A user asked a question on a Stack Exchange site in good faith, but it was a very poor-quality question and ended up getting deleted by the community. Shortly after it was deleted, the asker edited it, replacing it with a rude/abusive screed, which then appeared in the "Undelete votes" list. What's the right way to handle this? It can't be "raise a rude/abusive flag on it", since you can't raise that flag on something that's already deleted, even if it wasn't deleted for that reason. My best guess would be "raise a custom mod flag on it", but that's what I did, and the result was "declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention".

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    What was your goal in flagging? What did you want the mod to do? I think you can still edit deleted posts yourself, yes?
    – Catija
    Jan 3, 2020 at 6:23
  • The first thing I do when I encounter something outrageous or egregious is prune it right down to the ground. I delete all the offensive content -- the whole post in fact -- and put some dummy text in its place. Then I make a custom flag and explain that it is spam and the question should be completely wiped out. I don't know if that's officially what we're supposed to do, but it has worked fine so far. I think moderators are glad when the community helps them detect such things quickly. Jan 3, 2020 at 8:21
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    @Catija Two things I wanted to happen: 1. Marking the revision as rude/abusive (although I suppose you could argue this is moot if you just roll it back). 2. Either warning or suspending the user who did it, as appropriate. Jan 3, 2020 at 14:41
  • I'm curious about the use case for allowing edits to deleted questions.
    – DWRoelands
    Jan 3, 2020 at 18:12
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    @DWRoelands The idea is that the asker can edit the question into better shape so that it can be undeleted, reopened, and answered. Jan 3, 2020 at 19:04
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    @Catija Related question: do deleted posts still raise rollback war autoflags? Jan 4, 2020 at 4:03
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    @aparente001 Please do not edit spam. Likewise for rude/abusive/offensive content---unless your edit can salvage the post by simply removing the inappropriate content and leaving something reasonable, you should not edit. If you're raising a red flag, you should not edit. Jan 4, 2020 at 11:36

2 Answers 2


I saw your custom flag. As I went to handle it, another moderator beat me to the punch. As you mentioned, that other moderator declined your flag, indicating that moderator intervention was not required. I did not understand that decline, and I thought that some action was required, so I went ahead and handled it as I normally would. There is, of course, no way that a flag's "declined" status can be retrospectively altered, so there was nothing I could do about that. I figured you would just get over it. :-)

In the future, I would certainly recommend a custom moderator flag for situations like this. Perhaps not for simple vandalism (it's ultimately a judgment call, but vandalism of deleted posts really doesn't hurt anything and may not even be worth moderator time to review), but certainly when someone decides to get rude/abusive. At a minimum, nonsense like that should be rolled back. In other circumstances, a moderator may even decide to reach out to the user with one of the canned messages reminding them of our Code of Conduct. (In this case, I did reach out to the user, and they responded favorably. It seems they were just frustrated.)

I have no idea if non-moderators can roll back edits on deleted posts. If so, I suppose you should have done that instead of raising a moderator flag. Either way, I suppose that is what the moderator who declined your flag assumed that you should have done. It is sometimes difficult to keep track of which flaggers have which privileges.

  • Yes, deleted posts can be edited by other non-moderators. Jan 4, 2020 at 11:45
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    There is one thing I'm concerned about, though: if the author of the post rollback-wars on the deleted post, it may not trigger an automatic flag, so a manual flag may be necessary. Jan 4, 2020 at 11:46
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    @sonic I don't know if it will trigger an auto-flag when the post is deleted or not. I would have no issues with a custom moderator flag in that case. I really think the decline in the case described in the question was incorrect. If you see something that you think is a problem, we do appreciate your bringing it to our attention, unless it is something that you can trivially fix yourself without requiring moderator assistance. Jan 4, 2020 at 11:49

In The Tavern I suggested:

"Nice hack to edit and leave closed -- In Review Queue: click title, edit, back, and click leave closed; only related choice on menu was "reopen and edit" which wasn't what was needed.".

In this case replace the first occurrence of the word "edit" with "rollback".

Then simply roll it back and leave it deleted. That does the needed and retains your vote. It ought to have been rolled back before leaving it deleted when you return to the queue.


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