Here's a good Halloween mystery for you. On Tuesday morning I saw a spooky apparition...the vague, spectral shape of 15 rep points off in the distance in a dark corner, that vanished before my eyes as I approached to get a closer look--without leaving a trace!

Despite its rapid dissolution into nothingness, I managed to snap a picture of it, and I'm hoping some paranormal investigator (or maybe a mod) can explain how it is that I have a picture proving that it was not my imagination, despite the total lack of physical evidence.

Here's the ghost story: When I first looked at SO on Tuesday morning, I saw this banner at the top of a previously open tab:

enter image description here

My rep had been at 2,580 just before I went to bed the night before, so naturally, I figured an answer must have been accepted. However, the very next SO page I looked at (I don't recall what, just some other page) showed that the rep was back down to 2,580. I figured there must have been an accept/unaccept. I took a look at my profile to find out which answer so I could see if it required further attention. To my utter befuddlement, the profile not only showed no record of an accept/unaccept, it showed no reputation changes at all for the day:

enter image description here

I'm on Eastern Standard Time, so when I went to bed with the rep at 2,580, it was already about 6 hours into this zero-change day (which remains at zero, with no indication of any changes at all).

After reading "https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/111373/where-did-this-mysterious-10-reputation-come-from", I checked out https://stackoverflow.com/reputation, but it shed no light on this eerie enigma:

enter image description here

BTW, in case anyone jumps to assume that any question having to do with lost rep is a complaint or a lament, I want to be clear: This isn't "hey, no fair, I want my rep back, boo-hoo!" I don't necessarily know that there was ever any reason for the rep to have gone up in the first place, since it appeared as mysteriously as it disappeared, and no clues were left behind. But I'm the curious sort and I like to understand how things work, especially if I see something that seems out of whack. If I were a cat I'd be dead. (Unless I had black fur, in which case this would be my big night.)

So, what happened? It it possible for someone to accept/unaccept fast enough that it doesn't leave any record? And if so, why would I see the rep change in the banner? Or did I just see the ghost of an accepted answer long deceased that rose from the dead to practice haunting in preparation for tonight?

  • 1
    BTW...I was going to also tag this as ghost, but I guess I don't rate high enough on this board to create my own tags. I suppose in this case that's for the best... ;) But I still suspect that StackOverflow is haunted. This seems to be the work of a Poltergeist.
    – Adi Inbar
    Nov 1, 2013 at 2:18
  • I have noticed that there is either a bug, or people accept/un-accept an answer. I tend to notice this more often when I have the question open in another tab.
    – Fluffeh
    Nov 1, 2013 at 2:27
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    @Adi the funny thing is is that StackExchange is not a board/forum.
    – Cole Tobin
    Nov 1, 2013 at 2:34
  • @Fluffeh So you've seen this too? The rep jumps up 15 then down 15, with nothing in the profile? I know that people do sometimes accept and immediately unaccept. Presumably because they clicked the check mark by mistake, or meant to accept another answer, or took a another look and realized that the answer wasn't the solution they thought it was. But shouldn't the accept/unaccept be shown in the profile? I'm pretty sure I've seen accepts followed by unaccepts within the same minute before. And you can see I have the reverse in my profile 2 days earlier--an unaccept & re-accept a minute apart.
    – Adi Inbar
    Nov 1, 2013 at 2:47
  • Yeah, I don't really take much notice of it though. I mean if it was an answer that was accepted that didn't give rep, yeah, okay - but here it's in and out - no accepts, no nothing, so it's not an issue for me.
    – Fluffeh
    Nov 1, 2013 at 2:50
  • Did you try the "show removed posts" checkbox in your reputation tab?
    – yannis
    Nov 1, 2013 at 2:59
  • @Yannis Yeah, I always have that checked. Nothing was removed.
    – Adi Inbar
    Nov 1, 2013 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


When an answer is accepted, your reputation is immediately increased by 15 points.

However, if that answer is immediately un-accepted, the event doesn't actually record. This is similar to how if you downvote a question, then immediately un-downvote, your rep does decrease by 1 temporarily, but it doesn't show both the downvote and undownvote event.

I believe you are correct in your supposition that an answer was accepted, then promptly un-accepted. The accept pushed your rep up +15, but before the timeout, it was un-accepted, pushing your actual rep down by 15. Since the global rep counter doesn't show negative rep changes, your screen stayed at 2595 when it should have been 2580.

  • Ah...what is this "global rep counter" of which you speak? Are you saying that the number in banner can be updated upward on the fly, but not downward, so I could have seen this ghost rep without necessarily needing to have coincidentally loaded the page in the seconds between the accept and unaccept? Also, does this mean that even the site admins can't see where it came from, because the rep can be momentarily upped without any event whatsoever being recorded? I'm a little confused, wouldn't the change have to be recorded somewhere in order for me to be able to see it in any manner?
    – Adi Inbar
    Nov 1, 2013 at 3:24
  • @Adi The change was initially recorded when the answer was originally accepted. However, it was not recorded in your account log; it was unaccepted too soon for it to become a permanently recorded event. By "global rep counter", I am referring to the number in the top bar, yes.
    – user206222
    Nov 1, 2013 at 6:56

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