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To provide context:

  • For a long while, there's been a feature where users who request deletion of their accounts and meet certain criteria for low activity have their account deleted immediately, rather than having to wait 24 hours for the request to be processed.
  • Additionally, there's a feature where users who've cast a lot of votes will have their deletion request placed on hold for a staff member to review their voting record and determine if their votes should be preserved, because their votes would be removed otherwise, and this minimizes disruption. Normally, this ties in to the 24-hour timer: after the account is scheduled for deletion, once the timer lapses, it remains "stuck" until a staff member processes the deletion.

Last August, the criteria for having an account deleted immediately on the user requesting it were changed to not allow immediate deletion for users who've made one post on the site.

The previous criteria, however, didn't allow immediate deletion for users who'd cast more than one vote. On the other hand, the new criteria no longer check for number of votes cast, meaning that a user who's never posted but has voted on a lot of posts is now eligible for immediate deletion.

You might think that these cases could never overlap except in exceedingly rare cases: as the comment I linked above says:

You need at least 15 rep to vote, hard to get without posting (yes, you can make 7 suggested edits and get them approved, and then vote a couple of times and then delete your account, but that is a pretty extreme edge case).

However, it's not an extreme edge case, as that comment says. You can also vote using the association bonus, and while the answer there says that only users with "less than 101 rep" are eligible, a community member did some testing and found that accounts with 101 reputation are in fact deleted immediately, meaning that a user with the association bonus and no posts can cast a lot of votes, enough to require a staff review before deletion, but at the same time be eligible for immediate deletion. This wasn't possible with the previous criteria in any way, but is possible with the new criteria.

While such users (who cast a lot of votes but don't post) may be rare, and while the probability that their votes would not survive a staff review is higher, such cases can still exist.

What happens to users who request deletion of their accounts and meet the criteria for immediate deletion, but at the same time qualify for a staff review of their votes? Will the deletion be processed immediately (and all votes invalidated) without a wait or review? Will a timer show up on their profile as it would with the 24-hour timer, but with the date and time of expiration shown at the time of request rather than 24 hours later?

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    While such users (who cast a lot of votes but don't post) may be rare – I don't think they're that rare; in fact, those users could very well be the main driver behind the perceived inflation of scores of HNQs. It's even possible to query them via SEDE. – Glorfindel Mod Feb 26 at 10:53
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    From my count, this applies to 23 of my network accounts. – SE - stop firing the good guys Feb 26 at 15:18
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    this is a very good catch @Glorfindel - I somehow managed to get into a very good position to check the impact of this bug. Doing this immediately would be a bit unfair though, so I plan to first give this post an "authoritative reference" bounty and if (when:) it expires ignored as usual, delete my accounts at handful of sites where I have nothing but a bunch of votes, to check what happens – gnat Feb 26 at 16:23
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    @gnat yeah, you're the top result in that query :) For the record, I'm not blaming you (or anybody else) for upvoting good content. I probably have quite a few sites where I qualify as well. – Glorfindel Mod Feb 26 at 16:25
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    @Glorfindel worth noting that voting like this is officially encouraged for many years :) – gnat Feb 26 at 16:44
  • offering bounty as a chance for dev team to provide feedback on this matter before I experiment with evaluation of the impact myself – gnat Mar 1 at 10:28
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+50

As currently designed, the profile would be deleted and all the votes would be lost. Profiles are only ever checked for voting thresholds to be transferred by the hourly script that processes 24-hour scheduled deletions. Immediate self-deletions go directly to being deleted in much the same fashion as moderator deletions would, which also are not ever checked for voting totals.

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    Why was the system designed this way? Why was it decided to ignore votes in the new thresholds for allowing immediate self-deletion? I'd like to see if a feature request asking that it be added back (not only for the reason of unchecked widespread rep removal, but also for another reason) would be viable, and I'd like to research why it was removed in the first place. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 1 at 19:59
  • I wouldn't say it was designed that way more than that's just how the design ended up when the immediate self-deletion criteria was changed last year. There was no reason to check for a large number of votes when previously a single vote would trigger scheduled deletion instead of immediate deletion - that would get checked at the conclusion of the countdown. When the vote criteria was removed, nobody thought of adding the check in. It was never removed. It was never there in the first place because another criteria would have prevented the check from ever running at all. – animuson ModStaff Mar 1 at 20:19
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    While your response is nice to know, the thing I was asking wasn't why it was decided not to add a check for lots of votes to trigger a staff review on immediate deletion, but why it was decided to remove the vote criteria itself (i.e. why it was decided to allow immediate self-deletion if the account cast multiple votes, whereas this would trigger a scheduled deletion in the past). – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 1 at 20:21
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    It was viewed as unnecessary and did not consider that the association bonus allowed users to vote. The faulty logic used there was that it is not possible for a user to have voted on the site if they hadn't posted at least once, which is only true for 1-rep users, not 101-rep users. It also ignores a user who has gained all their reputation from suggested edits. – animuson ModStaff Mar 1 at 20:38
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    Even weirder, the previous criteria, in addition for checking for more than one post and more than 1 vote given, also checked that you had no open bounties (seems legit) and that you'd never received more than 1 upvote. No idea why that last one ever existed and don't believe it was ever documented anywhere. I'd support a request to just have it also run the "would this user get queued for votes review" function when determining if they can self-delete, same as would have been run if they were scheduled. – animuson ModStaff Mar 1 at 20:46
  • @animuson A check that the user had never started a bounty would be good. It would help slow down people who try to rep-farm the association bonus. – Makyen Mar 1 at 20:50
  • @Makyen Yeah, that's the "other reason" I was referring to in my first comment here – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 1 at 21:00
  • is there a chance for current way to be changed er... smoothly? I mean, without involving painful demonstration of how it could impact users, do it based on some already known stats, like for example how many votes on hot questions are cast by users having only association bonus. If a formal feature request is desirable to get the ball rolling, just let me know and I'll make one – gnat Mar 1 at 21:50
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