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This question "Why have only Democrats been accused of election fraud?" has been deleted by Cesar M, a community manager at SO.

There was an ongoing debate about whether the question is on-topic or not, it had 4 reopen votes before being deleted. As far as I know such debates are common and usually solved through the normal process of community discussion and votes, occasionally settled by PoliticsSE moderators. I don't see anything remotely offensive in the question and it's not especially controversial in the context of PoliticsSE.

Why was this question deleted, when it could have been debated and possibly closed through the normal process?

To be clear, I don't really care about this question in particular but I'm curious why/when SO staff can unilaterally delete questions like this?

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    Note that Cesar also deleted Could blockchain voting bring both secrecy and traceability to elections? yesterday, but it was undeleted by JJJ less than a minute later. It's likely this was posted by the same user as the one he refers to in his answer below. – TylerH Nov 12 '20 at 21:30
  • Now it's undeleted, do you think we should be fixing it up? – Mast Nov 17 '20 at 14:01
  • @Mast feel free to try, but after trying to think of an answer myself I'm not sure it's worth the effort. – Erwan Nov 17 '20 at 14:25
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This question was automatically (edit: apparently manually - see Cesar's answer) deleted when the poster's account was merged with an account currently serving a network-wide suspension. This has occurred recently - see the timeline for this question, for example. In that case, the post was undeleted by (Pol.SE mod) JJJ, in part due to it being well-received by the community, and in part because JJJ noticed the unintended deletion quickly and was able to respond.

On the balance of things, I don't think that this question is an especially good fit for our site. However, I also think the community at large should generally be the one who decides that, and so I've undeleted the question for now.

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    Ok I see, thank you for the explanation! – Erwan Nov 12 '20 at 13:10
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    While it might be a well reasoned standing policy to merge these accounts, it is actually intransparent and therefore ultimately 'not good'. From your link to the timeline I do not see what actually happened (only your explanation here clears that up). I'd like to encourage our mods to complain about such fundamental policy-issues on MetaSE and voice demands for improvements. (Nothing I wrote is meant as any opinion about that particular user, question, 'good fit' or not or anything else, just the intransparent actions I very much despise). – LаngLаngС Nov 12 '20 at 14:47
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This question was posted by a user who has been trolling the network by creating sock-puppets and posting low-quality questions with an intention to get a reaction.

This person is not welcome to participate on our network and should not be posting questions or answers - it's not an automatic artifact of the merge (the merge by itself doesn't trigger the deletion) I did that manually.

The intention is to stop the harm and spending energy on a troll as fast as possible. Ultimately, I'll defer to the moderators on the site if they want to undelete and keep it around - but take that question with extreme caution and have it in mind that it was probably posted to drain time and energy from this community by generating debate.

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    Unfortunately there are questions quite similar in format to that one that apparently have been posted in good faith. politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4542/… (A reason why I choose to participate here a lot less often, by the way. I feel the q page is being dominated by these kinds of questions lately. I'm not sure if it's a concerted trolling attempt or just the US electoral atmosphere that has swept this site too.) – Fizz Nov 17 '20 at 22:25
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As Cesar explained in his answer, the user who posted the question is no longer welcome to participate on this site (or any other site in the Stack Exchange network).

For moderators, there are basically two options on how the user's questions can be handled:

  • We can leave the question unharmed, but the asker won't be back to respond to comments or to accept an answer.

  • We can delete them outright.

Outright deletion is preferable if the question adds little value to the site and if no other users have invested time providing a good answer.

Should there be an interesting underlying question (which may need to be worked out more), then I think it's best to leave the original question deleted. Instead, another user who may be interested in the subject can ask it as a new question. That way, there is an asker who can improve their own question and there's a chance for the best answer to be accepted.

If there are already some good answers, then we prefer to keep those, of course. That's basically what happened with the blockchain question, which I undeleted. In that case, there's actually a second option of merging it with what I think is a close duplicate. I've held off on that for now because the question was on the HNQ at the time. Now that it's closed, I think it's a serious option (but there's no rush).

Feel free to use the comment section under this answer to discuss these options.

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    I agree that the question should remain deleted nevertheless; if there is a worthwhile question that can be drawn from this one, it can be asked separately, but the question as it currently stands is just badly phrased. It basically uses the passive voice to avoid attributing the claims to anyone in particular, but then asks why those claims are made - which is impossible to address without knowing who's making the claims (and even then, it can be difficult to accurately determine the person's intent in a way that's not just opinion-based). – V2Blast Nov 13 '20 at 0:45

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