Submitted by Nigel Whitfield, BLUF webmaster, Nigel, aka LondonSubNigel (3), 06 October 2014
This is the first in a series of BLUF Backstage articles that explains how we deal with various aspects of running the club. Today, I'm explaining how we handle inactive profiles; in theory, of course, we could just leave them all there. But, we don't need to impress advertisers with big numbers, and it's annoying for members when they search for people nearby, only to find that someone who looks interesting hasn't used the site for a while.
In the past, BLUF has been fairly lax about this, only chasing inactive members every couple of years. With the launch of the new site in 2009, we made signing in once a year a requirement of membership, and since summer 2013, we've automated the process of reminders and account deletions. So, read on to find out exactly how we do things, and how to make sure your account never gets deleted.
Ok, sorry for the Star Wars pun. But the fourth of the month is an important date; we run our automated check for inactive accounts at 0545 UTC on the fifth of each month. So, if you get a reminder or warning email, make sure you respond by the fourth of the following month.
Normally, you must sign in to the site to make sure your account is up to date and not deleted. But we realise things sometimes happen. Perhaps you've had an horrific accident and can't use the computer. Or maybe you've been sentenced to a lengthy spell in prison. Or you're going to spend a year working in an old leper colony with no internet access. That's fine (well, perhaps not the accident, or the prison, but we don't judge). As long as you let us know, the one of the BLUF admin team can mark your account so that it doesn't get deleted - though after six months, it will show a warning, as explained in 'Stage 1' below.
If we don't hear anything, then we can't do anything. If you contact us, we can help. And if we can't contact you, because you don't have an up to date email on your account, then you'll miss all the warnings, and your profile will be gone. We might be able to get it back, but we can't promise. That's what happens if you don't write, you don't call...
The automated system for handling inactive profiles works in four stages, the first of which kicks off around six months after you last signed in to the site. At any stage, right up until the day before your profile is deleted, all you have to do is sign in, and everything will be back to normal.
Emails are sent to the address on your account, in the language (English, French or German) in which you choose to use BLUF. Each message includes both your BLUF number, and the email address registered, so you can use those to request a new password if you've forgotten yours.
If, when we check activity, it is between 180 and 210 days since you last logged in, we'll send the first reminder email. We also put a reminder on your profile which says "This member has not signed in for a long time. Can you help us contact them?" and the reminder email has the subject "Please sign in to BLUF - we're missing you"
This email is sent if your last login was between 300 and 330 days ago (10-11 months). It will have the subject "Dont' forget to sign in to BLUF soon"
We send this warning if it's more than 365 days since you signed in, and it has the subject "Sign in soon to remain a member of BLUF." When you receive this message, your account is in danger, and technically you've broken the BLUF rules.
We give a little leeway, and the final warning is sent when you have not signed in for more then 425 days, with the subject "Your profile will be deleted in one month" - and if we don't hear from you, that's exactly what will happen, at 0545 on the 5th of the following month, your profile will be removed.
If you simply can't manage to sign in before then, please let us know - we can turn off the automatic deletion, but allow plenty of time; BLUF admins have holidays or go to the bar too, from time to time.
The number of profiles deleted each month varies; some months it's only a handful, other months it's more - since the automated system hasn't been running for much more than a year, we don't know what the long term results will be.
What we do know, though, is that just under half of all members sign in at least once a week, almost two thirds (64% when this article was written) at least once every 30 days, and 73% in the last sixty days.