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I recently saw a question on which the accepted answer had 13 votes, and the next answer had 24 votes. It was a relatively old question, so I figured I'd do the next answerer a favor. I downvoted the accepted answer and upvoted the next answer, and voilà, they got the Populist badge.

Now I'm feeling kind bad for downvoting the top answer, as it was a perfectly good answer. I don't think what I did was "right", so I'm wondering what the community thinks of a case like this.

EDIT: I went back to the question, edited it and removed the downvote. At least this way, I can undo the damage.

Now that it's back to 13/25, will the second answerer lose the badge? The initial downvote/upvote thing happened a few days ago.

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Giving upvotes for the purpose of a badge is a pretty common practice. I've done that myself a few times. But downvotes... IMO is crossing the line. (unless the post really does in fact deserve a downvote) –  Mysticial Oct 25 '12 at 19:46
And to answer your second question, no the badge will indeed stick. Badges don't get removed except for tag badges. Devs also have the power to remove badges under unusual circumstances. –  Mysticial Oct 25 '12 at 19:58
I take it this badge would not be considered a terribly "unusual" circumstance? –  nneonneo Oct 25 '12 at 19:58
No it isn't. I also have a Populist badge that no longer satisfies the x2 requirement. Here's an example of an unusual circumstance. –  Mysticial Oct 25 '12 at 20:00
@Mysticial It might be a common practice, but it's not a good one. You're not doing anyone any favors by upvoting content that you don't is useful. It gives the wrong impression to the person who posted (that their content is good, and they get a badge for it). It feels like you're helping people, but in reality, it's a slight against the site. –  casperOne Oct 25 '12 at 20:07
@casperOne Oh I dunno. I usually see on the +99s. Having been on the receiving end of one of these "have a badge upvotes", I'm obviously gonna be a bit biased. –  Mysticial Oct 25 '12 at 20:10
@Mysticial Everyone enjoys getting a badge, it's part of the gamification that the site uses to get us to contribute. But how would you feel if you knew that those votes were thrown your way not because of the quality of your content but out of some sort of sympathy? Not so good, eh? Also, if you were new to Stack Overflow, how would it strike you to know that the voting that you see wasn't based on the content, but for arbitrary reasons? Not that good either. –  casperOne Oct 25 '12 at 20:13
@casperOne A new user would have to be extremely naive to think that voting is always done strictly based on content. That's just the nature of people and the internet. So while the goal is indeed to vote based on content, there's always going to be a bit of random "noise" that can bump posts up or down. –  Mysticial Oct 25 '12 at 20:18
@Mysticial Of course, but that noise should come from the uninitiated. That's the point. =) –  casperOne Oct 25 '12 at 20:19
@casperOne I most commonly see it when trying to circumvent privilege restrictions. For example, a high rep user commenting "I upvoted you so now you can talk in chat." Wouldn't that be the same problem? –  Troyen Oct 25 '12 at 20:37
@Troyen Yes, it's very much the same problem. The takeaway is, it says on the upvote "this answer is useful", if you're doing it for any other reason, you're abusing the feature. –  casperOne Oct 25 '12 at 20:42
@casperOne I've actually done this before. I felt the need to upvote the OP's question to push him over 20 rep and end a comment trail that had grown to about 70+ comments. –  Mysticial Oct 25 '12 at 20:45
nneonneo, thank you for fixing your mistake! There's hope for us all yet! :) –  jmort253 Oct 26 '12 at 1:56
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1 Answer

Now I'm feeling kind bad for downvoting the top answer, as it was a perfectly good answer.

Answer downvote tooltip:

This answer is not useful

Seriously, you're not doing the community a service by downvoting good contents. Don't do that.

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I suspected as much. As I said, I do rather regret the action. Thanks for the admonition. –  nneonneo Oct 25 '12 at 19:53
@nneonneo The best way to fix this is to improve that answer and remove the downvote. –  Mysticial Oct 25 '12 at 19:54
@Mysticial: thanks! I have just done exactly that. –  nneonneo Oct 25 '12 at 19:56
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