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I have a website that works like a forum but not exactly. Here, users can create their content of threads while any user can add their posts to this thread. However, the thread creator has editorial rights and all action controls on the thread so that, they can delete posts of other users. Also, the creator can open/close the thread at anytime.

The idea is, the creator of the thread is expected to put most of the posts in the thread but if they want and permit, others can contribute the thread too.

The question is: Whenever a thread creator deletes a single or multiple posts that contributors added to the thread, should we send a notification to the user who posted it that their post was deleted by the thread owner?

I know that comments should be deleted silently, but the posts sent by the user also showed on their profile and they make up the thread whereas comments are detached. Also any other suggestions would be appreciated.

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  • I think it's better to give option to the user to get notified for different actions on your platform (eg; when someone replies to their post, when their post get deleted etc) and let the user decide when s/he wants to get notified in their account settings under Account > Notifications.
    – Ades
    Jun 11, 2020 at 9:05

4 Answers 4

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Even it's a matter of choice as you explicitly told by,

"I know that comments should be deleted silently"

I don't see any benefit here by not notifying user that his/her comments or posts deleted or removed. It's easy to ran into similar situation a lot when blocking performed by someone you are directly in relationship.

Even there are apps that handle this very successfully by letting end user know that it's not possible to contact with the same person again, the rest of the apps mostly behaves like the conversation or the interaction with this people (so the comments, posts, messages, threads) deprecated as they never exists which causes friction on user's perspective.

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  • Nice answer thank you. Let me explain a bit: THE thread is related to cat photos everybody is posting cat photos but this new user posts dog photos so his posts are deleted by the thread owner. So should I notify the user that "Hey your posts on Thread #456 were removed by the Thread Owner #44". Do existing forums do this?
    – Avadhesh J
    Jun 13, 2020 at 6:09
  • Well, I can suggest you a point of view to apply without not taking care of what others do: What happens if I notify or what happens when I don't? Evaluating the situations in that manner will drive you far best according to that specific case. Like in this scenario, if you notify the user, you don't loose anything other than acknowledging one of your product's customer; and if you don't notify him/her, (s)he'd be trying to find this post and might get frustrated that your platform even didn't mention it. It's not even different than other notifications I suppose. Jun 13, 2020 at 15:59
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Perhaps you can make this a choice on the deletion confirmation screen, such as via a checkbox that says "Notify commenter".

A thread owner might want to notify the commenter of the deletion with an explanation ("Sorry, dog photos are not relevant to the topic") -- this is what's done here on StackExchange. A comment can be useful to smooth things over, or prevent "Why did you do that?" follow-up messages.

On the other hand, the thread owner might wish to delete a comment that is threatening or harassing, and not wish to engage with the commenter any further. Also, if the comment was spam, there's no reason to notify the commenter.

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Yes, it is good practice to let users know if the comments/thread is deleted/modified as they are the contributors and keeping them informed is always beneficial. Also, I agree to having this configuration somewhere in the settings as to what kind of notifications they would want to see.

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Context

I feel we lack a bit of context to answer the question properly. Can is different than should. You can notify, but should you? In order to answer that question, we need to know the purpose of the website you describe.

I want to back question you: "what's the purpose (goal) of your users on this website?" In other words, what are they trying to accomplish, and how does having your contribution be removed affect you as a user (contributor). Does it mean something?

Counter example: if I put something on Wikipedia and it is overwritten by someone else, am I informed of that? Can or should I act upon it when that happens? (not really, is the answer).

Answer

So, to (already kind of) answer your question:

  • If it's important for the user to know their contributions have been removed, so that they can act upon it and adjust their behavior, then yes, you should notify them.

  • If they cannot act upon it and it has no real consequences to the user having their contributions removed, then it's only a nice to have, but not a must have. Or, maybe even avoid it, as notifying them would imply them acting upon it, and that's maybe not possible, leading to frustration.

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