You don’t want members to go AWOL on your community. It stands to reason then, that the very last thing you ever want to do as a community manager is actually delete someone’s account. However, members will sometimes request that you do just that.
Depending on the reason, you might want to wait a couple of days for the member to cool off. If this doesn’t work, or there are circumstances behind the request that you sympathize with, you can ‘delete’ an account without disrupting your community too much.
When you use the automated tools that come with most community software packages, you lose all the content a member contributed when you delete their account. Not only is this a loss to the entire community, it can make existing discussions confusing and difficult to follow if the member you are deleting contributed to them.
Instead of deleting a member, here is what I normally do:
1. Change the member’s username.
2. Clear the member’s profile data.
3. Delete/edit the member’s email address.
4. Change the password so the account can no longer be accessed.
Now, the member is no longer associated with your community or personally identifiable and the community doesn’t lose existing content.
This may not work in every case, but it’s a good first option to discuss with your want-away member.