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Currently, when rep is changed due to the removal of another user account (to undo the rep gain/loss that happened when they up-/down-voted/accepted/were downvoted by you), the associated message is simply "User was removed". I am not the only one who found that message rather cryptic (I had to go search meta when I saw it, and I found my answer in a duplicate, so that makes me at least the 3rd person to not understand it).

I think it's a good idea to add a link to the relevant meta answer or some more descriptive text to that.

Edit: e.g.

Another user was removed; reputation changes linked to the user's activity were reverted.

(I can see how it's hard to fully explain the event succinctly, that's why a "what is this?" link to meta or an FAQ question/answer might be better.)

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Maybe a description like "User account was deleted" would be better? –  Robert Harvey Apr 23 '12 at 18:35
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Something like "A user (and their votes) was removed"? –  Matthew Read Apr 23 '12 at 18:39
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Or better and shorter "Voter's account was removed" –  Matthew Read Apr 23 '12 at 18:50
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@RobertHarvey That is almost equally ambiguous. Maybe something closer to my suggestion in the edit. –  trutheality Apr 23 '12 at 18:50
    
@MatthewRead That isn't entirely true though, because it could be undoing rep gained from accepting an answer, or rep lost from you downvoting their answer. –  trutheality Apr 23 '12 at 18:52
    
Hmm, good point. –  Matthew Read Apr 23 '12 at 19:01
    
@trutheality - accepts are basically just a special case of voting though. –  Flexo Apr 23 '12 at 19:26
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I would add something like "[x] upvotes on your posts were reverted due to user being removed" as the tooltip. –  Shadow Wizard Apr 24 '12 at 7:50
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@ShaDowWizArd - that's not quite correct either, since it could be an answer of theirs you downvoted that was removed, netting you +1 for example... –  Nick Craver Apr 24 '12 at 10:24
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@NickCraver do a user's answers get removed with the account? –  trutheality Apr 24 '12 at 19:14
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Just to chime in, I also finally searched here to find out what that meant. –  Ed S. Jun 9 '12 at 17:59
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I'd like to at least know what the question or answer was. –  martineau Jul 28 '12 at 7:09
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This has been around for a year at least and still no action? I saw this message for the first time today, was worried for a while before thinking it might be a bug that the notification didn't link to anything. –  Jeffrey Kemp May 23 '13 at 2:29
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I have to agree with Jeffrey Kemp...this seems like very low-hanging fruit in terms of developer effort vs. benefit to the community. –  Jonathan Van Matre Feb 11 at 16:14
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I agree as well... just saw this today and was like "wtf? was one of my user accounts on an SE site removed or something?". The current verbiage is terrible. I like the latest proposed alternative, "Another user was removed; reputation changes linked to the user's activity were reverted." -- would've saved me ~5 minutes Googling and sniffing around meta.SE to figure out what happened. –  Doktor J Mar 18 at 15:04

9 Answers 9

The first thing that came to my mind was that it was my answer to the question "User was removed" that earned me -10. I actually searched on Stack Overflow to find that question. The second thing that confused me: what user was removed? And why do I care if a user was removed?

A link, a calculation, and a description is probably not required, but the message needs to be re-phrased (sorry, I cannot figure out the appropriate message either).

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Based on the other answers, it would seem that the main problem is that people do not know that votes from deleted users are rolled back. I belive that the most logical solution is to make that clearer.

What about changing the message to something like

Upvoter user was removed and reputation was revoked

and add a link to the originaly upvoted item? That way the message should be clearer, and we can also provide the user with a reference to the answer/question that triggered the recalculation. The idea from Justin's answer could also be used - having a link to a wiki article explaining why the votes were rolled back would probably help in resolving the confusion.

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+1. Providing a link to a wiki/explanation of the action and the question(s) affected by the removal would go a long way towards reducing confusion. –  Leigh Sep 10 '12 at 3:07
    
@Leigh, to what end? The change has nothing to do with you or your post, it is due to the other user. What could you possibly have to do in response to their removal? –  Synetech Dec 8 '13 at 18:56
    
@Synetch - This was a while back, but .. I think at the time the handling was a bit more cryptic than it is now, and the points you made really were not clear to most people. They just saw points deducted, but did not know why. So the suggestion was "make it clearer" so people know why the points were removed. (I think they eventually did that, so it is now a moot point..) –  Leigh Dec 8 '13 at 19:53
    
@Synetch "The change has nothing to do with you or your post, it is due to the other user." Sure. Yet, still, if you lose reputation over it, it's helpful to know "why the heck?!". –  Kuba Ober Apr 24 at 18:02

I would suggest that the message be linked to a reason as of why the user was removed, what user was removed, or perhaps just a link in meta-wiki stating what the event is in full. Everything else in the reputation system has a link, so a small link would help confused users like me. I had to do a Google Search to find it, which took me out of the site to another site (Google) and than back to this question.

I agree, link it to a help file or meta-wiki.

On a side note, does this happen often? Users and their votes getting removed? Maybe the meta-wiki page should state why this is a common occurrence.

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I like the idea of linking to an informational page. However, providing who the user was or why the user was removed is not possible. Perhaps the serial voting lines could link to their appropriate meta-wiki as well? –  animuson May 9 '12 at 16:23
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I agree. A link is needed. –  Handprint Aug 14 '12 at 14:03
    
Is this a common event? –  Justin Oct 10 '12 at 13:11
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What I would like to see is information describing just what "User was removed" means. I don't need to know who it was, and I don't need to know why they were removed, but would like to see a description on the lines of "The user(s) who caused you to gain increased reputation has been removed from the system. As a result, their actions have been undone, and so your reputation has had to be lowered accordingly." –  PJC Nov 13 '12 at 14:08
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I would suggest that the message be linked to a reason as of why the user was removed, what user was removed, or perhaps just a link in meta-wiki stating what the event is in full. Now that’s just going too far. Simply letting us know which post was affected is more than enough. –  Synetech Dec 8 '13 at 18:20
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@Synetech: au contraire, the main problem here is that the explanation is too ambiguous. Several commenters (here and on related questions) ended up here because they read it as their account was removed. Obviously it wasn't, but what happened? Is there a bug which caused the system to remove, then reinstate me? Etc. –  tripleee Dec 14 '13 at 10:33
    
@tripleee, maybe it’s just me, but it is not that ambiguous; the message is pretty obvious, especially for anyone who uses sites like these (the people who are only asking questions wouldn’t be caring about their rep or messages; only answerers would, and it’s not unreasonable to expect them to be smart enough to understand the message). Regardless, how about A user was removed. The A should hopefully make it clear-er enough-er. –  Synetech Dec 14 '13 at 14:52

I keep being notified of replies to my (FAQ) answer about this, and users frequently complain that they didn't understand the message, or worse that they thought it was their own account in danger. Here's the most recent such comment as an example:

I could care less about the rep gain or loss, but when you have a loss it is a scary message without context. I honestly thought for a moment that my account had been inhibited in some way. No, it didn't say "Your account was removed." Still, there is that moment of "what did I do wrong?" which seems silly to cause simply by not posting a few extra words. A clearer "A user who voted on your posts was removed along with reputation changes they caused" would have gone a long way to not cause me to question my participation in the review queues as of late. – Godeke

I understand that we don't want to draw attention to user removal, but by being unclear the current message is drawing more attention, not less.

What is gained by being unclear and confusing users? Please make a change.

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I second this. Moreover, I think that reputation should not be taken away simply because a user was removed, unless that user's removal was irregular voting (shill votes etc.). Just because someone was a jerk in unrelated ways doesn't make my question or answer any less useful. –  Kuba Ober Apr 24 at 18:05

Why is this special category? If the act of removing a user account from the network reverts all their upvotes and downvotes, why not use the existing "unupvote" and "undownvote" reasons?

We should show these reversals on a post-by-post basis, just as we currently do if an active user removes their vote:

undownvote

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the spam in reputation timelines from that would sometimes be massive. Hundreds of lines. –  Andrew Barber Aug 22 '13 at 3:23
    
also, this is consistent with how reputation is shown when a post is removed: the entire reputation balance change is shown as one unit. –  Andrew Barber Aug 22 '13 at 3:27
    
And: it's a bit easier to figure out who voted what when giving those details. –  Arjan Aug 22 '13 at 11:23
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@AndrewBarber The page already collapses by day, so no big deal. I wouldn't mind knowing which posts were affected anyway. Besides, wouldn't these accounts tend to be deleted before they had much activity? I don't imagine many accounts with thousands of votes are the ones being removed for TOS violations. –  user113215 Aug 24 '13 at 21:14

I think that the revoking of points kind of leaves the message lost anyway. Why should the points be revoked.

Normally a person will upvote an answer, or a question if they found it useful. Why simply because a person who found your answer or question useful being deleted (for whatever reason), should the points weighting whether the question or answer useful be revoked?

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Because removed users are more likely to be introducing stupid votes, I guess; random downvotes or malicious/spiteful downvotes should be revoked, as should sock-puppet upvotes. It's just too hard to say what to keep and what to remove. I don't like it, but it makes some sense. –  Craig Ringer Nov 16 '12 at 3:20
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@CraigRinger, I agree that when a user is deleted, all of their account should be removed including votes (anybody who likes that Facebook retains lots of your stuff online even if you try to delete your account raise your hand). However, I disagree with your argument that deleted users are bad voters. You can choose to delete your account. In fact, in one of these “user was removed” threads here, someone mentioned that most removed users are by choice or by non-activity. –  Synetech Dec 8 '13 at 18:35

I think it's a good idea to add a link to the relevant meta answer or some more descriptive text to that.

Another user was removed; reputation changes linked to the user's activity were reverted.

Changing the wording to be slightly more clear might be reasonable (though I honestly think it is already clear enough, especially for anybody who expects to be intelligent enough to contribute to sites like these).

However, adding a link to the question that was affected is pointless. The change was due to that other user being removed (for whatever reason; maybe they chose to delete their account). It has nothing to do with your post, so there isn't any action that you need to take in response to the change.

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I think User was removed is a simple answer, and it's not hard to understand at all. So there isn't any need to provide any links, etc. for it.

And a longer description is not helpful when we can say the same thing in fewer words more accurately.

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From my perspective, as a advanced user who uses multiple web services it was a very cryptic message. It needs some alteration or something to help users quickly understand what happened. Since the most common is the removal of rep. I want to make sure I didn't do anything to cause this to happen. –  Justin May 1 '12 at 20:24
    
we can say the same thing in less word more accurately. That right. –  Synetech Dec 8 '13 at 18:19

The simple and obvious way to change "User was removed" is to name the user, perhaps with a link to the user's page (but I guess it will be defunct now?)

-10 Account spammer123 removed

I guess there might be a need to occasionally mask out an offensive or spammy user name as well... Or simply always refer to the account just by its id number.

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Did you see where your "spammer user" links to? –  brasofilo Dec 14 '13 at 14:39
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Nope, but I think it's hilarious (-: –  tripleee Dec 14 '13 at 19:18
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Since you don't know who gives you reputation in the first place, naming some specific account when that reputation is taken away cannot be described as "obvious". –  user113215 Jan 9 at 0:36
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Fair enough. I mainly meant that the problem (or at least one recurring problem) with the current message is that it is so generic that people think that their own accounts were removed, and so making it specific would fix that. –  tripleee Jan 9 at 5:41

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