How to deal with inactive users?

Mr. Jinx

Well-known member
Running a forum for more than a decade, you will see lots of inactive users during the years.
I wanted to email all those users to tell that their account will be removed. And maybe a small part will revisit the forum again.

This seems like a bad idea because you are not allowed to mass email without the user giving approval.
I also didn't ask for a newsletter approval during sign-up.

Are there other ways to cleanup those old accounts? Just delete them, or let them stay?
I was also thinking about a throttled mailing (by addon) that would email for example 100 inactive users a day, but that would still be illegal I am afraid.
 

Chris D

XenForo developer
Staff member
While attempting to bring them back is obviously attractive, you've already highlighted why that might be an issue.

You have to consider also what those users may do if they assume the email is unsolicited. They may report the emails as spam and that can seriously affect email sending reputation and deliverability to a point where it may affect legitimate users.

So, with that in mind, just leave the users there if you can. Them merely existing literally doesn't affect anything.

You can of course, if you decide to delete them after all, just do it with the Batch update users system in your admin control panel.
 

motowebmaster

Well-known member
This may be the wrong approach, but I just use XF's standard "reminder" features and don't do much else to bring inactive users back.

In my world Motorcycles are toys that few actually keep long-term. If the standard XF reminder features won't bring them back, then they have likely abandoned their bike and taken up some other pastime.

I move some useless threads to a private forum called the "bit bucket" so that post counts won't be affected, but largely leave the others alone. Users with older motorcycle models like to search through the old posts to see how particular problems were resolved.
 

beerForo

Well-known member
 

ENF

Well-known member
Are there other ways to cleanup those old accounts? Just delete them, or let them stay?
We have a standing no-delete policy as there's no reason to physically remove the account, especially if the account is linked to content. (If someone wants to remove their account, we have a process in place to handle that but they don't have the right to remove submitted content unless there's a copyright or personal data safety concern)

For reasons mentioned above we also abstain from sending reminder messages or any sort of newsletter to protect our email reputation.

That all said, I've seen people come back from the dead (figuratively) after ~8+ years of inactivity.
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
Them merely existing literally doesn't affect anything.
Depends how OCD you are!

If you are referring to GDPR, does it also cover conversations? I'm not so sure it would.

I have sometimes messaged a user who has been inactive. They will get a conversation email alert if they have it turned on.

Screenshot 2022-02-09 at 14.09.47.png
So if they have enabled email alerts for conversations, then they can't really complain.
 

sixlxvi

Well-known member
I'm trying to understand the concern you guys have about newsletters and email reputation. Surely newsletters are common practice and shouldn't automatically ruin your email reputation if you are sending them once a month or less? I use Amazon's SES to send mine. It hand write mine each time and send it to almost 9,000 members monthly, which inevitably results in dozens of email complaints/marked as spam. But the ratio of unhealthy to healthy deliveries is so drastic that it isn't a concern.

So if they have enabled email alerts for conversations, then they can't really complain.
On this note, something I never tried until last week is a mass conversation.

I had something important to ask my members that I knew would be better suited to private messaging, so I figured I would give mass messaging a try. I keep the setting to show the full conversation in the email alert disabled, so the user does need to log into the forum to read the message (as opposed to a newsletter, where the message will be shown in their email client).

To my surprise, this method worked so much better than the newsletters ever did. To put it into perspective, my forum usually has 10-30 members online at a given time, and around 100 unique members that log in per day.

Less than an hour after I sent the private message to everyone, over 230 members were online at the same time. And in total, around 700 inactive members logged in over the 2 days following.

Screenshot 2022-02-06 at 20-09-27 3rd 4th Gen Toyota Tacomas Tacoma3G Forum copy-2.png


So, based on my experience with trying the message thing, I suggest first disabling "show full conversation message in email alert" and take your time to write something that isn't generic, maybe even add a question that some of them might take the time to reply back to.
 

Mr. Jinx

Well-known member
So if they have enabled email alerts for conversations, then they can't really complain.

To my surprise, this method worked so much better than the newsletters ever did. To put it into perspective, my forum usually has 10-30 members online at a given time, and around 100 unique members that log in per day.

Less than an hour after I sent the private message to everyone, over 230 members were online at the same time. And in total, around 700 inactive members logged in over the 2 days following.
Very interesting. This could still hurt email reputation if you have 50K+ inactive members, but then I would use a temporary email server or something like that.
 

webbouk

Well-known member
We occasionally get a member making their first post who may have registered years ago - it always amazes me.

We also have members who register to get better access of the features but who prefer to just lurk and read rather than contribute.

If it's not broken, don't try to fix it :)
 

Wildcat Media

Well-known member
(If someone wants to remove their account, we have a process in place to handle that but they don't have the right to remove submitted content unless there's a copyright or personal data safety concern)
We have a method for that as well. Some have threatened staff that they would send the lawyers after us but, as you know, that almost never happens (and after 27+ million posts and 20+ years, it has yet to happen with ours). For most of them, they had a temper tantrum and suddenly wanted their accounts and all of their posts removed "or else." Won't happen.

We have only had a few legit reasons for us to remove a person's posts. For one of them, his company thought he was giving out financial advice and he risked his securities trading license for doing so. (He did give a little broad advice but nothing specific; his employer assumed the worst.) That is where we used the old Coventry feature in vBulletin to put a global ignore on his posts. (I had to do a global soft delete of all of his posts when we converted to XF.)

Still, I never want messages associated with the unconnected "Guest" users, so we have ways to anonymize the content to keep the member happy.
 
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Wildcat Media

Well-known member
I’ve learned this lesson. Keeping the account but totally anonymised profile is way the best solution.
This also helped us for a totally unrelated reason. We had a staff member's account get deleted. Since there was only one "guest" users, we were able to restore all of his posts. The only thing we weren't able to fix were private conversations; that still remains a mystery as everything in all the database tables is correct.
 
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