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What is the best way to allow a member to delete their account if they wish to not be a member of our community? Should I simply have them click a delete button on the site? What other measures should I use?

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One factor to think about is that of the "malicious" or "mischievious" friend. Or, simply, that people change their minds.

I suggest that you give users a way to deactivate their account, but with an escape hatch of some kind - an emailed confirmation link perhaps, or "account deletion will occur in 30 days unless you change your mind".

  • This has probably changed under the GDPR. I think that if a user has requested deletion of their account, it has to be done immediately unless there is an outstanding bill due. – Michael J. Oct 15 '18 at 15:12
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Taking @Bevan's idea a bit further:

Have a "deactivate account" link which sends an e-mail to the registered e-mail address. That says something along the lines of:

If you want to proceed click on this link or paste the URL into your browser's address bar.

If you have changed your mind then you don't need to do anything. The above link is only valid for 48 hours (or what ever period you decide on).

If you wish to reactivate your account at a later date click on this link.

If you didn't request deactivation then you can click on this link to report it.

I'm not sure you need to do all of this, but you get the idea.

By sending the e-mail to the registered address you guard against malicious or mischievous attempts to delete the account (in much the same way as you should treat any change to the account details). The e-mail gives the user confidence they can back out and also recover their account in the future if they change their mind.

However, if deletion is a unrecoverable option you could warn them instead:

Once the account is deleted it cannot be recovered, are you sure you want to proceed?

Again, giving the user another chance to change their mind.

Bear in mind that there may be laws in place that require you to fully delete someone's account should they request it. In these cases the second option is all you have available to you. Though there may be a half-way house that allows you to have accounts in a deactivated state for a limited period of time. In that case you can provide the reactivation link but indicate that will only be valid for that time period.

  • Of course, this is just for those users that actually confirmed their email account, right? – Leonardo Herrera Oct 9 '10 at 17:13
  • @Leonardo - True! – ChrisF Oct 9 '10 at 17:15

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