Prompted by Generic-ize a user's name when their account is destroyed, it appears there are two methods of disabling user accounts permanently: deleting and "destroying"

  • What are the differences between deleting and destroying a user?
  • What determines which method is used?

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  • 18
    Other proposed types of terminal account disposition: annihilate, expurgate, overwrite, deracinate, extirpate, flush, rm, mv to /dev/null, multiply by zero, divide by aleph-null, calculate the limit as Posts->Inanity of f(User), stack overflow of downvotes (more downvotes than they can handle), migrate to Davy Jones' Locker.SE, exile to Paradise, California, licked to death by kittens. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 4:14
  • 3
    I thought "deleted" users were ones who had been self- or moderator-removed, whereas "destroyed" users were ones who had been caught on film asking Ben Shapiro a question on a school campus.
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


"Deleted" users have their display name denormalized, their account deleted, and all of their negatively-scored posts deleted (except on meta sites and open questions with one or more positively-scored answers). Anything not deleted is retained with their "ghost" user. This is primarily for scenarios like a user requesting their account be deleted, or multiple suspensions have not helped with a user's conduct.

"Destroyed" users have all that, but also have all of their posts and comments deleted. It is intended for things like spammers, where we just want them to be gone. A user must have less than 500 reputation in order to be destroyed (ignoring suspensions which set reputation to 1). Given that, it's up to the moderator to simply select "destroy" from the mod menu.

  • 4
    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
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 17:02
  • 6
    If a destroyed user has all their posts deleted, how can you even tell if their name is "blanketed"?
    – Gnemlock
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 23:48
  • 11
    @Gnemlock deleted posts are visible to high reputation users.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 21:17

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