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I have noticed that I can now share my answer on Facebook and Twitter, but I only have my friends on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, so surely by me sharing an answer I'm encouraging ring voting?

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There's a difference between BEHOLD, the awesomeness of this answer I just wrote on a decent question and Psst, hey .. Bugsy Mugsy and Clyde .. go up vote this on the hush hush. –  Tim Post Dec 21 '11 at 8:51
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I thought the whole point of sharing the links was to get up-votes for the awesome answer I'd just posted ;) –  ChrisF Dec 21 '11 at 11:20
    
Does the "boy howdy, these users sure upvote each other a lot" algorithm know about that difference, @TimPost? –  Pops Dec 21 '11 at 14:07
    
@PopularDemand For almost three years, certain users have been beating me to answering interesting questions in the C tag. When they do, I typically up vote them, and it has yet to be an issue. I do up-vote a lot of different people, not just people I know from using the site for so long. However, the innards of the algorithms are unknown even to us. –  Tim Post Dec 21 '11 at 14:10
    
Fair enough. I feel like I've had some downvotes taken away on MSO in cases where I just frequently and honestly disagree with certain users' feature requests. Of course, by the time I think it's happening, it's too late to collect data. @TimPost –  Pops Dec 21 '11 at 14:18

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I'll elaborate a bit on my comment.

Our users are very good at bringing completely crap answers with an inordinate amount of up-votes to our attention, which sometimes leads to uncovering and breaking up voting rings.

That being said, you aren't just promoting yourself by sharing an answer. You're promoting the fact that you made the site a little bit more awesome than it was, which means you're also promoting the site. Bragging about the ownership you took in something is one of the best ways that something can be promoted.

By design, we reward great contributions with reputation, so I really don't see a possible negative there. I think that most people would not be inclined to share something that they didn't feel good about.

If you have a long standing track record of quality, there is no reason for a moderator to ever look at (or care about) voting patterns to and from your account. If you write something like this:

u can jst fix it like my bro did in dis blog post

... and it is subsequently up voted, I'm going to take a hard look at your account.

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I have to agree with the sentiment here. The intent is to get good answers, not to ensure some sort of fairness in voting. If a cartel votes a good answer up, good for them, SO now has one more high-voted good answer. If it's a bad answer, well, there's far more of us outside the cartel who can downvote it to oblivion. And it's good to know high-reppers aren't examined too closely though Tim will no doubt now run a quick background check on me :-) –  paxdiablo Jun 26 '13 at 7:58
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@paxdiablo For you, I'm even going to put on my special moderator issue black suit and tie, and sunglasses. (I kid! Wow, did I get you? Me, owning a suit?) –  Tim Post Jun 26 '13 at 8:03

It seems like a two-edged sword: If the up-votes are warranted, I see little harm. If not, other respected contributors may be more likely to evaluate the answer critically. Should a pattern emerge, the result could be a worse reputation.

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Public promotion of excellent questions or answers should be encouraged. It would improve both the content and the reputation of the site, and encourage the creation of a virtuous cycle of better content creation, improved reputation for the contributor, and improved reputation for the site in general.

Public promotion of poor content would hurt the value of the site, but even more-so, hurt the reputation of the contributor, which would be a moderating influence on such behavior.

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