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Not accusing anyone of anything here, but is there a mechanism in SE's voting anomaly detection algorithm to detect users essentially playing a tit-for-tat strategy with votes (since voting is a kind of prisoners' dilemma)? Obviously there are valid reasons for voting on other answers, I'm just concerned with 'strategic' voting patterns. i.e. "You upvote my answer, I'll upvote yours; you downvote my answer, I'll downvote yours".

For that matter what about tit-for-tat voting on questions, i.e. "I'll upvote your question if you accept my answer".

I'm not talking about serial up/downvotes where one user goes through many answers from another user, but just two users upvoting/downvoting eachother on the same question. I'm also not referring to "voting rings" where an established group of users continually upvote/downvote each other.

Auxiliary Questions

How frequently do strategic votes occur on single questions within SE?

How does SE feel about strategic votes on single questions?

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How would you tell apart strategic tit-for-tat voting from "innocent" voting? –  Pëkka Mar 14 '13 at 16:48
    
@Pekka I guess that's my question. How does SE judge strategic votes apart from innocent votes? –  p.s.w.g Mar 14 '13 at 16:51
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Clique (graph theory) "...its graph-theoretic usage, arose from the work of Luce & Perry (1949), who used complete subgraphs to model cliques (groups of people who all know each other) in social networks..." –  gnat Mar 14 '13 at 16:51
    
@dystroy I don't know if it's a problem. how frequently do strategic votes occur on single answers within SE? –  p.s.w.g Mar 14 '13 at 16:56
    
@dystroy Well, if you're upvoting someone's answer because they upvoted yours and not because their answer is good, then the result is an answer with a score that doesn't reflect it's quality. When people see an answer with a positive score they should be able to think that it's been vetted by those people to be accurate/helful/etc., rather than just thinking that the person is real nice and upvotes others frequently. –  Servy Mar 14 '13 at 16:56
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As votes are anonymous, if there is no comment to build such an exchange, I don't see how you can think it's "strategic". –  dystroy Mar 14 '13 at 16:57
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@dystroy votes are meant to be anonymous to users, but they are not actually anonymous behind the scenes. Sure you and I may not know for sure if it's happening but SE could still detect them, I think. –  p.s.w.g Mar 14 '13 at 17:04
    
As far as I know, persisting suspicious voting patterns between two accounts are indeed detected by the system. It's unlikely they will tell us the details, though –  Pëkka Mar 14 '13 at 20:16
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1 Answer

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'm just concerned with 'strategic' voting patterns. i.e. "You upvote my answer, I'll upvote yours; you downvote my answer, I'll downvote yours".

If this happens just as a one-off, on a specific question, there's no way for the system to know if the downvotes are given because of the other person's vote on your answer, or because of a genuine vote based on the content of the post.

If it's not just a one off, and two people are constantly upvoting each other's answers then it is considered a "voting ring" and is voting fraud, subject to automatic (or mod based) vote reversal among other potential consequences. The details of how the algorithm determines voting fraud is not publicly available.

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