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The majority of answer I can find to "I've been serially downvoted, what should I do?" advise users to flag one of their posts and mention the voting anomaly.

Except I did this, in response to a relatively small run of down-votes which were never reversed, and the flag was declined:

Apr 30 at 16:28 declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

Perhaps there wasn't enough down-voting to warrant a flag, or I had flagged it to soon, or it was an incredibly unlikely coincidence and not serial down-voting at all. This all seems largely irrelevant to what actually troubles me: The moderator explicitly told me that I was misusing flags. This runs directly counter to (what appears to be) the consensus on meta, that this is a valid use of flag-for-attention, and the correct way for users to address serial down-voting.

Given that this question comes up so frequently, I'm wondering, both for the sake of users and moderators, if we can clarify the real, officially endorsed policy for bringing this sort of thing to the attention of moderators.

This is not about my rep or a specific instance of downvoting on my account.


Examples

Victim of Revenge Downvoting

The top-voted answer, by a diamond moderator, advises:

Flag one of your own questions and explain the situation. It doesn't matter which question you actually flag, but it will make it a bit easier on the mods if you flag one of the questions which is in question.


This FAQ answer, under What if I think I'm the victim of voting fraud?, first tells us to do nothing, and then tells us:

If the 24 hours has already passed and you don't feel like waiting in chat, you can then flag one of your posts and explain what happened so a moderator can look into it or post a new question on meta to get feedback and explanations.

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in response to a relatively small run of down-votes which were never reversed How small? –  Yannis May 3 '12 at 18:07
    
possible duplicate of What is serial voting and how does it affect me? - "Please do not try to get help on this issue on meta or by flagging for a moderator." –  animuson May 3 '12 at 18:09
    
Also, what does "relatively small" mean? –  animuson May 3 '12 at 18:15
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Four downvotes in under 30 seconds to my four most recent accepted answers, all unrelated to each other. All of them good answers which had been accepted. I looked at my activity immediately before this, and found a question that only myself and one other person had commented on, and discovered both of us had received 4 downvotes at the exact same time to our most recent answers. They were never reversed. See my reputation tab for April 30th. –  meagar May 3 '12 at 18:16
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But again, I want to stress that I don't care about the specifics of my case. What concerns me is being told by a mod that we shouldn't be using flags in this way, despite the consistant advice from meta that we should. –  meagar May 3 '12 at 18:21
    
@meagar If you check the duplicate, it clearly says that mods can't do much about it. Where were you told that you should flag? In any case, since this wasn't automatically reversed, next best thing is sending an email at Stack Exchange. –  Yannis May 3 '12 at 18:23
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Mods have tools to check vote patterns, and can alert the team if votes need to be reversed. As far as I understand meagar's behavior was correct. Going to the team based on nothing more than suspicion is overkill IMO. @animuson Do you have a source for your claim in that post? –  Matthew Read May 3 '12 at 18:30
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@YahooAnswersenthusiast See Victim of Revenge Downvoting where a diamond mod advises us to Flag one of your own questions and explain the situation.. –  meagar May 3 '12 at 18:31
    
Actually, Robert Cartaino is not a moderator; he is the Director of Community Development at Stack Exchange. He doesn't moderate any site, except for Area 51. –  kiamlaluno May 3 '12 at 18:41
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@kiamlaluno Tim Post also advises the same thing in the comments. Following that question through to its duplicate, there is a similar answer with 75/1 up/down votes, seeming to indicate the community agrees that flagging is a valid response to serial downvoting. –  meagar May 3 '12 at 18:42
    
I was referring to you calling him a moderator, not to the fact the advice is correct, or not. –  kiamlaluno May 3 '12 at 18:46
    
hmm which is the "right" answer. Answers from 11/2009, 8/2011 or a [metaTag:Faq] from 3/2012. I guess the real question is what do we do about Meta content that is out of date? –  Some Helpful Commenter May 3 '12 at 18:48
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@kiamlaluno But he is a moderator. There is a diamond next to his name and his profile says "Robert Cartaino, Moderator ♦". Whether he acts as one or not is irrelevant, he's endorsed by Stack Overflow and advising the community how to interact with moderators. –  meagar May 3 '12 at 18:48
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@SomeHelpfulCommenter That FAQ supports both sides. It first tells us to do nothing, but the next paragraph says: If the 24 hours has already passed and you don't feel like waiting in chat, you can then flag one of your posts and explain what happened so a moderator can look into it or post a new question on meta to get feedback and explanations. –  meagar May 3 '12 at 18:55
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Awesome, I was going to defend that flag, but then I looked and saw that it wasn't me who did it. Then I looked at the deleted comments and realized this cry of falcon dick is sockpuppeting. So enjoy as I merge and suspend. –  Won't May 3 '12 at 19:39

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

That was the wrong dismiss reason. It is okay to flag one of your posts to let us know if you've been serial downvoted. Be advised though, if there's not a lot of downvoting going on, or if the automated script has already cleaned it up, diamond moderators won't even be able to see that it happened. In those cases I think the correct flag dismissal reason is:

a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

That let's you know with certainty that we did look into it but couldn't find anything. That isn't to say that you shouldn't have flagged, but just to let you know that nothing could be done in this instance. (If we are able to see who downvoted you, they'll get a warning message and your flag should be dismissed as helpful.)

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If it was truly a mod dismissing the flag and accidentally choosing the wrong reason, I guess this was slightly blown out of proportion. Appreciate the clarification. –  meagar May 3 '12 at 19:06

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