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So when I went to sleep last night, my rep was 1337, having just rised from 1137 when someone voted-up all my postscript answers. And I was thrilled to tears.

And then today, just now, I seemed to catch the "tail" of that 1337 at the bottom of the summary page. After reloading a few times, it's now 1137 everywhere. But the badge is still there. If the votes were cancelled later, wouldn't there still be records on the rep history page?

What happened? How am I supposed to feel?

Update (2hrs later): Some of it came back! Thank you whoever you are!

Update (7min later): O No! He went even faster this time. Does that mean they'll be gone tomorrow?

Update (10hrs later): Yep. Gone again, already. I've added a link to this question to my profile. Hopefully (s)he'll see it and act more human-like. :)

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Badges are never revoked even if they are awarded by mistake. That's my understanding of how badges work. –  user162697 Dec 1 '11 at 18:38
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Getting a mortarboard at 1337 is l33t 8) –  BalusC Dec 1 '11 at 19:05
    
+1 for being thrilled to tears. –  Matt Fenwick Dec 1 '11 at 19:10
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Badges are only revoked if it was awarded because of a bug in the system. If you get a "Nice Answer" badge, but then the answer is downvoted, you won't lose the badge, but the next time you have a +10 answer, you won't get a new badge, since the system will think you have the right number already. This is a moot point for Mortarboard, since it's only awarded once. –  Adam Rackis Dec 1 '11 at 20:52
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@Siva, I doubt that's always true. See My 'Mortarboard' badge just disappeared?, and Jeff's statement: "This badge is retroactive, so if you earned it at any point in the life of your account, you will get it. This can also be affected by retroactive deletions (posts + users + votes)." And indeed, Adam, I recall reading the same. Maybe Jeff's statement is no longer true then? –  Arjan Dec 1 '11 at 20:59
    
@Arjan - thank you. I guess times have changed...or that badge is a special case. So maybe OP will lose the badge at some point. No bother though, a good day on SO and you'll have it back quick :) –  Adam Rackis Dec 1 '11 at 21:04
    
@Adam, you may still very well be right. Like someone else who claims badges might "stick": "In those cases you don't lose your existing Enlighted badges. You simply won't be awarded another one until you have enough accepted answers that qualify." But that's an older post than Jeff's statement. –  Arjan Dec 1 '11 at 21:09
    
@Arjan - the main thing is that, as you said, Jeff explicitly claimed that mortarboard was retroactive. I think that means mortar can be removed, but nice answer, enlightened, etc. do stick –  Adam Rackis Dec 1 '11 at 21:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

If it was one person casting a huge number of votes in rapid succession, it was likely considered as fraudulent by the vote fraud detection script and "corrected" by removing the votes. This happens for both upvote and downvote sprees. Badges are generally not removed once awarded, which is why you still have a Mortarboard.

For more info about voting fraud, I'd check out "How does the SO voter fraud detection mechanism work?", along with the related posts it links to.

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Well, that kinda makes sense. Is there no legitimate interpretation of that phenomenon? When I looked at the history last night, it appeared the voter had spent about 3-5 minutes on each. That's long enough to form an opinion, isn't it? I had no reason to doubt the validity at the time, though the tears certainly clouded my vision. –  luser droog Dec 1 '11 at 18:44
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@luserdroog The fraud detection is a important part of making Stack Exchange sites actually work (there are endless ways to game the system without it), and it has to be automated, which means that false positives are a fact of life. Not sure what can be done about this particular case (because it sounds like it might be legitimate). –  dmckee Dec 1 '11 at 18:48
    
@luserdroog: I added just one of many helpful links to my answer. While the loss of Rep can be upsetting, it's hard to say from the user end what is or is not "erroneous". The user who gave you votes could have been a sock puppet account, or had other voting irregularities that led to their account and/or votes being removed. –  gnostradamus Dec 1 '11 at 18:57
    
It's a delicate balancing act, @luserdroog, between taking away legitimate votes from enthusiastic voters, and pacifying irate votees out for blood –  Shog9 Dec 1 '11 at 19:10
    
understood. Thanks, fellas. Although Svankmejer and Jim Henson might not approve of anti-puppet discrimination ;) –  luser droog Dec 1 '11 at 19:14

I am the one who evidently failed this SO Turing test. This I did:

After having received some knowledgeable comment on one of my answers, I took the opportunity to go through the other posts of that -l user. I read maybe a dozen or two of other contributions on the subject and upvoted many of them. I mean, those I read and found useful, insightful etc. And I continued reading, since I found them useful. I would not continue otherwise. Isn't this the thing one is supposed here to do? There are so many unqualified posts on SO, and the ones that are good should be voted up. In this manner, also other users will profit to see that there is at least a single person who believed that an article is worth reading. In particular, if this is on a subject where the number of knowledgeable machines far outreaches the number of knowledgeable humans.

The next day, I continued reading, but realized that some of my marks vanished. I assumed this to be a bug in SO. After all, this is not the first time, that I encounter bugs here. The otherwise very cute editing facilities change things a little bit too magically. By copying my text away and reloading the page, this problems go away. So it seems to be fair to assume that this was a bug too. After all, I did not get any feedback. And I do get a lot of less than interesting feedback otherwise. E.g., after reading through a couple of pages SO instructs me to upvote questions: "Question needs upvotes too...". So, is this another Turing test? What should a human do in such a situation? If I do upvote a question thereafter, I am following instructions blindly, and if I don't, my natural language capabilities are below human standards.

My motivation to re-mark those pages was twofold: First, these articles are worth being upvoted, second, my upvotes serve me as a hint that I already read that article and found it good.

What irritates me most here is that one cannot know for sure if what one writes or does will be there the next day. I have already disclosed my e-mail address, and have taken several Turing tests, but SO might declare me a robot any time.

This is really an irritating feeling.

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The "problem" is that you are targeting the user not the post. If you really want to reward a user award a bounty, or take longer over the up-votes and vote for other posts in between. –  ChrisF Dec 6 '11 at 14:52
    
@ChrisF : I did use the user as a simple "search key" to find good posts on the very subject I am interested in. There are not that many contributions about PostScript on SO. –  false Dec 6 '11 at 14:55
    
In that case, don't up-vote so many posts in one day. Do a couple, make a note of some others and come back another day to do those. –  ChrisF Dec 6 '11 at 14:57
    
I disagree with you on two levels. First, this got nothing to do with you not being human or preventing bots. The system does know the votes come from real, flesh and blood members. It doesn't matter. Second, keeping track of posts by upvoting them is wrong approach - that's what you have favorites system for. –  Shadow Wizard Dec 6 '11 at 14:58
    
@ChrisF : While I understand that this would have helped me to circumcent the problem, I did upvote less than I read on that day. –  false Dec 6 '11 at 15:00
    
@Shadow Wizard: Keeping track of the posts was not the only motivation for marking them in the first place. It was a convenient side effect. Also, favorites are visible by other users, so they cannot serve for earmarking, as you suggest. But it seems that there are some "hidden rules" of well behavior in SO. Maybe I just did not read them? Is there a page on it? –  false Dec 6 '11 at 15:05
    
@false think of a bank. It has its own fraud mechanisms to prevent people from gaming the system and earn money that is not theirs. You think those mechanisms are public? Same here: they are hidden and private to make it harder to bypass them. If they're right or wrong is other matter, but not on topic here.. feel free to start new discussion, or add your comments in existing discussion on this topic if you find one. –  Shadow Wizard Dec 6 '11 at 15:16
    
@Shadow Wizard: A bank's fraud detection policies are undisclosed, but still a bank has to operate within legal bounds. So your analogy does not hold as much as you would like. –  false Dec 6 '11 at 15:30
    
@false I'm just saying that in SO, fraud detection is made behind the scenes and is not public. You can add your comments or new answer in this existing discussion linked already in other answer here. –  Shadow Wizard Dec 6 '11 at 15:43
    
@Shadow Wizard: Thank you for this hint. I did not understand that further discussion on this subject is possible elsewhere. –  false Dec 6 '11 at 15:46

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