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Open Source Advertising - Sidebar - 1H 2013

Every ad except this one was suddenly downvoted, taking many ads out of rotation. Does this constitute vote fraud?

Edit - As suggested, I've downvoted the offending ad to even things out, since this is apparently acceptable behavior / the recommended course of action. Case closed, I guess.

Edit 2 - I've taken everyone's advice to heart and downvoted everything but projects I'm interested in. I welcome everyone else to do the same. If just a few more people do it, we'll have only a Vim ad. Maybe in 2h we can just skip the voting and run a Vim ad and nothing else, it will be much simpler.

Also feel free to jump into the feeding frenzy and downvote this question into oblivion. Help me improve my Meta Golf score.

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You seem to imply that the author of the ad you singled out downvoted every other ad to get more attention to their own. Well, guess what, the poor guy (gal?) isn't to blame here, he doesn't have enough rep on MSO to downvote... –  Yannis Mar 27 '13 at 0:38
@Yannis but maybe his friend does? Anyway, now it's even. Can you honestly think of another reason everything would have been downvoted at the same time except for one project, other than to promote that one project? –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:40
Perhaps. Also, that buzzing sound you hear is not the black helicopters coming for you, trust me... –  Yannis Mar 27 '13 at 0:41
Perhaps you can think of another reason? I'll wait. –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:42
Upvote the ads you want to see, and downvote the ads you don't want to see. And stop worrying about how anyone else votes. You'll live longer. –  Yannis Mar 27 '13 at 0:42
@Yannis That last comment pretty much answers this question. –  Asad Mar 27 '13 at 0:44
@Yannis, if everyone did that we wouldn't see any ads at all (well, maybe just a Vim ad). Surely that's not the goal here; what would be the point of starting that thread in the first place? –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:44
@TheCommunity Well, we're assuming here that more people are going to act in good faith than bad faith. –  Asad Mar 27 '13 at 0:45
@Asad, and that gives the advantage to whoever acts in bad faith. Great system. –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:47
How do you know that one person downvoted every ad except for one? What evidence do you have? –  Andrew Grimm Mar 27 '13 at 3:24
@AndrewGrimm, common sense. All of the ads but one got exactly one downvote within a very short period of time. There was no overlap (no ads got downvoted twice in that time). If someone were too look into this, I'm confident they would find that all of those votes came from the same source. Sure, there's a chance it was all a massive coincidence, but it would just take one person to check it out. There's a distinct pattern here, and I thought I was doing the right thing by reporting it. –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 3:57
@TheCommunity You were doing the right thing by reporting it. People disagree that this is vote fraud, so they downvoted your question (although perhaps this isn't the best approach here). –  Asad Mar 27 '13 at 19:26
@Asad, I don't know, I thought about it and I figure if nobody else cares, why should I? Whichever project has the most developers who are willing to pull this stunt should be able to reduce ad rotation to just their ad (and maybe Vim) without too much trouble. Will be interested to see how it turns out. –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 19:41
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1 Answer

No, every user is entirely within their rights to cast one vote per proposal, even if the underlying intention is to nefariously promote a proposal they support. This is a violation of the spirit of the competition, not the rules.

Of course, if you feel like it, you could discuss changing the rules of the competition and trying to incorporate rules such as:

You are not allowed to downvote proposals out of self interest.

Good luck fairly enforcing those, though.

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Doesn't this amount to "tactical downvoting?" Isn't that disallowed just like serial downvoting? –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:01
@TheCommunity Yes, I'm pretty sure this was someone trying to get their favorite proposal higher up the chain. Still, no rules are being broken. You can't ask people to write an essay to justify their votes one way or another. If you've given them the ability to vote, they are within their right to vote either way. –  Asad Mar 27 '13 at 0:01
Why does this logic not apply to serial voting then? And if this is really the case, how should it be handled... get a bunch of people to downvote the offending ad? –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:02
@TheCommunity Serial downvoting is disallowed because it is clear you are voting for content based on the author, instead of the quality of the content itself. It is also a lot more serious because a flesh and blood person is being harrassed. This doesn't apply here. How it should be handled is up to you and the people who started the competition. You could cast a single downvote to even things out, or ask Grace Note to negatively adjust the score for that proposal by 1. –  Asad Mar 27 '13 at 0:07
See the accepted response to meta.stackexchange.com/questions/22771/… -- "The best way to stop this is to flag instances of possible tactical downvoting to be investigated by the team." That seems to indicate that it should be investigated and, I assume, dealt with. –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:07
@TheCommunity Serial voting also consists of voting for numerous posts by the same author. Voting based on the identity of the author is not allowed. Other forms of voting that make people upset or that might have an adverse effect on the community are not generally prohibited. (Which is good. Once rules about how people may use their up/down votes become too broad, the democratic nature of the system is severely eroded.) Specific instances thought to be tactical downvoting may be flagged, but unless moderators find other information to show sketchy patterns, they won't (or shouldn't) act. –  Eliah Kagan Mar 27 '13 at 0:11
@TheCommunity That was accepted by the person who asked that question, but never given any official blessing as the way to handle things. I don't know that tactical downvoting of competing answers (not serial downvoting of a particular user) was ever actually disallowed (though it's obviously against the spirit of things). –  blahdiblah Mar 27 '13 at 0:11
@TheCommunity That answer seems to be a bit out of touch with reality. I can't count the number of times I've downvoted all of the two or three low quality answers on a question before answering myself. It is impossible to systematically distinguish this from downvoting motivated by self interest without reading every single answer on the page. Mods don't have that kind of time (or specific expertise, in most cases). –  Asad Mar 27 '13 at 0:12
We're not talking about some kind of ethereal general case here, we're talking about a specific case where it's abundantly clear what's going on. –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:13
@TheCommunity Yes, I suggested a solution for this specific case: downvote the proposal and even things out. Coming up with a generalised rule or system to prevent this is sketchy. –  Asad Mar 27 '13 at 0:16
@Asad, again, I'm not talking about coming up with a generalized rule, I'm talking about dealing with a specific case. Why can't things like this be handled as-needed without making a rule for everything? –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:17
@TheCommunity I see. Downvote-to-even-out it is, then? –  Asad Mar 27 '13 at 0:19
@Asad, fine, I'll sink to his level since nobody seems to mind. –  The Community Mar 27 '13 at 0:20
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