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Something strange just happened. I noticed that my reputation had dropped by $40$ points. I went to the reputation page and saw four "unupvotes", all within one minute, on four different answers, some but not all of which were thematically related. This seemed strange enough in itself, so I went to the four answers.

One thing I noticed was that on all four answers, when I clicked on the vote tally to see the upvotes and downvotes, the vote tally went down by one. I presume that this is due to some delays in the system that caused outdated vote tallies to be displayed at first. While I find such inconsistencies slightly annoying and would encourage some efforts to prevent them, that's not my main point.

What I don't understand is why upvotes could be retracted on the three questions How to prove absolute summability of sinc function?, Aliasing in DFT: mathematical expression and On the absolute integrability of Bessel functions, since these had never been edited. Are votes no longer being locked in after a couple of minutes until the next edit? Or is this perhaps the effect of an account being closed? Or is it a bug in action?

Here's a screen shot of the reputation page:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ A similar thing happened to me in that an unupvote shows on my rep page. But I didn't see any change in my reputation score! $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 16 '12 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ I got a couple of "unupvotes" today; on the other hand, my reputation audit does not show changes on those. I wonder if it may be "unupvotes" due to users leaving/deleting their profiles? $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Mar 16 '12 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ This is probably due to a deleted user account. I saw this once and I noticed many other high rep users had similar batches of unupvotes all around the same time. Ditto here. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 16 '12 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ Also mildly interesting (to me, anyway): I went directly from my reputation page to the question, and it still showed the old total. Only after I clicked on the number (so it displays the total number of up votes and the total number of downvotes) did it reset. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Mar 16 '12 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Arturo: This is what I tried to describe in the second paragraph of the question. $\endgroup$ – joriki Mar 16 '12 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ All four questions were asked by user7815, who now seems to have been deleted. Coincidence? $\endgroup$ – Aryabhata Mar 16 '12 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Aryabhata: Duh, I guess I could have checked that :-) Thanks! $\endgroup$ – joriki Mar 16 '12 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ @joriki: :-) Of course, I guess only a mod can say for sure if that account was deleted recently. $\endgroup$ – Aryabhata Mar 16 '12 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Arturo: If you went beyond capping then even if a vote is removed you have "extra" which ensure the reputation evens out. Now tell me, when was the last time you didn't cap out? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 17 '12 at 10:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: Why, I didn't cap out last Thursday. Somewhat annoying, as I got a downvote that I cannot explain. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Mar 17 '12 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ @joriki: I really should try to pay more attention when I'm "reading" posts... )-: $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Mar 18 '12 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: ...nor did I cap out "yesterday". $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Mar 18 '12 at 0:10
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Thanks to Aryabhata, who solved the mystery in a comment: All four questions were asked by user7815, and that account no longer exists. That's unlikely to be a coincidence, so it seems that reputation is indeed deducted when an account is deleted. Now I'm just surprised that that doesn't happen more often. I guess account deletion must be quite a rare event.

[Update]

Point subtraction due to user removal is now explicitly marked on the reputation page. Instead of "unupvote", it now says "removed", and in the question title column it says "User was removed".

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    $\begingroup$ It has happened many times before - there are prior meta threads asking about sudden big rep drops (which were caused by deleted accounts). It was harder to notice in the old days because the rep decrement was done silently then, i.e. no "unupvotes" were displayed in the rep log. That's a very recently introduced feature. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 17 '12 at 1:44
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    $\begingroup$ When users are deleted from the system, their votes are also removed. We can look at perhaps adding a tooltip on these to help clarify what really occurred. $\endgroup$ – Jarrod Dixon Mar 18 '12 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Jarrod. Yes, such a tooltip might help. It seems that votes from ex-users would be just as helpful in assessing the quality of posts as other votes -- or do you have reason to believe otherwise? $\endgroup$ – joriki Mar 18 '12 at 7:56
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    $\begingroup$ Most user deletions are due to abuse, not "please delete my account" requests, so we've never spent time on creating a mechanism for preserving helpful votes. I'll bounce the idea off our community team. $\endgroup$ – Jarrod Dixon Mar 18 '12 at 8:10

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