If a user's account is scheduled for deletion (i.e. they've submitted a formal request for account deletion, but the button hasn't actually been pressed yet), can they be prevented from voting?

I can't see any reason why such a user should be allowed to continue casting votes on the site. They've already decided that they're soon going to be a non-user, and they won't be able to vote at that point anyway; and if they really want to continue voting, all they have to do is cancel the deletion.

On the other hand, there are sometimes good reasons why they shouldn't be allowed to vote in this period. In many cases (not all), a user deleting their account is in the middle of some sort of "rage quit", and an obvious thing for a ragequitting user to do would be to leave a bunch of downvotes before they go, as a form of hitting on the break. If they do it soon enough before the deletion, they might even be able to get away with doing things which would normally be reversed by the serial voting algorithm. Or, worse, they could unaccept answers to all their questions - downvotes can be invalidated by SE employees, but nobody except the OP can re-add checkmarks to answers. For that matter, even the standard ragequitter practice of deleting all their posts could count as a sort of voting - it's disabled during account suspension, so why not during pending deletion periods too?

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    The downvotes will be reversed as part of the deletion, so I think that's a non-issue. – ale Feb 7 '17 at 20:13
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    @ale Not if the user was active enough (had enough votes/rep/whatever the criteria are) that their votes aren't undone as part of the deletion. – Rand al'Thor Feb 7 '17 at 20:16
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    @randal'thor I thought all votes within the last month are undone. Then there's a script that decides about the rest. – user212646 Feb 7 '17 at 20:32
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    @fredsbend I believe not. I've seen very active users deleted with no resulting change to any other user's rep. – Rand al'Thor Feb 7 '17 at 21:56
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    "nobody except the OP can re-add checkmarks to answers." Really? Not even the people with access to the database that information is stored on? – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Feb 9 '17 at 1:22

First, I should note that the person who motivated this question threw their tantrum before scheduling deletion, so this wouldn't have helped - by the time they were scheduled, they were also suspended everywhere, which achieved the same effect.

Also, some of the scenarios you're outlining are already addressed today:

  • Low-activity accounts lose all of their votes upon deletion anyway, precisely because they have insufficient activity for us to reliably distinguish abuse from normal behavior.

  • High-activity accounts get manually reviewed, usually by me. Depending on the situation, I will either invalidate serial voting or simply delete the user and all of their votes together.

  • Mass-deletion is rate-limited, and can trigger automatic flags on top of that. There's a balance here between tying the hands of folks who just want to tidy up their accounts and blocking vandals, but we've tweaked the triggers enough over the years to be reasonably sane.

  • Up- and down-voting is also rate-limited, so the damage you could do on one site in one day is limited to 40 votes up or down.

  • Vote retraction is locked after a few minutes unless the post is edited; this makes it pretty hard to mass-retract votes without signalling to everyone on the site what you're doing.

That just leaves rage-unaccept. This is kinda borderline; our broad philosophy here has been that accept is at the asker's discretion and totally optional, so there's less call for strict limits on it. Additionally, you'd need to have asked and accepted answers to a whole lot of questions for this to be particularly disruptive. That said, I could see putting some generous rate-limits on this.

Finally, I should note that it's possible for moderators to suspend accounts pending deletion, and for employees (who generally trigger the deletions in the first place) to suspend an account network-wide. While a manual process, this does provide sufficient tooling to stop the bleeding in cases where the above-mentioned restrictions are insufficient.

If we ever get to the point where more is necessary, I suspect automatically suspending accounts pending deletion would be a simple solution, but I'm in no hurry to do that.

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    What about reversing the rep loss after a "rage-unaccept"? It would be obvious to see that a user has unaccepted a bunch of answers prior to leaving. Don't worry about the green check mark, rather the rep which was earned genuinely but lost in an insincere way. – Möoz Feb 7 '17 at 21:52
  • @Mooz I think that's covered by the "at the asker's discretion"... if the answer is no longer accepted, it seems that it no longer gets the rep for it. I guess I don't really see an issue here. If the answer isn't accepted, the answerer doesn't get rep. – Catija Feb 7 '17 at 22:12
  • @Catija That's fair enough, but there is a problem here: that the unaccept is insincere and wouldn't have happened but for the rage-quit. – Möoz Feb 7 '17 at 22:18
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    @Mooz So? It's 15 rep... Unless you have a habit of answering all of one user's questions and getting all of those answers accepted, I don't really see the problem. Surely, if you have an accepted answer, it also has many upvotes? That means you're likely still retaining the bulk of the rep you received for that answer. You're not owed an accept... which means you're not owed that rep, regardless of the OP's reason for retracting the accept. – Catija Feb 7 '17 at 22:21
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    Don't get me wrong, I see the problem - if nothing else, it feeds into the rage-quitter's desire to discourage and demotivate the folks who took their time to help them. Just not quite sure what an appropriate solution looks like here; this is rare enough I don't have a ton of data to work with. – Shog9 Feb 7 '17 at 22:29
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    @Catija 1 single rep lost for the wrong reason is something that shouldn't be accepted. Especially when it is as evident and traceable as this. Also, some people do have prolific answers and may stand to lose a fair amount of rep. – Möoz Feb 7 '17 at 22:29
  • @Shog9 Agreed. Except take it as a case-by-case basis and it will be clear. In the most recent particular case the user rage-quit and rage-unaccepted. My point is to protect the real users from that person's harmful actions. – Möoz Feb 7 '17 at 22:33
  • I get that, @mooz; I just don't have an obvious way to correct that at present. – Shog9 Feb 7 '17 at 22:34
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    @Mooz that's a bit melodramatic. Everyone's had the occasional "I hate you" downvote. – Catija Feb 7 '17 at 22:40
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    I was responsible for actually approving their deletion, after cleaning up the serial voting, @dorukayhan. – Shog9 Feb 8 '17 at 0:09
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    I gather they un-accepted more than a dozen questions. That means that more than 180 rep points have been deducted from various users. Now, admittedly these are only fake internet points that can't be traded for cash, but it's the principle, dammit! – Richard Feb 8 '17 at 1:14
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    @Mooz - Honestly I'm more aggrieved about the fact that their questions will now sit un-accepted forever despite having perfectly good answers that other users put time and effort into answering. Unaccepting isn't just annoying to those who run the site, it's a punch in the guts to their fellow users, who're basically collateral damage to their tantrum. – Richard Feb 8 '17 at 1:41
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    If the concern with rage-unaccepts is the "I'm going do deal everybody who helped me a 15-point penalty, nyah!" thing, consider treating long-lived acceptances like long-lived posts that ultimately get deleted. Just as a deleted question or answer (if at least score 3) doesn't cost you the rep after 60 days, maybe an acceptance that is just removed (not moved to another answer) doesn't cost you rep if it was there for a while. I don't know how much of an issue this really is, @Shog9, but this approach would be similar to something we already do, so if you decide to do something, maybe that? – Monica Cellio Feb 8 '17 at 3:14
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    @MadScientist Even that wouldn't stop a determined vandal though: they could accept the worst answer on the page, or post a new non-answer themselves and accept that (it would then have to be mod-deleted, and so the checkmark would vanish anyway). – Rand al'Thor Feb 8 '17 at 12:55
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    @monica That seems like a good solution to me. Even if the check mark is moved after a long time (answers become obsolete sometimes) that doesn't make your initial contribution less valuable. – ɥʇǝS Feb 10 '17 at 2:11

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