I have just been told that in order to delete my Stack Overflow account I need to email [email protected].

What is the reason behind not providing privilege to a user to delete their own account?

  • 4
    Is this a real problem? Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 10:27
  • 2
    im not saying it as problem, iam just asking a question .but user should have that previlage
    – damodar
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 10:28
  • 2
    Do you know that deleting the account is just only 404ing your profile and your account box unclickable. (every other thing like your questions, name, comments will still remain in the site)
    – YOU
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:07
  • let it be my friend, can you justify your comment with refernece to my question
    – damodar
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:09
  • 8
    I don't see why this is necessary. Requests probably come in so rarely that it's a task that can be easily fulfilled manually by the team. Setting up the functionality for every user to do it themselves safely would cost a considerable amount of time and money, for no real gain.
    – Pekka
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:21

3 Answers 3


Rare destructive functions shouldn't have a single button interface because that encourages misuse and mistakes.

Think about the number of calls of people that accidentally deleted their account. It is much easier to delete some accounts on requests than to restore a deleted account (if that's even possible).

Although it would be a fun (but useless) 50k Privilege.

  • you can conform the user before deleting their account by asking him to provide emailid with which account is associated, by this way we can reduce accidental deletion of their accounts.
    – damodar
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 10:59
  • 1
    @Damodar, yes but even then accidents can (an will) happen. (For example, the cat walks by on the keyboard). Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:00
  • 1
    @Gamecat , comeon so cat type emailid. Its funny :-)
    – damodar
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:02
  • I was going to answer something very similar! :) Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:10
  • And the user content, good or bad, is licensed as CC Attribution Share Alike. Hence, deleting an account does not automatically imply content will be deleted too. Many folks who lose interest simply abandon the sites, after optionally changing their profile first.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:14
  • It should be < 100 priviledge IMHO, probably only the priviledge which gone when you get higher reps.
    – YOU
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:19
  • Kind of related: When will inactive accounts be deleted?, @YOU
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 11:24
  • "Although it would be a fun (but useless) 50k Privilege." Do you mean deleting accounts or restoring them? Because deleting accounts is very useful. Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 13:15
  • @Bill the Lizard, I mean deleting your own account. I don't think giving "normal" users the power to delete other users is a great idea. Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 13:39
  • @Gamecat: No, definitely not a good idea, but it sure is fun. :) Commented Apr 11, 2011 at 13:40

It is quite possible for someone to take over someone else's account, and the last time I checked user deletion is a non-reversible process, by which I mean that it is not a single button undo, but requires a non-trivial amount of work to undo.

For instance, were I to sit in a cafe near Jon Skeet, sniffing the packets as he answered questions on stack overflow, I could readily cause actions on his behalf on the site. This is because there is only a limited amount of security on the site.

It is also one of the reasons why high reputation, trusted users are still subject to bot detection algorithms.

Email confirmation would be great, except that once you're spoofing another user you can readily change their email. They could change the system and require email confirmation of email changes, etc, and lock things down further, but at the moment they don't, and there's a good chance that if I'm sitting at a cafe next to another stackoverflow user, it's likely that I've got enough information to deal with trivial email problems as well.

Account deletion is not something to be done lightly, and so even if we overcame all the security issues, stackoverflow still has a need to understand why users want their accounts deleted, and how far that extends into site content - in some very rare cases it's reasonable to delete the user's questions and answers, but in most cases it's not. The team needs to understand the situation before such actions are taken.


Please note that accounts can self-delete, provided they haven't voted/posted/etc more than once.

How can I delete my account?

  • It's the only privilege you lose by contributing value :) Commented May 24, 2012 at 22:43