Yes, I know. When a user is removed, or they delete their accounts their upvotes and downvotes are removed. But tonight I lost 2,134 rep. That's a lot. Seriously. This is no laughing matter. I just wish I could lose weight this easily...

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And, apart from anything else, I thought the down and upvotes from high rep users were kept.

Don't throw away all votes when a user is deleted

The following answer is written by Shog9♦

But we have a system in place to prevent the most disruptive forms of vote deletion, and we've been using it for a while now without major issues. For the foreseeable future, this is as completed as it is gonna get.

Here's how it works:

  • There are two thresholds:
    1. Number of votes cast by the user being deleted
    2. Number of people affected significantly by those votes

The exact values of those thresholds don't particularly matter; they're pretty low, but not so low that you could hit them easily while still hiding fraudulent activity. - If either threshold is exceeded, deletion is held up until someone reviews it. Otherwise, deletion proceeds and any votes are discarded. - If, during review, it becomes apparent that the user is or ever was involved in voting fraud, [emphasis mine] the votes are discarded as they would normally be. - Otherwise, the votes are preserved.

The end result of this is that most users will still see votes being removed along with user deletions from time to time... But rarely if ever will these votes cause a non-trivial drop in reputation or a sudden, wide-spread skew in post scores, which were the primary complaints in the past.
- answered Oct 29 '15 at 1:29

So... is that it? The user who deleted their accounts was involved in some voting fraud? It seems evident that the user had two accounts, so did the user upvote their own questions and answers? For hypothesis' sake, let's say they did, my next question is.

  • Why should any innocent user be penalized?

No user should be penalized when the account of a very high-reputation user has been self-deleted. The votes were cast when the account was valid, and any voting fraud behavior the user may have indulged in subsequently should not affect the rep of ELUers. The only scenario that may justify the annihilation of thousands of votes –because it's thousands– were if the number of votes was cast by the same voter using multiple accounts. If that were the case (but I seriously doubt this happened) TPTB should discard the votes from the multiple accounts, and restore the votes from the principal account.

P.S I am perfectly aware who the user is, a user who made a massive, massive contribution to EL&U, and whose main desire was to help newcomers, and deepen his knowledge of the English language. I won't engage in squabbles, the user still has my respect, this question is focused on the significant drop in reputation.

  • 1
    The user did have my respect...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


Black Saturday on ELU: when the reputation stock market experienced a seismic shock, and every user felt the impact! I shall never forget the member who contributed nearly 3500 answers here, almost 750 more than any other member. And I just do not understand the reason to delete the points from votes cast by someone, when their account is deleted.

The current case of many users losing rep on deletion of an account is also a clear contradiction of the part of the related help center message that states:

Because high-reputation users have usually cast a great many votes, removing all of them could be that much more disruptive to other users. In such cases, the staff use a special deletion that preserves the votes, resulting in no reputation change for those who had been voted on by that user.

Why Do I Have a Reputation Change on My Reputation Page That Says 'User Was Removed'?

Please note that the actual reputation score of the deleted user does not affect how many reputation points are lost by other users. It's theoretically possible for someone to be a member at ELU for over 4 years, being a very active reader and voter rather than posting too many answers; earning just about 5000 rep but casting nearly their full quota of votes; and when they left the site this same effect could occur, with some outstanding contributors losing 1000+ rep.

In fact I found that was exactly the type of case referenced in @RaceYouAnytime's earlier answer:

User in question had "only" 1710 rep which I don't consider high (easily achieved in 1 month). He just casts relatively a lot of votes: at least 2362 upvotes of which 1716 on answers (and thus generating 17K rep). You might want to reframe the question accordingly. – BalusC [comment under question] Mar 22 '13 at 14:43

Page Source: Wiping votes on deletion of highly active accounts (-865 points on "User was removed")

Since a member does not share out upvote points (but only bounties which ironically are not affected) from their own reputation score, and has no rep gain from upvoting either, thus having no vested interest in voting on other users' posts -- and especially since upvotes and downvotes are anonymous by design -- it is perplexing why so many other members should lose their well-deserved reputation points based on deletion of one long-standing account.

I read the above-noted archival Meta.SE post kindly linked in @RaceYouAnytime's earlier answer and was able to locate this notable precedent for reinstating such lost reputation points at moderator discretion:

This was our screw-up, and preventing large impact deletes like this will be an addition to the code on our side sometime this week.

For now I've gone through the database and manually undone the delete action on this user's votes, which is the net impact that should have happened if they were moved to the community user...our normal process.

Your rep history (and about 1,300 other users) will no longer reflect this user's deletion.

[Answer and status update by @Nick Craver♦ on the above linked Meta.SE question.]

Answer Source: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/173699/362639

Unless there were some very pressing reasons for not doing it this way in this particular case (as in, sending a very strong message to all members about something of great and crucial importance) I think Stack Exchange as a network should reconsider the official policy and procedure for future such cases.

  • 3
    There is more to this than we know. There has to be a reason those votes were not respected for the rest of the community. Remember, for example, voter fraud is taken very seriously on SE. I don't know details, but a suspension for same was in this user's history. Where were the cries extolling his character then? Oct 29, 2017 at 13:55
  • 1
    There was no "screw up", that was a possibility, but it's gone now.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 29, 2017 at 16:05
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    @anongoodnurse But if you a going to make a public example out of something, it sort of makes sense to identify that something. "Dr. Strangelove: The whole point of the doomsday machine is lost...if you keep it a secret! Why didn't you tell the world, eh?! Russian Ambassador: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises." - Dr Strangelove.
    – Phil Sweet
    Oct 29, 2017 at 16:58
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    @PhilSweet - That's not even up to the mods; something like why would have to come from the CMs. It could be done, but the SE folks take privacy very seriously. Would you want everyone to know why you were deleted? I doubt that. Not that I know why the user has disappeared. Don't know if it was self or other, but I have my suspicions. Oct 29, 2017 at 17:17
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    @anongoodnurse: the user did post a goodbye message on Meta saying that he requested the deletion: english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10920/…
    – herisson
    Oct 29, 2017 at 19:45
  • 2
    @sumelic - You're an optimistic person, and a kind one. Maybe he saw the hand writing on the wall, maybe something ticked him off. I certainly don't know, but, as I said elsewhere, I have my suspicions. Which, btw, I'm glad you don't share. Being suspicious sucks. But then, why weren't the points kept? See what I mean? Oct 30, 2017 at 0:55
  • 5
    The common man is generically encouraged to think well of his fellow man but surgeons and physicians are almost always justified to maintain a high index of suspicion even if those suspicions turn out either unfounded or unproved @anongoodnurse. Oct 30, 2017 at 6:48
  • 2
    @EnglishStudent A medical index of suspicion has nothing to do with thinking badly of anyone.
    – MetaEd
    Oct 30, 2017 at 19:08
  • 5
    Please do not read me literally @Meta Ed. I was talking about established ways of thinking. We are all advised to give our fellow man the 'benefit of the doubt' which is my policy whenever all the facts are not (made) known, but many doctors I know have said that 'our profession predisposes us to a generically higher level of suspicion in various matters, than the lay person.' Oct 30, 2017 at 21:16

I had drafted a question on this subject while Mari-Lou A posted this one. Just to add my thoughts and a relevant link, I've included my post as an answer here.

I've often seen it written that reputation points on SE are "imaginary" or "meaningless," and I agree to a large extent that complaining about rep changes seems petty. Please forgive this violation of that principle.

I'm also well aware that sometimes users are removed and their votes deleted, and I've taken the cut in that past when this has happened.

I was surprised today though when I was notified of a -283 reputation change due to a removed user, because the number seems so high. Discussions on SE Meta that I have found on this topic seem to be along the lines of what is found in the help center, when you click "learn more" in your reputation history:

This removal occurs whenever a user is deleted, unless that user had a very high reputation score. Because high-reputation users have usually cast a great many votes, removing all of them could be that much more disruptive to other users. In such cases, the staff use a special deletion that preserves the votes, resulting in no reputation change for those who had been voted on by that user.

Why Do I Have a Reputation Change on My Reputation Page That Says 'User Was Removed'?

I assume that if I lost 283 rep, then plenty of other EL&U users must have taken a hit. In short, it seems like a lot of votes were deleted.

So I guess my actual question is multi-part:

  • Did a lot of you see big cuts in reputation today when this user was deleted? (It seems that many must have, and the number of votes deleted must be beyond the threshold where SE policy dictates that they should remain.)

  • Do we know anything specific about the thresholds at which a user's votes are preserved even when they are removed? Questions on SE Meta like this suggest that when the changes are drastic, deleting the votes is avoided, but I haven't seen a figure or any numbers describing what the threshold is. (Again, with more information I don't think there's any question that this user's votes would exceed the threshold).

  • Is there any way to learn more about these types of situations when they arise?

Maybe I'll edit out this last part of my answer if it's off-topic from the question, but I want to say that I'm extremely disappointed to see this user leave, and if there's any way for them to come back, I would encourage SE to take unique measures to assist them in restoring their account. If they don't want to come back, I wish them well and express lots of thanks for what they've given my experience on the site.

  • 1
    OK, I see tchrist commented on your deleted question, an hour later. Which begs the question, why not here? Why am I not worthy of such a response? According to tchrist's comment, the reason for the mass-deletion of upvotes is to be found in Shogs9 answer, which I posted in my question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 29, 2017 at 12:38
  • 2
    “Beyond what this says, there's very little more that anyone else really knows for certain. I do believe that Shog's answer fully covers this case, but that's about all I can say. – tchrist♦ 11 hours ago”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 29, 2017 at 12:42
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    @Mari-LouA Yes: there is nothing more to say than Shog's answer, and you have already posted that. RaceYouAnytime, No, there is no way to learn more (asking whether there is is not off-topic; but the answer is No).
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Oct 29, 2017 at 13:03
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach well thank you for replying and not making me feel like a 2nd class user.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 29, 2017 at 13:05
  • 1
    I am completely in the dark about this; my moderator status on another site has not been used to try to glean any more information than any other normal user has on this site. But this is what I remember: the user was suspended for voting irregularities. That should give people pause when asking "what about my points?" I don't know that this is the cause, but think. If the points disappeared, there's a reason we do not know about. It's no use asking that SE change the system. Oct 29, 2017 at 14:09

TL:DR: Don't bother to ask the mods for restitution of points or an explanation. They can't explain, and they probably made an executive decision about the points. Also, points are almost irrelevant (as was so aptly demonstrated in this case.)

Here is a long answer to the question posed by the OP.

Every once in a while, there's a big to-do on an SE site that gets a lot of attention, and people invested in the site want to know what happened.

I usually just assume there was a lot of drama behind the scenes that only the mods and the involved party know about. This sometimes leads to meta posts and (not in this case, but I've seen it) accusations aimed at (on another site) "the evil mod cabal". There are calls for moderation transparency. Etc.

I know a little (or pretty much) about how invested the mods on the site are in how they respect the privacy of the users. I was suspended once when I was miffed (I don't remember now why) and I decided to remove my negative and zero voted answers. I received a polite request not to do it, which I ignored. Additionally, after reaching the 5-a-day limit on deletions, I edited a few to mark them for deletion later (I believe I edited the others as well.) Ha. I was too green even to know that editing them put them on the front page. So I was suspended for 7 days for this nonsense, and though I was outraged, I did, in fact, cool down. None of this became public knowledge (well, it was obvious from my edits) until I explained it in chat. See, I'm free to say what I want about it, but the mods sign a contract that they will keep absolutely quiet on users' actions. Unless I release the mods from their obligation, they can't discuss it. Even if I release the mods, they probably won't be likely to discuss it. Who wants a public airing out of dirty laundry? But I can assure you of this: a lot goes on behind the scenes that keeps a site running. A lot of mod messages, a lot of discussion, a lot of escalation to Community Managers, and sometimes deletion of users' accounts when all else has failed.

The OP's post is presumably about why rep was lost from a high rep user's deletion when SE normally doesn't punish the innocent. Then an edit acknowledges that there was a history of voting irregularities on that user's part.

The only scenario that may justify the annihilation of thousands of votes –because it's thousands– were if the number of votes was cast by the same voter using multiple accounts. If that were the case (but I seriously doubt this happened) TPTB should discard the votes from the multiple accounts, and restore the votes from the principal account.

If I remember correctly - and I don't know why, it was a long time ago, - I (and anyone else paying attention) had all the evidence I needed to figure out that the user had multiple sock puppets. I was paying attention to the site back then. The user would post truly terrible answers (later deleted when I would DV and comment) and before I could write out "instantly", two upvotes would appear. On a totally crap answer. But this is a busy site, so.

I should not speculate, though, because I don't know what happened. The point is, neither does the OP. OP, you can not possibly know how many socks this user had.

If that were the case (but I seriously doubt this happened) TPTB should discard the votes from the multiple accounts, and restore the votes from the principal account.

First, your doubt does not a truth make.

Second, who in their right mind would wish for some poor soul to go through years of a user's activity and do all that work? (I'm very tech illiterate, so maybe it's not so much work.) But that brings me back to doubts not equaling truth.

We have gotten a moderator's response about this (what happened and why?) and the answer is No. It's not up for discussion.

Another user wants an explanation, not accepting that Andrew Leach's comments that nothing more is forthcoming, states

I think at the very least an on-the-record "no comment" is not too much to ask.

There is not only a comment but a 'No. Not going to happen.' comment. I doubt it will vanish.

Points won't bring lasting happiness. In fact (horror of horrors), I think they may be morally detrimental to many users. That's obvious when users invent socks to circumvent the normal voting limitations, or because of high rep, think they have more say in how the site should be run than others with less rep, or who jump on a question to post a crap answer just to be first (not to be helpful), or other less obvious reasons. (Please note that I am not referring to deleted user here, even though it looks that way. I'm thinking of other things I've seen.)

  • 5
    Since you've references my comment in your answer, I want to point out that I explicitly did not ask for an explanation or anything else other than an actual answer saying "we are aware of this issue, but we can't/won't talk about it". We're told over and over that comments aren't answers, aren't permanent, and may disappear at any time for any reason, and yet here suddenly they're official? Your doubts about the impermanence of a mod's comment aren't any more persuasive than the OP's doubts about the underlying events.
    – 1006a
    Oct 29, 2017 at 18:42
  • @1006a - Touché. Well done. But a comment (two, in fact) you have. Oct 29, 2017 at 18:44
  • @1006a As something of a consolation, it's worth noting that to a mod, having redact powers, the difference in permanence between their comments and their answers isn't as big as it is for non-mods. It's probably more important to them to closely and obviously tie what they have to say to what they were responding to.
    – Lawrence
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:52
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    @1006a the 'official' answer is in the already linked posts explaining user deletion on the main meta. Diamond moderators have no access to information on who voted for whom, no more than regular users. Nor do they have the ability to invalidate user votes. These are all things done by SE employees or the SE system, so the local mods here don't really have anything to add. (Speaking as a moderator on other sites).
    – terdon
    Oct 31, 2017 at 10:16
  • @terdon - I wasn't trying to imply the mods could do anything about the points. I would assume the matter would need to go to a CM. I also assume they did discuss things with a CM if, indeed, the deleted user's actions were going to impact so many. The only thing I meant to imply that the mods could do is discuss the situation, to which my answer is, they won't. I'm sorry that was not clearer. Oct 31, 2017 at 13:37
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    @anongoodnurse I was replying to 1006a who was asking for an official answer and explaining why the local mods are not able to give one. I wasn't commenting on your answer at all, unfortunately, there's no way to avoid being notified on comments on your answers even when those are explicitly directed at someone else.
    – terdon
    Oct 31, 2017 at 13:44
  • @terdon - omw, I am such an oaf! I'm sorry, I should have read more carefully. Oct 31, 2017 at 13:58
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    @terdon From my point of view, before this question was asked, the "official" statement was found in the Help Center item linked from the "User was removed" event. That says specifically "This removal occurs whenever a user is deleted, unless that user had a very high reputation score." etc. It doesn't say anything about exceptions to the exception. If that information is incorrect, it should be changed; if it's just incorrect in this instance that deserves an acknowledgement somewhere obvious.
    – 1006a
    Oct 31, 2017 at 20:46
  • Re. the last paragraph: How addicted to Stack Overflow are you? (via the WBM - because for some reason they don't want us to know...)
    – Mazura
    Nov 8, 2017 at 0:28

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