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This puzzle was posted this morning and I was lucky enough to solve it. However, it has been deleted, according to the notice, by Community ♦, which normally only happens for spam/offensive posts (but then, I'd expect a much lower score for the question itself). There's also no clue in the comments, like a message from a ♦ moderator about DMCA takedown, or a user circumventing their ban. Any idea what happened here?

(I suspect this question, which I can't see because it's deleted, was another puzzle by the same user posted today.)

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Sound like another Arbitrary Kangaroo case. Also, how can you see deleted posts at 3.5k rep? $\endgroup$
    – Mithical
    Mar 20 '17 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithrandir what Kangaroo? And I was a little surprised to be able to see the post, but it's probably because I have already posted an answer. Though I remember some Meta SE discussions about that not being the case. $\endgroup$
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 20 '17 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Arbitrary Kangaroo. A user who was suspended, and has a history of evading the ban by posting puzzles under a new name, which are then deleted and his account destroyed. $\endgroup$
    – Mithical
    Mar 20 '17 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Mithrandir OK, but this seems to be a very decent puzzle - it could have been disassociated from the user if the account needed to be nuked. $\endgroup$
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 20 '17 at 17:25
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When positively-scoring posts are deleted like this and the user account is also deleted (anonymised to a grey "user12345" with no link), it generally means the user has been destroyed - their account deleted and all their posts with it. There may be several different reasons for this - which are private between the mods and the user in question - but a common one is that the user was circumventing a suspension on their main account and the destroyed account was a sockpuppet.


There's a policy on main meta that reasonable questions posted by a troll user shouldn't suffer for it. This comes under the overall "vote for the post, not the person" policy on SE:

If it's a legitimate question, it shouldn't matter who asked it. Don't worry about who's asking the question, judge the question on its own merits.

As such, if the post isn't spam, I say it shouldn't be flagged as spam. If it's a good question, it probably shouldn't be downvoted (Of course, your votes are yours to do with as you will). As others have stated, however, flagging the post for moderator attention to let them know that the troll is circumventing post bans is perfectly legitimate. I just don't believe that a good post from a bad user should suffer for the actions of the asker.

So if you come across a good or reasonable question which has been deleted for no other reason than that the OP was a troll or evading a ban, you should flag it for mod attention and ask for it to be undeleted. Furthermore, I suggest that the mods here follow the same approach to deal with such users as was used by the SO mods in this case (emphasis mine):

I've dealt with many of this user's accounts, and tried to figure out a way to handle them, so I can explain my approach so far. First, I should comment that this user has been an ongoing nuisance since the start of the year, and we've probably deleted something like 100+ of their accounts since then. They've worked around IP bans and other extreme measures to continue to post here, and have posted some rather odd content. [...]

However, I leave any good questions alone. I do not destroy their accounts (which automatically removes everything posted by a user) and instead simply delete them. Unfortunately, even the latter has the consequence of triggering a deletion of downvoted content by that user, so sometimes acceptable but downvoted questions get removed at that point.

As far as I know (speaking as someone who has experience with SE mod tools from a different site), there's no particular advantage of destroying over deleting when dealing with sockpuppets circumventing suspensions. Deletion using the "no longer welcome" option has most of the same side-effects in terms of hobbling the user as destruction, and doesn't require removing good content.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, that makes sense. I've flagged the question for undeletion, let's see what happens. $\endgroup$
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 20 '17 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Glorfindel I suffered the same thing a couple of weeks ago (answered a decent question, got a bunch of upvotes, question nuked along with account), flagged for undeletion, and the mods declined it. Hopefully having this meta post about it, with some very clear advice from main meta, will help. Did you include a link to this meta post in your flag? $\endgroup$ Mar 20 '17 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I did (see below for @Emrakul's reaction). I like your answer more because I feel it's more in the spirit of Stack Exchange (content > users), but I understand the course of action in this case. $\endgroup$
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 21 '17 at 8:10
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This particular problem user has a bad habit of posting puzzles that have no solution, just to be extra annoying. This has happened for so often and for so long that we've simply stopped checking whether the questions could possibly be real at all. We no longer waste time giving them the benefit of the doubt.

This one, however, is obviously a real question. I've undeleted it. If this happens again, or elsewhere, just flag and let us know.

Rand's answer is a good one here, but in this case, our official recommendation from the CM team in knowledge of the nature and extent of the problem is just to destroy and move on, so we're going to go with that.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the clarification, and for undeleting the answer. I can understand the annoyance this user causes and why we need to flag the good posts instead of the bad ones. They're hard to find, though ... Also some puzzles without a solution still make good question :P $\endgroup$
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 21 '17 at 8:06
  • $\begingroup$ This makes sense. I've seen (and even tried to solve - grrr) some of those nonsense puzzles without a solution. But what about this one? It seems to come in the same category as the one @Glorfindel raised - a real puzzle with a real answer - but my flag on it was declined. $\endgroup$ Mar 21 '17 at 11:12
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The user was registered when they posted the puzzle, but now they are unregistered.

This shows that for some reason, (unbeknownst to me), the user was deleted, and all their posts as well...

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm quite sure the user was registered when (s)he posted the question, because I have seen another question by their hand today. And it's indeed not possible to self-delete a question with an upvoted answer. $\endgroup$
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 20 '17 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Glorfindel ah well then I have an actual answer. Let me edit. $\endgroup$ Mar 20 '17 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Glorfindel where's that other puzzle now? Same fate or no? $\endgroup$
    – Mithical
    Mar 20 '17 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithrandir I think it is this one (now deleted as well, of course) $\endgroup$
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 20 '17 at 17:22

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