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Recently I saw a suspicious activity in the reputation history of one user. So I flagged one of his answers and wrote the following message:

I see a suspicious serial upvotes in the reputation history of this user:

Mar 31 (4 upvotes within 20 seconds)
Feb 15 (7 up. in 2 minutes)
Feb 3 (6 up. in 30 seconds)
Jan 28 (5 up. in 1 min)
Jan 11 (8 up. in 1 min)
Dec 30'11 (6 up. in 3 mins)
Dec 14'11 (7 up. in 1 min, then there are another 4 up. in 1 minute)
Dec 1'11 (8 up. in 1 min)
Nov 14'11 (8 up. in 2 mins)
Oct 5'11 (9 up. in 7 mins)
Sep 28'11 (5 up. in 2 mins)
Sep 18'11 (9 up. in 7 mins)
Sep 16'11 (5 up. in 4 mins)

My flag was marked as helpful and… the flagged answer was deleted without any further actions to the user's reputation. To be honest, I expected a little different reaction: either "declined flag" or decreased reputation, but not the answer removal (actually I don't even remember whether that answer deserved to be deleted as I just selected one of his answers to place a flag).

So I'd like to know:
1. Does mentioned activity look suspicious?
2. What could be the reason of mentioned flag processing?
3. What am I supposed to do next?

p.s.: The link to the user's profile is intentionally omitted until Moderators ask to disclose it.

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2  
Cleaning up after socks is a surgical process that often requires a mod to involve an employee.. that might take a few days (especially if we uncover something larger while investigating). I'm looking into it however. –  Tim Post May 30 '12 at 14:20
    
Perhaps the user wrote some good answers at these times, and all of these upvotes are people seeing the answer for the first time and voting it up? (Perhaps some are coincidences) –  Jim May 30 '12 at 14:21
    
As far as the helpful flag/deleted answer, I think if a post is deleted as NaA/spam/etc, the flags on it are automatically marked as helpful. Was the answer you flagged eligible for removal? –  Jim May 30 '12 at 14:21
4  
BTW, Thank you for not linking directly to the user. Your flag was spot on, but I'm not entirely sure that there's any malice involved (could be dorm / office mates). My official answer (which I'll write in a little while) is going to be along the lines of 'These things sometimes take time, you may not see action right away.', but your 'spidey sense' is good :) This is going to take a bit of digging. –  Tim Post May 30 '12 at 14:25
    
@Jim Most of that serial upvotes were on different answers/questions. However your version is also quite possible. Was the answer you flagged eligible for removal? - to be honest I don't remember and can't check it now since I'm not a 10k user (I hope it was). –  Idolon May 30 '12 at 14:33
    
Urw, @Tim :) I supposed moderators and/or developers have the ability to check my flagging history. Thanks for looking into it. –  Idolon May 30 '12 at 14:40
    
Yes, we do, and I did :) I'm following up on it now. –  Tim Post May 30 '12 at 14:41
    
@Idolon you can see part of (or all, depending on the length) of the answer in your flag history. Just put your mouse over the link to the answer and it will pop up. –  Jim May 30 '12 at 14:49
    
@Jim thanks for the useful tip. Flagged answer consisted of a link and a text like "have a look at this, I hope it helps". There is also a comment with the same content below the question, so I guess I was wrong - the answer was not deleted by mod but rather converted to the comment. –  Idolon May 31 '12 at 7:49

1 Answer 1

up vote 32 down vote accepted

Sometimes these things take time. When we investigate flags reporting possible voting irregularities, there's a lot of data that we have to examine, and it can sometimes lead us to examining 20+ users in great detail. The one thing we don't want to do is pull the suspension trigger on someone that doesn't deserve it. Perhaps their dorm or office mates cast votes without knowing any better.

Remember, even moderators can not see who voted for what, we can only see a very high overview of patterns that the system thinks might be abnormal. If you work in an office with 100 SO users that sometimes vote for your posts, that's a lot of digging and cross referencing. We have awesome tools, but the process does require a lot of human thinking. Our findings influence the potential destructiveness of the action we take, so we make absolutely sure before doing anything. When the patterns check out to be anything but benign, we do take action with ready proof to deal with the 'but I never ..' replies, which quickly lead to 'sorry, I won't do that again!'.

In some instances, our findings lead us to other sites, when users in question have accounts on several other sites in the network. That requires a bit of collaboration, and eventually involving a Stack Exchange employee. To give you an example, a single flag once led us to a voting ring that spanned four sites.

If your flag was marked helpful, we're working on it, but you might not see results for a week, or perhaps more. That doesn't mean we forgot about it or didn't take any real action, it's just that this type of flag requires quite a bit of work and collaboration when it's accurate.

Factor in time zones, our day jobs, the urgency of whatever tasks the SE community team is otherwise working on (compounded if we need to get a dev involved), it might take a little while.

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