I'm a (fairly new) moderator on Raspberry Pi Exchange and everyday there are numbers of answers rightfully flagged as non-answers because they are essentially comments left by people with not enough rep to comment. I go through them and decide whether to just delete them or turn them into actual comments in the appropriate place.

Quite often these are actually useful contributions and so I turn them into comments.

Almost every single time I do this (as in, way, way beyond coincidence), the score on the answer is immediately reduced by one, and I have verified the user's point total is in fact decremented.

I'm hesitant to believe this is built into the system, so my other theory about it is that I'm not seeing a current score initially, and for whatever reason it is updated when I delete. So I wanted to verify one way or the other: Does the system automatically penalize deleted answers and if so under what conditions?

1 Answer 1


If you mark a Very Low Quality flag as helpful - which happens automatically when the post is deleted - the system will downvote it.

This is done because folks are oddly reluctant to down vote posts even when calling them out as abysmally bad in mod flags.

See: Is the Very Low Quality flag too ambiguous?

  • "Folks are oddly reluctant to down vote posts even when..." -> a result of research done no doubt with special mind-reading software ("We know what you want even if you don't..."). ;)
    – goldilocks
    Feb 21, 2015 at 2:54
  • 3
    No, just correlating votes and flags. There's a reference for this that I've now added to the post.
    – Shog9
    Feb 21, 2015 at 6:54
  • Aren't users supposed to be reluctant to down vote? Isn't that the point with decreasing reputation of those who down vote an answer?
    – kasperd
    Feb 21, 2015 at 7:07
  • 8
    Be reluctant to downvote posts you aren't sure about, @kasperd. If you're saying, essentially, "this answer is so stomach-turning-awful it needs a moderator to reduce it to a greasy stain on the pavement" and a moderator responds by doing just that then... we're a bit past "unsure".
    – Shog9
    Feb 21, 2015 at 7:12
  • But the computation of reputation doesn't reflect that. The reputation of the voter is decreased regardless of the quality of the answer they down vote. So I don't find it odd at all, that users are reluctant to down vote.
    – kasperd
    Feb 21, 2015 at 7:16
  • 1
    Not true in the situation described, @kasperd. Try it.
    – Shog9
    Feb 21, 2015 at 7:19
  • @Shog9 I'll try it once I come across an answer, which deserves it.
    – kasperd
    Feb 21, 2015 at 7:21
  • Many or most of the cases I'm seeing aren't actually flagged by people though -- they're "Community" noticing someone posted a 20 word answer. Not only that, but much of the time they're not really being deleted as "stomach-turning-awful", they're just being converted to comments. I'm not sure if penalizing someone who doesn't have enough points to comment is really productive in any way. It certainly doesn't send a positive message -- not only did someone delete this because you couldn't comment in the first place, but they downvoted it first. Which of course no one actually did.
    – goldilocks
    Feb 21, 2015 at 9:58
  • To suggest a tweak: maybe this should not apply to people with less than a certain amount of rep. This would not further encourage people to leave answers when they can't comment, since they are unlikely to know the difference, but it might help alleviate the negative impression that the site is more about rules and procedure than information and communication. I don't believe that, but I can see how it might seem that way in certain contexts.
    – goldilocks
    Feb 21, 2015 at 10:03
  • @goldilocks, maybe I'm wrong but I think once deleted the downvote doesn't affect the user's reputation and is not visible to them, it just feeds back into the quality assurance algorithms (new term I've just coined) so if they keep at doing the same thing without providing quality contributions it may lead to post throttling / bans.
    – PeterJ
    Feb 21, 2015 at 12:30
  • @PeterJ I don't think so. As mentioned in the Q, the users rep certainly appears to me to have declined as a result. They had 8 points, now they have 6, etc.
    – goldilocks
    Feb 21, 2015 at 15:35
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    Out of curiosity, does this mean that if I downvote an answer, then flag it as "low quality" and the flag is accepted, it will automatically get downvoted again before it is deleted? Or is the downvote actually associated with the user who set the flag?
    – goldilocks
    Feb 23, 2015 at 16:58
  • 1
    Someone with 1 reputation can't actually lose any, @goldilocks. And yes, this allows double-downvoting if the flag is marked "helpful".
    – Shog9
    Feb 26, 2015 at 17:56

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