August 15th, 2006


Set a Schedule for Purging Cycles

Set a Schedule for Purging Cycles

Short, concise description of the idea
Instead of the current system of infrequent purging cycles, set a regular schedule for purges.

Full description of the idea
Currently, LiveJournal runs purging cycles at infrequent intervals (the last one was May last year, and I don't have a clue when the one before that was). This results in deleted journals sitting around for months or years, leaving users confused about when LiveJournal will finally remove their content, or irritated that they can't rename to xx_perfect_username even though it's been deleted for ages.

Instead, I suggest that LiveJournal creates a public schedule for purging and sticks to it. Off the top of my head, I'd suggest running a purge every six months (once at mid-year and once at December, so people can buy renames for Christmas), but the frequency and dates of the purges should be chosen to minimise the effects on users while still purging regularly.

The given reason for infrequent purges is the strain they put on LiveJournal's systems. Using a schedule could allow LiveJournal's administrators to plan for this strain, and reduce the strain during each purge (instead of purging foo accounts every year or so, they'd purge foo/2 accounts every six months, spreading the strain). They could announce it as a regular maintenance event, telling users that the site may be slow on $date due to account purging, we apologize, blah blah.

An ordered list of benefits
  • Fewer deleted journals cluttering up LiveJournal.
  • Increased rename token purchases, due to freeing up of deleted usernames.
  • Users who want to know when an account will be purged can be told when the next purge is scheduled for, rather than being told 'we don't know'.
  • Reduced strain for each individual purge cycle, as there is less time for purgeable journals to accumulate.
  • Schedule allows administrators to plan for purging strain in advance.

An ordered list of problems/issues involved
  • Strain on LiveJournal's systems during purge.
  • Increased strain on LiveJournal's systems from renames after the purge, as people flock to get purged usernames.
  • Users may be accustomed to LiveJournal's irregular purges, and may be upset to find that the account they deleted six months ago (but were totally going to come back to someday) has been purged.

An organized list, or a few short paragraphs detailing suggestions for implementation
  • Determine frequency and dates for purging (perhaps analyse traffic patterns or other data to find the dates/times that will minimise the number of users affected). Post the scheduled dates somewhere public, so users can check when the next purge will occur.
  • Announce the purging cycle ten or so days in advance in lj_maintenance, news or other user-facing areas. Use this to advise users to undelete an account if they don't want it purged and to warn users about site slowdown during the purge.
  • Purge the accounts.
  • Announce that accounts have been purged, and publish a list of purged accounts for renamers to browse.
  • Repeat for next scheduled cycle.