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Prompted by this question, it appears there are two methods of disabling user accounts permanently: deleting and "destroying"

What are the differences between the two and what are the criteria that determine which method is used?

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"Destroyed" also destroy all the posts too – YOU Apr 27 '11 at 15:35
@YOU, consider posting an answer rather than a comment. (: – Rebecca Chernoff Apr 27 '11 at 15:36
Yeah, there are bits and pieces of the answer within the comments on that question, I just figured it'd be good to have an official question with a fully-composed answer that would explain it. – Daniel DiPaolo Apr 27 '11 at 15:37
The deleted user is only mostly dead. – Anthony Pegram Apr 27 '11 at 15:38
If they're completely destroyed, there's only one thing you can do. – mmyers Apr 27 '11 at 15:39
@YOU I wasn't suggesting that you had to delete your answer, just that I felt the image was more harmful than helpful. – Grace Note Apr 27 '11 at 15:48
@Grace, I deleted because simply I don't know how to explain that what I really wanted to say. – YOU Apr 27 '11 at 15:51
@YOU I understand. Sorry for the trouble I caused. – Grace Note Apr 27 '11 at 15:52
@Grace, No worries, I originally have no plan to post it as answer too. :) – YOU Apr 27 '11 at 15:52
Feature request: Launch a missile at the user's last-known location when selecting to destroy hom. – ThiefMaster Jul 10 '12 at 18:42
up vote 16 down vote accepted

"Deleted" users have their display name denormalized, their account deleted, and all of their negatively rated posts will be deleted. Anything with a score of 0 or higher is retained with their "ghost" user. This is primarily for scenarios like a user requesting their account for deletion, and it has some degree of reversibility.

"Destroyed" users have all that, but have all of their posts deleted. It is intended for things like Spam users where we just want them to be gone.

A user must have less than a certain amount of reputation in order to be destroyed. Past that, it's up to the moderator to simply select "delete" or "destroy" from the menu.

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"Deleted" users have their display name denormalized really? So a deleted user has their name deleted as well, but destroyed users get to keep their names?? wat – Won't Apr 27 '11 at 16:01
@Will As I mentioned on your question, in the past a Destroyed user would have the name blanked out completely. I'm not sure when, or why, that was changed. – Grace Note Apr 27 '11 at 16:21
Just an interesting corner case here: if you have an account on A.SE and an account on B.SE, delete the account on B.SE and then have one of your A.SE posts migrated to B.SE, the migrated post shows your non-ghost name. – user27414 Apr 27 '11 at 17:02

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