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So moderators just got the ability to provide custom reasons when they ban users from review. Often, these bans are due to specific very bad reviews, like approving spam or non-answers. It will be common for us to give links to these bad reviews in the ban message that the reviewers will be presented with.

However, many of these reviewers lack the necessary reputation to see deleted posts. If we're banning someone from review for approving spam or non-answers, almost all of the time those posts will be deleted. If we give them links to the reviews they performed, they won't see the now-deleted posts that they approved, and won't have a chance to learn what they did wrong.

As examples of this, I had to actually take a screenshot to show the reviewers here and here the posts that triggered their ban, because they could no longer see them.

I propose that reviewers of any reputation level be able to see posts that they reviewed, even ones that were later deleted, if they are presented with a link to their review. They already saw the post once, so there's no harm in showing it to them again, and reviewers are going to need to see why they made a bad call on a particular review.

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I'd even go so far as to say deleted content should always be visible to everyone, but with "deleted" styling, via /review. Sure it would be a "back door" to the content, but there's no point exposing the review and its results without the reviewed material. – Josh Caswell Apr 10 '14 at 18:17
This also allows people like me who have failed a review audit to reread deleted post to learn why they failed the audit. See meta.stackoverflow.com/q/253582/220060. – nalply Aug 5 '14 at 12:14
related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/192899/… – Meehow Oct 1 '14 at 8:05
@JoshCaswell: there can be good reasons to delete something, why do you want to forbid that? For example some sensitive data or a comment about my employers. It could be a great problem if everyone can still see it later even if i've "deleted" it. That's the only purpose of the reputation system on stackoverflow. – Tim Schmelter Feb 13 at 16:48
@TimSchmelter - Deleted comments are not visible to anyone, and wouldn't be under this proposal. Posts that contain sensitive information (medical records, credit card numbers, etc.) get hard-deleted from the database and cannot be accessed by anyone under any conditions. Josh is only suggesting that anything which was present in review at one time be viewable later if you happen to have a direct link to the review case. That won't be searchable or viewable in any other way. – Brad Larson Feb 13 at 18:01

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote

The inimitable Oded stepped up to make this happen - as of this morning, all posts reviewed will remain visible to their reviewers in the context of the relevant review task. "Skip" does not count as a review for this purpose (or most other purposes).

As a reminder, you can view all of your past review tasks for a given queue by visiting the History tab for that queue.

Original answer, explaining rationale for this implementation

This ain't a bad idea, but we need to be a bit cautious. We've taken babysteps in this direction before (although they seem to keep breaking), but Brad's right: it's awful hard for folks to learn from their mistakes when we don't let them see what they did wrong. This goes beyond just audits (although it would remove some obviously-fragile code there as well), because folks can and should be expected to learn from the outcome of all their reviews if those reviews are deemed inappropriate.

We don't need to let folks see the posts themselves (visiting /questions/[id] with < 10k should continue to 404 if you don't own the question), but displaying the post within the context of the review item when you participated in the review and are given a link to it seems reasonable. Note that we do not normally link to reviews on deleted posts from your activity feed; for the purpose of this discussion, that should not change either, as doing so would make public links to reviews which only privileged readers would be able to see.

Therefore, this request strikes me as reasonable as it would only expose deleted information in cases where the viewer had already seen it. Tossing the request up for internal discussion.

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Just so the implications are clear, this would mean any post that has been reviewed could be visible if you know the review task ID. There would be no easy way to find, say, all of the reviewed posts from a specific user or reviewed questions in a specific tag. (Short of brute force, I can't think of any method.) But since a user's list of old reviews tasks are publically visible, it will be possible to evaluate the review history of other users including reviews of now deleted posts. Is that accurate? – Jon Ericson Sep 29 at 23:32
First clarification: your complete review history is not public. Critically, deleted posts do not appear in your activity feed. They are visible in your per-queue review history, but this itself is only visible to you and 10K+ users (who can already see deleted posts and thus review others' review history). Second clarification: this would only make any post that has been reviewed visible if you know the review task ID and you reviewed it. And you can already find the former from your history (noted above). – Shog9 Sep 29 at 23:46
Excellent. It's hard to object to that scheme except it would require slightly more complicated logic to implement. I think I misread "it would make a lot of links public" which sounds more ominous than it does after a more careful reading. – Jon Ericson Sep 29 at 23:51
Yeah, that sentence was plenty awkward; reworded. – Shog9 Sep 30 at 0:13

I think it's worth expanding on Josh Caswell's suggestion to always show posts from corresponding review tasks. In particular, there are a number of possible arguments against that that don't really apply:

  • Review already can and does show certain deleted posts to random reviewers through audits
  • The potential to stir up trouble is greatly limited by the scope of review, since a particular review task is not easily accessible in general (still less so than a deleted post's URL), so rubbernecking is impractical
  • The potential to stir up trouble is also limited by the UI of review, which tends to narrowly focus actions on what is actually useful for reviewing/moderating
  • Privacy/legal considerations are moot, since anything genuinely problematic gets hard-deleted (as pointed out); many self-deleted posts are never in review in the first place, or only for unrelated reasons, making embarrassments rather less likely

On the other hand, there's a strong educational advantage to showing deleted posts (and often the reasons for closure/deletion in the comments as well, from experienced users or diamond mods that actually pulled the trigger). Almost everyone will see one of these deleted posts only if they are

  • reading a meta post instructing or asking advice on proper reviewing technique,
  • reviewing their own review history (or someone else's, if they have 10k, but in that case they can already do this) to see the final results and compare with their own actions, or
  • seeing an audit result page where they can either reinforce what they already know or correct their misconceptions or careless actions.

In all of these cases, a fresh or deeper look at the actual post and any comments or votes is very helpful to improve moderation, and avoids the frustration of being shown an example to learn from that is utterly unreadable.

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I second this proposal not only for the reason given but also for a totally different one, which I already elaborated here, suggesting that users shall be able to see any post on which they participated in some way at some reputation:

Sometimes if I help to improve a post or provide guidance to a poster during review, I later check back to see the fruits of my work. Sometimes these posts are deleted, e.g., because

  • the asker deleted their question due to misunderstanding the system,
  • it was actually not a good question,
  • I voted to leave open a question and carefully elaborated but other close voters disagreed (in which case I may want to take the issue to Meta).

In this case it can be quite irritating and frustrating if I fail to find a post that I think should be there.

So, the suggested feature is not only useful to show bad reviewers their mistakes but to allow good or at least enthusiastic reviewers see the fruits of their work.

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