Update 5/19/2012: Please, please implement this. I'm tired of seeing rep go up instead of down at the end of suspensions because I spent half an hour cleaning out the user's posts.

A certain user on ELU essentially doubled his rep upon recalc because of deleted posts. Here are the numbers (all of which include deleted posts):

              Upvoted  | Score of 0 | Downvoted | Closed | Deleted | Total
Questions:        3    |      2     |    13     |   14   |   10    |  18
Answers  :        3    |      3     |     2     |    -   |    4    |   8

N.B. This user is an extreme, but there are certainly users who have asked an assortment of good questions and NARQ/off-topic questions.

This user's reputation essentially came from asking a broad range of questions, most of them on the bad end—and not being penalized for the bad ones. With that logic, I could gain a lot of rep simply by asking any question I could think of and then simply deleting the bad ones.

Regarding suspensions/bans: Appropriate actions including suspensions have been taken with this user, and there are various measures such as the question ban to prevent this kind of behavior, but what I'm concerned about is the fact that reputation increases.

Reputation yields prestige and privileges—and a user who is not adherent to these rules shouldn't have a bigger number next to their name. True, a suspension knocks that number down, but the first suspension is usually also the first warning and is thus, as a result, fairly short.

I understand why we remove reputation gain/loss from deleted posts (partially to encourage users to delete their own bad posts), but I'm not exactly sure that this is the best policy.

When such a user's suspension ends (in the case of users who are less blatant than the one above), his/her rep will have increased significantly because the mods have gone in after him/her and cleaned everything up.

Nor is the idea of reputation penalties for deleted posts isn't new—spam or offensive flagged deletions will always apply:

Reputation lost as a penalty for having a post deleted by flagging is not returned.

So here's what I propose:

For every closed deleted question or deleted answer that has 3 or more downvotes (but not open deleted questions, which meet the goal of the Peer Pressure badge), deduct a flat 5 reputation upon rep-recalcs.

This penalty would not apply if the user only has 1 or 2 eligible deletions, but will apply retroactively if the user gains a third eligible deletion.

Here's the effect that this would have:

  • Gross offenders are not affected, as they will be suspended/deleted/etc.
  • Minor offenders will see this as a light chastisement before mod warnings and such
  • New users who mean well but don't turn out so well will have a gentle reminder for the future
  • Users who have been with us for a little longer but aren't our super high-rep users will watch their question quality
  • High-rep users posting poor quality questions would attract attention anyway, so the fact that this is a small amount of rep and they wouldn't care doesn't really matter

Thoughts? Improvements? Me being a total idiot?

  • Is the reputation increment mainly caused by deleted questions, or deleted answers?
    – apaderno
    Aug 17, 2011 at 5:49
  • @kiamlaluno In most cases, deleted questions, but I'm fairly sure I've seen at least one case of deleted answers.
    – waiwai933
    Aug 17, 2011 at 5:55
  • 2
    Eventually that user will be prohibited from asking any questions on the site. Is this going to be an ongoing problem for long? Aug 17, 2011 at 11:46
  • 1
    @Lasse Reputation yields prestige and privileges—and some users who behave like this aren't so bad as to deserve a ban.
    – waiwai933
    Aug 21, 2011 at 4:57
  • 2
    I have caught myself wondering, "should I vote to delete this, because the user certainly deserves the negative reputation they got from it." In the end, I vote based on the good of the site (to delete), but it feels like some appropriate, negative rep is being lost, too. May 19, 2012 at 20:27
  • 1
    Now that you can gain reputation from deleted posts (this wasn't the case back when you first posted this request), this would make sense, by symmetry. I'm still uncomfortable with both directions, but there's a precedent now. May 19, 2012 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


I like the idea of imposing a small penalty to users who have produced bad answers or questions. There are a few things that might be considered:

  • I wouldn't impose the penalty to users who delete their own closed content, the Peer Pressure badge suggests that we want to encourage users to clean up their own mess. It also leaves new users who have made an initial mistake from being penalised in the early part of their Stack Exchange ventures.
  • Definitely impose this if the community has voted a post into deletion, or a moderator has had to delete the post. In this case they are not only producing bad content, they're wasting other peoples time.
  • It might be a good idea to consider implementing the negative reputation penalty only after the second or third instance, as this will allow users to sort out there mistakes (and reduce the number of meta questions from new users who are learning the ways of the community).

My last point here, leaves gross offenders as you stated, places less negative impact on new users who make a mistake and still provides a deterrent to medium-high reputation users to not produce too many bad questions/answers.

A caution on the numbers

Two or more downvotes and a five reputation penalty could lead to a reputation trap. Two downvotes: -4 reputation. Delete closed question: -5 reputation.

So, There is no incentive for me to delete it myself, since I will lose more reputation by deleting it (if my first comments are not taken into account). This may lead to -2 questions/answers being left by the user in the hopes that the community will miss them.

  • The thing about self-deletes is that I'm wary of users complaining "but I would have deleted it if the mod hadn't gotten there first". I agree with the multiple instances thing and the 3 downvotes (I've edited my post to address the rep trap issue).
    – waiwai933
    Aug 21, 2011 at 5:19

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