I recently downvoted an answer on SO because I believe it didn't actually answer the question, and before I could add a comment, the answer had been deleted. Two minutes later, I looked at the question again, and the same user had re-posted his answer, without the downvote.

I've seen this guy remove answers with negative feedback/downvotes in the past and repost them exactly as they were. My biggest concern is that by getting round the system this way will hide legitimate feedback that may be very relevant to whoever asked the original question.

I feel there's an argument for requiring a vote to close ANY answer or question with any kind of feedback. Personally, I've only ever deleted one question that had answers, because I realised there wasn't an easy way to explain what I was asking, and realised shortly after I posted it that it wasn't possible anyway.

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    Could you provide a link to such answers/the user? The thing is that any user can "undelete" an answer deleted by himself, and someone else might cast an upvote then. It would still look as you described. However, 10k+ users (which you are not) can see deleted answers and verify if such a "gaming" is really the case. – P Shved Jul 10 '10 at 9:37
  • I don't like to name & shame unless there's a very good reason; if Jeff or another mod recommends it, I'll flag it for moderator attention. My point here is that if someone believes there's a flaw in an answer, the answerer should not be allowed to prevent the asker from seeing those concerns; this question was to suggest a mechanism to stop this happening. – Flynn1179 Jul 10 '10 at 10:24
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    I don't think naming and shaming is a relevant concept here. SO's archive of questions and answers is important. If this guy is doing things that are bad for it, just for his own rep points, then he should be dealt with. If it's just one guy doing this as seems to be the case, then they could deal with him. It's far more work for the Stack Overflow programmers to add some new code to prevent that. Maybe there is a way in SO to tell somebody his username privately you don't have to print his "name" on a public board. – barlop Jul 10 '10 at 12:27
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    I agree, seeing actual examples is the bst way to put this problem into context. – Ether Jul 10 '10 at 15:57
  • I was suggesting requiring the vote-to-close mechanic to close your own posts, if others have made any comments or votes on them; is that not what it means? – Flynn1179 Jul 10 '10 at 16:13
  • @Flynn: The term "vote-to-close" is very strongly tied to closing questions. – Jon Seigel Jul 10 '10 at 18:04
  • Ah, fairy nuff.. I've changed the tag to 'vote-to-delete'; I got confused between the two. – Flynn1179 Jul 10 '10 at 20:19

While it's OK to do this in isolated incidents, if you notice a pattern of this behavior, that's more serious.

I recommend flagging the relevant posts for moderator attention, with a hyperlink to this meta question URL.

  • Is it acceptable to flag even if you've only seen this happen twice? Although given the guy hasn't got a single downvoted answer visible, it wouldn't surprise me if he deletes ANY that get downvoted. – Flynn1179 Jul 10 '10 at 10:02
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    @Flynn1179 So what? I often go back and delete my old answers that haven't gotten upvotes. Why? Because they're apparently worthless. The creator of the content should have more say over whether that content sticks around. – Josh Jul 10 '10 at 22:53
  • That's precisely my point- when I create comments, I want some say in whether or not they stick around. People shouldn't be able to remove them in this way. – Flynn1179 Jul 11 '10 at 14:28
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    @Josh But you don't repost a new answer with the same content, do you? – Grace Note Jul 11 '10 at 14:39
  • @Flynn: You do have some say in whether or not they stick around (only you can delete them, barring moderator action and flagging). But keeping them past the point where the answer is deleted isn't worthwhile, on the whole. – Gnome Jul 12 '10 at 3:08
  • To make matters worse, I'm fairly sure the guy's periodically hitting my answers with revenge downvotes. I just saw two of my questions on the same topic randomly downvoted weeks after they were answered. The first time I saw him repost was because a mod slapped him for personal attacks, after he called me a coward for downvoting, and almost all my questions since on the same topic get downvoted anonymously. Can a mod check if my answers tagged 'xslt' are all being downvoted by the same guy? – Flynn1179 Jul 19 '10 at 8:18
  • Completely agree with Jeff. Deleting your downvoted post and re-posting makes sense sometimes - sometimes people downvote before one has the chance to improve his post, and they don't come back to undownvote when you improve. It is more fair then to give yourself a fresh start. In case when someone miss-uses that and re-posts exactly the same answer, just downvote him again and flag him. – Tomas Jan 20 '14 at 11:38

I think probably the correct thing to do here is just appropriately apply your downvote again. I think this is an edge case, I don't recall ever seeing a user delete and repost just to lose the downvotes. You could try flagging for moderator attention and explaining the issue, but I'm not sure what the mods would do about it.

Is it really worth inconveniencing those users who genuinely want to hide their shame tidy the thread by deleting a poor answer that's garnered downvotes? I certainly wouldn't want to have to wait for others to also vote to delete my answer just because my brain wasn't functioning correctly when I was writing it.

  • I've commented/edited my own answers when I've had a brainfart; Personally I feel it would benefit readers to see why I made a mistake. There's no shame in admitting you learned something. – Flynn1179 Jul 10 '10 at 10:19
  • @Flynn: really, I was joking with the whole hiding the shame thing - 10k+ users can still see deleted answers. It does tidy the thread to delete junk/useless answers. Also, the system actively encourages it for negative scores with the Peer Pressure badge and the regained rep from a recalc. – Andy E Jul 10 '10 at 10:33
  • I personally would stop posting anything if it turned out I couldn't also delete what I posted. I'm already bothered enough by the fact that something I delete is still visible to 10K+ users. This whole "whatever you post on the internet is there for good" crap bothers me because sites like Twitter and SO make it so that you can't even delete something a minute after posting it. – Josh Jul 10 '10 at 22:52
  • @Josh: I'd have to disagree on that one, but it's clearly a matter of opinion. As far as I'm concerned if you post something anywhere, you have to expect that you no longer have control over it. Personally, I think it makes people think before they post if they know they can't easily take it back, which is definitely a good thing in my book. – Flynn1179 Jul 11 '10 at 14:35

I just ran some stats.

In general people do not delete and repost the same answer, I'm counting a total of 604 incidents in all of SOs life.

To top this, in general people do not delete and repost on the same question, I'm counting about 5000 times that this happened.

Of the 604 incidents the top offender only did this 4 or so times, from a look through the actual answers the reasons are fairly varied.

  1. Some people did not discover the undelete button, its total repost (no comments on the answer)
  2. Some people wanted to unwikify their answers, so they deleted and reposted a non-wiki version
  3. Most people did not appear to be deleting and reposting just to get rid of comments.

I guess the reason why this is so rare, is cause people with more than 10k rep can just look, see if something fishy is going on and flag.

Personally, I do not think any changes need to be made, delete does not purge info from the system, if its totally valid it can be reposted by high rep users or undeleted.

Comments are just, hmmm comments. Rule of thumb, if a question / answer loses significant value as a result of deleting a comment, the comment should not have been a comment.

What should you do if you notice a repeat offense ???

Just flag it, the mods will have a look.

  • Ah, 5,000 times they deleted and reposted and 604 of those times they reposted the same answer? – Gnome Jul 12 '10 at 4:25

Not only should you downvote the new answer just as you would the first, you should add a comment to this new answer explaining the behaviour you see (perhaps add the comment first, then immediately downvote, so he can't delete again before you get the information posted), and then flag the answer as offensive. Then an army of 10k users (who can see the flag queue, and deleted posts) will come by, and flag the guy into oblivion (assuming it is deserved).

I take no prisoners with users who attempt to game the site. If they are dealt with quickly, the -100 reputation penalty should deliver the message that such behaviour is not acceptable.

(And definitely flag for moderator attention if this persists... sometimes the user won't quit until they are suspended.)

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    +1 for the comment, it really helps us figure out quickly what (exactly) is going on. – Tim Post Jul 11 '10 at 14:54

This question seems to forget that tactical downvoting occurs...
I have reposted downvoted answers, often as community wiki & watched as these answers were upvoted and occasionally accepted as the answer. Heck, I've been downvoted & watched as someone else repost my answer.

I don't see the point of downvoting before leaving a comment.
I want to give people the time, providing they are online, to correct or at least address the issue I believe exist. So that means leaving a comment first. I also want people to learn, not continually reward the fastest/smartest person... The act of downvoting means the poster has to edit the answer, regardless if my downvote justification was valid or not, before the downvote can be reversed...

I've experienced "blood in the water", where people will downvote because you've already been downvoted. And I've seen others quickly delete their questions if they get downvoted, which I imagine is for the same reason. IME: If you're lucky, you'll get a comment explaining the issue.

This is expected behavior when crowdsourcing - having the ability to up or down vote does not ensure someone is really competent to be allocating the vote for a given topic. The less popular the topic, the more obvious this is.

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