Thursday, September 17, 2009


Four days before the 6 month anniversary of the start of beta testing, I had to delete a user account for the first time ever. It was a user who frequently deleted accounts and returned a few weeks later on other sites, but she had refrained from total abandonment of my site. She was an early adopter who joined on the first day of launch and was the most active member throughout most the the nearly 6 month period.

The next day, a friend of hers saw the public dialog preceding the account deletion, which had been a non-confrontational discussion about deletion. This friend then became extremely upset about the fact that I had not yet implemented a system for automatic account deletion. Under the current system, I have to manually delete an account if a user requests a deletion. It made sense in term of prioritization to not develop code for this yet. There are far more important things to develop on this site than features for soon to be non-members. It wasn't as if I had been overwhelmed by requests for deletion. It was in fact the first one ever.

This disgruntled user has declared a boycott of my site until I implement a feature for deletion of accounts. This poses a number of potential problems.

1) This is currently the most active user, which means a boycott by her alone will significantly impact the site.
2) It is possible that her friends will join in the boycott or leave entirely, although they sided with me in the public debate on this issue. Despite agreeing with me in principle, they may lose interest in the site if she is absent, due to the social nature of the site.
3) Allowing any single user to hijack site development priorities sets a terrible precedent. Others may use similar tactics in the future. Nothing good will come out of allowing this.

The boycott strategy itself is somewhat flawed. There are members of the site who definitely would not join her in the boycott. Although site activity will be reduced, it wouldn't really be a punishment for me. In fact, it's somewhat opposite, because someone who would publicly malign the site would be absent. Furthermore, a boycott would compel me to accelerate development of other site features, ones that will more likely bring in new members, rather than the one that she seeks to compel me to create.

No comments: