All forums have them, accounts that have never posted on the forum. Some of them are unsuccessful spambots, some people who signed up but never posted and then forgot about their accounts and some are people who lurk but never post. Whatever the reason they are there for, should they be kept or is it better to delete them?
When I suggest deleting accounts with zero posts to administrators the responses vary greatly. A common argument to not delete them is that the member may one day come back and want their account and, if so, it should be there for them when they return. If your forum is 4 years old and the member hasn’t logged in since the day they registered 3 years ago is that really likely? I believe the main reason administrators keep these zero post accounts around is to boost their statistics. Many administrators fear deleting accounts, even if they have zero posts, as they believe it will make their forum less attractive to potential new members.
I believe it is the other way around. If I visit a new forum and upon looking through the member list see hundreds of accounts with zero posts I am going to wonder why. What is it that makes people sign up to this forum and then not post anything? Is there something I should know about this forum? Zero post accounts can deter potential members a lot more than most administrators are aware of. It can make their forum seem very unattractive and considerably lower the post per member ratio.
Many forums have certain limitations in place for guests in order to try and get people to register and post. A common limitation is to not allow guests to view attachments or links in posts. This can cause members to sign up and never post just to be able to see all the content. This defies the whole point of putting the limitations in place to begin with. If you are doing this on your forum then it is a good idea to regularly clear out accounts with zero posts as a message to these lurkers. It shows them that in order for them to be able to get something out of the community they also need to contribute to it. This is a quick way of boosting activity on your forum if you know you have people who lurk on accounts with zero posts.
So, how should you go about removing zero post accounts? You could be aggressive and just delete all the accounts here and now. Usually this wouldn’t be an issue as most of the accounts probably belong to inactive users. The only thing you ought to take into consideration here is if you have lurking members as mentioned above who only have accounts to view content. If this is the case a nicely worded email informing members that all zero post accounts will be pruned from the site may be a good option. This is obviously something you could do anyway to give anyone who owns an account the opportunity to use it.
Deciding whether or not to remove zero-posters comes down to you as an administrator’s preference and style of administration. If you focus on quality content and honest statistics then removing them is the best option. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that accounts with zero posts make your forum look larger or more active.