Currently we capture fanatic, voting ring or rage-type activities, by measuring the number of up-votes or down-votes between the same two users in a certain (relatively short) time period. When this is detected by the system, the votes are reversed, and I've never bothered to investigate what else happens after that - though I'm sure some form of wrist-slapping ensues.
While it is intended to be well-guarded for obvious reasons, the algorithm used is not exactly a secret, and I am sure there are plenty of examples where people are dangling (maybe intentionally, or maybe by dumb luck) just on the safe side of getting caught.
Personally I believe there are active, intentional, long-term vendettas in operation right now where users either:
- blindly up-vote every answer from a user; or,
- down-vote a particular user once or twice a day, regardless of topic or quality.
Now, maybe the first one is valid - if I'm operating in the same tag-sphere as some smart person, it may just be that I'm constantly enthralled with their answers, and I'm not even noticing who they're written by. (Though, even Skeet isn't perfect, and I haven't up-voted every answer I've seen him post.)
But still, can we do a better job of catching - or at least noticing - this activity over the long term in addition to the short term?
The behavior is the same, and shouldn't be tolerated, regardless of the time frame - vengeful rage serial voting, blind staker crush serial voting, and painstakingly patient serial voting are all undesirable behaviors IMHO.
I'm not saying it has to do anything automatically, as I'm well aware of the possibility of false positives. And I'm not even sure what to propose as a time frame or a vote threshold.
But if a large percentage of my up-votes or down-votes are against a particular user, and especially if on a majority of those posts I am the only one voting in that direction, I think it should at least be raised as some kind of flag to moderators.
This would work much like how other suspicious activity is highlighted (but also not dealt with automatically). If a pattern becomes obvious and persists, then they can intervene in some way (or not, but at least they were provided with the information - just like they can reject and ignore manual flags). Today, all I can do is e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and unless I know exactly which person(s) are involved, there is not much they can do about it.
And you're thinking, "Meh, let some hater down-vote you once or twice a day. Unless all you're posting is utter crap, it should be statistically insignificant." You're right. But reputation is not the point, and is not the motivation behind my request. What I'd like to see curtailed is the tendency for folks to down-vote a question or answer because of who posted it, not because of what it said or didn't say. When a down-vote is personal it can leave a person second-guessing the quality of their post. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, except when it happens repeatedly.
Sorry for the essay but I wanted to try to anticipate and cover all the objections and hole-poking.