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There are two feature requests that I have been meaning to make for quite some time about deleted questions. Is it appropriate to downvote answers for the sake of deleting a question? talks about whether or not it is appropriate to have a question deleted by a mere downvote.

Without taking a side of whether or not it is appropriate, and whether or not the majority of the questions deleted like that so far should have been deleted, this is in fact a loophole. If someone raises several sockpuppets just to 125 points (which is not an extremely difficult task on an active site), then one can downvote several times the answers on a thread and so circumvent the process to a much greater degree.

Sure, that might have no happened until now. But it might happen. There are two ways to remotely monitor this sort of thing happening:

  1. Every user checks their profile and sees whether or not questions were recently removed. If these include more than one consecutive downvote (or to raise less suspicion, if there has been several downvotes on an old an inactive thread over the past few days for no good reason), then there might be a suspicion for a fraud.

    In that case the user should raise a flag, or directly contact the SE community managers. Preferably the latter.

    But this method sucks.

  2. Responsible 10k users check the "recently deleted" lists from time to time, and go over [at least part of] the list of community deleted threads. It is easy to recognize the relevant entries, since they are all deleted at the same time. So it's just a long list of threads all deleted simultaneously.

    In the case that there are several recent votes to the answers without an explanation, this should raise some suspicion.

But, here comes the problems with the second method, and with them my two requests:

Problem No. 1: The list of deleted posts is short. The Community cleanup takes almost the entire list, and on some days the hole list. This effectively means that we're quite close from being unable to even review all the recent deletes. This also means that if something was deleted yesterday, there is a zero probability that I will find it on the list today.

Solution: Make the list longer. I'm not saying that it should be indefinite like in the SE 1.0 version tools. But it should go as long as it needs to. If you look at what was deleted today, the list should include that. If you look at what was deleted the past 30 days, the list should include that.

 

Problem No. 2: It is impossible to access the timeline of deleted posts. The timeline page, for those who don't know, is a page containing a fine summary of answers, comments, edits and votes on the entire thread.1 It is not easily accessible without additional scripts or knowledge (meaning, there's no link to it in plain sight), but it's there. And it's useful. For example, I was recently downvoted, and I thought this was a targeted downvote, the timeline page told me otherwise: the question and the other answer were also downvoted.

But deleted pages don't have their timeline accessible. It's not that it's gone, if the question gets undeleted you can easily access the page again. It's just inaccessible (at least to normal 10k users; I suspect it might be accessible to diamond moderators, and I'm fairly sure it is accessible to community managers and developers). So even if you get to the deleted question, you can see if the answers have several votes, but you can't really tell how many were cast recently.

Solution: Easy. Make the timeline accessible for deleted posts as well. Even if the link stays hidden, at least let us, the trusted users (and those which are "half" trusted with just 10k) access it as well.


  1. The link to the timeline page is .../posts/ID/timeline where ID is the question's id number, for example: http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/posts/15156/timeline
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Request #2 has been fulfilled: see Can question timeline be available for deleted questions for 10k+ users?

There is still no link to the timeline, though. As before, one can access it either by manually editing the URL (replacing /questions/id/title with /posts/id/timeline), or with a userscript, or with a bookmarklet.


Request #1 has not been (yet) fulfilled as stated (might take another 1.5 years?) but SE made some steps in that direction:

  1. Data Explorer now has a limited amount of information on all deleted posts. This allows one to get links to any number of recently deleted questions.
  2. A user with 10K reputation can access all of their deleted posts by searching for deleted:1.
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