This question is related to "rage quitting". Example: for some time a user participated constructively on SO, but when he did not receive the desired attention for his own posts he deleted his account (so its a pretty mild version of rage quitting, since their was no vandalism). Shortly afterwards a new account was registered (according to the posts, obviously the same person) and the same thing happened again (first a period of useful contributions, then account deletion).

While at the moment this is merely annoying, I was wondering two things:

  1. What do others think about such behaviour?
  2. Is there anything that can be done about it?

As for point 2. I think it would help if votes of deleted users would not be deleted (this is discussed already in several other posts like Don't throw away all votes when a user is deleted; so just one more point in favour).

  • (first a period of useful contributions, then account deletion).... that's impossible without the SE team's involvement. Useful contributions would indicate that they have positively score posts and you can't delete your account on your own if you have actively contributing through asking, answering, or voting. Feb 2 '14 at 10:32
  • Related: How can I delete my account? - specifically the answer. Once you interact with the site (either by posting or voting), you can't delete your account on your own and need help. Feb 2 '14 at 10:35
  • The useful contribution I was referring to was voting on other questions and answers.
    – chris
    Feb 2 '14 at 10:35
  • And I mentioned "voting" too, but it was hidden at the end. If you vote, you can't delete your account, only the SE team can. Feb 2 '14 at 10:36
  • sorry. Well, maybe I'm using the wrong terminology here. I got a message "user removed".
    – chris
    Feb 2 '14 at 10:37
  • Someone deleted the user, that's correct. Given the situation you've described, the most likely situation is someone who is up to no good and the account was destroyed by a moderator Feb 2 '14 at 10:38
  • So what you are saying indicates that this user was not removed by its on volition. I would not have guessed so from what I could observe. Thanks for the clarification. (The consequences are still annoying, i.e., getting a small amount of reputation and loosing it again shortly afterwards.)
    – chris
    Feb 2 '14 at 10:41
  • I'm just guessing. It is possible they were deleted at their request, but it was the Stack Exchange community team that did the deleting. But if it is happening continually as you described, then my original guess might be the correct one. Feb 2 '14 at 10:42
  • @chris: You should rephrase your question. The real issue here is that someone voted for some of your posts and that user got removed and you don't want to loose the rep. Right?
    – juergen d
    Feb 2 '14 at 10:58
  • @juergend While you are right that my complain is about loosing that rep, it really seems to me that the user wanted to be removed (form his comments), even if he could not do so on his own. Also I'm only annoyed that this happened repeatedly (with the same person). So I think there is a subtle difference between what I'm asking about and what you describe.
    – chris
    Feb 2 '14 at 11:02
  • @chris you don't know it is the same person, do you? You are only guessing. Feb 2 '14 at 11:12
  • @psubsee2003 Sometimes it is pretty obvious by the questions the person asks and the tags they participate in. After you've seen them a few times, you start to recognize their writing - and they might also continue using the same / similar name.
    – Tim Post
    Feb 2 '14 at 11:27
  • @TimPost the OP was referring to the same person voting on his account and getting deleted (and thus losing the rep). He's only guessing it is the same person. Feb 2 '14 at 11:28
  • Just as further info: I'm not guessing, i know it from the user's comments.
    – chris
    Feb 2 '14 at 14:44
  • @chris that's obviously a good sign, but not always full proof. Guessing who is voting for you is not usually a good practice Feb 2 '14 at 16:03

People can be very fickle creatures, and develop angst over the most peculiar of things. We do notice patterns which sometimes prompts us to ask users why they feel they should delete their account. Sometimes, it's just to be disassociated with a certain post - or other things we can do for them without going as far as deleting their account.

When this turns from a pattern of peculiarity into a pattern of abuse, we do have tools at our disposal to slow these people down, and we use them when needed. If you've been question blocked 10 times and had your account removed without showing even a minute amount of improvement - you'll probably find yourself automatically suspended for a while when you attempt to re-join the site.

However, these are still rather rare cases, even at our scale. We do not want to get in the way of a user that wants to remove their account, for whatever reason. We feel that doing so is just icky, if you want to leave and have your information deleted, you should be able to do that with the least amount of hassle as possible. We ask that you modify your profile to verify that you own the account, and we might ask if there's anything they'd like to tell us - but we process the request as quickly as we can.

Once initiated, they have 24 hours to change their mind by clicking a link to stop a timer on their profile, then it's done. I wish other services could be that considerate.

There are cases where we will preserve votes for users that voted many times with impeccable records on the site and just decided that it was time to leave. However, if a user has 1k votes to their credit and has been suspended 6 times for running sock puppets, we're ... probably not going to keep those around.

Note - catching the abusive cases sometimes takes a while, because we do process over 100 deletion requests every day. However - if you're serially sucking, we'll pick up on it rather quickly.


The scenario you described is impossible. As noted in How can I delete my account?, once a user interacts with the site by posting or voting, they cannot delete their account on their own and need the SE Community team to actually do the deletion, so if someone is constantly creating accounts voting and then quitting, the SE team would be the ones controlling the deletion. If it happened more than once, they might have a discussion with the user as to why they are doing it.

You mentioned in the comments that you got a "user was removed" message and a loss of rep. Yes, that happens and there is nothing that can prevent that except implementing something like was mentioned in the linked post, Don't throw away all votes when a user is deleted.

If you are seeing this frequently, that is unfortunate. It is possible, assuming the voter is the same person each time, that the user is up to no good (such as spamming the site, acting as a sock puppet voter for someone to upvote their own posts, or just being a troll) and a moderator is destroying the account, which throws away all of the votes by that individual as well.

  • Assuming that the SE Community team would do the deletion on user request. How would they know that the same person is doing creation and deletion repeatedly? By IP address?
    – chris
    Feb 2 '14 at 10:55
  • They wouldn't necessarily know it was the same person. They might and they might not. They have their ways since they have access to all of the behind the scenes data. I don't see a reason for them not to honor a deletion request, but they might have a way to prevent him from signing up again. Feb 2 '14 at 10:58
  • Note that moderators also have the ability to delete an account, and do contact us when they see abusive patterns develop (it's not just the community team that can, though we do handle 99% of deletion cases ). If a mod deletes an account, it's probably because they're showing someone the door.
    – Tim Post
    Feb 2 '14 at 11:26

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