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Yesterday we had this specific example of the user where they came into the site, posted five (or so) questions some of them plagiarised and deleted, some of them marked as duplicate, and others closed for other reasons. The only question leftover is actually plagiarised, marked not so only for technical reasons.

This attracts bad content and sets bad precedence. How do we handle such users? If we don't do anything about it, it won't be long before we would just be copies of cheap riddle sites.

Can we not plain delete such users? I'm not sure if SE has a policy on unregistered users.

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  • $\begingroup$ In case if the downvote is for a reason that I need to know feel free to post, if its just an angry reaction I dont mind another 10 of them without comments as it is supposed to make a few people angry $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Nov 14 '14 at 4:02
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Quality is a serious issue. Addressing the quality of our questions and answers is, I'd argue, the primary issue for our site right now.

However, unregistered users may not be the right place to look. What does it for a user to be unregistered? All it means is that that user has no OpenID associated with their account. This doesn't mean their posts will necessarily be of low quality.

In the case of this particular user, I'll grant that their contributions haven't been the best so far, but it's our job to nudge them in the right direction. Account removal is reserved for very serious and specific issues that cannot possibly be addressed in any other way. Users who are here in good faith aren't going to have their accounts vanish suddenly (imagine the situation in reverse).

So, the question is, how do we manage this content? And it does come back to community moderation. Moderators are here as exception-handlers; when things aren't going the way they should, and someone needs to step in to nudge it back in the right direction. We're not here to monitor voting on questions and to close them, except occasionally.

You all, the users of this site, have two tools: voting, and close votes. Use them. I'll take as an example this question, which had, for seven hours, this comment:

There is a way too many correct answers to this one unless the person who wrote it wont accept anything that would obviously work.

It had four upvotes when I closed the question. There were only two close votes on the question itself. This meant that there was clear consensus people thought the question should be closed, but only two people actually decided to take action about it. The question still sits at +7/-4.

Here's another question that has 23 answers, isn't well-defined, and still only has three close votes. In my opinion, this should be absolutely closed, but it hasn't been. I am honestly not sure why.

When you see a bad question, or a bad answer, downvote it. Our sitewide upvote/downvote ratios are terrible right now. We're not using our downvotes. Start using 'em. They're good for the site.


These are the primary tools we use to guide new users. We're not going to delete them when it's clear they're here in good faith and mean well to the community. Instead, we set a precedent that we don't like this content by voting it down and voting to close it where applicable. Both the good and the bad are helpful in narrowing our site scope.

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  • $\begingroup$ The reason I chose to specifically highlight unregistered users is because they havent shown commitment to even register with a password, they can just show a name and email that does not exist, they are just as long lasting as a cookie $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Nov 14 '14 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ Your answer in spirit answers my question but I think not many people probably realise that downvoting on a question does not give them negative reputation and hence probably feel it would be ok to comment, but not downvote $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Nov 14 '14 at 5:14
  • $\begingroup$ @skv Well, if that's true, it's our job to make people more aware of the tools at their disposal! $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Nov 14 '14 at 5:28
  • $\begingroup$ I have removed the "accept" because I realise that nudging wont work by a user who himself or herself cannot change the content they posted in case of unregistered users once the cookie is lost, it would be orphaned $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Nov 14 '14 at 5:41
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose I'll do my part and downvote those questions that I'd just been ignoring up to this point. $\endgroup$
    – user88
    Nov 16 '14 at 22:01
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Stack Exchange obviously has a policy on unregistered users: they're allowed to post. If they weren't, the whole unregistered account feature wouldn't exist. Unregistered accounts have a lot of restrictions (they can't even vote) and are cumbersome, but they're kept around to allow participation with a minimum of friction.

A few of the larger-volume sites prevent unregistered accounts from asking questions (they can still answer and edit). That's only been done on some of the largest site, and it doesn't seem to have made a lot of difference.

We do need to take action against bad users and bad posts. The fact that users may or may not be registered doesn't particularly matter.

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  • $\begingroup$ The only reason for me to single out unregistered users is that the regular community actions such as downvotes, cajoling etc won't work with them, but I agree with you that quality is important, registered or otherwise $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Nov 16 '14 at 14:25

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