What happened to David?

It seems David Kessner has deleted his account. I wonder why. David is a very knowledgeable engineer whose answers (he didn't have to ask questions much) were always interesting to read. I'm sorry he left.

• So is that why I got a bunch of negative rep yesterday for "user deleted" reason? Even if the troll chased him away, which I doubt, why would he need to delete his account? All the great answers he wrote would stay. What happens to his answers now? I find it hard to believe that Tony The Troll chased him away because David was quite capable of standing up for himself, and the mods seemed to be actively dealing with the abuse. I would often write a comment like "Tony, you're not supposed to be here", then flag a mod. Such posts got deleted quickly. – Olin Lathrop Sep 13 '13 at 19:50
• This is seriously disheartening. – JYelton Sep 13 '13 at 20:42
• He will be missed; David was one of the top contributors. I think I speak for all of us when I hope he soon returns, maybe in another guise. (@OlinLathrop) – Federico Russo Sep 14 '13 at 7:10
• I agree with Olin that David sure could stand up for himself, and wouldn't have him chased away by TS. In his last post in chat he says "I don't think anyone here takes his insults here personally. I certainly don't, at least not in the way he has intended them. I take them seriously, but not personally." – Federico Russo Sep 14 '13 at 7:17
• @tcrosley: I guess Frederico means that you can see his answers signed as "user3624", with a generic silhouette of a head as picture. But indeed you can't search for "user:3624" since that account doesn't exist. – amadeus Sep 16 '13 at 11:37
• @tcrosley: you're right, you can't search for him, but I meant it like amadeus says: his answeres are still recognizeable as his. I posted a feature request regarding this. – Federico Russo Sep 17 '13 at 11:59
• You know, why don't StackExchange sites allow rep to go negative? Anyone below a certain negative rep threshold should be automatically blown away: the whole account and all their postings. – Kaz Sep 17 '13 at 15:41
• Also, these sites are sorely locking "block this user" features, whereby any user can customize the site to make it look as if a certain other user doesn't exist. Questions, answers and comments by the blocked user, as well as comments referencing that user using the at sign, become nonexistent. Plus, a "blocking score" could be calculated for a user by adding together the rep of those who are blocking him. If it is more than 50,000 then the blockee gets wiped away. – Kaz Sep 17 '13 at 15:51

4 Answers

David deleted his account for reasons surrounding the Tony Stewart mess. Here is his explanation in his own words, lightly edited:

My problem was that I was taking the whole Tony Stewart thing way too seriously. I wasn't taking TS, or his comments, seriously. He has been, and always will be, an insignificant troll. But I was taking the whole situation too seriously. And by the "situation", I mean how SE and the mods were handling it and how the other users were reacting to everything.

TS himself is easy to ignore. He is like the kindergartner that tries to insult an adult by saying that the adult eats his/her own snot. The only difference is that TS doesn't ever grow up.

The last straw was some comments by Chris Stratton, The Photon, and some other random users who haven't been on the site very long. Their comments made me realize that we lost the war with TS. TS might not have won, but we certainly lost.

(Important note: The Photon was technically correct in what he said, and I don't fault him for that. Chris Stratton was ideologically challenging.)

And that made me mad. I was mad at everyone - but more mad at myself for letting it get to me. In the grand scheme of things, this is not important at all, and yet I was mad. And this made me even more mad! (I never claimed to be rational, in this regard.)

Then I remembered that I had been in this situation before. About a year ago I was considering leaving EE.SE for similar reasons. But on assurances that things would change, I just took a short break.

So here we are, one year later, and nothing has changed and there is no indications that anything will change. For my own sanity, I had to leave. I'm sorry to say, but EE.SE is not and should not be that important to me or to anyone.

As for "deleting my account just feeds the troll", so what? I am not going to let that sorry excuse for a human being dictate what I do, or how. To let him dictate things would really be letting him win. Remember that I left EE.SE because of the situation around TS, and not TS directly. He may get his jollies off by seeing me leave, but honestly there is little that I can do to affect his behavior in the long-term future (for good or bad). Also, TS is not my responsibility.

So to conclude: I left EE.SE for my own sanity. While there is plenty of blame to go around, the biggest blame goes on myself - for letting the whole situation get to me. In the end, it just wasn't worth it for me to stay.

• What to do? It's clear David felt let-down by this site. – Andy aka Sep 16 '13 at 14:54
• What to do, @Andy? Respect his right to take a break when it has become not fun anymore. And keep working on minimizing the impact of such nonsense for the folks who still do find this place enjoyable by and large. – Shog9 Sep 16 '13 at 15:48
• @Olin Thanks for reaching out to David, it ends the speculation. – placeholder Sep 16 '13 at 20:18
• And that is why I will always be user26129 (and possibly other anonymous usernames). Like many engineers around here I always try to be friendly and helpful. Trolls as well as just hateful people will eventually get to me. By keeping things relatively anonymous I can give awesome answers without people singling me out, and without me investing too much of my person into this. This is just a page on the internet with helpful answers. There's other sites to get drama and personal involvement. – user36129 Sep 17 '13 at 8:50
• I understand that people think of people that put a searchable name on their profile to be more authoritative, but I don't share that philosophy. I'd rather people judge me on the quality of my individual responses than on my name. Also, my reputation is still mentioned next to my username. Whether it says my real name or user26129 doesn't matter there. – user36129 Sep 17 '13 at 12:08
• @ChrisStratton that is a complete misunderstanding of the action you saw. They identified tony and flagged all his posts. That was not damaging the intent of the site, you causing the troll to feel entitled was damaging as the troll greatly increased the spam for a few days. Thanks for that. – Kortuk Sep 17 '13 at 15:06
• @Chris: We don't tolerate people escaping from jail, even if sometimes they don't commit more crimes when they get out. It's the same thing with Tony. He's on suspension (in jail) for a reason. Tolerating his posts even in the unusual cases when he's lucid and nice would nullify the punishment. He is not allowed here for past crimes. A occasional good post can't fix that, at least until his suspension period (his sentence) has been served. – Olin Lathrop Sep 17 '13 at 17:51
• @ChrisStratton From previous comments of yours defending Tony, and others where you were merely being contrary and stubborn, I had figured you were merely ill advised or very young. This current set of your comments proves you to be not worth the electrons you write on. I am glad I can at least add your trolling to my site-wide ignore list. No point arguing with fools, they say. – Anindo Ghosh Sep 17 '13 at 22:40
• @ChrisStratton: He's had a year and a half to change, but time and time again he's shown that he is incapable of acting in a civilized manner. Make no mistake: this isn't a boarding school. We're not in the business of "influencing behavior". When people come here, they either already posses basic social skills or they don't. Occasional technical savvy is not going to convince the community that a user who makes incessant threats is worth it. Would you turn a blind eye to this kind of behavior if it happened anywhere else (i.e. not online)? – Chris Laplante Sep 17 '13 at 23:21
• @ChrisStratton: So according to you, new site policy is users can do whatever the hell what they want, as long as every once in a while they give a nice answer? I'd love to see a site run that. – Chris Laplante Sep 17 '13 at 23:49
• @trav1s: that is a bit of an extreme stance. I like to be able to do contributions to society without being in the spotlight or without having particular authority. I have enough authority in daily life. I just want to do good and be left alone otherwise. Also, olin: that is a very disappointing response. Why hide your passwords if you have nothing to hide? Why encrypt traffic? Why obfuscate code? It is to avoid undesired consequences in case of malicious intent from the attacker. – user36129 Sep 18 '13 at 8:38
• GUARD: He had 8 years left on his sentence when he escaped. His convictions include 7 assaults and 9 threats of assault. LAWYER: But yesterday a traffic camera caught this picture of him helping a little old lady accross the street. WARDEN: Oh, well, then in that case we'll stop looking for him. @Chris: Really!? – Olin Lathrop Sep 18 '13 at 12:15
• I've seen quite a few attempts by TS to post normal answers and most have them have been undecipherable or at very best hard to read. I also note that he appears to have a distinct inability to recognize the possible limited knowledge of the person raising the question. This makes trying to "detect" his good answers much more difficult. I for one say delete all his answers because it's just not worth trying to keep the few good ones. It's not a vendetta thing it's just not worth the effort. – Andy aka Sep 18 '13 at 17:57
• @ChrisStratton - When we signed-up to this we agreed, implicitly or explicitly to accept the rules. We might not agree with those rules but we have to accept them. If we don't like the rules we are free to campaign for the rules to be changed - and that's fine & democratic. What is not fine is individuals accepting the rules and then flouting them whenever they like. Allowing that is a recipe for anarchy, and I for one would rather lose a couple of useful answers than accept anarchy any day. – MikeJ-UK Sep 19 '13 at 14:06
• @MikeJ-UK - if banning an individual human were automatically enforceable you would have a point, but as we see, that capability doesn't exist. Since the enforcement has to be manual, it should be based on what content violates rules, vs what is actually a positive contribution to the mission of the site. This needs to stop being about personalities, and start being about helpful content vs abusive posts. Deleting the occasional good content after it has been contributed doesn't punish Tony - it's like frog marching Olin's little old lady back to the starting side of the street. – Chris Stratton Sep 19 '13 at 14:29

Nobody knows but him yet. For now it seems his account deletion was his own choice.

There were some abusive and very personal attacks from the site troll directed at him right before he left. They have of course all been deleted. The jist of it is that it seems the situation has gone from trolling to stalking/harassment, directed specifically at David. He was discussing this in chat yesterday, and if it hasn't been deleted yet you can still read about it. There's not much to see at this point.

Perhaps he was disturbed by the harassment and has decided to make his personal information less available. Perhaps he will return. Perhaps he will contribute to the site anonymously.

When revealing your identity on the internet you make yourself vulnerable to invasions of privacy like this. That said, the attacks on him are inexcusable and probably constitute a legal case for harassment.

See more of this issue at What legal options exist to StackExchange to prosecute aggressive users/trolls?

• It's a sad failure of the system that the truly knowledgeable people, with the willingness to both share their knowledge and respect critiques and opinions of others, end up leaving the site, while persons with obsolete knowledge and skills, and utterly incapable of respecting any contrary viewpoints, consistently prove the impotence of the site's administration. – Anindo Ghosh Sep 13 '13 at 11:29
• If he left because of a troll, he has fed that troll a banquet. It's therefore not a decision he would have taken lightly (although we are speculating as to the reason). Perhaps the other party will be satisfied now and seek satisfaction elsewhere - we can but hope. I wish him (DK, that is) the very best whatever the situation is. And thanks are due to our resident mods who tirelessly identify and remove unwanted posts efficiently. There is nothing much else they can do without putting obstacles in the way of genuine contributors. – MikeJ-UK Sep 13 '13 at 12:13
• What do you mean by trolling him? What can anyone here do except maybe downvote? – Gustavo Litovsky Sep 13 '13 at 16:47
• @Gusta: You can (and should) flag for moderator attention whenever you see a post by Tony The Troll. Once the votes go negative, you can vote to delete too, if you have enough rep. – Olin Lathrop Sep 13 '13 at 19:56
• @OlinLathrop: is this Tony Stewart? His account is suspended and has a rep of 1 – Gustavo Litovsky Sep 13 '13 at 23:05
• @Gustavo He's created tons of sock puppet accounts and frequently harasses David and others. His posts are usually deleted quickly, but we've all seen them. – JYelton Sep 13 '13 at 23:21
• Can the mods not IP ban? – Connor Wolf Sep 14 '13 at 23:26
• @ConnorWolf: The usual response whenever I've suggested that is users can always use proxies and other trickery. Still, I think we're overdue to give it a try. – Chris Laplante Sep 15 '13 at 2:18
• @SimpleCoder The sock puppet accounts are made using world-wide proxy services, making IP bans ineffective without potentially affecting many other people. His attacking of the site is obsessive and relentless. – Adam Lawrence Sep 15 '13 at 12:35
• Whether or not the troll is responsible for David's leaving, I think SE should take legal action against him. Is that even possible? – JYelton Sep 15 '13 at 18:08
• @JYelton, sounds like a good question for meta or meta.SO. – travisbartley Sep 16 '13 at 2:31
• @trav1s: Yeah, this needs to be escalated to meta.SO. The mods here have done all they can, I think. – Chris Laplante Sep 16 '13 at 2:40
• @Travis: Done. See meta.stackexchange.com/q/197106/134987 – JYelton Sep 16 '13 at 7:11
• The legal stuff is always a little blurry, especially when you're dealing with multiple countries, the cost of actually prosecuting what may or may not be considered a civil offense, perhaps even a misdemeanor, etc. The real fix is making it incredibly annoying for them to be so persistent. Beyond that, this is basically what I was going to say (hence not writing another answer just reiterating most of this one). – Tim Post Sep 16 '13 at 11:37
• @Travis I am glad to see the favorable response. Ordinarily I wouldn't have bothered, because TS is just a nuisance. But I was strongly motivated to do something because David is one of those I'd consider a mentor. His words, even on questions I didn't ask, are rich with experience and information. Losing that hurts a lot. – JYelton Sep 16 '13 at 17:06

Wow, this really sucks. I enjoyed David being on the site. I used to go into Chat all the time and have some fun talks with the guys (David, jippie, Anindo, etc) in there, but Tony also started to get to me in a very negative way and I stopped going to chat really. Tony really kills this site with his behavior.

Didn't stevenvh also leave because of Tony? That's really extreme bullshit that this guy caused two people to leave who were both very nice and knowledgeable.

Whatever, guess you won, Tony.

• I though Stevenvh stopped participating because he found himself spending too much time here. I thought his job situation also changed, but I don't know any of this for sure. I don't think Tony The Troll had much to do with Steven going dormant. – Olin Lathrop Sep 17 '13 at 12:07
• I was wondering what had happened to Stevenvh... It's sad that our top man has left. Still, I always wondered how he got any real work done. – Rocketmagnet Sep 17 '13 at 16:43
• @Rocket: I think for a while he didn't have any "real" work. – Olin Lathrop Sep 17 '13 at 22:51
• @Rocketmagnet, OlinLathrop: I think I read something about a sabbatical on his profile page. That would explain how he could be here all the time. The notice seems to be deleted from his profile, so maybe he's back to work, and probably doesn't have that much time anymore. – Federico Russo Sep 21 '13 at 13:48
• Tonie's sock puppets are usually detected and dispatched before they have enough rep for chat. Haven't seen Tonies in chat as long as I had chat privileges myself. – Nick Alexeev Sep 24 '13 at 17:25
• Before he became so notoriously assy, he would usually fly under the radar long enough to get a decent amount of rep. He would come into chat and talk about how he could drink so many Pina Coladas and never get hangovers, or something. – dext0rb Sep 24 '13 at 17:46
• ...Yeah, it’s been a while since I last was on EE.SE. There are only 24 hours in a day (you may heard that J) and I’m busy with a lot of things. (I also have plans for writing a book, but that will take even more of my time.) For the coming time you’ll have to do without me, but I guess I’ll come back somewhere next year. In any case, thanks for the flowers... – abdullah kahraman Dec 24 '13 at 22:06
• Above words are stevenh's from an email almost about a year ago, that is 12/21/12. – abdullah kahraman Dec 24 '13 at 22:07

How much rep did David have? I thought the rep/votes he gave out wouldn't be removed. What does "user was removed" mean and why did my reputation change because of it? and How did this curious undownvote pattern come about?

• Deleting his votes is basically saying that his past judgement was invalid soley due to the fact that he deleted his account some time later. That makes no sense to me either. – Olin Lathrop Sep 17 '13 at 14:42
• @OlinLathrop: Remember that David's case of account deletion is a special one: He was a legitimate, active member of the community. Most deletions are not like that (ala Tony), so it makes sense to remove traces of users when they are deleted. It certainly is a shame that we've lost his votes, though. – Chris Laplante Sep 17 '13 at 22:44
• @SimpleCoder from a mod answer on the stackoverflow question: When we delete highly active users upon their request (i.e. they no longer wish to participate in Stack Exchange), we preserve their up/down/accepted votes by moving them to our Community User. It's the opposite. Trolls get deleted completely. Highly active users are supposed to be preserved. – Passerby Sep 17 '13 at 23:09
• @Passerby: You should have mentioned that in your answer. In that case, yes, something is wrong. – Chris Laplante Sep 17 '13 at 23:11
• @SimpleCoder hence the links. – Passerby Sep 17 '13 at 23:13
• IIRC David had something like between 40000 and 50000 rep. He was definitely a Top 5 user. – radagast Sep 19 '13 at 15:20
• @radagast He had 36k rep and 5th overall reputation on the site. – Anindo Ghosh Sep 20 '13 at 14:04
• @AnindoGhosh: Didn't he also have lots of "good answer" badges (25 votes or more)? – Federico Russo Sep 21 '13 at 13:51
• @FedericoRusso I don't recall the exact numbers, but yes, a plethora of badges too. – Anindo Ghosh Sep 21 '13 at 17:17