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The message that appears in the reputation tab of a user's profile when they gain or lose reputation due votes disappearing when another user is deleted is simply:

user was removed

This message is confusing and unhelpful. Below are comments that demonstrate this confusion, from users who eventually found the FAQ post. I don't have any quotes from the users who could not find it and remained confused.

There is a year-old popular feature request suggesting different messages, and another suggesting adding links to a more detailed explanation. However, the message has not been changed.

I know that in the past the developers have been reluctant to direct users to meta in some situations, such as question bans, because it may cause users to post here appropriately. That does not seem to apply to this case. This is not typically a case of "users who get this message have HEAVILY abused the system"; most of us have probably seen the message at some point.

Why is this message vague and unlinked? What negative behaviour does this confusion mitigate?

My first interpretation was that I was the user who was removed!

I just simply wished the explanation on the reputation page was better. Seems like I shouldn't have had to come to the meta section to figure this out.

It must be better to show "User was removed". For a moment I just thought that I was removed :-(

the information should be better. I lost 10 points yesterday by "user removed" and assumed that I was the one being removed, leaving me wondering why and feeling somewhat embarrassed.

The recalc policy is fine. But the red mark and "user was removed" looks cryptic and unnecessarily negative--especially since the only user name mentioned on a profile is one's own. So the natural impulse is to bind "user" to the account you're looking at. (It was jarring to me and I could tell what it meant, but still this could be clearer.) I agree that orange is better than red and ideally all of these things would have hyperlinks to a help page (or at least a meta post) explaining what the deal is.

+1 (to HostileFork) for the idea of linking to an explanation of 'User was removed'. It just took me 10+ minutes to find this particular thread and read through, when I could have simply clicked through! I would also like a little more info on why user was removed (abuse, friend upvotes, rules, etc) , as that could help educate the community as a whole on what behaviors to report.

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.

My problem is that the message "user has been removed" is not a clickable link like the other messages - so I had to search meta to discover this question to find out what it meant.

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marked as duplicate by Cody Gray, Martijn Pieters support Jun 6 '14 at 7:43

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I suspect it's to prevent major "streisand effect" behaviour of people wanting to know who was removed for spamming or someone requesting an account deletion. If the message was changed to "user was removed - spamming" or "user was removed - requested deletion" would that be any better, or just linked to the MSO FaQ section? – tombull89 May 23 '13 at 15:06
@tombull89: I don't think people even need a reason; they just need the phrase defined. "user was removed". Done. – Matt May 23 '13 at 15:09
"An account was deleted and took its votes with it" – Daniel Fischer May 23 '13 at 15:25
I don't care who was removed why. That will have its valid reasons. But I do care about which vote is gone, which question's, answer's, or whatever's. I don´t see the rationale behind telling me that a user passed away, took votes with him, yet not telling me for what he originally had up/downvoted. – TheBlastOne May 29 '13 at 13:43

I would like to see it changed to:

A deleted user's votes were removed

This puts the focus on what happened to you - some of your rep is gone - while (I hope) not inspiring you to think there is something you can do about it.

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from usability perspective, it would be also nice to have this message accompanied with a little icon of a coffin – gnat May 23 '13 at 19:54
This puts the focus on what happened to you - some of your rep is gone Why‽ It has nothing to do with you; the change is due only to the other user. while (I hope) not inspiring you to think there is something you can do about it. Exactly; there’s no action needed. Your post is self-contradictory; why would you make it focus on the user whose rep is being affected but then expect them to do nothing? – Synetech Dec 8 '13 at 18:52
@Synetech they know their rep has been removed. This message appears on the rep history page along with the -30 or whatever. It doesn't add any emphasis beyond what is already there. The rather cryptic user was removed tries for the same thing but clearly misses the mark because people end up asking on meta what the message means. – Kate Gregory Dec 8 '13 at 19:35
Well like I said, the alternative is worse. – Synetech Dec 8 '13 at 20:48

What negative behaviour does this confusion mitigate?

For you? None. This has nothing to do with you; the other user is the one who is being punished. In fact, they may not even be getting punished; they may simply have chosen to delete their account.

But I do care about which vote is gone, which question's, answer's, or whatever's. I don´t see the rationale behind telling me that a user passed away, took votes with him, yet not telling me for what he originally had up/downvoted. – TheBlastOne

Why? What difference does it make to you? The rep change had nothing to do with the quality (or lack therefore) of your post. The change was due entirely to the other user, so there is nothing you can do with the information.

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The point is that the three words used don't even convey this information, or indicate how you can find such information. The description is unnecessarily unclear. – Josh Caswell Dec 8 '13 at 18:54
The message is clear enough. Like I said, there’s nothing for you to do; a user was removed which caused a cascade of events which ultimately cost or gained you some reputation. What could you do with more detailed information? At best, it could be re-written to clarify what happened (as opposed to what was affected), but is a message like the following really that much better? Another user’s account no longer exists. Their posts have been removed, along with one or more of your accepted or up- or down-voted answers to their question(s). Your reputation has been adjusted accordingly. – Synetech Dec 8 '13 at 19:28
Without reasonably detailed knowledge of the SE system, "user was removed" does not imply that cascade of events. Are you aware of all the implications of "water heater is dead"? One of them is "restaurant must close". But which sign on the door is clearer? The first, or "closed for the evening because we have no hot water"? – Josh Caswell Dec 8 '13 at 20:02
It depends on why the user was deleted. I don’t remember the handle, but you can find out about that user on SO who got mad and went on a tare and was banned, and all of their posts were deleted. And like I said, a more detailed explanation isn’t any better. – Synetech Dec 8 '13 at 20:48
@down-voters, I don’t know why I bother participating in Meta at all. Obviously nobody is interested in actually improving the network. – Synetech Mar 31 '14 at 15:52
@Synetech Yes, it is really that much better. If that was the message, I wouldn't have just wasted 10 minutes finding this. – DCShannon May 3 '14 at 0:47

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