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Nick Swinford

Nick Swinford

August 07 2015

How long should dead accounts be kept around?

My community is approaching about 5k users, but we have a growing number of dead accounts. Accounts that haven't been logged into or used in up to 4 years.

I'm always tempted to delete or remove these accounts, but I can never decide for sure. We've had members pop back up after years of inactivity and I've always seen having to re-register as a barrier to re-entry; a potential stumbling block to getting involved again. At the same time though, seeing profiles that obviously haven't been used in a long time isn't great for morale.

What do you all think?

Unknown Person
August 08 2015 Permalink
"How long should dead accounts be kept around?”

Great question Nick. Outside of setting your boundaries for this sort of thing in a “User Agreement”, my short answer is, “For only as long as it takes for you to do your due diligence”.

Slightly longer answer..

There are many factors to consider, both, for and against.
Although I completely understand why you would consider deleting them for practical reasons,
the argument for doing that is just 'too easy'. ‘Maybe' they only had a vague interest in first place.
'Maybe' their focus has changed. ‘Maybe’ they didn’t feel like it was the right fit for them. To find out, you’ll need to discover what is causing their apathy. Keeping in mind that the cause maybe very personal and you may never know what that cause is.

I will limit my response and advocate for the #Keepthem vote.

If you’d like to re-engage these estranged members,
be mindful of the fact that apathy doesn’t actually exist in and of itself.
Obstacles and barriers to community engagement, 'create’ apathy,
even for those who do ‘truly care’. It’s my opinion that all people are amazing and smart and that they 'do care’. Just don’t believe everything you see and hear on the evening news, you’ll end up accusing me of lying :-)

I don’t believe that signing up is a barrier to re-engagement.
It’s that fact that ones account was deleted without consultation,
which would be disempowering, and could be perceived as creating the barrier of ‘intentional exclusion’.

These people joined the community for a good reason. Find out what it was.
Identify their perceived barriers, and re-enforce and/or boost morale,
by having a community discussion on how those barriers can be dismantled.
It could be time for a community wide survey, asking probing questions with respect to,
Why people singed up? What would they like to achieve? What community activities would members find the most engaging? Offer the community the short story of how ‘you’ perceive these inactive accounts to be affecting the wider community, and ask, What others think about? Just has you have here. Although we may not alway design by committee, social networks can be seen as an impassioned tango, and you are the choreographer.
So in short. I would definitely consider deleting those accounts, only ‘After communal due diligence’.

Heroic effort is a bold and imperfect, voluntary, and ultimately, 'a collective’ effort…
Hope this helps a little. I would like to read what others think as well. And by the way, 5k users, that's awesome, well done! You should be very proud of that :-)
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Rastin Mehr
Rastin Mehr
August 08 2015 Permalink
It's up to you. I deleted them all. Some companies decide to keep them and convert them, some write custom scripts to constantly remove bad accounts. Unused accounts don't take up much space.
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