Under some conditions, a user's votes may be preserved after account deletion. These conditions are described in a meta post by Shog9 and in the Help Center. And they are described differently, so a clarification is called for.

Help Center says:

This removal occurs whenever a user is deleted, unless that user had a very high reputation score. Because high-reputation users have usually cast a great many votes, removing all of them could be that much more disruptive to other users.

Shog9 writes:

There are two thresholds:

  • Number of votes cast by the user being deleted
  • Number of people affected significantly by those votes

If either threshold is exceeded, deletion is held up until someone reviews it.

Nothing about reputation here.

If a user with 101 reputation and 20,000+ votes (not an imaginary scenario) requests deletion, is their deletion subject to aforementioned review? Help Center says no, Shog9 says yes.


1 Answer 1


The help center article is actually fairly accurate. The details you found in Shog's answer are just the criteria that cause the profile to get held up for review before the profile deletion goes through. They are not actual criteria for whether the votes get preserved.

The actual criteria on whether the votes get preserved is a bit more complicated - whether or not that profile has engaged in any illegitimate voting behavior in the past. There are a lot of things to look at when considering that factor. Generally speaking, a higher reputation user is more likely to pass that check without issue, whereas a lower reputation user is likely to face much more scrutiny. After all, a huge number of votes is less suspicious from a higher reputation user.

Also, consider some data. Historically, most users who are involved in some sort of voting misbehavior rarely ever go on to actually be very high reputation users. Either they give up and stop using the site or have their profile deleted. For example, here is a reputation breakdown of all the users on Stack Overflow who still exist on the site that have been contacted for either targeted voting or sockpuppet upvoting at some point in the past:

 Reputation Range       | Number Users Messaged
 < 1000                 | 5,035
 1,000 - 4,999          | 970
 5,000 - 9,999          | 127
 10,000 - 49,999        | 73
 50,000 - 99,999        | 2
 100,000+               | 3

Note: This data excludes all users whose reputation was 1 at the time, because they could have been suspended and not actually have a reputation of 1. It of course doesn't include now-deleted users because I don't know of a way to easily get previous reputation of a deleted user.

So without going into all the fine details in the help center, the current text is pretty spot-on. Simply having a high number of votes cast is not the sole indicator on whether the votes will be preserved, so it required something extra to indicate that. Thus reputation is used, since a very high reputation is the best simplification of the criteria that secondarily determines whether votes will be preserved, based on how often it occurs.

  • 1
    Of course, the real reason is that help center article was written a year or so before the vote thresholds were established so rep was the only way they could (or were) help up in the queue. But given no one reads it unless we don't preserve votes (and, as you note, that's almost always gonna involve low-rep users) it's accurate enough.
    – Shog9
    Oct 30, 2017 at 22:43

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