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I've noticed the following behavior:

  1. I flag an answer as spam
  2. The answer is listed in the the flag queue and its score gets diminished by 1, as if I've downvoted it, which I didn't. MY rep is not impacted by this imaginary downvote, but I haven't checked the poster's rep.
  3. A moderator deletes the answer, and the -1 is gone in the deleted post

What is the purpose of the "temporary" faked downvote? Is it a bug or a feature?

share|improve this question
It's a feature. One of the team would have to explain the reasoning behind it though. – ChrisF Feb 25 '11 at 12:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

A downvote means "not useful" - and spam is emphatically considered not useful; these downvotes are from the user "Community" (note that a answer deleted by spam-flagging is marked as "Deleted by Community"). I would think that the ghost-downvotes are there to push the answer lower in rank, yet won't "punish" the flagger with a -1.

I assume the spam-flags are cleared when the answer is deleted, which would also reset the downvotes from them. The rep of the flaggers is unaffected.

Also, downvotes are feedback for the poster, who sees that something is amiss, and can edit/remove the post before it gets deleted (with the relevant auto-penalties for "your post was deleted as spam").

(I'm not affiliated with The Team (tm); this is my understanding from a previous Meta question on this - which I can't find at the moment)

share|improve this answer
+1 Seems reasonable, but when voting as spam answers already being in the queue, we should take into account that the score was "corrected" by the spam flags. A zero score answer with three flags was really a three score one before the post was pinpointed. – Dr. belisarius Feb 25 '11 at 12:58
@belisarius: Seeing that most spam-flagged posts are indeed spam, this reduces their visibility, which hopefully makes SO a less attractive spam target. I would say that's a Good Thing with actual spam; do you mean that it's a problem in case of false positives? – Piskvor Feb 25 '11 at 13:28
I just mean that when you are checking the queue, you should be aware that the opinion of previous flaggers are represented twice: as the flag itself and as the downvotes. Imagine a case with three flags and score -3, probably a very bad post, you may think, and ALSO spam. But the "real thing" is a post with 0 votes and three flags. Anyway, I fully agree with your comment. – Dr. belisarius Feb 25 '11 at 14:15
@belisarius: Hm, that's a good observation - but this is IMHO an artifact of making the site as usable as possible; while this could be modified for this specific overview, it wouldn't match the vote count in the question itself (where the spam flags aren't visible). The way it is now, only a small percentage of users are exposed to this quirk. – Piskvor Feb 25 '11 at 14:55

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