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I've occasionally noticed an OP who will edit their own question and destroy it completely, always leaving some kind of graffiti-like scrawl in its place.

This seems to happen on low-quality questions by low-rep users, and the moment of self destruction tends to occur after the question is closed or otherwise devolves into a communication breakdown between the poster and the community.

Here are some examples:

It seems like the poster usually does this in anger (1st and 3rd example), or else is just confused about how to delete their question (2nd example).

My question is about how this should be handled. In the past I wasn't sure, so I always flagged for mod attention. However I notice the solution on all of these was to just do a rollback (I did this myself on the 2nd example after nothing happened). Is this a good enough approach, or should a flag be used? What about with particularly obnoxious users like in the third example, where the guy came back to do it again?

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3  
    
@PopularDemand - Hmm, that's embarrassing. I did try searching for this topic, but I think the key word "vandalism" was missing from my vocabulary. Anyway thanks for the links. –  Paul Bellora Dec 5 '11 at 17:06
    
No worries, it happens. –  Pops Dec 5 '11 at 17:08
    
There should be an open/close principle on questions. Or the algorithm invented by "Summly" to check if the meaning was changed. To allow "moderators" still to edit the question for better readability. Hehe @annalear –  dollarvar Feb 2 at 18:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 28 down vote accepted

Do a rollback to start. If the author comes back to continue vandalizing the post or otherwise breaking the rules of conduct, flag for moderator attention and we'll take it from there.

If it's just someone confused about how to delete a question (or some other site mechanic), you can also leave a comment and teach them what they should do instead of vandalizing their post: flag for moderator attention, post on meta, etc., as appropriate for the situation.

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With the caveat that if they are flagging for deletion, they'd better have a good reason in the flag description. –  Robert Harvey Dec 5 '11 at 7:52

Rollback is usually fine, and most-times is enough for people to realise "oh, some other people can edit my post, wiki-style - so doing that is futile"; it depends a bit on if there is anything to save (useful answers, etc). If so, we can "lock" it so that the answers continue to make sense. If not, maybe we're just better off deleting it. In either case, if this is anything other than an isolated incident, vandalism of posts is something the moderators have a pre-canned template for on the mod-only "contact user" mechanism. So in short, yes: if anything other than a single rollback is required, flagging for a moderator is an entirely appropriate option.

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