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User was removed

I woke up this morning to find that I suffered a massive drop in reputation points across the network because lots of users had been removed.

What happened to those users? Was there a database cleanup?

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    I had a huge hit too. I was also considering writing a Meta post about it. I was under the impression that removals that cause a large rep impact didn't have the rep reversed. This also seems spread out though, so the impact per site is probably minimal. – Carcigenicate May 25 at 4:41
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    Wow, I thought I had a huge hit, then I read some of the chat comments. 1000+ rep lost on some sites for some people? That's insane. – Carcigenicate May 25 at 4:51
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    I lost 300+ on Android, which is a huge amount given the activity there. – iBug May 25 at 4:52
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    Voting to leave open. @EvanCarroll your post is about why there was a reputation loss (answer: user removal) and this is a valid follow up question asking why users were removed. (Suspected moderation cause, ...) – MEE was the missing bracket May 25 at 6:04
  • @PeterJ apparently they were among the top 10 all-time voters on Super User – Olli Niemitalo May 25 at 6:13
  • AFAIK it was one > 50K user whom was active on a half dozen sites, a few days ago it was someone else. I lost less than 50 flair the past few days. A few people lost 1000s. No specific answers are offered about other users accounts. – Rob May 25 at 9:18
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    Related in GIS SE: gis.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5069/… – Andre Silva May 25 at 11:45
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    @El'endiaStarman SEDE updates every Sunday, so that query that worked on Saturday won't work now. – Monica Cellio May 26 at 18:22
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    -1190 here on VP. – Gyan May 26 at 19:26
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    -0 here on PPCG. It may have been that the user that was deleted was inactive (and I posted only recently), or the user wasn't on PPCG. Hopefully you guys get your rep back! – MilkyWay90 May 26 at 21:28
  • I lost 665 in Photography. – Michael C May 27 at 16:35
  • @MilkyWay90 no, it is clear the rep won't be back. It's not possible technically even if SE team want, since the records have been hard deleted from database. – ShaWiz May 29 at 7:38
  • @ShadowTheCurlyBracedWizard I don't mean if the SE Team restored the votes; I mean upvotes, accepts, etc. – MilkyWay90 May 29 at 11:30
  • @MilkyWay90 now I lost you. upvotes, accepts, etc are all votes which were deleted when the user casting them has been deleted, hence causing the rep loss. If it wasn't clear, I was referring in my previous comment to the "Hopefully you guys get your rep back!" part of your comment. Sorry if there was some confusion somehow. – ShaWiz May 29 at 14:41
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There's no such thing as a database cleanup that would affect reputation, because we don't automatically delete profiles that have voted.

One or more users deleted their profiles, and there's really not anything further we can discuss about the topic for privacy reasons.

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    The same thing happened on Network Engineering, and some users lost a lot of reputation. It was apparently a user in the Top-10 of voters for the site. Apparently, the user did not meet the criterion of "high reputation." it disrupted some users, so I wonder if it should fall uner the: "Because high-reputation users have usually cast a great many votes, removing all of them could be that much more disruptive to other users. In such cases, the staff use a special deletion that preserves the votes, resulting in no reputation change for those who had been voted on by that user." – Ron Maupin May 25 at 4:43
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    feature-request Can we reverse this vote removal and retain the reputation? – iBug May 25 at 4:53
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    As I've stated, we can't discuss the specifics of a user, but this decision was reviewed and we cannot reverse it. – animuson May 25 at 5:03
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    Why aren't we preserving reputation for all voluntarily-removed users? – Robert Harvey May 25 at 18:21
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    @RobertHarvey Because some of them engage in voting fraud, and preserving the votes in all cases would make that extremely difficult to detect and reverse. In other words, vote defrauders prevent us from having nice things... – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 25 at 18:40
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog Why would voluntarily-removed users be more likely to engage in fraud than non-removed users? – Franck Dernoncourt May 25 at 19:29
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    @FranckDernoncourt Because committing voting fraud then requesting deletion knowing your votes would be preserved makes that an extremely attractive option to conceal your fraud. – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 25 at 19:37
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog why would account deletion make it more difficult to conceal the voting fraud? – Franck Dernoncourt May 25 at 19:39
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    @FranckDernoncourt Because when votes are "preserved", they are actually moved to the Community user. No mark is maintained as to who cast the original vote. – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 25 at 19:40
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    @AndreSilva We didn't used to look at this issue at all when that happened. Now we do. It's very different in that someone actually did look at these deletions and opted not to preserve the votes. – animuson May 25 at 23:03
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    Tks for the explanation. The next question is inevitable. If someone from SE staff opted out not to preserve the votes, this means there was a vote fraud (given the amount of votes discarded). How this came unnoticed to SE for so long, in a way a single user significantly affected almost the entire network? – Andre Silva May 25 at 23:11
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    @AndreSilva No, it doesn't, as I explained elsewhere. Nor can we explain the specifics of a user to identify why their votes weren't preserved. – animuson May 25 at 23:26
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    @animuson so what's the point of reviewing? If you choose to not preserve votes of someone who voted thousands of times and cause loss of reputation to thousands of users, better just let the deletion be automatic, no review at all, and be done with it. Will save the team lots of time, and won't annoy the users who delete their account by making them wait. – ShaWiz May 26 at 7:03
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    @ShadowWizard: Your question makes no sense. Not all reviews result in deleting votes. But some still do. That is the point of the review: to determine when it is appropriate to delete votes and when it isn't. The sheer number of votes is not the only thing at play. The fact that a decision was made to delete a large number of votes does not mean that there's no point in ever doing this review. By that logic, there's no point in reviewing; just establish an arbitrary keep/delete vote threshold based on vote counts. – Nicol Bolas May 26 at 15:03
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The votes may have been reversed because the user was determined to have been engaging in voting fraud.

According to the latest documentation on how the decision is made to preserve votes for deleted users, reputation is not checked when the system decides to field a voluntary deletion request to employees for potential vote preservation, only the user's votes are:

  • There are two thresholds:

    1. Number of votes cast by the user being deleted
    2. Number of people affected significantly by those votes

    The exact values of those thresholds don't particularly matter; they're pretty low, but not so low that you could hit them easily while still hiding fraudulent activity.

  • If either threshold is exceeded, deletion is held up until someone reviews it. Otherwise, deletion proceeds and any votes are discarded.

  • If, during review, it becomes apparent that the user is or ever was involved in voting fraud, the votes are discarded as they would normally be.
  • Otherwise, the votes are preserved.

Based on the posts I've seen (and the fact that I've also been affected by the same user's deletion), it seems that both the numbers mentioned in the first bullet are high, enough to cross the "low" thresholds, thus fielding the account to system administrators for potential vote preservation.

The third bullet states that even if the user would qualify for vote preservation, their votes can still be invalidated if it is determined that the user has been engaging in voting fraud. Based on the public evidence, this is one thing that may have happened here.

It's also possible that the user wasn't deleted voluntarily, but by a Stack Exchange employee (as it was network-wide); note that if a moderator or employee deletes a user, their votes are always invalidated, and vote preservation only comes into play if the user voluntarily requests deletion.

A couple clarifications:

  • Note that while the text above does imply that users who have engaged in voting fraud are forever precluded from having their votes preserved if they later request deletion, this is in fact not the case: users who engage in small serial voting in their early years then later go on to become constructive users can still potentially have their votes preserved if they later request deletion.

  • The idea that reputation is the main criterion that the system uses to potentially have votes preserved can be traced back to this (speculative?) edit to an FAQ, which just got copied as-is into the help center page. The help center page's statement that votes are preserved if the user "has a very high reputation score" is incorrect, per the above quoted answer and this recent clarification. (Update: The help page has since been edited to correctly state the criteria for kicking deletions into staff review.)

  • OK, so the user was deleted network-wide.  How does this support the hypothesis that it was not a voluntary self-deletion?  I don’t plan on ever deleting my Stack Exchange accounts, but if I did, I would probably do all of them. – Scott Jun 2 at 18:47
  • @Scott Employees can delete users network-wide; one case where this is done is with cross-site spammers. While it probably wasn't the case here, I just stated it here as a possibility based on the public evidence. – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog Jun 2 at 20:12
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I've checked the reputation of many users on Super User. Even the Top three of this month have gone through a negative reputation change on account of user removal.

So, as @animuson stated, probably a user or more having accounts in your and Evan's Stack Exchange sites might have got removed.

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These are from Politics Beta

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These are from Database Administrators

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Also I observed that most of the users who have undergone negative reputation changes were somehow there on the sites for a long time and new users have not faced it. So probably the removed user(s) might have not posted any question(s) in the past couple of months.

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