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I am making a web app similar to 4chan (for a very specific audience), but due to database storage limitations (currently at most 5 MB), the app needs to delete old posts by anonymous users to prevent the DB from reaching its size limit.

I want to keep a limit on 2000 images at once (images are stored outside of the DB).

Can users get angry if their images get deleted automatically? Should I mention this in a FAQ or in the image posting form?

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The answer to both of your questions would be: yes. In general, any unexpected behavior is going to annoy folks. –  DA01 Mar 15 '11 at 19:55
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Um... Can users not get angry if their posts get deleted automatically? :) –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Mar 15 '11 at 21:51

5 Answers 5

To answer the title; yes (users can get angry for pretty much everything).

To answer your question: No. Expected behaviour on 4chan and similar websites is for posts and images to disappear, keeping content fresh.

If your users expect this, they won't be angry.

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I think this would be not so bad, if you built your app on the core idea, that only 2000 pictures can exist (like Twitter did with it's 140 chars limitation). If the users are aware of this, with cues when a picture will be deleted, how many more can be uploaded before something will be deleted etc, they could more likely join the game instead of complaining.

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Definitely yes, mention in the FAQ and wherever possible. This will likely turn some users off, so I hope you specialized site has a good reason to keep them coming.

One way to remind them and perhaps make it a bit more fun: do some sort of calculation and display a note on posts/images that will be deleted soon. For example, if you've reached 2,000 images always put a flag on the oldest 200 saying something like "Uhoh, this will be deleted soon, so enjoy it now!"

Visibility of critical system elements can be crucial, particularly when they don't meet standard user mental models (when I upload photos they'll be there forever), so why not make it clear and perhaps get them to chuckle a bit...

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That is an awesome idea. Haven't thought of that! :) –  rightfold Mar 15 '11 at 21:42
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+1. This requirement also reminds me of the TiVo. The TiVo has the same limitation and everyone understands that the TiVo's storage runs out at some point. If not, they'll find that out quick. Programs that are about to be deleted are marked with a yellow exclamation point. –  Steve Wortham Mar 16 '11 at 4:52

Mention it in the FAQ, when they post the image, AND if you're getting their email then send them a warning before you delete the image or just attach the image to the email.

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Yes, users tend to get frustrated when an application does something unexpected. Clearly state the limitation and make sure your users are aware of the deletion procedure.

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