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This question already has an answer here:

Today I lost 60 reputation point and the message just read "user removed". Does that mean that a user was taken off the system and that when that is done the persons votes get removed from the system? Seems like I lost a lot of point this way.

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marked as duplicate by Nick Cox, whuber Apr 17 '17 at 16:11

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • $\begingroup$ Almost everyone I checked lost points, most of them far more than 60 points (look at some of the high rep people). I'm more curious about who it was that got removed. Whoever the person is doled out at least 1000 rep points to various people, so it must've been a long time user who was active recently (considering that you, a newer member, lost 6 upvotes). $\endgroup$ – Macro Jun 26 '12 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Macro This is the first time I have lost points this way. I wasn't aware of this. Why are users removed and why do their votes get taken off? $\endgroup$ – Michael Chernick Jun 26 '12 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ It's the first time I've seen it too. But this thread on meta stackoverflow explains it: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/126470/… apparently people are removed for violating terms of service. $\endgroup$ – Macro Jun 26 '12 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand why this should result in reputation points being changed. I don't see that being dropped necessarily has anything to do with the validity of the vote. $\endgroup$ – Michael Chernick Jun 26 '12 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's simple - if the user ceases to exist then so does everything they've done on the site - questions, answers, votes, etc.. $\endgroup$ – Macro Jun 26 '12 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ Makes sense to me both ways, so I'm good with it (I only lost 60 pts, though). Seems a little odd that someone who had been that active would violate terms of service at this point in their CrossValidated career... I wonder if they asked to be removed for some reason. Oh well, we'll probably never know. $\endgroup$ – jbowman Jun 26 '12 at 22:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Macro The user's work does not get deleted: that's retained by the site. (For instance, you can no longer find user28, because over a year ago he requested to be removed, but you can still read his posts.) But certainly if there has been an irregularity in their voting there is a strong argument to reverse their votes. $\endgroup$ – whuber Jun 26 '12 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber, yes that would be a strong argument. But, the meta SO thread seemed to indicate that whenever a user is deleted, their votes are removed, regardless of the reason for deletion. Is that not true? $\endgroup$ – Macro Jun 26 '12 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Macro Yes, apparently it is. But why worry? We seem to be talking about less than 1% of the votes. If that appreciably changes anybody's relative reputation on the site, then there must have been some favoritism in the voting patterns in the first place. (PS I didn't mean to suggest I thought you were worried. :-) $\endgroup$ – whuber Jun 26 '12 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber I don't see any general rationale for removing the ovtes. If the votes were good while the user was part of StackExchange why do they suddenly become invalid when he leaves and apparently this happens regardless of the reason for the person to leave. I am not worried about the lost rep votes either but the sudden loss of 60 votes out of the blue is a bit of a shock. $\endgroup$ – Michael Chernick Jun 26 '12 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ @cardinal, can you drop a hint? I'm really wondering what the deal is. I seem to have lost 10 upvotes, but not any that I can detect on any of my top answers. This person must have only upvoted my lower answers (which seems strange on top of everything else). Nor do I notice anyone missing in the SE all time league rankings. It's certainly a shame to have lost someone who was providing good answers. I can't help but wonder why (and who)... $\endgroup$ – gung Jun 27 '12 at 2:05
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    $\begingroup$ @gung, I don't personally mind identifying them, but I'm not sure how that would be viewed by the moderators and SE team and so, thus far, I've refrained from doing so. I'm also not too sure of the purpose it would serve. That said, on one hand, the SE team makes much of their site data visible on a monthly basis and on the other hand, I have seen them be extremely reticent about "naming names" in public about users that leave the site. I have no idea why, since the data dumps can be used to determine/infer this. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Jun 28 '12 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @cardinal, so they have been. Which in turn raises an interesting question, can we earn NA badges twice for these questions if/when we get another upvote? (Really, isn't this all just a little bit much?) $\endgroup$ – gung Jun 30 '12 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ @gung, the 'older argument' is more valid for equal quality/relevant content between posts. Note that the SE team did a major change in how points are removed from deleted users, since this question was asked. It is addressed in that answer. $\endgroup$ – Andre Silva Mar 28 '17 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ OK, @AndreSilva, that's a fair argument. I'll vote for this to be a duplicate, & retract my close vote there. $\endgroup$ – gung Mar 28 '17 at 14:54
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I found a clue on meta SO in a comment posted by an SE employee:

We've always removed votes when deleting a user, this is absolutely not new behavior, it's happened from day 1. ... The immense complication it introduces by not doing that...wow, I don't even want to think about that on a weekend.

In other words, although there are good arguments for not removing votes, we are told there are significant programming difficulties in making that happen.

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    $\begingroup$ So it is hard to delete users without deleting their votes but yet we can keep their answers. Why don't we have to wipe out answers too? If there are good reasons to keep votes why not go to the trouble to do it? $\endgroup$ – Michael Chernick Jun 27 '12 at 0:10
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    $\begingroup$ Please ask that question of the SE people on SO meta, @Michael. $\endgroup$ – whuber Jun 27 '12 at 3:12
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    $\begingroup$ Could well be a primary vs secondary key in a database sort of thing - votes are linked to a voter X question key, but answers may be linked to the question with at best an secondary key link to the answerer and therefore don't actually need an answerer (can have a NULL answerer.) $\endgroup$ – jbowman Jun 29 '12 at 21:20

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