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I was wondering if there are some rules of removing a user from a Stack Exchange website?

  1. Can user be removed only due to violating the network's Terms of Service or are there any other reasons of removing a user e.g. a user being inactive for X months?
  2. Is user removal irrevocable or is there any "soft removal" period in which the user can dispute?
  3. And what happens if a user participate on multiple Stack Exchange sites. Does removed user loose account on other Stack Exchange sites either?
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4  
Some users ask to be removed. –  Oded Jan 2 '13 at 20:03
2  
1. If you are a registered user with some activity, you won't be deleted (unless you're a spammer, a sock, etc.). 2. It's permanent, there's no going back. 3. You can request a deletion of only certain accounts (ie: delete SU account but keep SO one) –  NullUserException อ_อ Jan 2 '13 at 20:08
1  
@NullUserExceptionอ_อ About #2, it actually is possible to recover a deleted account, however it's a manual process that requires "Jeff-Level" access and I don't think they'd do it for just anyone. In addition, I've heard of cases where some things (such as badges) are permanently lost with an undeleted account. –  Rachel Jan 2 '13 at 20:26
    
@Rachel Sure, I imagine it isn't impossible, but it's definitely not as straight-forward as the OP suggests. –  NullUserException อ_อ Jan 2 '13 at 21:31

1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

First of all, "ordinary" violation of the rules (e.g. illegal voting by using sock puppet accounts or friends, gaming the badge system, posting offensive comments etc) won't result in account deletion but rather in a suspension which is kind of warning and given manually by a moderator. First for a few days (often a week, but it varies) and if the user ignore the alerts sent to his/her email along with the suspension it can be for longer time periods.

Second, there is automated account deletion process described here:

We delete cookie-based unregistered accounts when:

  1. The user has not visited Stack Overflow in six months
    AND
  2. The user has less than 50 reputation, and no visible (not-deleted) posts

We delete OpenID registered accounts when:

  1. The user has not visited Stack Overflow in six months
    AND
  2. The user has only 1 reputation, no visible posts, and no other accounts on the network

Third, most user removals are result of their own request as far as I can tell. Users without acitivity can delete their account by simply clicking a "delete" link otherwise any user can request account removal, as described here.

The only cases I know of actually nuking/removing accounts are:

  1. Posting obvious spam or self advertisement by new users who most likely registered just to post that advertisement (example - 10K+ only) - if normal user with proper activity stumble and post self advertisement it won't result in account deletion just like that.

  2. Sock puppet accounts: when moderator finds evidence of sock puppet accounts used to game the system, the fake accounts are likely to be removed, or merged with the main account which in turn might get suspended.

Last but not least: account removal is done per site, as each site has its own set of accounts. They are all linked (associated) for the same user but still independent per site. Moderator in one site can't delete account of user in other site which he's not moderating. Worth to mention here that merging is different by being network-wide: merging user A with user B will result in all their linked accounts being immediately merged on all sites.

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Thank you very much for your answer. It was very helpful! –  Tom Jan 2 '13 at 21:16
7  
"self-advertising" can get you deleted too, if (for instance) you create an account and immediately post a few mostly-identical answers consisting of links to your blog. Mods don't usually bother with suspensions unless there's a chance someone on the other end will care. –  Shog9 Jan 3 '13 at 2:46
    
Thanks @Shog9 I wasn't aware of that, sifting through my flags I found a good example. Answer edited. :) –  Shadow Wizard Jan 3 '13 at 7:34
    
A note: while account destruction is per-site, account merging syncs up network-wide. –  Manishearth Jan 3 '13 at 8:28
    
@Manishearth that's interesting (and new to me), care to elaborate? –  Shadow Wizard Jan 3 '13 at 8:30
    
@ShaWizDowArd: If I delete user A on Physics, his linked accounts (on other sites) will be preserved. If I merge A and B, their linked accounts network-wide will be immediately merged on all sites. I once used this to merge two users when the mods on their site were not responding--I told 'em to make accounts on Chem (with the necessary mergeme info on the profile), and then I merged. –  Manishearth Jan 3 '13 at 8:33
    
@Manishearth thanks, added this to my post. If you can find official post/blog I'll add it as well. :) –  Shadow Wizard Jan 3 '13 at 8:46
    
@ShaWizDowArd: Can't find any, except meta.stackexchange.com/q/18232/178438 (which gets close, but doesn't talk about it). I guess you won't count the word of a moderator who has merged a ~50 accounts or so as official, eh? ;-) –  Manishearth Jan 3 '13 at 8:51
    
@Manishearth I added what you said to my post, hence I trust you! ;) –  Shadow Wizard Jan 3 '13 at 8:58
    
@ShaWizDowArd: lol –  Manishearth Jan 3 '13 at 8:59

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