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I'm developing a site that will be nearly completely driven by user-generated content, similar to a recipe website. Obviously, the importance of the content goes beyond the scope of the authoring user. Authors will have the option to keep their "recipes" private or share them with the community. Once the content is public, other members will peruse the content and add "recipes" that they like to their list of favorites.

Authors will be able to freely edit and delete their own private content. Once they publish the "recipe" should they be allowed to edit or delete? I'm afraid that users will be upset if they can no longer find something that they've favorited, once the author deletes it. Or they'll come back to make the "recipe" and find that it's not the same, if the author edits it.

What is the common practice for this scenario?

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    One thing you can do to mitigate this scenario is to keep an edit history. If a user decides to remove a recipe from public view (i.e. "delete" it), the people who had already saved it can keep their copy but would be barred from putting it back in public view. And if they change the recipe, a person who added that recipe to their list would be allowed to access the version that they favourited but nothing else. – Joe Z. Apr 15 '14 at 1:56
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    In your opinion, would version control be a viable solution? Edits would result in a new version while previous versions would still be accessible by all. – Matt Shultz Apr 15 '14 at 15:06
  • No. In the scenario you listed, previous versions should not be publicly available, should the original poster want to remove them from public view. They might be privately available for a period of time for people who favourited a previous version, but even then only the version they favourited would be available for a limited period of time, perhaps for them to save and use privately. – Joe Z. Apr 16 '14 at 0:53
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Users will want to have full control of the content they post. This will be the case whether the context is a social networking site, a discussion forum, themed communities etc. If you block the possibility for a user to remove content they have added to the site you will produce agitation in that user. And if you keep content posted/accessible that a user removes you will mislead the user and risk producing a sense of violation of integrity. It's important that the user has full control, or at least the perception of full control (eg. Facebook) of the content they add.

It's important however how you communicate to a user that the post they've added to their favorites has been removed. Youtube for example only says "Content removed by user" (or something similar). This is a really bad solution, since you have no idea really what the content was and thereby won't be able to try and salvage it from another source. Instead, clearly communicate when a post was removed, by what user, and what the title of the content was. Then you get a service where the original poster remains in control but still provide tools for the "leechers" to regain what was lost.

  • This goes along with what Joe commented. Do you agree that users should still have access to the full recipe via an edit history after it's been deleted? – Matt Shultz Apr 15 '14 at 15:03
  • The poster should have control. Users should not have access to the full recipe via an edit history if the original posters deleted it. If a user really likes a recipe, they can copy it or print it (you should make sure that you've got a nice printer-friendly version of recipes, too). – nadyne Apr 15 '14 at 15:29
  • "If you block the possibility for a user to remove content they have added to the site you will produce agitation in that user." Wish deviantART would get this message with respect to comments. You can't even hide them if they're not on your own page. – Joe Z. Apr 16 '14 at 0:51
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I think that being able to edit their recipes is important because the authors might want to add alternatives (gluten free etc.) or correct their texts (typos etc.). This is especially important if you wish to have high quality entries.

  • You're right but this also interferes with users that like the recipe the way it was before tweaking. – Matt Shultz Apr 15 '14 at 15:05
  • In that case, I would recommend to go with a "see original entry" or "Entry History" button/option. As an example, Wikipedia allows contributors to view old revisions or original posts. – Jimmy.D Apr 15 '14 at 17:04

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