It may seem like this isn't a meaningful choice - delete vs inactive - but making the wrong choice can have a huge impact on your data management. At COMET, we often get the question 'how can I delete a child's record?'. Our short answer is, as a user, you can't. The longer answer is that we made a choice in the development of our system to allow users to make records inactive, but not to allow them to delete records. The idea is that, if you don't want to see some data, make it inactive. If you never want to see data again, delete it. The follow up question would be, can you really ever be sure that you'll never want to access some data again? This is why we didn't create a delete button, instead we have the 'inactive' checkbox.
Now that we said all that, the big news for this blog post, is that we're releasing a 'Delete' option! After 10 years, we've had enough requests from users who want to be able to just delete some child records, records they know they'll never access again (mostly because they were created by mistake). Before you click that delete button, however, here a couple things to think about:
DELETE - Was this data created by mistake? Is it better to just edit it and save the changes, or are you sure you want to delete and start over? Are there other data elements connected to this record, like assessment scores or class attendance, which will also be gone if you delete? Do I have this data stored in another spot in case I ever need to access it again?
INACTIVE - Will I need to view this data again? Will I need to report on this data again? Do I have this data backed up in another location? If not, just make it inactive until you can create a back-up.
A good example of a time when inactive is better than delete is program enrollment. If a program participant, let's call him Bob, is no longer attending so you don't need to see Bob in your class list, edit Bob's profile and mark him as inactive. This way, if you want to run reports for a time period when Bob did attend, his attendance records will still be there. However, if you deleted Bob then he would be gone completely from the database. This means if you ran a report for a time when Bob did attend, there wouldn't be any record of his attendance and he wouldn't be counted. If by accident you created two Bobs in the database and the second Bob has no data associated with him, then by all means delete that second Bob.
This may seem like a super dry topic for a blog post, and it is a little bit, but we want to do our best to support our customers and their data management practices. For right now, we've released a new function that allows our users to delete student/member records only; you can't delete users. In order to access this delete function you'll need that priviledge assigned to you in COMET, which you can obtain by contacting your COMET Account Manager. If you have any questions about how to delete records, when you mark people as inactive, or if you just want to say hi, contact us. You can also reach out to support directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.