Questions that are closed as "not a real question" or as "off-topic" are supposed to receive an automatic downvote. However, for months now I've noticed that this doesn't always seem to work. Sometimes the question will receive the automatic -1, but other times it won't. And I haven't been able to figure out a pattern as to why sometimes it happens and other times it doesn't.

In the last few hours I closed two questions, one as NARQ and one as off-topic, and neither of them got the -1. I noticed that when the page refreshes just after the close vote the -1 appears, but it disappears as soon as I click away to another page. Just to be sure I double clicked on the vote count and both display as 0/0.

Is this a bug?

Here are two older examples: one and two.

Update: Based on Jarrod's answer, the bug appears to be related to the declining of a flag. However, I just closed this question as off-topic, and the automatic downvote never took. I noticed the question didn't get the automatic downvote, even before I handled the "Please explain the nature of this closed post" flag. Can someone explain what's going on?

  • I've also noticed that the downvote is temporary. In other words, after a few days, the automatic downvote is removed.
    – jmort253
    Dec 30 '12 at 7:10
  • @jmort253 not relevant here, both questions Zuly linked to are only few hours old. Dec 30 '12 at 9:37
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    @Zuly - What I'm about to do is for science, you might feel a little pinch.
    – Tim Post
    Dec 30 '12 at 11:26
  • Ok, closed this as OT. The down vote 'stuck' as expected, and was removed as expected when I reopened. And, here's a band-aid. Can't reproduce on Meta.
    – Tim Post
    Dec 30 '12 at 11:28
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    @jmort253 Are you sure about that? I don't think it's temporary at all unless the post is reopened, when it's reversed just like the closure
    – Ben Brocka
    Dec 30 '12 at 12:30
  • @TinyTimPost Two comments. 1) Re: "can't repro on Meta", I've noticed that sometimes the downvote will stick and other times it won't. So I think more science experiments are needed on MSO to confirm. Dec 30 '12 at 16:35
  • 2) Are you sure about the downvote being reversed after reopening the question? I searched on Meta before posting this question, because I wanted to run my own science tests, but what I found was that the downvote is not reversed. See here and here. Also, take a look at my rep history, there are several +5 and one -2 for this question, but no +2 to reverse the downvote. I don't have enough rep to check the actual vote count on this question. Can someone check that? Dec 30 '12 at 16:36
  • @BenBrocka Are you sure the downvote is reversed after reopening? See my comment above to Tim. I seem to remember that sometimes it does reverse and other times it doesn't. Kinda like what I'm seeing with the automatic downvote sometimes not sticking after a question is closed. Dec 30 '12 at 16:41
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    I think this is one for the devs to test in their sandbox. Trying several other scenarios would result in way too much fun .. err, I mean noise on Meta.
    – Tim Post
    Dec 30 '12 at 16:58
  • @TinyTimPost I agree. That's why I chose not to run my own science experiments :-) Can you check the vote count on this question for me? Does it still show the -1? Dec 30 '12 at 17:13
  • I'm 95% sure they're removed. The -1 is no longer on this question for example. You may be seeing other people's downvotes being added/removed
    – Ben Brocka
    Dec 30 '12 at 17:52
  • @BenBrocka I haven't found any evidence on MSO to support that. That said, I know from experience that the automatic -1 is sometimes reversed after a question is reopened. I don't think it happens all the time though. WRT this question, it's strange. My rep history displays +23 = (5 * +5) - 2. There is no +2 to reverse the -2. I'm pretty sure the -2 was from Tim's closure, because it matches the time (plus who would downvote such an awesome question :-) ) However, I know how much rep I had before I posted this question, and I can confirm that it's really +25 and not +23. Dec 30 '12 at 18:36
  • @Zuly: the down-vote was removed (and the -2 with it), but your reputation history hadn't picked this up yet. It should look right now...
    – Shog9
    Dec 30 '12 at 18:50
  • @BenBrocka - No, there have been closed posts that I've come back to on PMSE where the automatic downvote was reversed. There were 0 votes in many cases, so I knew it wasn't because someone upvoted... :(
    – jmort253
    Dec 30 '12 at 18:54

After looking at the code, it's a bit more complicated.

The intent of the code was to remove community-cast downvotes that were given to a question when it was flagged as offensive or spam, when a moderator declines those flags.

However, any downvotes by community are deleted when a moderator declines flags, regardless of which flag type is being declined and regardless of what context those downvotes were given. When flags are deemed helpful, the downvotes stay.

This feels like a bug - downvotes that were given along with close votes (i.e. when closing as NARQ or off-topic) should remain when flags are handled. The only downvotes to be removed are those given during spam/offensive flagging and only when those flags are declined.

  • Hi Jarrod, we hardly ever decline flags on PMSE, simply because we don't want people to stop flagging. By default, I mark everything as helpful, and I've seen the downvotes disappear even if I mark as helpful the automated message: "Hey you, yes you with the diamond, leave a comment!". With that said, I haven't closed anything as NARQ in a few months, so this information is based on how I remember things working...
    – jmort253
    Jan 2 '13 at 3:27
  • Also, I want to add that I think the close vote downvotes should be removed if a post is reopened.
    – jmort253
    Jan 2 '13 at 3:29
  • @jmort253: Spam flags should be treated with strictness... If the flagged post doesn't meet the definition of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(electronic), the spam flag should be declined. Also, is that an obscure Pink Floyd, The Wall reference? :)
    – user102937
    Jan 2 '13 at 3:34
  • Thanks. This makes sense. Is there a fix planned for this? I agree that it should work exactly as you state in your last paragraph - spam/offensive flag downvotes should be removed if the flag is declined and NARQ/off-topic close downvotes should remain regardless of flags. Jan 2 '13 at 4:10
  • FYI - I just closed this question as off-topic and cleared the "please leave a comment" flag as helpful (which I never do) and the downvote stuck. So this looks to be correct. Jan 2 '13 at 18:19
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    Jarrod, @jmort253 brings up the issue of how to handle these automatic downvotes if a question is reopened. I think there is some confusion as to how this is supposed to work, because the information presented on MSO seems to contradict what happens in practice, at least sometimes. I think there might be a bug in the logic that handles the reopening of a question, possibly related to this bug. I asked a question here, but have not received a satisfactory answer. Can you shed some light on that? Jan 2 '13 at 18:37

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