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When a moderator deletes a post, nobody except a diamond moderator can undelete that post. There is a pretty good reason for this behaviour, as before this was implemented it happened rather regularly that a user would simply undelete their post after it was deleted by a moderator, without fixing any of the problems that caused the deletion. Undeletion is also pretty silent, so this was an issue that needed to be solved.

But I do think that the actual implementation is missing the goal somewhat and causes some undesirable behaviour in edge cases.

The behaviour that we need to prevent is post owners undeleting their own posts deleted for moderation purposes, which is very different from preventing any regular user from undeleting any post deleted by a moderator, which is the currently implemented behaviour.

The issues caused by the current behaviour compared to what I think is the actually desired behaviour are:

  • The community user is also a moderator, so its deletions are irreversible. But deletions by an automatic script are a pretty good example of decisions that should be reversible by regular users voting to undelete

  • Close votes by moderators are intentionally made reversible by regular users. This is a very good design in my opinion that avoids having to escalate any disagreement between mods and community, and also allows the community to easily fix mistakes made by moderators. Deletion votes should be handled the same way, the community should be able to overturn any moderator deletion unless the moderator intentionally locks the post to prevent this. Sometimes it is necessary to override the community by locking, but in my opinion this should always be an explicit choice by the moderator, and not a side effect.

  • A post deleted for moderation reasons by several regular users should also be protected from the owner simply undeleting it with one click.

So what I propose is to change the whole behaviour to match the desired outcome. Post owners should only be able to undelete with one vote if they themselves deleted the post. If anyone else, moderator or not, deleted the post, the owner would have no special power to undelete.

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    I couldn't agree more with this. Posts deleted by spam/offensive flags are still automatically locked, so there's no risk that they'll be undeleted by a mutinous community. And in the rare case that a moderator does need to delete something and ensure that it is never undeleted, she could always lock the post (right?).
    – Cody Gray
    Jun 1, 2014 at 10:20
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/77380/… (that is the request leading to this behavior in the first place) Jun 1, 2014 at 10:49
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    @CodyGray That is correct.
    – ɥʇǝS
    Jun 1, 2014 at 14:46
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    I actually posted a previous question related to your first bullet point: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/167500/… -- though I tagged it "bug". And your solution solves that problem and many others, so definitely agree here.
    – Ben Lee
    Jun 8, 2014 at 17:03
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    The first bullet point isn't a concern any more, as Community deletions don't prevent undeletion any more. :D
    – Catija StaffMod
    Dec 26, 2018 at 21:35

1 Answer 1

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I just ran into this, trying to vote to undelete a moderator-deleted post that was edited to fix the problem that led to its deletion. I think that the moderator probably did the right thing by deletion - I'm a huge proponent of fast deletion of posts that aren't good examples of questions or answers since it gives the opportunity to edit them while stopping a potential flood of downvotes. However, it needs to be something that the community can override without needing to flag for another moderator to handle.

I will add some additional suggestions:

  • It should take more user votes to undelete a moderator deletion than any other deletion. If it takes 5 user votes to delete a post and 5 user votes to undo that, it should take something like 7 user votes to undo a moderator deletion. The review queues can facilitate this.
  • If users do vote to undelete a moderator-deleted post, consider generating an automatic flag after undoing the deletion so the moderators can see it and confirm. The reasons for deletion may not have been fully addressed. Also, if there is a delete/undelete war happening, a moderator can opt to lock the post, similar to how frequent edits trigger flags.
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    I think requiring an edit to have taken place after the deletion is a pretty sensible guard rail as well. I don't think we need more than the usual number of votes, just some sort of sweat equity that says someone looked at it and made a change. I don't imagine this being gamed much if at all - doing so would be a pretty big abuse case and eligible for suspension.
    – Tim Post
    May 6, 2021 at 17:09
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    This proposal fails to take into account that one of the things which moderator deletion is used for is to stop disputes between groups of users who repeatedly delete and undelete a post. Generating an automatic flag when "enough" users have voted to undelete (it's unclear if your proposal is that the undeletion happens and an autoflag is raised, or if it's an autoflag asking for it to be undeleted), will not actually stop that behavior.
    – Makyen
    May 6, 2021 at 17:10
  • @Makyen Moderators can lock a post if that is happening. May 6, 2021 at 17:11
  • @TimPost That also makes sense. I'm not sure how complex it would be, but N votes to delete with an edit and N+m votes to delete an unedited and unlocked post, perhaps. I don't know if it's even necessary to ever require more than the standard number of votes to delete, though, even without edits. May 6, 2021 at 17:12
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    Regarding your last bullet: posts auto-deleted by spam/offensive flags get locked automatically at the same time they're deleted. So even if users could undelete moderator-deleted posts, the lock would still prevent anything happening with those posts. Are there other cases where we auto-delete things based on flags?
    – animuson StaffMod
    May 6, 2021 at 17:20
  • @animuson It's been a while since I've had to deal with spam/offensive, so I didn't remember that. I don't think so, which probably makes that last point irrelevant. May 6, 2021 at 17:21
  • @ThomasOwens Yes, a lock is possible. In general, we try not to lock posts, but that's primarily due to the significant impact locking has on non-deleted posts. That would, obviously, be less of an issue with deleted posts. However, such locks haven't been applied to any already deleted posts. While that will, probably, only actually impact the posts where people do try to undelete, it will happen. How large of an issue that will be is unclear (we do, periodically, find out about some undeletions of posts which were deleted by moderators who have stepped down, so is known to happen).
    – Makyen
    May 8, 2021 at 4:14

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