Improved warnings before deleting items

edited October 13, 2022
When I delete one or several items from my library, I get the warning:
Move to Bin
Are you sure you want to move the selected item(s) to the Bin?

If I select multiple items to delete, I can see in the Item Pane on the right side the total number of items selected before deleting.

I think it would be useful to provide more information on the data that is going to be deleted:
1) Give more precise information on the items that are going to be deleted: how many parent items, attachments, notes (standalone and child), ...
2) Give a warning if any of the items is located in some collections or contains manually added tags. If an item is in a collection, I probably want to keep it, as it could correspond to a paper previously cited in a paper, so I would need to double check again what I am going to delete. For only one item, I could press Ctrl to see if it belongs to a collection. But that will not work for multiple items.
3) Give a warning if any of the items (or child items that will be deleted) contains annotations (either in Zotero or from an external PDF reader). Again, in that case I probably want to double check the annotations before deleting them, to make sure I am not deleting something important.
4) Give a warning if any of the items has related items.
5) If possible, give a warning if the item has been cited in a word document.

As the warning popup will always be displayed, it does not change anything in the workflow to provide more information, and can prevent deleting wrong data. It is often difficult to realize which of the additional information is deleted together with the items. So by the time we realize what is missing, we will probably have emptied the Bin.

When cleaning my library, it is often faster to import again the item from the publisher's webpage and delete the old item from my library instead of merging the items. I usually do not cite papers in word documents as I am mostly using LaTeX, so I don't need to worry about breaking citations.
For example, some publishers first publish an "Early View" of the accepted papers (or "Accepted Manuscript", "Article in Press", ...). Or I could update a preprint with a more recent version or a publication in a journal. I usually do not need to keep the old version of the paper. But if I had added more information to the item, I would still need to reconsider merging the items instead to keep that information.
Ideally, it should probably be better to always merge the items. But the merging process will not give me the option to remove the old version of the paper, so I would still need to delete it manually afterwards. And even if using the merging process, the improved warnings will still be useful when deleting the child items I want to remove.
And I am not always interested in carrying over the information from the old item to the new one. For example I would usually put an "Early View" tag on accepted manuscripts, so that I can identify and update them easily later. In that case, I don't want to keep that tag in the new item.

Overall, providing these additional warnings will probably encourage more people to merge items instead of deleting them when it is more suitable, and make a better informed deletion feature.

The list of shortcuts to delete items and their behaviour is listed here:
I understand that to delete a child item from an item, I need to press Shift+Del, so that the Del behaviour stays consistent to remove from a Collection.
But I was confused a few times, trying to delete child notes from an item in a collection by pressing Del. It took me some time to realize why pressing Del did not do anything.
Would it make sense to add an error or a warning when pressing Del on a child item in a collection? Either:
Deleting this child item in the collection will also remove it in the main library. Do you really want to perform this action?

with the default option to be Do not delete.
Or something like:
Deleting child items from a collection should be done with Shift+Del.
Removing the child item in the collection will also remove it from the library.

And eventually a similar warning when doing Shift+Del, although doing it by accident is less likely.
  • We're not going to do any of this, sorry. Like in essentially any other program, the point of the prompt is just to help people avoid accidental deletions after pressing the wrong key — we're not going to start making assumptions about people's individual workflows and what properties of the items may or may not be important. (And no one reads dialogs anyway.)
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