When a post is deleted as rude/abusive or spam, people who can see deleted posts don't see the content directly -- they have to click through a notice to see what lies beyond. If the post is a question we also obscure the title, lest somebody come across the deleted question. We take extra care with this content for the subset of users who can see it.

I'm here today to ask for help with user names. For several months, some sites have been getting attacked by a very persistent troll. The posts get flag-deleted quickly (thanks Smokey!), but the troll has lately been choosing offensive user names, which leaves our front page littered with "modified by (offensive name)" notices. Everybody sees this, unlike the deleted posts themselves. This is a big turnoff to the visitors we hope to attract and engage. It's pretty icky for site regulars too, but at least we know what's going on.

Moderators destroy these accounts on sight, but depending on time zones, holidays, Shabbat, or other time away, abusive users can live for anywhere from several hours to a few days. Trolls can and do take advantage of this.

Please close this loophole that lets trolls crap all over a site's front door. When a question is migrated and the user doesn't have an account yet, those questions just show up with a timestamp (no name). Can we do the same for the "modified" notices caused by red-flag-deleted posts -- "modified 2h ago", no name? Or do something else to get those names out of the modification notices? (I'm not averse to auto-destroying accounts that have only produced rude/spam posts if that turns out to be the best solution to this problem.)

This request applies to all user names attached to red-flag-deleted posts; I'm not proposing that we somehow try to determine which ones are offensive enough.

Please don't attribute them to Community, at least for logged-in users; that'd make them harder to find and clean up after, because Community owns bumps, anonymous edits, and probably some other things. I'm looking for a way to suppress offensive names while still enabling moderators to handle the accounts.

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    Hmm... Fair warning, this sounds expensive. I still think a better solution is to auto-destroy user accounts when their only contributions have been spam / abusive deleted. – Shog9 May 22 '18 at 21:35
  • @Shog9 that would satisfy the "or something else to get those names out" part of my request. The only reason to keep a troll account around (briefly) is to be able to use certain mod tools that only work on live accounts, but maybe the red flags do everything we can reasonably do there anyway? You have better data than I do. If auto-nuking accounts in this case doesn't impede future troll-fighting, sounds good to me! – Monica Cellio May 22 '18 at 21:38
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    I feel like there's a super-obscure bug that keeps new accounts from being blocked in some... y'know, it doesn't matter. No one should have to keep 10 different, cascading rules in their head to handle this stuff, the system should just do the right thing in response to the inputs. – Shog9 May 22 '18 at 21:40
  • when troublesome user name is somehow visible I flag one of the affected posts asking moderators to cleanup the name. This doesn't happen frequently but per my recollection moderators always act on my flags and change it to generic name like "user12345". Would that help? – gnat May 22 '18 at 21:42
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    @gnat as soon as a moderator sees the offensive name on the front page, that account (or at least that display name) is toast. The problem is that this can still leave that name out there for quite some time, because only moderators can take those actions. Flags help by alerting moderators, but I don't want to have to wait for moderators. We already do some special handling on these posts to limit their effects; I want to do a little more. – Monica Cellio May 22 '18 at 21:45
  • I see, that makes sense. My approach would be indeed inefficient for cases like you describe – gnat May 22 '18 at 21:49
  • Is it not possible to detect the type of approach these users use and block those in addition to the IP address? – Travis J May 22 '18 at 22:18
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    related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/166679/… – Kate Gregory May 22 '18 at 22:28
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    This is changed to "modified by Community" if the user is deleted or destroyed. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog May 22 '18 at 22:55
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog yes. This question is about the pre-destruction case. – Monica Cellio May 23 '18 at 0:52
  • What mechanism do you propose that would objectively determine if a username is offensive? A regex-based list that could only be edited by moderators? If so, there would still be a somewhat slow initial phase while the list entries grew as rules were determined and new instances added. (Unless you find that the majority of offensive names take a particular form already.) – Jason Bassford May 23 '18 at 5:18
  • Although, actually, if such a thing were in place it could have the added benefit of preventing the creation of offensive usernames in the first place. Perhaps this could be rephrased as something at that level? – Jason Bassford May 23 '18 at 5:21
  • Or are you proposing hiding every username associated with a red-flag deletion, not just those usernames that are offensive? – Jason Bassford May 23 '18 at 5:27
  • @JasonBassford one way I can think of is, if a user has all of their posts deleted with offensive flags system can automatically "downgrade" their name to generic "user12345" which would be displayed if they wouldn't set a name at all. That may have false positives for users whose names aren't offensive but it doesn't look like a big deal for this case – gnat May 23 '18 at 10:56
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    @JasonBassford all red-flag deletions, no attempt to determine which user names are bad. If Jon Skeet has a post deleted as spam, his name doesn't show on the front page. (Soon thereafter, I imagine some flagger heads would roll...) Regexs are finicky and can be worked around; just hide 'em all when it comes to rude posts. – Monica Cellio May 23 '18 at 14:02

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