When a post is self vandalised, the post should be rolled back to the previous version. This Self-Vandalism, what is correct action question addresses the correct protocol.

enter image description here

Ok so when a user has a temporary lapse in behaviour and self vandalises a post, it temporarily leaves a messy post on the site.

enter image description here

This is something that can be changed quickly, as was done for that post.

This question received 3 quick downvotes (one was quickly reversed due to discussion in a chat room, so only two downvotes are showing), I assume due to the vandalism.

enter image description here

I did leave a comment under the question:

hey! Self vandalism doesn't warrant downvotes!

It is human nature to want to downvote a post an OP is vandalising, however it doesn't benefit the site to downvote on transient user behaviour, it's preferable to vote on the merits of the post.

Admittedly some posts that are self-vandalised are done so due to the post receiving negative attention, not having good quality, in which case self vandalism will frquently attract more down votes.

The point of this post is to ask and educate the community about what it thinks of downvoting self vandalised posts, should they be downvoted for being vandalised?

  • 8
    FWIW: Self-vandalizing edits bump the question, where new viewers might see it for the first time, and assume it's garbage. Tough to know if that is the reason voters voted or not. – Alexander O'Mara Aug 1 '16 at 6:14
  • @AlexanderO'Mara For me, that's exactly what happened. It's perhaps too hard to notice the difference between a fresh question and a recent edit. – tripleee Aug 1 '16 at 6:16
  • 2
    Side note : If there are multiple cases of vandalism by the same account, then mods will get to know about those automatically (and they will take appropriate action) – TheLostMind Aug 1 '16 at 6:30
  • @AlexanderO'Mara yes there are quite a few side issues that feed into this, as I'm noting your comments and TheLostMind's comment, re flagging, bumping, automatic mod flags, etc – user310756 Aug 1 '16 at 6:32
  • I would like to add, that self-vandalism is a destructive thing to do and I guess these are part of the natural consequences of abusing the site. – user310756 Aug 1 '16 at 7:12

Downvoting is okay, because as you see it, in its vandalised form, "the post is not useful". Most visitors only look at the current revision of a post. If that revision is seen as gibberish, it's perfectly reasonable to cast a downvote.

But better action would be to rollback such vandalizing edits.

If that stirs up an edit war, please proceed to flag it for a moderator's attention. This will help a moderator to investigate the issue and take necessary action. Maybe the post will get locked or the user will be warned or suspended.

Reference: animuson♦'s answer.

  • 3
    On a side note, edit wars trigger an automatic flag at some point. – Alexander O'Mara Aug 1 '16 at 6:20
  • Thanks for the answer, so are you meaning that when people see the vandalised post, they view it as not useful? – user310756 Aug 1 '16 at 6:31
  • 2
    @Yvette Most people only look at the current revision of an answer. If that revision is seen as gibberish, it's perfectly reasonable to cast a downvote. – NVZ Aug 1 '16 at 7:05

Rolling back is the foremost action. That should be done first since it tries to minimize the effect of the vandalism. A moderator should indeed step in if an edit war happens.

Back to your question: should you downvote such post? You referred protocol answer doesn't say you shouldn't downvote. It just mentions other actions to take. In my opinion, it is perfectly fine to downvote such question. First of all, the vandalized post isn't useful, well researched, etc.: all valid downvote reasons. I also believe that such behavior shows a disrespect of the rules and that the post shows that. Another reason for myself to downvote a post.


While downvotes are probably inevitable in this sort of situation, they reflect on the status of the post while it was vandalized, which is often not representative of the question after the vandalism is corrected. Thus suggests that downvoting should only be used sparingly in this situation, and not be our default response to vandalism.

Like you already say in your question,

it doesn't benefit the site to downvote on transient user behaviour, it's preferable to vote on the merits of the post.

This, to me, explains exactly how we should react. As your question is one of principles, that's really all there is to it.

In practice, it's hard to notice the difference between a fresh rude / offensive post and an edit which vandalizes a formerly acceptable question, which is why I say downvotes are probably inevitable.


You must log in to answer this question.