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In the last few days, I've come across four instances where a non-answer was left by a new user, that answer was deleted by the system after six Recommend Deletion votes in the review queues, then the poster promptly reversed that deletion with a single vote.

In each case, the answer had piled up quite a few "not an answer" or "very low quality" flags, which were all cleared the instant the answer was deleted by the system. However, the poster was able to single-handedly override all that when they undeleted their non-answer with a single vote. This required others to go and re-flag the answer and for a moderator to step in and delete it so that they couldn't restore the answer.

This seems like a bad design. A user should not be able to by themselves overturn deletion of their answers that were removed by a community vote in review.

I propose that answers deleted via five Recommend Deletion votes from the review queues require the normal three undelete votes that posts deleted using regular community delete votes do. This would prevent users from bringing back their non-answers after the flags on them had been cleared, potentially allowing non-answers to come back and clutter up the site.

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  • As a reference (for moderators, developers, and 10k users), these are two of the answers this happened to: stackoverflow.com/a/22653159/19679 stackoverflow.com/a/22596361/19679 . I'll see if I can find the others I encountered. Mar 27, 2014 at 16:25
  • How does the system behave when deleted by 3 20K users outside of the review queue? Are they undeleteable? Mar 27, 2014 at 16:26
  • 2
    Potentially have an option for the author to put the post back into the queue where it can be undeleted, much like the reopen queue (except it need not be a separate queue, really).
    – Servy
    Mar 27, 2014 at 16:26
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    @psubsee2003 - Normally, questions and answers deleted by 3 20k users require 3 undelete votes to bring the post back. That seems like the approach that could be used here. Mar 27, 2014 at 16:27
  • 20
    @BradLarson yeah, that would work. The author's binding vote should only count for self deletes. Frankly, this feels like a bug and not an intended design. Mar 27, 2014 at 16:29

2 Answers 2

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Jarrod has implemented animuson's suggestion:

Now that we have that new "disputed low quality review" flag, can we use it for this purpose? The OP undeleting their answer is like disputing the reviewers, so whenever this happens, why not raise an auto-flag so that a moderator can take a peek at it? That way the undeletion doesn't just go unnoticed since all the flags have been cleared.

This, coupled with an explanation for the deletion in the post's history:

Post Deleted From Review

...should together make this already-rare occurrence less potentially troublesome.

Note that posts deleted by 3 trusted users will continue to require 3 votes to undelete.

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  • And that just caught one: stackoverflow.com/a/22877755/19679 , so it's working. Apr 6, 2014 at 3:40
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    The autoflag shouldn't be cleared if the user undeletes, deletes again, then undeletes again. Jan 17, 2018 at 10:00
  • I feel it would've been better to not actually undelete the post when OP tries to undelete. Rather, all that happens is a mod flag, and the mod can then choose to undelete it if they think it's worthwhile. No increase in work, but sets the barrier for likely-bad content getting undeleted at a level that requires a moderator (or 3 trusted users) to agree it isn't actually bad. Allowing one user to decide whether content is worth keeping on the site when 4+ others have already said it doesn't is not a good idea, even before considering the conflict of interest OP has w/ their own content.
    – TylerH
    Mar 8 at 16:12
  • There's certainly a potential increase in work there, @TylerH: right now, if the answer is re-deleted (by the author, by 3 trusted members of the site, by spam/offensive flags, etc.) then no moderators need to be involved. Moreover, there would be a (potentially huge) delay between that "undelete" click and undeletion - meaning the practical action is likely not to click undelete at all, but rather repost. Of course, most folks in this position wouldn't know that this is the practical route from the outset; they'd click "undelete", see that it did nothing, and then repost. 2x the work...
    – Shog9
    Mar 8 at 16:29
  • @Shog9 Alternatively, 5 mins of work to pop up a tooltip or modal that says "the community is reviewing whether to undelete your post. Please be patient". Far from 2x and most likely averts the 'repost' scenario you mentioned altogether.
    – TylerH
    Mar 14 at 18:45
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The reason this hasn't been fixed yet is twofold:

  1. It doesn't happen that often
  2. Fixing it in the way you describe requires stuffing reviewers names into the deletion record - that is, we can't just attribute the deletion to Community, or undeletion is locked. It might actually make more sense to just unlock Community-deleted posts (that is, allow 3 trusted users to undelete them), but we never followed up on that previously because there were such a small number of these in play (see #1).

But it's been a while since I last checked this, so... Here are some updated stats:

  • Total review-deleted posts: 39,368
  • Review-deleted posts that the author then undeleted: 849
  • Review-deleted posts undeleted by the author and then re-deleted: 438
  • Review-deleted posts undeleted by the author and then edited: 357
  • Review-deleted posts undeleted by the author, edited, then re-deleted: 99

Related:

Full list of the remaining 411 posts that were undeleted:

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  • If someone needs the Vox Populi badge: this is your chance! I reviewed the first 10. Most of them are still bad. Mar 28, 2014 at 16:46
  • Thanks. Figured it was a bit of an edge case. I'll work through that list when I get a chance. Mar 28, 2014 at 17:02
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    @GrantWinney - If a moderator deletes them, they stay deleted. I've already cleaned up a few non-answers from this list. Not all of these are bad answers, though. Mar 28, 2014 at 18:26
  • Oof, there are some real winners in that list: stackoverflow.com/a/22633824/19679 . Good that we can at least clean these up. Mar 28, 2014 at 19:39
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    @Shog9 Now that we have that new "disputed low quality review" flag, can we use it for this purpose? The OP undeleting their answer is like disputing the reviewers, so whenever this happens, why not raise an auto-flag so that a moderator can take a peek at it? That way the undeletion doesn't just go unnoticed since all the flags have been cleared.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Mar 29, 2014 at 22:23
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    @animuson that's a good idea - making that change now. Also going to add a new post history event, "post deleted from review", for better visibility in the revisions list. Apr 3, 2014 at 1:52
  • Point number 2 is not applicable anymore since users can now vote to undelete posts deleted by Community. Jan 17, 2018 at 10:03
  • Wait, all of them are Questioms (suggested by the URL)? Obviously wrong. Feb 11, 2018 at 1:22
  • Click any one of them, @idebug
    – Shog9
    Feb 11, 2018 at 3:33

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