Friday Updates: Scheduling 200k Preceden Users for Deletion, Yuval Noah Harari Interview, AlphaGo

Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash

What I’m working on at Preceden

As you might recall from previous updates, I’m working on a big data retention project for Preceden. For example, imagine someone who signed up for Preceden in 2015 and never did anything. This account brings up some interesting questions IMO:

  • Should I keep that user’s account around forever?
  • If the answer is no, do I need to notify the person that their account will be deleted?
  • How long does a user need to be inactive before being subject to deletion?
  • If I do notify them, how much time do I give them to log back in? How many reminder emails do I send?
  • If the user does have content, does it affect the decision about notifying them or not?

This is what I’ve been figuring out and implementing in Preceden recently.

Here’s where I’ve landed so far:

  • If a user hasn’t been active in 1 year, has never paid, and has no content in Preceden, I’ll have Preceden delete their account without any email notifications.
  • If a user hasn’t been active in 2 years, has never paid, and has little content in Preceden (1-4 events), I’ll also have Preceden delete their account without any email notifications. There’s an argument for notifying them, but it’s not clear cut: if someone barely used the product and hasn’t used it in years, do I really need to email them? The vast majority won’t care and many would find the email annoying and someone would report it as spam. And for the handful that do care, it’s easy enough for them to create a new account and recreate the little amount of content they previously had.
  • If a user gets deleted and then the user attempts to log in, I’ll display a message letting them know what happened.
  • For users with 5+ events who haven’t been active in 2 years and aren’t paying, Preceden will send an email notification and give them some time (maybe 60 days) to log back in which would stop the deletion. Probably will sent 2 emails about this, one at 60 days and another at like 10 days. Will make some exceptions for users who have popular publicly shared timelines since there’s value keeping them around. This process should also help reactive a bunch of inactive users, hopefully leading to additional revenue.

Last two weeks I worked on the first three parts of this dealing with inactive users that don’t require notification. All in all, there are now 200k users scheduled for deletion over the next 60 days. The reason for 60 days is so that if there are any problems, I can stop the process and investigate before Preceden deletes too many users. I’ve got internal notifications set up so that if someone who is scheduled for deletion logs in, I’ll get an email so I can investigate. In theory there shouldn’t be too many of these, so if there are a lot it indicates something is amiss.

The code for all of this is probably the most thoroughly tested code I’ve ever written, hah. Want to be super careful and not accidentally delete an account that shouldn’t be deleted. It’s coming along.

What I’m working on at Help Scout

The usual: working on a job description for a data lead, project managing the setup of Heap in the app, data requests, Looker training videos, and using ML to improve our monthly KPI forecasts.

What I’m watching

This documentary on AlphaGo, the software DeepMind created to play the game of Go:

What I’m listening to

Tim Ferriss’s recent interview with Yuval Noah Harari. The discussion around 1 hr 25 minutes into it about the major global problems, especially about technology, was very thought provoking.

Be well my friends 👋

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