gpg-setup-failing-qubes-gpg-domain-not-setting/2079/3

It doesn’t matter which link I use the thread is gone.

100% agree. This is how it should be.