I've stumbled upon this deleted answer.

It has nothing to do with the question, and the poster deleted it immediately, then proceeded to edit it 20 27 times over the next few hours, with random bits of code.

It doesn't do any harm, but I flagged it just in case, and I'm still curious what's going on. Is this user (ab)using the edit history as a poor man's version control system?

I remember seeing similar behavior before. Should I flag this in the future, or just ignore it?

That user was banned, but it seems they made a new account and doing the same thing again.

  • 8
    Well that's obvious abuse of the system, even if no direct harm is caused. I'd say flag, and such users should be suspended if not stopping. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 12:20
  • 1
    IMO, deleted answers should be fair game to be edited as much as one wants. They should be non-disruptive. Yet, they aren't as evidenced by that otherwise completely irrelevant post causing two meta questions. Second one on MSO (and it was deleted): User continuously changing/editing/defacing their own deleted answer. This is only so because updating a deleted answer bumps the question by design. Imagine how opaque this is to a user who doesn't even have 10k rep.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 12:29
  • 1
    I see a parallel with the issues around allowing a user to edit a self-deleted Question. As I understand it, we don't want to allow users to edit self-deleted Questions because this creates an opportunity to introduce un-reviewed changes (like spam). If that understanding is correct(?), then then same argument could be made for disallowing users to edit self-deleted Answers.
    – hardmath
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 14:27
  • 3
    For users who can view deleted posts, edits to deleted answers do "bump" the question, so excessive edits are disruptive. Users who are unable to see deleted posts will not see the "bump".
    – Makyen
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 16:15
  • 2
    @Makyen It bumps for everyone, not just those with the ability to see deleted posts: meta.stackexchange.com/q/348806/377214 Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 19:32
  • 1
    Well now it's obvious we're dealing with malicious troll. :/ Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 10:00

2 Answers 2


I can't get into specifics due to the usual confidentiality of moderation issues, however it doesn't necessarily look like this user is intentionally trolling.

Though, as you noted, they are ban-evading and the repeated edits to deleted posts are indeed highly disruptive. And very confusing for users without the "See deleted posts" privilege because they see the question as active without any apparent activity.

Unfortunately, the amount of edits they apply to their posts are enough to be disruptive but not always enough to trigger the "too many owner edits" auto flag.

So it's definitely better if users who come across a situation like this flag for moderator attention, in case the auto flag doesn't trigger. We also want to deal with ban evasion as needed.


The main post about auto flags includes this...

too many owner edits (auto)

So a flag is raised by the system. The moderators will process that flag eventually so there's no need worry too much about flagging it yourself unless there's some additional information you feel you can provide that an automatic flag would not contain.

  • 6
    I'm pretty sure mods pay much less attention to the automatic flags and they can wait long days, while abuser still roaming and abuse. So I consider this as bad idea. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 13:29
  • 9
    @ShadowWizardIsSadAndAngry and just how much damage do you think that editing a deleted post is doing such that moderators need to prioritise this over other moderation tasks? If moderators pay less attention to this, there's a good reason for that. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 14:15
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    If everything is happening "behind the scenes" in a deleted post, then it seems to me that the primary "damage" is to server resources. The staff can step in if they really care. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 15:21
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    The actual autoflag is "too many owner edits (auto)", which wasn't included in the list of autoflags in answer to: "Why are there automatic moderator flags (autoflags) from the Community User, and what are they for?"
    – Makyen
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 16:28
  • You still think it's legit use? See edit of question, the troll was suspended and just created new account to keep doing the same thing. /cc @Karl (don't get me wrong, it's awesome you have faith in people, but in case of such things, brand new user with zero actual activity will be 99.999% of the times just a troll or malicious user) Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 10:02
  • @ShadowWizardIsSadAndAngry and now you have more information that you can supply in a custom flag. Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 10:04
  • @ShadowWizardIsSadAndAngry why a troll? I cannot see deleted posts on SO, but I cannot imagine why this would be a problem in any way. It seems absolutely harmless. We have no reason to think the user was suspended because of this activity, by the way.
    – terdon
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 14:37
  • @terdon well you have more faith in people than me. But no matter what, re-creating account after being suspended is not something legit user will do. That user is breaking the rules, on purpose. I just call it trolling. (and for the record, the troll undeleted the answer at some point, just to have it a copy and paste of the accepted answer.) Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 18:24
  • 1
    @ShadowWizardIsSadAndAngry I have no opinion on the user, and the question isn't so much about the user as about the action. I see nothing wrong with using a deleted answer as a formatting playground, that's all.
    – terdon
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 18:35

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