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At the moment over on Software Engineering StackExchange there is a user manually removing all of their positively-voted answers, seemingly for a laugh. I wholly support that the account is theirs and as such, their answers are too. But this immediately poses some problems:

  • Clogging up the main board with "recently active questions" that were answered long ago
  • Removing what were good and useful answers from those questions
    • While the user is specifically retaining their bad answers

This could also take away from the value of various comments and sometimes even other answers.

This seems to go against the interest of StackExchange as a whole.

Is there a mechanism available to prevent a user from essentially destroying all of their contributions? Or should someone go and essentially repeat their previous - useful - answer through a Community account?

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16

Flag for moderator attention, using a custom flag.

A mod can quickly see a user's deleted posts and go through them, and hopefully undelete any that are good enough to stay. A suspension could also be applied (for vandalism, because removing good content on a large scale is vandalism, even if you wrote it), which would stop the user from doing this any further, if possible.

The system might raise an automatic flag if the user continues to delete their posts, but only if enough posts are deleted. I'd recommend flagging just to be sure.

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I am just answering to point out that when he decided to post his answers he agreed to Stack Exchange licensing policies. To be clear:

I wholly support that the account is theirs and as such, their answers are too.

This, afaik, is not true. He is free to delete his account if he wants, but he has given up the ability to remove his answer since they are now licensed to be used freely (with attribution!) by everyone so deleting them will be considered a vandalism attempt, and processed as such by the system.

As others have pointed out, this will probably trigger an automated restoration. Even if it escapes automatic correction, the second a mod notices that, the result will be the same.

The content, now under Stack Exchange license, will be restored.

So, your best bet is to just flag and report the abusive behaviour, or you can wait some days, and see if the automatic fix kicks in, in order to off-load the work to the script instead of having a human manually look at it.

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  • 6
    Well they do still own the content of their answers; Stack Exchange just has an irrevocable license to use them. – Cai Dec 20 '17 at 16:56
  • @Cai Correct, more specifically everyone in the world has an irrevocable licence to use them, and SE is included in "everyone". – Servy Dec 20 '17 at 17:04
  • @Cai you have a point. I have reworded the answer to be more accurate, do you think the current version can suffice? – SPArcheon Dec 21 '17 at 8:52
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Usually there's no need to flag anything.

If a user deletes or edits a large number of posts over a relatively short period the system raises a flag for the moderators so they can investigate.

See

What flags are automatically raised by the system?

for more details on auto-flags.

However, in this case the auto-flag doesn't seem to have been raised yet so without user flags we would have been unaware of the problem.

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  • I have seen a user fly under the radar by deleting more slowly over several days, so I'd rather get a redundant flag than get no flag. If it's blatant -- a bunch of vandalized posts right there on the front page -- then mods probably already know, but deletions especially of old answers can be silent. – Monica Cellio Dec 21 '17 at 14:50
  • @MonicaCellio in this case I would have expected it to have been auto flagged and was surprised when I found it wasn't. The initial version of the question wasn't clear to which site it was so I didn't think to check SE before posting the answer. – ChrisF Dec 21 '17 at 14:52
  • I didn't look into the specific case; I was answering generally. Rage-quitters aren't subtle, but there are also sneaky vandals who've figured out what amount of activity triggers the auto-flag. – Monica Cellio Dec 21 '17 at 14:53
  • @MonicaCellio ah. Fair point. – ChrisF Dec 21 '17 at 14:54

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