Archive & Delete Help Center Articles

25 Comments

  • Zac
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    Agreed. We like the ability to retain out of date articles with Archive, and it has been a feature we have requested for some time.

    However, now that all articles are Archived indiscriminately, there is a lot of clutter in the Archive section. Some articles are just tests for certain sections, and some were incomplete articles or snippets that wound up being written as part of another article and then deleted.

    Admins should have the ability to delete articles (remove the article from Archive and eliminate the data from existence). I'm sure many would feel that other Help Center managers should also be able to delete articles. Perhaps, in the interest of improving retention and avoiding accidental data loss, there can be a "trash can" that saves deleted files for 30 days before purging them (similar to Google Drive). This will allow an admin to check for deleted articles and restore them if a user made an erroneous decision.

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  • Maggie St. Clair
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    I like the idea of being able to archive, but we need to be able to delete as well. As Zac mentioned above some articles get created as a test or ended up as part of another article and now they are going to clutter up the archive. As an admin we should be able to choose whether to delete or archive. 

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  • Christian Colding
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    Hi all,

    I'm very curious to hear more.

    So the original intent of this feature was mainly to make sure that deleted articles could be restored. We designed a "trash can" that would contain all that content so you could still access it. After having done that we changed the name of the (delete) button and the list that shows (deleted) articles to archive instead, to make it clear that articles were never permanently deleted.

    But it seems like you see the archive functionality as something different. Something where you can save your great articles that are just no longer relevant instead of permanently deleting them, is that correct?

    Let's say that we renamed the button and list back to "Delete article" and "Deleted articles" would that make it clearer that this is "simply" a trash can?

    The reason I'm asking is why do you look at the Archived articles list at all? What do you gain from viewing that list? I pretty much never look in my trash can on my computer, except if I want to restore something. And why do you want to maintain such a list by being able to permanently delete articles in it? Why is it important that you do not have a cluttered archive?

    Zac, you are specifically asking for a trash can for the archived articles, but that would be like a trash can for the trash can. This is essentially why we don't allow you to delete, so we ensure that content is never inadvertently deleted.

    I'm really very curious to hear your thoughts, because we might have had one approach to this problem that isn't completely resonating with you guys.

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  • Zac
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    For us, the content in the Archive could still be relevant. To me, there are three "states" of information once it is published:

    1. Live and relevant.

    2. Outdated but relevant for historical interest.

    3. Completely irrelevant and must be purged.

    I think this habit is akin to the philosophy of email management in Gmail - if I don't need it, I archive it. But there is spam I just want to delete.

    Our thinking is that when an article goes out of date (for example, a process is revised), it should be easily eliminated from the view of our frontline agents to avoid confusion. However, these legacy processes must still be documented - to understand how things were done last year, and if process changes are made, to understand why they were changed from the way they were in the past. It answers the question of "how did we used to do it?" (when an agent inadvertently follows an old process from habit or memory, or when we are reviewing existing processes and want to steer away from mistakes from the past), or "why did we stop doing it that way?" (again, when reviewing existing processes).

    This information must not be deleted. Instead, managers should have access to the archived information so we can see how the information has evolved - it serves as a record.

    However, some information is garbage - an agent wrote an article that is completely erroneous, test articles were placed in a restricted category to test visibility before adding internal-only information, etc. That only clutters the view of the archive.

    I see that the archived articles do retain the category and section hierarchy (as long as those objects still exist in Help Center) - this is helpful for our use case. I think users who want to "delete" from the archive don't see it as a "trash can", but as a repository for out-dated information.

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  • Maggie St. Clair
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    Exactly what Zac said! 

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  • Christian Colding
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    Thank you so much for your feedback.

    I feel like we might have chosen the wrong word here which has influenced how you've seen the feature and that's why you are obviously asking for a way to delete as well.

    The intent of the feature was not as an archive, but as a trash can. While it can be used for that, it wasn't designed for that. We had other plans to introduce such a feature at a later stage, better tied with more states we would be introducing in the future (like "Work in progress", "Needs approval, "Under review" etc.)

    But obviously it's there now, so we'll review the situation and see if we want to rename "archive" to "delete" so it clearer and perhaps hide the list a bit more, so it doesn't feature as prominently in the UI.

    I know you would be sad to see that changed as you used this as an archive feature, but on the other hand I believe it to be important that we are clear on what exactly this feature does and how it's intended to work.

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  • Zac
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    From the usability perspective, the changes you referenced would be a loss in the short term. Changing the name will make the intended functionality clearer, but hiding the list might actually hamper the ability to use it in my opinion. As it is, users who have the Zendesk-intended use case in mind probably don't mind any of this, and those of us who had a different thought process can use it as-is whether it's named "Archived Articles" or "Deleted Articles", as long as there's a clear way to get to it when needed.

    The principal advantage of an "archive" function is as follows:

    1. Changes visibility immediately (remove from agent view).
    2. Consolidates archived items together in a list
    3. The list is visible by default to all admins with access (this is important - new managers and admins don't have to make a custom list to gather the articles into one view in "Manage Articles"
    4. Preserves organizational hierarchy (for example, so we can search for "Archive" items that were in "Process Info" folder).

    I highlight these things because the only other way to "Archive" before the introduction of this feature was introducing a custom section with custom visibility. This meant:

    1. Articles had to be manually moved to the correct section
    2. With sections, we could make an "archive" duplicate of each "live" section to preserve hierarchy, and sacrifice the ease of immediately archiving. Or we could make a single "Archive" section, but sacrifice the ability to find articles by section.
    3. With the manual solution, to find the articles each manager would have to save a custom search.

    So the new feature has a lot of advantages. As you consider how "Work in progress", "Needs approval, "Under review", etc. will function, please consider these needs and how to avoid the impacts listed in the three points above. As a knowledge manager, I don't want to go back to a manual solution - this system-wide state is much easier to manage, overall.

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  • Heather R
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    I agree with Zac on both above posts. From our point of view, if it's not delete, please don't name it that.  We prefer to call it archive until you have the other enhancements in place. Especially since there is no way to actually delete the articles. In other words, for us, using the term Archive is better than Delete.

    But we would like to +1 for the ability to ultimately delete a given archived article and control who has the access to do so. We wouldn't mind if it's 2 steps, i.e. archive then delete.  

    Hopefully this is clear?

    Overall, we want to thank you for giving us the archive feature! It's really really helpful. 

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  • Ron
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    +1 for Zac's posts.

    If the archived articles feature was changed to to act like a "trash can", is it not reasonable to expect that articles can still be deleted?

    Like the trash can on my desktop, I can delete a file, and either restore it or permanently delete it.

    In Zendesk, I can delete a support ticket, and it is moved to a "Deleted Tickets" view, to either restore it or permanently delete it.

    Now a help center article I can only archive, but no longer delete... 

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  • Christian Colding
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    Thank you again all of you for all this great feedback. I really appreciate it!

    Trash can

    My approach to a trash can is that you shouldn't have to worry about it until you have to worry about it. I do not believe you should be cleaning out your trash can to delete only certain items. It shouldn't be something that requires continuous maintenance. It's there when you need it and (somewhat) out of sight when you don't.

    I believe there are two reasons for deleting items in a trash can on your desktop: You want to free up space or you want to truly make sure that content is deleted forever, because it contains sensitive information.

    When it comes to freeing up space, that is not a problem at Zendesk. You are not charged by the amount of articles you have. If that was ever the case, we should definitely allow you to delete articles.

    For deleting sensitive information it could indeed make sense to be able to delete permanently, but then the articles are truly permanently deleted. Doing a trash can for the trash can doesn't make much sense. We decided not to add a delete feature at this stage, because it's significant work (believe it or not) and we wanted to see how many people really needed to permanently delete articles.

    Intended functionality

    No matter what I think we have to be clear on the intended functionality.

    Ron, what you mention is exactly why we need to be absolutely clear on the intended functionality. For "Deleted tickets" we actually delete them automatically after 30 days. This is okay for a trash can feature, but for an archive feature it wouldn't be okay to delete content after 30 days. If we believe that we have built a trash can feature, but you are using it for archiving we might introduce new features (like automatically deleting after 30 days) that would completely ruin how you use it. Or you might request features that we'll never do like a trash can for the archived articles.

    Should we one day introduce what we believe is the real archiving feature, then you would probably get confused that there are two different ways of archiving.

    That's why we need to be clear about the intended functionality, both so that we can continue to evolve it in the right direction, but also so you know what it's intended use is.

    Naming

    Heather, your point on calling it archive because it doesn't permanently delete it is a valid one and it's the exact reason why we called it "Archive". But Zac had a great point as well when he referenced Gmail's philosophy, "if I don't need it, I archive it. But there is spam I just want to delete". In Gmail when you delete an article it's not permanently deleted, but moved to the Trash which is emptied every 30 days if you don't delete manually. They even moved the trash can under the "More" button in the sidebar, so you don't have to look at it very often.

    So at least when it comes to Gmail it's called "Delete" even if you don't permanently delete. We see similar patterns elsewhere.

    Solution

    We are still settling what to do, but our current thinking is that we'll rename "Archive article" to "Delete article" and "Archived articles" to "Deleted articles" without doing any other changes. This is to make the intended functionality clear. 

    I can completely understand that this might be a letdown in that you thought this was another feature. But I think that is why we have to rename it. So it's clear what the intent is. The intent was not to replace the current way of archiving with a section, but rather ensure that deleted content could be restored.

    Don't hesitate to let me know your thoughts.

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  • Zac
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    Hi Christian,

    Thanks for being so responsive to our feedback. I know product and feature development, and naming, can be difficult, especially as you try to roadmap the future and communicate intended usage to customers. Appreciate the fact that users have a voice in that.

    I liked the idea of thinking of this as an archive. If there's a precedent for deleting items after 30 days in Zendesk (i.e. "Deleted Tickets"), calling a trash can "Deleted Articles" but not ever permanently deleting them might be confusing. It's a catch-22 because this feature sits in an "in-between space" for archives and trash cans.

    If it was named Archive, I would have confidence that product managers would commit to preserving the content going forward, and I would utilize it as such for my outdated content (regardless of the messiness I would work with in the junk articles we already discussed). If it is named Deleted Articles, I would wonder if the feature eventually evolves to permanently delete some of my data, and instead of using the feature for outdated articles, I would perform the rigmarole of archiving also discussed above.

    Are you ever going to delete articles out of our "Deleted Articles", or can we rely on it for a record of "the old stuff"? If not, I think it should be kept as "Archived Articles". Everyone can know it's an archive you can't delete from.

    Whatever the intended usage of the feature when it was designed, it seems to work really well as an actual archive. I would like for us all to be able to continue to think of it as that - and if the voices of the users point to a need for permanent delete, it can be added to the roadmap as well (we waited a very long time for this actual "archive" feature, and we could wait some more for Permanent Delete...).

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  • Graeme Carmichael
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    Christian

    I think it is hard to comment without knowing how you intend to develop the whole product.

    I was happy to view this as an 'Archive' as there is no automatic purging of content. In the future, I imagined managers with the ability to remove articles from the archive for confidentiality\ housekeeping. I can see now that this is perhaps not where we are going.

    If you have plans for version control, live draft articles, approval workflows and other statuses like 'archive', then this conflicts with the current description. We don't want 2 ways of 'archiving' or 'deleting'.

    So, if the current descriptions conflict with how the product is developing or the current intent, the descriptions are better changed.

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  • Christian Colding
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    Thank you for your feedback Zac and Graeme.

    Well, we could one day add in the ability to delete automatically every 30 days, so we're going to rename it to "Deleted articles" so it's completely clear what the intent is and so it doesn't conflict with other features we'll be doing.

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  • Steven Christou
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    Hello Christian,

    Does deleting via the api (https://developer.zendesk.com/rest_api/docs/help_center/articles#delete-article) still delete articles or will it archive them instead?

    Also should the api for listing all articles (https://developer.zendesk.com/rest_api/docs/help_center/articles#list-articles) be returning articles that are archived? From running a few tests it looks like it returns all articles including archived articles. There's no way currently for me to determine if an article is "archived" via the api.

    Previously we use to mark articles as a "draft" which removes it from being visible to users. An admin would then go in a few hours/days later and either remove it completely or fix it and publish again. It might be worth doing some ACL like agents only get to archive articles, and administrators can do deletes.

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  • Christian Colding
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    Hi Steven,

    When you delete via the API it's archived. Another reason for returning to calling it "Delete" rather than "Archive".

    Listing articles via API should not return archived/deleted articles except if you use the incremental API on /api/v2/help_center/incremental/articles.json?start_time={start_time}.

    Are you experiencing that archived articles are indeed returned via the API?

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  • Alfonso Avila
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    Hi Christian, 

     

    I noticed that when you are deleting an entire section or category, it still says "delete" and it warns me that information is unrecoverable. 

    I tested on NP and articles show on the "trash can" but they lose the directory they were on. 

    Is this registered somewhere?

    Thanks, 

     

    Alfonso

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  • Christian Colding
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    Hi Alfonso,

    You are asking if this is registered somewhere. I'm wondering what you are referring to as registered?

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  • Alfonso Avila
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    A log that tells me which category or section the article was located on. 

    If you delete (it doesn't say archive) an entire category, you delete the category and it automatically archives every article in it. If you restore an article, you don't know what was the category or section that it belonged to. 

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  • Jaimel
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    In my case, I need to be able to delete articles without a trace of them remaining, to be clear.  I have the help center integrated with an external tool that pulls articles...including those archived.  They are then displayed to site visitors, which I don't want.  I can manually restrict viewing on them, but I'd like to not have to do that.

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  • Christian Colding
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    HI Jaimel,

    How is your system pulling those articles? Archived articles should not be returned in the API, so I'm not sure where this is being picked up from?

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  • Viorica Pop
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    +1

    Both Archive and Delete buttons are needed. Sometimes you really need to delete an article.

     

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  • Christian Colding
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    Hi all,

    We have updated the text so it now says "Delete article" on the editor page and "Deleted articles" is the name of the list under Manage articles.

    If you are in doubt as to what the current functionality is, please refer to this announcement

    I am aware that most of you were using the Archived articles list as an archive, which is also why we have renamed it to clearly show that the intended behaviour here is to restore deleted articles. The reason we want to be sure that the feature is used as intended, is because of the way it was built technically. We would not have had the option of evolving this as an archive feature.

    We expect to be building an actual archive feature at a later stage and will continue to review the need to permanently remove deleted articles. 

    I apologize for any confusion this might have caused you.

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  • Pavel Kostyuk
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    Christian, /api/v2/help_center/incremental/articles.json?start_time={start_time} API call does not work for this purpose.

    The use case is to have some internal database with the information about Help Center articles and to keep it up-to-date. We can pull new articles and updates periodically with this call, but there is no way to identify the recently deleted ones. The only way to identify the deleted articles and remove them from the internal storage is to pull the complete list and compare it with the locally stored IDs. For few thousands of articles with different localization, such procedure is quite "heavy".

    According to https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/203353798-Help-Center-API-how-to-detect-a-deleted-article- you have such request since 2015

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  • Christophe
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    Hi,

     

    just another case where it would be useful be able to automate the deletion of archived articles (eg through an API):

    • we imported our doc previously hosted on another support site.
    • while testing and improving the import, we deleted lots of articles
    • after the final import, we had more than 6.6k of archive articles. These 6.6k articles will never be deleted from the archive manually as it will take us days. And there is no other way to delete these archived articles

    any suggestion?

    Christophe

     

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  • Nicole - Community Manager
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    Thank you for the feedback, Christophe. 

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