Users on our platform can create lists of groups that have unique items. The number of items in these lists can reach millions.

Over time users have created hundreds of these lists to use in various ways on our platform. The calculation of these lists puts a strain on our system.

Recently we implemented archive functionality that archives/deactivated selected lists. But the clients are very reluctant to use them. Especially some of the clients that have thousands of these lists don't bother to archive hundreds of their lists which is understandable.

It is clear that the majority of users have created a lot of lists in their account that they don’t even use and have no incentive or inclination to remove or delete.

There are a few solutions that come to mind, they aren't perfect, but we have to solve this issue sooner than later.

a) Hard cap the number of lists that can be created

b) Automatically archive lists depending on some criteria (e.g. last time used)

c) Periodically propose to the user to archive lists (e.g. "we noticed you have 124 unused lists, do you want us to archive them?" )

I'll be happy to hear your ideas and thoughts.

  • Maybe also "These 124 lists are going to be archived select the ones you want to keep". What is the purpose of these lists? Are they to be used for like days, months, years?
    – xpy
    Jan 15, 2020 at 12:26
  • 2
    Personally I would change the architecture of my system so that the lists are only ever computed when they are used. That way the only thing you are wasting is storage space which is comparatively cheap. Jan 15, 2020 at 14:23
  • Yes @JamesCoyle this is exactly my proposition. But still looking for another way without changing the logic of the system. Jan 15, 2020 at 16:16
  • I would do what you have suggested in point C as long as it is presented in a way that allows the user to discover it rather than notifying the user and pestering them. You should also perhaps limit it to a small number of lists or group together lists that can be deleted together based on usage factors so that it isn't a chore for users to check they aren't archiving something they actually want to keep. Jan 15, 2020 at 16:23
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    What does archiving the list mean and is it clear for your users? Are they still accessible like archived emails or are they deleted/removed permanently?
    – chrisbergr
    Jan 16, 2020 at 9:35

2 Answers 2


I see no possible thing that will motivate me go through thousands (did I get you correctly?) of lists and archive some that I don’t use. Sounds like I need to hire someone to hand do this job for me all next month.

If I make 100 playlists on Apple music, why the hell should I care how platform deal with it. Why I have to delete / archive playlists, I need every single one.

As a dev I clearly see you have a technical problem you trying to ignore by making users solve it for you.

There are a lot of ways, that require zero user attention:

  • If list is not changed / not used, why would you recalculate it, heh? Ask you dev :) Its 2020, we have lazy loading, caching, etc. out of the box for all major languages and platforms.

  • If the list is not used for a long period why would you not auto archive it for user? Put (..zZZ) icon for such list and make it restore itself if user clicks it. It may not happen instantly.

In my company we suspend entire account if it is not active for some period: data goes away from database etc., so it does not consume any resources but some disk space. But it is 100% transparent for user, when user visit his suspended account, he sees a message: "You have been inactive for a while. Please hold on, we are unfreezing your account", takes 10-20 sec to reactivate acc.

I know for sure if I ask "you have been inactive for a while, may we archive your acc?" most of them will choose "of course not!! though I don’t use it, I still need it."


There are multiple ways to handle these problems. if a user doesn't archive/ delete the list then it must be consuming space on your server and it will eventually add extra cost. deleting by the system itself after a specific time is also not a good idea if the user itself is adding a list. we can show them the data size whenever they add a new one, how much data can be deleted or can be archived and educate them about the storage. or we can also show storage status somewhere on their profile/ dashboard/ setting pages.

  • 1
    like the idea of showing data size. Jan 17, 2020 at 10:36

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