I've been suspended for 7 days on Stack Overflow but I believe there's been a mistake, so I lodged an appeal.
The appeal is still pending.

I want to know, am I going to miss the election?
Can I still vote while the appeal is pending?
Is it possible for the results of the appeal to take longer than the actual suspension time?


The election ended.

  • 5
    Is this related to your chat message? Because that suggests the appeal isn't still pending.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 19:58
  • 5
    @Tinkeringbell That was from the email I sent to "[email protected]" with my email, I haven't got my results from the message I sent through the Contact us.
    – Red
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 20:08
  • 10
    @AnnZen Is there something you think the community can still help you with? Only SO mods and staff have ever really had any insight into the process. And at this point, really only staff can have any further input beyond what you've already gotten below. If you think there's something that normal community members can actually clarify, it might help if you specifically indicate what that would be so that your bounty has more chance to be effective. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 20:23

5 Answers 5


Even back when the Community Team had twice as many people on it, 7-day suspensions were pretty much never investigated. The standard timeline of events was always as follows:

  1. User is suspended.
  2. User disagrees and submits appeal.
  3. Appeal is thrown into the backlog for review.
  4. User serves entire sentence and the suspension expires while waiting for review.
  5. Weeks after the appeal is submitted, a CM finally looks at it and sees the user is no longer suspended.
  6. Appeal is moved to "Done" and ignored because responding is moot now.

While that sounds unfair to people who got suspended for a week, we simply do not have the resources to investigate every single appeal of a 7-day suspension. Unless there was something to indicate abuse or misbehavior about the moderator involved in issuing the suspension, the appeal will very likely be ignored in the end.

Keep in mind that, especially on Stack Overflow, there are many moderators and they consistently talk with each other. There is plenty of oversight even among co-moderators and when users complain, there are often other moderators looking at the information that was available to them to see if it was warranted. Even though staff can see a bit more into the situation, it is unlikely that we would somehow disagree with their decision regarding voting irregularities, even if we did look into it. Those specific suspensions are very rarely overturned.

So if you were suspended for 7 days, you should fully expect to serve out the entire length of a suspension. It has taken longer than that to get to standard user-submitted complaints* for pretty much the entirety of my time working here, and I highly doubt that is going to change any time soon. If the suspension happens to cover an election period, then yes that will prevent you from voting in the election.

* I say "standard" here because there are certain things that we would consider urgent and would be seen almost immediately, but an appeal of voting irregularities would never qualify as urgent.

  • 9
    All suspensions, even if they're as short as 7 days, also include a 1-year ban from nominating as a moderator in any election across the network. I'm guessing short suspensions like these are only investigated if the user actually nominates in a later election, right? (If so, another question: can users later request retroactive appeals of suspensions, if they say they want to be cleared in advance so they're not blocked from running in potential future elections?) Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:40
  • @Sonic Correct. We would need to look into it in that case.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:46
  • 2
    Thanks. Can users request a retroactive appeal to clear themselves of the ban from running in elections without there being a current, active election? (I'm guessing not.) Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:52
  • 1
    @Sonic Would be little point in doing so. There is no magic flag that we can attach to a suspension that would cause it to be ignored by the election check. Even if they had been manually unsuspended, the page would still give them the same message.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:55
  • 1
    @animuson I think you should correct "While that sounds unfair to people who got suspended for a week" to "While that sounds unfair to innocent people who got suspended for a week".
    – Red
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:58
  • 24
    @AnnZen There are plenty of not-innocent people who also appeal suspensions for various reasons and should still receive their investigation. It's intentionally vague so as not to assume guilt or innocence. Just that a user submitted an appeal.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 0:00
  • 2
    Best possible answer, well done. You say the truth, even when it appears harsh, and explain things in a simple way. Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 6:35
  • 12
    Re: The appeal is ignored because responding is moot now. I am not really sure to which extent it is really moot. AFAICT, previous suspensions can influence the duration of the subsequent suspensions - so if I were suspended, I would definitely prefer to see my name cleared, if the suspension was done for wrong reasons.
    – Martin
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 7:14
  • 1
    @Martin The system doesn't work that way. If it sees a previous suspension, regardless if you were unsuspended before its conclusion, it will automatically increase its length unless a moderator manually adjusts it. Besides, if you believed the first one was invalid, chances are you are going to appeal the second one too.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 13:38
  • 1
    So in both my case and @Martin's case above, the system seems to treat manual suspension lifts not as removals of invalid suspensions, but as "reductions to time served" (i.e. the original suspension action being valid). Why is this the case? Are most manual suspension removals cases where the suspension was found to be valid but the length is being reduced to time served, rather than cases where the suspension was found to be invalid? Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 0:28
  • 2
    @Sonic Because there is no such thing as "deleting" a user history event. It is a practical limitation - there is literally nothing else you can do in the current setup. In the case of a suspension being lifted manually, we would normally respond to the moderator message or leave an annotation to indicate why we were doing so. That makes it easier for staff and moderators to look it up later, but does nothing for the automated systems that look at past suspensions.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 0:31

Can I still vote while the appeal is pending?

No, you can't. Voting in an election requires 150 reputation, and while suspended you have only 1. After that your reputation goes back to normal.

Is it possible for the results of the appeal to take longer than the actual suspension time?

Given the size of the Community Team and the amount of items they have to process, it's certainly possible that the appeal takes longer than a week (which is the default duration for a first suspension).


Both the /contact us and community support emails are handled by the same team. They can see things us moderators can't and I wouldn't hold my breath to get a different answer.

Even without the delays due to having an understaffed community team, chances are you'll probably see out your suspension.

While moderators have no ability to see exactly where you voted, the CMs and Support teams do, and their answer is final, no matter where or how you relitigate it. I'd suggest looking at your history, and seeing where voting reversals happened. These invariably are for votes for the same person and I see a few reversals on your account. These are automatic and involve no people.

This is an outrage. You claim to have solid proof. I know for a fact that I'm innocent, and yet there is no way for me to prove it

As a moderator, I've heard every variation on this.

There will be other elections. Rather than working off a premise of "I couldn't have done this" - it's worth looking at it as "where did things go wrong?" - and improving on that.

  • 4
    As a moderator, I've heard every variation on this. Is that a good reason to assume they are all lies?
    – Red
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:00
  • 6
    @AnnZen A sufficient enough percentage are lies such that it's a valid assumption to make without significant evidence to the contrary. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:05
  • and their answer is final Okay. I'll wait for my response.
    – Red
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:08
  • 1
    Well no, but that's different from "I did nothing wrong". I don't think I have any information outside what's public (since I'm neither SO mod, nor Staff), but clearly that's already different from "I did nothing wrong". I'm not presuming guilt. I'm saying you need to look at your actions and wonder "what could have prompted this?" Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 23:22
  • 2
    Previous comments, which would be helpful to users who are unfamiliar with the system, talked about things such as "user removed" and vote reversals, were deleted. Can they please be undeleted? Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 15:28

I've been suspended for 7 days on Stack Overflow. The reason is supposedly for voting irregularity. That is incorrect, and so I lodged an appeal.

There are a number of different things that count as a "voting irregularity", there are even cases where co-workers or persons using the same public Wi-Fi vote in a pattern that, when added to other evidence, accumulates to suspicious behavior warranting action beyond a warning:

I want to know, am I going to miss the election?


Can I still vote while the appeal is pending?


Is it possible for the results of the appeal to take longer than the actual suspension time?

Yes, it's a virtual certainty.

While it may seem unfair the decision ought to have been made for a good reason, the reason should have been documented and you should have been informed of it. If that turns out in your favor, a few weeks later, it would be unfair to re-run the election to include a single vote; and there is a margin of error which should be accounted for.

Depending on the nature of the mistake, on either side, a warning may be used; where one is well past the line so minimal a punishment would be unfair to the majority.

Bear in mind that some people have never done anything to get suspended, and any warnings have been infrequent (and edge cases, cough). So, being suspended is a fairly big deal, something to understand and take steps to avoid.

Once your complaint is processed the explanation should be provided to you, for you to understand and agree with; or dispute.

Your whole complaint seems to be that there were not sufficient details, and a general denial. Now that you've read the links at the top of this answer you can decide if a case of "voting irregularities" has a definition wider than you anticipated.

In the end it turned out that during the election at no time were the votes for the candidates close; a single vote could not have changed the outcome.

Your request to have your appeal processed more quickly, or a request that an exception should be made to allow you to vote, would have had no effect. It would have set a precedent to allow such requests, at the expense of other matters that must be attended to.

  • 8
    A good reminder that "voting irregularities" also cover downvoting systematically one or more users' contributions. Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 6:38
  • 5
    Or systematic downvoting of competing answers
    – Luuklag
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 10:27
  • 5
    Many things are cheating, existing answers describe things such as: multiple votes from the same IP address (and different accounts) which combined with other suspicious behavior increases the likelihood of the behaviour actually being fraudulent (combined with other tools to confirm such suspicions), and the suggestions in the comments above. In addition, there was comments on a different post from the SO moderator (since deleted) asserting that there was no error (I'm not going to repeat the rest of a deleted comment, but that portion addresses the complaint up to this stage).
    – Rob
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 10:55
  • @Rob Addressing your edit: Voting is more than just increasing a number by 1.
    – Red
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 3:05
  • Ann: "'Voting is more than just increasing a number by 1.'". --- Rob: "Our sites, voting, and appeals of decisions are more than just the needs of 1.". --- In the event that you lose your appeal an increase of the penalty is possible, just as with any appeal process.
    – Rob
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 3:11
  • Rob: "In the event that you lose your appeal...". --- Ann: "That event never happened.". --- I don't see how your comment argues with my statement of "Voting is more than just increasing a number by 1.".
    – Red
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 3:22

The only people who can give you more information about your case right now are SE employees since it is to them that you appealed. Outside of that, you have no recourse for more information.

Given that the last thing they told you was

This issue has now been resolved. Please let us know if you have any questions or continue to have issues. This ticket can be re-opened for the next 30 days.

and did not unsuspend you, I wouldn't hold your breath that your later appeal will change their mind unless you provided some very compelling hard evidence showing that your suspension was incorrect.

If the appeal would take longer than your suspension, then you'll just end up serving your suspension. And if that duration exceeds the length of the election, you would indeed not be able to vote in it.

Right or wrong, none of us with no information about your case can say, but those are the facts.

  • Given that the last thing they told you was ... that was an automated response. Also, it came surprisingly fast.
    – Red
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 20:43
  • 1
    @AnnZen Correct. And I'm guessing that response is generated when a human closes out the ticket on the backend. The fact that someone closed the ticket without unsuspending you is indicative of their decision with regards to the case. That's my understanding anyways. Again though, only staff could tell you for sure which is my main point. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 20:45
  • 1
    I believe there was a missing email. I was promised a detailed explanation, but didn't receive any.
    – Red
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 20:46
  • 1
    @AnnZen who promised you that explanation? SE staff are generally very busy. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 22:12
  • @GS-ApologisetoMonica Through an automated email. Once I hit send to the email address "[email protected]", I received something like:
    – Red
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 22:13
  • Your concern just created a an issue for us. You will receive a reply with a detailed explanation addressing the case soon.
    – Red
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 22:16
  • 2
    @AnnZen I guess the automated wording should be fixed then - I don't think everyone receives a detailed explanation. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 22:38
  • @GS-ApologisetoMonica Or, it could be because I have been a top user that I've been promised that. The only reason I even knew I could email "[email protected]" was when I received an email congratulating me. Please don't hesitate to email us directly at "[email protected]" anytime.
    – Red
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 22:45
  • 3
    This answer is incorrect, per this new answer from an employee. Ticket closure doesn't necessarily mean it was found to be valid; the team also routinely closes tickets of people who are on short suspensions because they know the suspension will expire by the time they get to it. (Per the comments, they only retroactively investigate expired suspensions if the user seeks permission to nominate as a moderator candidate during the 1-year ban that ensues from the suspension.) Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 0:05
  • @SonictheMaskedWerehog I don't think my answer claims any such thing. I said that might be the case in a comment, but I also say that staff would know, not me. That's why I didn't put it in my answer to begin with. Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 0:09
  • @SonictheMaskedWerehog on rereading though I think I see where you might have gotten that implication though. Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 0:10
  • Sorry, I made a mistake. I was thinking about what you had written and misremembered that you had typed one of your comments as part of your answer. I was referring to that comment. Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 0:12
  • No worries! Easy mistake to make Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 0:13

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