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Imagine a website where users can create posts, and other users can comment on these posts. Example: Q/A website, StackOverflow, or Reddit.

Should deleting a post result in:

  • The URL of this post becoming unaccessible (404 or a message)
  • All of its comments being deleted (including from user-comment pages)

or

  • The URL of this post remaining accessible
  • The post itself being censored (removing the author, title (?), text, ..)
  • All of its comments remaining readable (including on user-comment pages)
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    This seems like a stategic decision that would vary from one website to the next, rather than a UX question with a general answer. – Matt Obee Feb 1 '18 at 11:26
  • Totally agree with @MattObee. At the same time i personally lean towards deleting comments too as content for the comments is lost along with original post but once again it depends on type of website/forum board. – Awfor Feb 1 '18 at 12:01
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This is something that should be explained in the terms of service or the privacy statement.

Site visitors may expect that community knowledge-base sites like StackOverflow or Reddit may keep comments in the database. But users of a social media site like Facebook would expect that, if they delete a post, all of the comments related to the post will also be deleted.

This expectation of privacy will become law soon in the EU. The GDPR -- General Data Protection Regulation -- will take effect in May. See https://www.eugdpr.org/.

This idea of being able to control or delete your words and images online falls under "the right to be forgotten".

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I agree with Matt Obee.

If you want to keep the URL though i suggest to keep the post too.

Instead of deleting it i would "disable" it or set it to "inactive", which displays users that haven't commented on this post a "This Post has been deleted due to..." message only, while i would display users that already commented on this post the same message above the disabled comment but still showing them the original comment and all other comments.

Why i would do this? Because it could be relevant to those that commented even though it has been deleted/closed.

Also it is really frustrating to write a 10 page essay just to see that the OP got deleted with every comment below it.

You could anonymize the name of the original poster if discretion is an issue.

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