Currently, when a moderator deletes a user all of the user's votes are removed along with the user themselves. I was pretty surprised at this behaviour when I first heard about it, and I don't think it is a good idea to throw away all of the votes just because the user is deleted.

Votes are locked after a short while and you can't change your vote unless the post is edited. This is a precedent that shows that users don't have complete control over their old votes, their ability to change or remove their votes is restricted for the benefit of the whole site. I don't understand why users that get deleted are suddenly exempt from this restriction.

The drawback of removing the votes is that we throw away valuable information. Voting plays an important role on SE sites, and every time an active user is deleted we throw away some of that information.

I also don't see why rage-quitting users get to remove one kind of contribution (votes) while we stop them if they try to remove their other contributions to the site (posts). We stop users from deleting all their posts because they still provide value to the site, I don't see why we shoud treat votes any different. They might have less value than posts, but they are useful to the site as a whole.

I'm ignoring any vote invalidation in connection with vote fraud or sock puppeting for the purposes of this post. Those votes should certainly be invalidated, but that doesn't usually happen by deleting users.

To prevent abuse of user deletion for vote fraud, there could be some minimum requirements on account age and reputation, below those requirements any votes would be discarded on deletion. Any suspicious voting patterns of the user should automatically block the deletion until they have been checked manually. This is of course more effort for the moderators, but account self-deletion doesn't happen so often that this would be a problem in my opinion.

The recent change to counting reputation from deleted questions if they are old enough and have at least three upvotes moves the whole reputation system further into a direction where reputation can't be taken away after some time. The reasoning for this change was that even though certain questions are off-topic now, they used to be on-topic and therefore the reputation earned had some meaning then. This provides further precedent that reputation shouldn't be removed retroactively on a large scale.

  • 128
    But then we'd have to suspend Community ♦ for all that cross voting.
    – user50049
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 11:57
  • 84
    +1 Completely agree. It's disorienting to click between tags or tabs and suddenly you lost 10 rep (or more) without any apparent way to reconcile what happened.
    – M.Babcock
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 12:40
  • 66
    The points about votes being a valuable part of the data context of the system is a critical one. Without the voting, the entire system would be substantially less useful / valuable. One could even make an argument that the votes contributed by a user are often more important than the content contributed by that same user.
    – cdeszaq
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 16:07
  • 50
    Note that, apart from votes, answer acceptances for deleted users are kept, though the 15 rep is not meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73886/… It all seems a bit inconsistent. Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 7:56
  • 17
    Related: Strange “unupvote” pattern across multiple users, in which Yoda lost 1,685 rep when a user was deleted...
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:04
  • 194
    It would make sense for two kinds of deletion, one with vote-removal, one without. If the user is deleted for good faith reasons (wants to leave the site, rage-quit, &c), then we keep the votes. If the user is an obvious sock/troll/etc, delete them. Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 13:40
  • 39
    Double-plus support this. Votes from accounts deleted for non-vote-fraud reasons should be attributed to @Community.
    – fredley
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 13:48
  • 42
    Just lost 100 rep and permissions when another user was removed. Illogical, please fix. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 18:34
  • 8
    status-deferred this? Please?
    – Doorknob
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 17:21
  • 6
    Relevant new events: Wiping votes on deletion of high-rep accounts
    – sehe
    Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 14:28
  • 8
    That happened to me today and it's totally unreasonable and annoying... Commented May 14, 2013 at 18:27
  • 29
    This should be treated just like the real world whereby "Bob" brings value to a company before his departure or retirement. Do we then discard all contributions that Bob made to the company during his tenure upon his exit? Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 5:57
  • 11
    @Synetech: «The user is gone, as are their posts» No, they're not. The posts are licensed to SE, Inc., and they persist. They may be soft-deleted in some cases, but useful contributions are nearly always preserved.
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 20:19
  • 10
    @Synetech If you request account deletion, only posts with a negative score are deleted. You don't get to remove all your content on deletion as you licenced it under the CC licence. Posts are often deleted for moderation reasons, but useful posts that follow the rules are generally not deleted, even if their authors would like to remove them. Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 20:33
  • 16
    I just lost 255 reputation on beer.stackexchange.com due to this. With the beer stack exchange still considerable small; this is a big deal, especially because the top members, myself included, only have around 1300 reputation or so. Not I'm down to 900. Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 0:21

13 Answers 13


I'm not gonna call this completed; as you and everyone else reading this know, we do still throw away some votes for some user-deletions... and probably always will for the reasons you noted in your proposal.

But we have a system in place to prevent the most disruptive forms of vote deletion, and we've been using it for a while now without major issues. For the foreseeable future, this is as completed as it is gonna get.

Here's how it works:

  • There are two thresholds:

    1. Number of votes cast by the user being deleted
    2. Number of people affected significantly by those votes

    The exact values of those thresholds don't particularly matter; they're pretty low, but not so low that you could hit them easily while still hiding fraudulent activity.

  • If either threshold is exceeded, deletion is held up until someone reviews it. Otherwise, deletion proceeds and any votes are discarded.
  • If the reviewer comes across some reason why the votes should not be preserved (e.g. the user is or was involved in voting fraud), the votes are still reversed as they would normally be.
  • Otherwise, the votes are preserved (moved to the Community user).

The end result of this is that most users will still see votes being removed along with user deletions from time to time... But rarely will these votes cause a non-trivial drop in reputation, or a sudden, widespread skew in post scores, which were the primary complaints in the past.

  • 15
    I'd consider it completed now. I've changed my mind a bit on the details since I posted this years ago, a completely automatic process would be a bit too easy to misuse. The current compromise solves the main issue. Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 8:05
  • 7
    Are those thresholds constant across the network or do they depend on the size/activity of the site? -500 (just to pick a number) might be trivial on the trilogy and a major problem on a small beta. Even if we throw out the trilogy at one end and Beer at the other, there's still a pretty wide range in between. Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 13:10
  • 6
    The thresholds could be adjusted per-site, but this is mostly to allow them to be increased on Stack Overflow if need-be; thus far, having two thresholds has proven to be sufficient, @Monica: the idea being, it makes more sense to gauge the effect on specific users for smaller sites than it does to aim for a universal number of votes.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 14:30
  • 5
    Thanks @Shog9. I asked because if the threshold is too high it wouldn't trigger to cause a human to look at it on a smaller site, so you'd never have the opportunity to evaluate that effect. A lower threshold calibrated for most of the network and a higher one for SO is a good approach. Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 14:45
  • 3
    Nearly a full year afterwards, is there still any reason to leave this as deferred, or tag as completed? (or declined) Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 13:56
  • 3
    checks to see if this is the very next thing on his list - no, looks like "deferred" is still accurate, @Shadow.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 23:09
  • 2
    closely related: erm… I lost 2,134 in reputation I think it safe to say that several users on EL&U have been significantly affected by the upvotes deleted. Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 12:56
  • 3
    I covered this scenario in the answer above, @Mari-LouA; moderators reached out numerous times in this particular instance, and were rebuffed. It's unfortunate, but some folks just don't care to play by the rules.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 14:16
  • @Shog9 fair enough. That's all I needed to hear. Thank you, sincerely, for responding. EDIT But if there were repeated voting irregularities why wasn't the user suspended more than once? Never mind... I think I get it. Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 14:22
  • I consider this a reasonable solution. I'm willing to forfeit a little reputation to ensure that vote fraud and other forms of abuse are caught and removed from the system. I certainly wouldn't request an automated process, and I would complain if there were one.
    – Zenexer
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 3:14
  • 2
    There's a much better system. You split user removal into two processes: * Removed for vote fraud: Delete their votes. *Removed for other reasons: Delete only their unlocked votes. Votes that can no longer be changed by them manually won't be changed by the system when they're deleted.
    – JKreft
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 20:54
  • What if the deleted user was involved in voting freud on the harmed side (for example, someone chain downed him, which was automatically reversed)? What if the deleted user was involved in voting freud, but it happened many years before the deletion, and on another site?
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 19:13
  • 2
    voting freud? Was that a Freudian slip? :) Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 3:07
  • Does this mean that the community user can vote multiple times on the same item if two users are deleted that voted on the same one? Or are all but one removed in that case?
    – M. Justin
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 21:19
  • 1
    Under normal circumstances, user #-1 can have multiple votes counting toward the score of a single post, @M.Justin
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 3:03

Full disclosure... I lost 410 Rep on SO the other day due to a deleted user.

I fully agree with the arguments made above. If the deleted votes are the result of an account merge, then it makes total sense to remove them, since double-counting of votes shouldn't be allowed. However, if a user has their account deleted, either from questionable behavior or of their own volition, then their history of voting should remain.

This parallels the recent uproar about deleting old posts and how the Rep from those posts is dealt with. There are two points that came up often in those discussions which have been largely adopted by the new deletion policies:

  • Old posts, even if they are considered off-topic now, still have value due to either some still-useful content or as a place-holder to keep old links from breaking.
  • A user who made a helpful contribution at that time shouldn't be penalized when a post is later deemed to not be a good fit for the site.

I think these same exact arguments can be made for maintaining old votes:

  • Old votes still clearly have value in that they help to separate good content from bad/mediocre content. The value placed on votes is evident from the fact that there are 7 badges that encourage it (Supporter, Critic, Suffrage, Vox Populi, Civic Duty, Electorate, Sportsmanship). Throwing away votes just because the account of the voter is gone is a loss of useful contributions to the site.
  • A user who made a contribution that was deemed helpful at that time that a vote was cast shouldn't be penalized when the account of the voter is later deleted. The vote was cast at a time when the account was valid, and should stand. Even if an account is deleted because the user began doing spammy, trollish, or otherwise unsavory things, the fact that the deleted user had already earned their voting rights by making enough useful contributions should mean that the votes they cast while in good standing should still remain.

I think that it's only fair to treat all contributions to the site in the same way, whether those contributions are questions, answers, or votes being cast. The policies adopted to handle post deletion and maintaining Rep for deleted posts should absolutely be applied to the maintenance of voting histories and the Rep gained from them.

  • 11
    What if their votes were all negative and that was why they were removed?
    – user7116
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 15:06
  • 21
    @sixlettervariables: Negative votes help too. They can help separate out bad questions and answers, and some would say downvotes aren't used enough. If a user's downvoting were excessive, the serial voting script would likely take care of it. And I doubt a user would have their account deleted just for downvoting. Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 15:52
  • 75
    if the user had their account deleted for questionable behavior, it's highly likely part of that questionable behavior was their voting patterns. Strongly disagree. Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 0:24
  • 76
    @Jeff: It would be helpful to know how often questionable voting patterns are dealt with via the vote fraud detector versus a complete nuking of an account. Nevertheless, it doesn't make much sense to me to delete vote histories for users deleted either voluntarily or for non-voting-related shenanigans. Commented Mar 24, 2012 at 1:29
  • 52
    If a user was deleted for abusive voting behaviour it makes sense to nuke his votes - at least those which are not clearly non-abusive. However, if someone was deleted on his own request or because he turned into an idiot but did not vote abusively, removing his votes is rather bad. I don't care much about the 20 rep I lost but some people who lost over 1k due to this..... Commented Apr 18, 2012 at 18:35
  • @gnostradamus - We don't completely delete their voting histories, not anymore...not since the last round of reputation changes - we do soft delete them though, for the same reasons Jeff mentions we're not likely to change that behavior (e.g. allowing the vote values to stay around). Commented Apr 22, 2012 at 23:44
  • 1
    @NickCraver: I had assumed that the vote histories were soft-deleted, in case someone wanted to reactivate their account. It just seems to make more sense to me to decouple the handling of vote histories and account deletion, since correcting abusive voting patterns isn't always going to go hand-in-hand with deleting a user. Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 15:45
  • 6
    @gnostradamus - you really think a moderator should be making that distinction, which votes count? Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 15:48
  • 7
    @NickCraver: Well, they already do, don't they? Assuming the vote fraud scripts don't catch everything and mods sometimes step in to investigate, then they are likely making decisions to delete a set of votes but not the user. As Jeff said, questionable voting behavior can lead to account deletion, and in such a case deleting the account and the votes makes sense. Conversely, if a user is deleted for other reasons, then there's no need to consider deleting the votes as well. It just seems more natural to decouple them, but admittedly I don't know what happens behind the scenes. Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:16
  • 5
    @gnostradamus - moderators cannot invalidate votes, that's developer only and reserved for vote fraud situations. Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:23
  • 15
    +1 I don't like losing my hard won rep....
    – Stingervz
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 9:12
  • 3
    @gnostradamus There's unfortunately a bit of a wrench in this: sometimes users who have abused the site (and got suspended or question-banned, etc.) request their accounts to be deleted. So, it's certainly voluntary, but it's also sketchy. It's not an insurmountable problem, but it's something to keep in mind.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 20:30
  • @NickCraver out of curiosity how would you, then, explain how I lost 865 yesterday see here. (This wasn't the first time it happened to me (well documented rage quit by a Lounge<C++> frequenter). Both these example cases were certainly unrelated to vote fraud)
    – sehe
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 20:06
  • @NickCraver And, guessing from the frequency of events like these, I'd be say this seems to be the rule, rather than the exception: no less than 6 account deletions registered in the last ~6 weeks, just for me - or is it a symptom of some kind of cleanup campaign?
    – sehe
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 20:50
  • 2
    The same happened to me on Chemistry.SE on 2014-03-21. When a user left for personal reasons, I lost 440 reputation from upvotes on answers - I don't ask questions and only give answers there ;). This may not sound a lot on SO, but Chemistry.SE still is in beta and it meant a loss of ~ 9% of the total rep. It is good to see that the sound answers and reasonable comments of that user are still there - but the automatic removal of votes (= different standards for answers given and votes casted) is plain unreasonable and a major annoyance to me. Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 10:57

I don't want to take a position on this until I see some data. What causes users to get deleted? Are there a lot of respectable users who have had enough, and want to quit voluntarily? Or are there a lot of spammers? If there are lots of spammers, do many of them vote on questions they post answers to, or do they typically not get enough rep for that before being caught? How about sockpuppets? Vote ring accounts? Tactical downvoters?

I would want votes to be kept for quality users who just don't have the time/interest to participate anymore, but not for socks. It's harder to say for spammers; there have been a few discussed on Meta who posted some good content but also posted a lot of links to their own products. And those are just a few examples; I'm sure there are plenty more cases out there.

How often do users get deleted? If it's infrequent, we could have mods manually determine which accounts to keep votes for on a case-by-case basis. A one-size-fits-all solution may not be the way to go here.

  • 11
    Spammers usually don't earn reputation, so they don't get to vote. For sockpuppets we need a special solution anyway, we used to just merge them but the policy changed recently. My solution would be to invalidate every vote from a confirmed sockpuppet, without deleting the user. There are high-reputation users that request to be deleted when they leave a site, it doesn't happen extremely often, but quite regularly. Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 21:11
  • 8
    This does happen with users who used to vote a lot across a long period of time. Please see here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/125989/… The suspected explanation is that an account was deleted. This has caused some to lose as much as 1600 rep (I only lost around 70 from the same event).
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 14:22
  • For future reference, hoping things will be resolved: in Strange “unupvote” pattern across multiple users that @Szabolcs mentioned, Yoda lost 1,685 rep when a user was deleted...
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:03
  • 2
    (And @Szabolcs dropped below 10k, which kind of hurts too, I guess! But that has been fixed, and maybe Szabolcs will also be refunded 130 rep from a serial upvote reversal that might have been caused by the system itself, when the system tried to compensate for historical reputation caps after which the vote fraud script reversed that the next day...)
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:09
  • 1
    @Arjan To be fair, the serial upvote thing may have been just that. I mentioned what happened in the Mma chatroom, and I got back the votes shortly after. There is a chance that someone may have re-voted those question, but only someone who has direct access to the database could tell. Fortunately I'm past that phase when rep could motivate me a lot, so no big deal :-)
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:31
  • Thanks, @Szabolcs, let's see what Nick has got to say about it. In a comment he mentioned an automated "re-voting" as a correction for historical rep caps, but that might not have been the case for you.
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:37
  • 4
    @Arjan - Those totals aren't accurate (since deleted vote rep change values aren't currently adjusted for the cap on a recalc). The change coming monday will go back and adjust those values, so you'll see how much your rep actually changed from a user deletion in a single event. This still warrants some team discussion, so it'll be deployed Monday night at the earliest. Commented Mar 18, 2012 at 0:20
  • 6
    There could easily be a minimum rep, say only votes from an "established user" get kept. Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 14:29
  • 2
    Moderators have tools to inspect vote patterns and moderators are also less involved with deleting accounts - pushing it to Stack Exchange employees per policy now. Wouldn't it make sense to patrol a user's votes before deleting them and leave all valid votes anonymized just like valid posts are left, but disassociated from the account that posted them.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 16:43
  • I wonder why a user which have already contributed to this site for so a long time could be deleted..
    – Revious
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 14:53

I feel this is unfair to the people that dedicate their time to regularly answering question on StackOverflow. Part of Stack's appeal is that you can get a reputable individual to answer your tough technical question. Without the people performing the work of answering these questions, the site really loses its appeal. Reputation points are rewards for that hard work and dedication to the site.

People dedicate their time to making this site popular and appealing. I wake up between 3:00am - 4:00am every day, so I can get at least one hour of answering questions on this site prior to heading off to work. My day always gets off to a bad start when I wake up and see that I lost reputation points because some scumbag has committed voter fraud and unfortunately upvoted an answer I submitted honestly.

Think about if our society punished all crimes in this manner. So if an accountant at your work committed a crime, should you be stripped of the paychecks they signed? Punish the people responsible for the inappropriate conduct, not the honest members of this community that dedicate themselves to this site.

  • 4
    So would you like to keep downvotes you obtained thru "criminal" manners? Fair is fair.
    – user7116
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 20:44
  • 19
    poor logic. OP talks about legitimate votes, just like crooked accountant can still sign legitimate pay checks.
    – theUg
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 17:19

If you lose reputation points because a user account was deleted, there is currently no way to tell which of your questions or answers were affected. Would it exceed all of the abilities of software technology to change that?

  • 4
    It used to be like that for a short time, but not anymore. See also the comments at How to find the posts related to lost reputation due to “user was removed” message?
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 18:52
  • 1
    This post shouldn't be downvoted. I also believe that I should still be able to see which question was "automatically" downvoted due to removal. Arjan, thanks for the link.
    – HelpNeeder
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 6:53
  • 5
    This seems to be incompatible with anonymous voting. Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 21:04
  • 3
    @MichaelGreinecker I don't want to know who was removed; I want to know which of my posts changed their vote counts. Of course, if I really cared I'd back up my vote counts per post off site myself...
    – Mark Hurd
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 3:34

After reading through things, it sounds like the moderators should decide when the user "turned bad". Draw that line in the sand and keep votes before it, lose votes after it.

  • 6
    I can't agree with that because "bad" is not a line that you cross. They may have legitimate upvotes, speckled in with abuse. I just know I spent my own time contributing to the community answering those questions and I have never even considered "voter fraud", yet I'm being punished for some jerks abuse of this site. And for some reason, it seems to be getting a lot worse lately, I believe I lost at least 50 rep just this week.
    – kmb385
    Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 19:38
  • 1
    @kmb386: The current version (throwing away ALL the user's votes) is much worse. So, what CAN you agree with? Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 21:38
  • 2
    I'm right there with you I want to keep the rep. If your going to put the effort into investigating what votes were legitimate, punish the cohorts by removing their votes, not legitimate upvotes. I hope this comment did not seem disrespectful, it was not intended to.
    – kmb385
    Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 22:08
  • @kmb385: I didn't think it was disrespectful at all. I was just looking for ways to improve the idea, and I didn't see anything like that. Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 22:14

I'm notified of end complaints about this on my FAQ answer about the "user was removed" message (some related old comments have been removed). It is clear to me that the behaviour of throwing away all the votes is very counterintuitive to most users, and they become annoyed and frustrated as a result.

This is creating a bad user experience. It would have been a convenient hack for easily handling spammers and voting rings in the past, but now Stack Exchange could provide a better solution.

  • 1
    Though I agree with you, this may be better as a comment than another answer.
    – user206222
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 6:09
  • 1
    What do you mean by "notified of end complaints"? Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 16:09

Lock the Upvotes!

The way I see it, removing upvotes cast by a user that is removed is like punishing everybody that he upvoted, regardless of the patent fact that they themselves had nothing to do with his actions that led to his removal. I suggest that upvote rep changes should be locked so they cannot adversely affect us later when the user that cast them gets deleted. Perhaps those upvotes were justly deserved; even the user that abuses his terms of service is not a complete idiot. I think this is a necessary change and really should be implemented as soon as possible.

  • 15
    Whatever happens, it should apply equally to upvotes and downvotes, main and meta. If votes are valuable (and I think they are), then we should keep all of them -- especially if people are less likely to downvote in the first place because of the rep penalty. Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 2:48

I totally agree with @kmb385 in his answer: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/164209/234982. I just want to go little further - keep reputation for edit as well. When I see ugly formatted question / answer, I clean it first so it is possible to understand it. And sometimes I receive small reputation for it. That is fair.

But it happens that user is deleted. Then all my work is lost. My work disappears. It is disgusting when somebody voids your work. And even my reputation is decreased. So this is the second penalization. I realized that I do not have any will to fix the questions from beginners or that were downvoted. Why shall I spend several minutes of my life doing some work that somebody can erase?

Please keep the reputation of deleted users please. There is no reason to punish the people that were helping them. That is unfair.

  • The off-topic part is: deleteds the question because of peer pressure but the rest is valid. I read your question too quickly, my bad! Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 13:50
  • Well, I think that original question shall be more generic: keep the reputation when post or user is deleted. Both situations have same effect. Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 13:55
  • "There is no reason to punish the people that were helping them" - this argument looks rather weak, Stack Exchange is not much in the business of individual help. Given that you refer edits, a stronger and likely more accurate statement would be "There is no reason to punish the people that were helping readers of edited posts." User is removed, okay, but their posts stay and benefit site visitors, and edits that make it look better are worthy of reward
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 17:41
  • 3
    @gnat If the edited post stays, reputation stays. I believe Leos (confusingly) refers to a situation when the post by deleted user is itself deleted (which happens when the post has negative score, or the user account is destroyed). The points for suggesting an edit are revoked when the post is deleted. Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 22:43

This is the way I see it

  • The reputation points is determined by votes.
  • The reputation point is a variable that changes depending on votes.
  • The reputation is a status of a member of this community at a given time.
  • A non member of a community doesn't have the right to vote in that community
  • So I think if a member is, in our case deleted from the community, then all his votes should leave with him.
  • Why? Because he is no longer a member of the community and his previous votes shouldn't determine the current status of another community member.

It may seem unfair but it is logical.

  • 12
    Your derivation is mostly sound, but the judgements of a member who was in good standing but has left still have value. Imagine a real-life UG; Bob, who you respect, introduces and vouches for Alice. When Bob no longer attends the meetings, Alice still retains the (real) rep from Bob. Even if Bob flames out for some reason, you would probably say something like "Bob thought Alice was all right, and even though he went kind of crazy at the end there, he was a solid guy."
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 20:47
  • @JoshCaswell Now if Chuck, a new guy who had no knowledge of Bob comes into the picture how can I prove to Chuck that Bob is a real person and that Bob's judgement is valid if Bob is no longer in the room?
    – user191943
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 21:01
  • 3
    You don't have to. Chuck has to decide for himself whether he trusts you and the rest of the group. Your opinion of Bob, who is no longer around, has the same trustworthiness -- as far as Chuck is concerned -- as your opinion of Doris, who is still a member.
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 21:05
  • 2
    So by your logic outcomes of moderator elections should be subject to retroactive change due to departed users? I don't find your logic very logical. Also, people delete their accounts for a variety of reasons: the vast majority of them are not "evicted". Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 21:06
  • @JoshCaswell But Chuck is just as important as anyone else in the community, and Chuck needs a proof just in case he is curious. That's how the stack exchange community works, people see others' reputation points and how they were obtained, some go to their profiles to see how they got it some don't bother but those that don't bother may still bother in the future as long as they remain in the community. If a user questions the reputation of another, all he has to do inform the moderators of his reasons.
    – user191943
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 21:12
  • 1
    If Chuck trusts the group for anything, he'll have to trust their opnions of former members. Certainly, Chuck could investigate Bob's legacy and find that he was secretly a louse, and thereby change the group's opinion (report Bob to the mods), or propose that Bob's method of deciding who brings the snacks be changed (leave a comment and/or a downvote on a post that Bob praised).
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 21:26
  • 1
    @PeteL.Clark If the voting in the election is completely anonymous then it shouldn't matter who leaves or who stays during the election, only the number of votes counts. But if voting is not completely anonymous then by my logic, the result of the moderator election should be subject to such change but only when the votes are being counted as after inauguration, it doesn't matter who voted. I have never voted in any election here so I have no knowledge on how it is done. That was a bad choice of word which I will fix.
    – user191943
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 21:26
  • @JoshCaswell If Chuck trusts the group for anything, he'll have to trust their opnions of former members. But how can Chuck be 100% sure that this former member was indeed a member since deletion is thorough in this community. That's what needs to be protected, the community needs to grow and active members should be able to trust one another or there may be chaos.
    – user191943
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 21:33
  • 2
    You guys are discussing this as though there is public knowledge of the "clout" that Bob has. In the StackExchange world, Bob's clout is anonymous and therefore would never be an issue to Chuck. Bob gave valid votes in the community and therefore his votes should persist after he leaves. This would be just like real life where Bob brings value to a company before his departure or retirement. Do we then discard all contributions that Bob made to the company during his tenure? Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 5:56
  • 4
    The irony is that above user was deleted. Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 18:47
  • I agree, when some of us die then all the votes should be null and void: chose a new parliament already [/sarcasm]. Commented May 28, 2018 at 21:19

There seem to be two separate issues (a) sometimes a user is deleted because their behavior has been unacceptable; (b) sometimes a user has been abusing voting.

I don't think it's good policy to conflate the two.

  • If a user has abused voting then as far as possible those votes should be reversed immediately whether or not their account is to be deleted. To a large extent this is already the case.

  • On the other hand, if a user account is deleted, their votes should remain - because their non-abusing votes matter, and their abusive votes should already have been removed.

  • At most, where a user's votes are deemed to be be largely abusive at removal time (and perhaps part of the reason for their account deletion), then there's an argument for removing both the user and all their votes together. That would require an option to delete the votes rather than automatic deletion. Outside of that possibility, account deletion and vote removal should be separate issues.


I Agree

It's a tad unfair on the good users who help the sites/other users by voting and answering, only to be punished for other users bad actions, or their wanting to close their account.

Answering is a major part of what the basis of the Stack sites are about - Q&A.
So to simply remove users' hard work just because another user wants out, or did something bad, is simply not fair.

Voting is also one of the main elements of the Stack system. It determines good and bad content and allows separation of the two, to allow decent content to be served more prominently. Thus making the sites as a whole better.

"Making the internet a better place.."

It's unfair on the community who help the sites and users by their good actions of answering and even those just voting the answers, to then lose the benefits gained from their actions when those very actions are encouraged and promoted by the site in the first place.

It's also unfair that good users performing positive activity lose their benefits through negative activity from the very users they were spending their time helping in the first place.

It shouldn't be possible for our positive activity and time spent to be revoked by the very people we're trying to help.

Even if not by negative activity, the point still stands that users have contributed and shouldn't have the time they spent, for free, helping others and the Stack sites simply forsaken.

Of course it all boils down to one being protective of ones assets. We are awarded for voting and answering, we feel a part of the community by answering, and downvoting that terrible answer, or upvoting a great one.
So we then feel greatly put out when our time spent, the benefits or even simply progress towards a benefit, is lost due to another user performing bad action or wanting their account removed.

The site should protect those decent users contributing in a way that without it the sites would degrade rapidly.

Two sides to a story

The other side to this is why should we gain, or progress towards, benefits from votes on a (now) non-existent question or answer?

Is rep you gained or lost from deleted content a real representation of activity you have carried out which benefits the site?

Both arguments exist and are equally valid.

However both arguments are not the same, because the counter to this argument is:
We used our time, performed positive actions, did what we're asked and encouraged to do at the time the content was present.

So, while I see the argument for removing votes from deleted questions, and agree with the reasons to some extent, I do not in any way think this argument carries enough weight to allow bad user activity to counter our hard work, positive activity, and working to ensure the site remains high standard.

Users helping the site and it's users out have no way of knowing a question might be deleted by the user or a clean up, so we should not be punished for performing the positive and encouraged activity at the time the question was live and when our actions are welcomed by the site.


As is often the case, there is likely no perfect resolve.

I don't really know enough about the system or when one loses votes etc to propose a decent and well structured resolve.

However, there are suggestions around which would make it a bit more fair on the decent users.
Mainly a change so users don't always lose all their decent activity.

I think it would be fair that any rep (votes up or down, bounty, accepted, etc) received on answers is not lost when the OP user is deleted and their questions removed.

Obviously, any downvotes on answers must also remain in order to keep a balance of what was present at the time of the question being live.

However, there must also be a way for users to still delete their answer from the deleted question if they wished, whether up or downvoted.
As changing as it is now from revoking all votes as if the question never existed, to keeping the votes present, stops users from being able to pop back and remove their answer when they realise it had X downvotes.

This would need to be catered for somehow.

Again, I don't have the answers, but it is an issue that good users lose their rep, reward progress, and sometimes actually losing privileges, from other users' bad behaviour and it should certainly be addressed.

Lastly, slight side step to the topic, I don't see why all content is removed. Is this a rights thing whereby the OP is allowed to have their question removed?
If so, I think it should be changed so, while the OP can be unlinked from the content, the question and answers should be left in place.

This would resolve the issue of rep lost and leave the question live and normal play continues (up/down votes, users removing their answers etc).
The question could simply be taken over by a dedicated Stack account - "deletedUserAccount" or whatever.


I agree to your suggestion

I have been through this just yesterday. But it was just 20 rep, so it doesn't matter.

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As you have already mentioned, the user that has upvoted gets his vote locked after sometime and cannot remove his vote, until the post is editted!

Keep the restrictions for removed users

The restriction for the upvotes must be kept for the removed accounts too. The upvotes are earnings and should not be removed, they are more likely the contributions of the people to the community.

However, if there is something fishy about the account, such as serial upvoting etc, then the user must be removed and the upvotes must be undid. Similarly, ban must be put on the account and all the same legal (Stack Exchange Law) restrictions!

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