This time (seven hours ago, apparently), my "reputation" went down by 208 points, so it must have been someone who's done a lot of posting here.

It's hard not to suspect that users who've been around a while and insist on having their accounts removed do so because something offended them. And the secrecy surrounding these incidents is annoying.

Here's a fact: The way stackexchange functions tacitly encourages certain behaviors that offend good people. Is anyone who can do so thinking about altering the design of the way the site functions, to address these issues?

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closed as not a real question by cardinal, Nate Eldredge, Quixotic, Eric Naslund Dec 17 '12 at 5:04

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Your "fact" contains both the very vague phrase "certain behaviors" and the very questionable phrase "good people." It is like no other fact I have ever seen. It more closely resembles what is usually called "rhetoric" or perhaps "polemic." –  Qiaochu Yuan Dec 11 '12 at 20:47
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Many user removals seem to be correlated to contentious meta topics, e.g. most recently the issue of contests. These could be handled much better. Far too often arguments get personal, e.g. folks flamebait others by purposely distorting opponent's positions, and other unethical debating techniques. One particularly bad recent example was accusing opponents of contest problem deletion of supporting cheating. Of course no one supports cheating. If you see problems like this please flag them immediately so that we can keep discussion polite and rational, focused on topics, not personalities. –  Bill Dubuque Dec 11 '12 at 20:51
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I lost 70 this time. This is becoming annoyingly frequent. –  Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 11 '12 at 21:55
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Sorry, not impressed --- I lost 390. –  Gerry Myerson Dec 11 '12 at 23:40
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I lost 160. I don't know if this data is useful... –  Austin Mohr Dec 12 '12 at 2:32
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I am getting tired of the policy on deleted people, thinking of leaving. Might take it happening a couple more times. It makes it unreasonable to attempt to answer questions of obviously somewhat troubled people. –  André Nicolas Dec 12 '12 at 2:45
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@Andre and Michael The community can help alleviate these problems. We need more help on meta: more voices of reason, more eyes watching out for sparks before they become flames, more experienced members to help lead, etc. –  Bill Dubuque Dec 12 '12 at 3:47
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I'm not earning enough to keep up with all the losses due to user removal! –  The Chaz 2.0 Dec 12 '12 at 5:50
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I lost 75 out of 6549, so I might have lost the most proportionally out of all who have mentioned it so far (oh, I guess Austin beat me easily). They loved me, whoever they were. But, as long as the posts are still here, it doesn't really matter. I think it's weird that people leave like this though. You don't prove anything by leaving, except that you're not willing to work with others. –  Graphth Dec 12 '12 at 18:17
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Ha -- I just got +2 by a user being removed! :-) –  joriki Dec 12 '12 at 21:24
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Michael, I don’t think that your last paragraph is polemical, but it is both vague (‘certain behaviors’) and ambiguous (‘good people’). (1) It would be helpful to give an example or three of such behaviors. (2) Do you mean ‘people who contribute usefully’, ‘people with pleasant online personae’, or what? –  Brian M. Scott Dec 13 '12 at 2:10
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I find it disturbingly gratifying in an entirely inexplicable way to increase my 'reputation' here, and find myself childishly peeved when the count goes down because someone left. However, at the end of the day the point is to help and share knowledge, and this site enables this. Think beyond the user deletions. –  copper.hat Dec 13 '12 at 18:21
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(-1) I originally voted this up due to the potential for a good question to result, but find myself forced to revise that vote for the following reasons: (1) Several users have asked for clarification regarding the only actual question stated in the post without any response and (2) the question as stated is so vague in its present form so as to be unanswerable. That leaves only the commentary as actual content. I'm also voting to close for the same reasons, though I'm hoping what will actually happen is that this post will be edited into an answerable form. –  cardinal Dec 14 '12 at 16:06
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@joriki: You got +2, I actually got a badge when a user was removed! –  Asaf Karagila Dec 17 '12 at 7:17
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@Asaf: We should found ABSURD, the Association of Beneficiaries of Stackexchange User Removal and Deletion :-) –  joriki Dec 17 '12 at 8:09

2 Answers 2

Often, these deletions are handled by a single moderator, or even by an SE staff member, and the circumstances are not published unless the person requesting deletion decides to make the issue public in chat or comments. This is simply to protect users' privacy.

You mention that SE encourages behaviors that offend good people. It would be easier to alter the way the site functions if we had examples of these encouraged offensive behaviors. (I feel like someone asking the person who lost the $\$100$ bill to form a line at Lost and Found).

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(+1) Especially for the last paragraph. The only way SE or the community can address perceived problems/issues is if we actually know what they are. :-) –  cardinal Dec 11 '12 at 20:29
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Agreed. Users have the right to remove their accounts and there is no reason this should have to be publicly announced every time it happens. I do not understand what is objectionable about this. Do people really care about reputation that much? –  Qiaochu Yuan Dec 11 '12 at 20:48
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The part of this I have never understood is why protecting a user's privacy requires undoing the effect of their votes. What can't the account be closed, and left inactive, with the identifying biographical information scrubbed off it? Is this a technical issue, or is there some privacy issue I am overlooking? –  MJD Dec 11 '12 at 22:31
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The removal of votes has nothing to do with privacy. It has to do with how deleted accounts are handled. Some details are provided in this question and its answers. –  robjohn Dec 11 '12 at 22:41
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Thanks for the reference. I see a lot of details, but no actual reasons. –  MJD Dec 12 '12 at 2:19
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@MJD: "A lot of details, but no actual reasons." Indeed. Welcome to meta.stackexchange.com, enjoy your stay. :) –  Rahul Dec 12 '12 at 7:44
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@QiaochuYuan Having the right to do something and something being the right thing to do are vastly different. On this site, though it's not a close relationship for most, there is a relationship between people. So, when someone just deletes their account and leaves, it's somewhat analogous to one of your friends just leaving town and never telling you. We can hide behind the fact that we're on the internet, but we're all still people too. I just think the people doing such things are acting like children more often than not. The reputation doesn't matter. –  Graphth Dec 12 '12 at 18:25
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@Qiaochu: No, it isn’t obvious, as is evident from the number of us who are unhappy with the policy. The odd sockpuppet boosting some poor sod’s reputation wouldn’t greatly distress me and would certainly be less intrusive and annoying. –  Brian M. Scott Dec 13 '12 at 1:39
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@Brian: I don't understand your position. You're not okay with people losing reputation when accounts get deleted, but you are okay with people gaining reputation from deleted sockpuppets? –  Qiaochu Yuan Dec 13 '12 at 2:59
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@Qiaochu: Yes. Why is that hard to understand? The former is a minor but on-going annoyance. It’s very unlikely that I’ll even notice the latter, which doesn’t really affect anyone but the poor sod who needs the boost to his ego. Moreover, I don’t expect it to be a very common occurrence. –  Brian M. Scott Dec 13 '12 at 3:14
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@QiaochuYuan: the fact that there are two cases here: accounts deleted for voting fraud and those for other reasons; indicates that we might want to discuss two different options for deletion: removing votes and not. –  robjohn Dec 13 '12 at 3:20
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@Qiaochu: I already pointed out the fact that it’s very noticeable. It’s also dishonest: those upvotes existed. But it doesn’t really matter whether you understand, so long as you accept the simple fact is that some of us find it so. I don’t understand why you’re so worried about the possibility of a few unearned upvotes here and there. –  Brian M. Scott Dec 13 '12 at 4:04
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@Qiaochu: Oh, I’m quite sure that it would happen occasionally. I don’t care, provided that it occurs only occasionally. And if there’s already machinery in place to catch egregious instances, that’s fine; apply appropriate penalties to the offenders and delete their fraudulent upvotes. That has nothing to do with and would not affect the rest of us. As for uniform loss: it certainly isn’t literally true, and I’m not at all sure that it’s even statistically true. –  Brian M. Scott Dec 13 '12 at 4:28
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@QiaochuYuan It is basic human psychology that 1) losses weigh more heavily than gains, 2) an action that is against us personally with a perceived motive (my rep has been stolen by a deliberate act) weighs more heavily than a (perceived) "victim-less" crime like sock-puppeting. The whole rep system is engineered to tap into basic human psychology, it is highly inconsistent to then complain that people should behave "rationally" when human psychology suddenly becomes inconvenient. –  Phira Dec 13 '12 at 7:22
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It's not clear to me what the problem is with having a rep floor above which the votes are not deleted. Surely the situation of having say 3K+ sock puppet accounts is rare enough that it could be dealt with manually if it ever happened. –  Noah Snyder Dec 13 '12 at 11:14

I'm not sure whether to feel better or worse over losing a mere 40 pts. in this episode! However the discussion prompts me to mention an observation that I've been mulling over.

In many (many) ways Math.SE is the "smoothest" running of the StackExchange sites I frequent. I have more occasion to flag questions and answers on other of these sites, and (in my eyes) the policy for closing questions is more clearly and consistently applied here. In some measure this can be rationalized as due to the more objective (less emo) subject matter, but I think it's a credit to our users and moderators alike.

The business of removed users is the one flaw in this comparison. I don't recall seeing this on another SE site. Probably it happens, though I'm not sure how often, but if it seems more noticeable on Math.SE, perhaps that indicates we are a more closely knit community than many.

No MSE user is an island!

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