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I'm currently building a small online dating service and am wondering what the best task flow is if a user disables their account.

(When an account is disabled, all their data is retained but they can't interact with other users or be seen by other users).

Right now what happens is the user clicks a "disable" button, things change in the database, and that button turns into an "enable" button. There is also a notice at the top of the page that reminds them that their account is disabled.

An alternative that we've considered is logging out the user immediately after they click the "disable" button. If they log back in, their account is re-enabled.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think that in general deleting accounts is a better practice but in the case of a dating website I like your disable idea. When dating you may not be sure that you will be together for a long time, so in the meantime you disable and can then re-enable later if you want to. This should not be instead of delete only an additional feature.

I also think that the way you implemented it makes the most sense. Just because a user logged back in does not mean they want to re-activate the account.

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To elaborate on what Jeff O said, by providing a specific example, CouchSurfing.org is a site that connects hosts and travellers looking for a place to stay. On your CourchSurfing profile, there's a toggle for when you yourself are travelling, so that people won't ask to stay with you or "surf your couch" while you're away.

Would this idea work on your dating site?

"I'm currently dating someone" as an equivalent to "I'm currently travelling"...?

Also, I have to ask: what is your target audience, your potential users, telling you about this question? And what does the competition do? Copying the competition is an accepted business strategy.

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Presumably people would simply change their status to "in a relationship" if they did not want to be contacted. Our target audience is university students from one particular university. We do not have competition really, since we're not out to make money. –  lori.lee Sep 2 '10 at 7:40
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Is there a separate way to stop people from requesting dates? Might be useful if someone is leaving the country, injured or seeing someone else temporarily and they don't want to seem rude/unresponsive. Depending on how hard it was to setup an account in the first place, you may just delete it.

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I'd go with @Hisham. Delete instead of disable. But here is some more thought.

You might want to think about why people would re-enable. It might be that they come back with a total different perspective (not strange for a dating site I guess) and want a new looking profile / text anyway.

You could still make it easier for them to re-register by keeping their e-mail as validated so they don't have to click the validation-email-link anymore and can directly populate their profile.

Comes back to the same thing, why would re-registering be worse then re-enable? What do they loose? Is that bad? How can you help them to recover those parts?

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Re-registering would mean they would have to fill out all of their profile information again, which is kind of a lot of work. –  lori.lee Sep 1 '10 at 17:18
    
It's standard practice on dating sites to disable or hide accounts. –  tajmo Dec 16 '11 at 17:05
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Usability and UI aside: if you want me, generically speaking, to trust your web site, then you need to provide a way to -delete- the account and all relevant information, and not just disable, à la Facebook.

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I did consider this but then I thought about the case where the user wants to re-enable their account. –  lori.lee Sep 1 '10 at 6:14
    
I can always re-create an account if I want to. Then it's up to the user. –  Hisham Sep 10 '10 at 21:49
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To answer this question I think you need to provide more information. What are the possible interactions a user can have with other site members? Seems you're trying to create a community and there 'can' be more than one level of authenticated user, or certainly recognition if a user is more active than others.

With a user ID on the site, perhaps you could let people respond to other people's dating ads (I'm assuming that's what you have users doing, but don't know because you haven't provided any info about the model or strategy of the site), but you might require them to create a full profile to post ads themselves or collect responses to their responses.

In other words it's a two-stage approach that allows some interaction with an ID, but more features with a 'membership'. Is there a revenue play? If so, the first level could be free, but to really get the benefit, the paid membership allows a full profile.

I'm probably reading too much into this, but I'd say they have to cancel their membership totally to be logged out, but disabling a profile would just mean they are voluntarily making themselves invisible to other site members.

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There is no membership fee, everything is free. Everyone has the same level of authentication. A user can interact with other users by sending them messages and by adding them as favourites. They can also search for other users. –  lori.lee Sep 1 '10 at 6:12
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I'd go with logging them out (but don't forget to tell them that they've successfully de-activated their account- as well as how they can re-enable it again). And then they login again, you should tell them that their account is not active and ask them to confirm if they would like to activate it again.

EDIT: logging out further reinforces the idea of disabling their account

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