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How often do people get serial down voted here and on SO.com?
It would be interesting to hear from other people who get serially down voted as to how often they see this, and perhaps if Jeff or team can provide any statistics on how many times the recalcs catch this activity.

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It's happened to me a few times on SO. At one point, I made a few of my questions CW just to reduce the temptation for people to take out their anger that way (my current highest-voted question was voted <0 prior to this change). Over time, i've learned to avoid leaving comments when i down-vote unless necessary to call out something truly dangerous - that strategy seems to have helped quite a bit (and is also one of the reasons i'm steadfastly against any plan to remove voting anonymity). –  Shogging through the snow Jul 2 '09 at 15:04
    
@Shog9: A very good point. That revenge downvoting is what I get a lot of as well. Leaving comments to a downvote is always a bad idea. It is fascinating how many suggestions people who don't 'get that' leave for required comments on downvotes. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 15:06
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@Rich B: "Leaving comments to a downvote is always a bad idea." Not always, but I do see your point. I always encourage people to leave a comment if they downvote one of my answers because I'd like to know if they have a good reason for the vote or not. If they show me that I'm wrong I'll either delete or improve my answer. Either way, I'm not going to go on a revenge downvoting spree. I understand that not everyone will react to downvotes and comments in the same way. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 7 '09 at 14:17
    
@Shog9 what does "CW" mean? –  OpenLearner Oct 7 '13 at 0:59
    
It's short for "Community Wiki", @Open. Note that this is no longer an option for question authors (but it was back when I left that comment). In hindsight, I overreacted by using it on my questions, but... Hey, I was new and it was frustrating. –  Shogging through the snow Oct 7 '13 at 5:23

7 Answers 7

up vote 21 down vote accepted

I was the recipient of it only one time in the past (and even then it was not that major). I think I disagreed with someone on their answer and voted them down, next thing I know I had about 7 of my older answers voted down in quick succession.

Some people can be pretty thin-skinned.

Edit: I am editing this because I do take issue with the idea that certain people must "deserve" the action because they happen to get on people's nerves or do something else that may be seen as objectionable.

I find that idea pretty ludicrous. If you are offended by a user, suck it up and deal with it, or if you find it truly abusive, alert the proper authorities. Taking action into your own hands to go and downvote everything you find is not acceptable at all. By downvoting an item, you are giving a subtle clue to future viewers of the answer that it is not correct (when in fact it may be) and you will be providing a disservice to more than just the person you are attacking.

Further Edit If you are the recipient of a case of serial downvoting, take your problem up with the team by mailing team@stackoverflow.com. Often times this will be taken care of with the nightly rep recalc (wasting the efforts of the voter(s)). It will also allow for the moderators/team to inform the offender that their action is not acceptable behavior on SO.

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+1. I couldn't agree more with the body and with the edit. SO.com would be a greater place if more people had this maturity to guide them. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 13:36
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The problem is when other members of the community are actively turning away from the site because of another member. At some point it becomes destructive to the ENTIRE COMMUNITY to allow that person to remain. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 2 '09 at 14:08
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How much rep do you need to be able to kill someone and harvest their organs using SO? Should that be a separate question on meta? –  Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 2 '09 at 14:10
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Jeff Atwood: First, I don't think you needed to delete the comments. Second, if a user is being destructive/abusive/a bane to society, then the moderators/administrators need to take action in the appropriate way. The appropriate way is NOT for someone to go vigilante and downvote everything in sight for exactly the reasons I specified above. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 14:10
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Cletus: Again, I am not debating whether or not Rich B (or me or whoever else who gets serial downvoted) as the prime contributor. There is always a spark, that is obvious. What I don't think people are understanding here is that there are proper avenues to deal with this problem instead of taking the vigilante approach. You're not helping the problem (the problem of people going and downvoting everything willy-nilly) by pointing the finger of blame on the recipient of the downvotes and not the voter himself. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 14:16
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The recipient may have contributed to the action taken against them, but it should not be used as an excuse to justify the actions taken against them. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 14:16
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And what action is that, other than pointing out that someone is contributing to whatever woes are befalling them? That's actually doing them a favour or at least trying to if they would only listen. –  cletus Jul 2 '09 at 14:18
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@TheTXI: And furthermore, the reasoning or the cause and effect nature of these attacks have nothing at all to do with this question and are completely off topic. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 14:18
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It's actually de rigeur for SO. Someone asks "How do I speed up this code?" and the answer is actually that they shouldn't be doing what they're doing. RichB, the only difference here is that you don't want to hear what are related comments for which you've got noone but yourself to blame. You opened the door. –  cletus Jul 2 '09 at 14:21
    
@cletus: Once again, nowhere in this question do I ask "Why do I get down voted?". Your trolling is unwelcome as always. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 14:24
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cletus: You're giving people a tacit endorsement of their actions, further encouraging the negative behavior on the side of the serial downvoter. You are pretty much just sitting there and saying "Hey, you deserve it" (even if there are instances where that is not the case, such as mine IMHO) instead of denouncing the negative behavior and attempting to lead the vigilante down the proper road (which is letting the proper authorities handle these disputes). As I've said before, revenge voting is going to hurt more than just the recipient of the votes. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 14:26
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@TheTXI: this is getting boring. You want to misrepresent what I said as "you deserve it" or "tacit approval", whatever. That's on you. You also choose to take that as a comment directed at you. In fact, the only one I've commented on is RichB getting serial downvoted once a day. Your comprehension is way off. –  cletus Jul 2 '09 at 14:31
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I don't agree that cletus is saying "you deserve it". He's saying "take responsibility for the consequences of your actions". –  Jeff Atwood Jul 2 '09 at 15:59

I know I see this kind of activity against my account at least once a day. Pretty obvious too, since there can often be long strings of -2 across old or random questions and answers. I have seen it where it fills my reputation activity list for the day.

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Unfortunately for you Rich, you've become a bit of a contested celebrity. Because you're a celebrity, you've got more people cruising your old answers, and not all of them are going to be good. I imagine you also get random old questions being voted up too, just not as many. –  devinb Jul 2 '09 at 13:14
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@Rich B: No offense, but I've read that complete thread and I must say I'm not totally convinced of your "innocence". –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 13:34
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LOL, case in point: even here RichB you're getting on people's wrong side. Hopefully it'll sink in one day. –  cletus Jul 2 '09 at 13:40
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@Rich - By the very definition of ad hominem it is in fact exactly to do with you. Nothing meant by that whatsoever before I raise any more of your ire, just correcting you –  bananakata Jul 2 '09 at 13:44
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"This has nothing to do with me"... pure gold. –  cletus Jul 2 '09 at 13:44
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@Rich B: Nobody, but you are always talking about your "fan club" like it's something that is totally out of your control... I just think (told you, no offense, nothing personal, just my impression from reading that thread) that you yourself can do something about it. –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 13:45
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@Rich B: You asked me a question, I answered it... I don't see how this is not "adding to the conversation". –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 13:50
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Ditto fretje. You asked, we answered. If you don't like the answers (and they are answers, not attacks) then don't ask the question. –  cletus Jul 2 '09 at 13:51
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Perhaps you could tell us what would be on topic, and what you'd like us to say in our answers? –  bananakata Jul 2 '09 at 13:51
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@Rich B: No: your question was "Who asked you to be". I answered with "Nobody". –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 13:56
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To quote one of my wife's favorite films of-old: "You've stirred up a bloody hornet's nest now!" –  Marc Gravell Jul 2 '09 at 14:37
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@Rich B: The few times I've come across you, you've inspired huge flame wars. It is possible that some have noticed this, and looked at some of your older answers to see if you do this regularly. And maybe they determined that you did, so they downvoted any answers that they felt didn't contribute anything more than a flame war. I would not call this abuse or serial downvoting. They honestly feel that each answer they downvote is a bad answer. (I want to emphasize that this is hypothetical, and that probably many users are serially downvoting simply out of spite.) –  Kip Jul 6 '09 at 21:37
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@Rich B: it has everything to do with this answer. You claim that abusive serial downvoting is the only explanation for a long string of -2's. I am suggesting another alternative, caused by legitimate usage of the site. –  Kip Jul 7 '09 at 2:14
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@Rich B: You can't possibly know the cause of every downvote that is cast against you. From what I can infer, you think the cause to be malicious activity that is driven by some kind of personal vendetta. But I haven't seen you acknowledge the legitimate reasons why a user might downvote several of your posts in a row. So I pointed that out to you. No, you didn't ask for that, which is why I provided my opinion in a comment instead of an answer. –  Kip Jul 7 '09 at 2:52
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If it is behavior Rich likes, it's "the community's will". If it is behavior he dislikes, it is abuse, trolling, going off topic, lacks evidence, has been shot down, etc. –  toast Jul 7 '09 at 12:36

This has never happened to me. If this is happening to you regularly and frequently then perhaps you should be asking what you're doing to attract such attention.

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Being very active means you're going to attract attention. Jon Skeet for instance, or anyone who is on the site all the time and voting/editing/commenting a lot. –  devinb Jul 2 '09 at 13:15
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That almost sounds like the "She deserved it" excuse people make when a girl gets raped because she went outside at night wearing skimpy clothes. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 13:16
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I also think this is 2-sided... I bet Jon Skeet doesn't see such serial downvotes –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 13:17
    
You cannot please all the people all the time, especially with editing. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 13:18
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Yes, I've seen serial down votes. I've also been downvoted for being confused with Jeff, bizarrely enough. –  Jon Skeet Jul 2 '09 at 13:35
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Rich, you come across as a bit caustic at times. I think I am able to ignore that, but others may not be. I don't think that would justify down-voting your answers though - ad hominem doesn't determine the quality of an answer. Now, if your answer is caustic, that might cost you. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 2 '09 at 13:36
    
@Jon: Please stay on topic. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 13:37
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Actually my comment about attracting it was mainly aimed at RichB's "I know I see this kind of activity against my account at least once a day". Serially downvoted once a day?!?! Seriously? @devinb: what? I'm not active? –  cletus Jul 2 '09 at 13:38
    
@Rich B: I think Jon was referring to my comment, so I guess that's on-topic. @Jon: Ok, I stand corrected, you also have seen serial downvotes, but I bet not as frequent as suggested in the question. –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 13:55
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@Rich B: I'm sorry I meant "in Rich B's answer" where you say "at least once a day." –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 13:59
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@Rich B: Oh man, I regret getting mixed into this already. You're so good at avoiding the issue. Do I really have to spell it out again... here it goes: so I was saying to @Jon: "Ok, I stand corrected, you also have seen serial downvotes, but I bet not as frequent as suggested in Rich B's answer". Ok now? Or will you again say I'm not staying on topic in stead of trying to actually comment on what I'm saying? –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 14:13
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I tend to do a lot of editing (although not as much as Rich B) and I haven't experienced any serial downvoting. I've gotten as many as three downvotes in a day, but I deserved all of them. :P –  mmyers Jul 2 '09 at 14:49
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@Rich B: Or it could be the attitude. Maybe. –  mmyers Jul 2 '09 at 16:52
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This is just hilarious... Especially this happening in the comment thread of this very answer... Couldn't be more on topic i guess :) –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 18:07
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One observation. Rich B. has downvoted 10 times more than cletus. Therefore, cletus may not notice a serial downvote since it would occur less frequently. Downvoting is a fundamental part of the operation of SO and its possible that most people (including myself) are too polite in that we don't downvote enough. –  Richard Corden Jul 30 '09 at 11:20

You might want to look at these blog entries:

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Voting recalcs don't show as downvotes; your rep just changes... I don't think that is what is being discussed. –  Marc Gravell Jul 2 '09 at 14:01
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OK, but it does take the sting out of someone serial down-voting. –  pgs Jul 2 '09 at 14:44

So, answering the question, it has happened to me once or twice.

It looks like you are one of the few (if there's more than one) people who get serially downvoted daily. That is serious.

Serial downvoters should be detected via the vote fraud scripts and punished, heavily, as should all bad behavior (like insults, offenses and so on).

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Indeed I should add that most of the truly significant spells seem to get reversed by the scripts, and I usually end up benefiting, so it is more than fine with me. I cannot even advocate punishments since it usually ends up as a net positive for me. –  GEOCHET Jul 2 '09 at 14:26

I'm only aware of one instance where it happened to me, but I'm not as active as some others on SO.. :)

In that situation, an individual had posted an obviously wrong answer to a question (using a completely different technology in a bad way). I did not initially downvote their answer, but posted a comment that pointed out the problem. They subsequently deleted my comment, so I added it back and also downvoted at that time. Within a few minutes they had deleted my comment again and also downvoted several of the top answers on my profile page.

Rather than get ego-involved, I just decided to ignore it and move on. Some people just won't be reasonable, and it's not my job to force them to be so...

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this is one reason that the ability to delete others' comments was removed. also, +1 for "Rather than get ego-involved, I just decided to ignore it and move on. Some people just won't be reasonable, and it's not my job to force them to be so." –  Kip Jul 6 '09 at 21:27
    
+1 for "Some people just won't be reasonable, and it's not my job to force them to be so..." –  Amarghosh Oct 13 '09 at 7:58

Is this problem really that widespread? I must not be active enough on SO these days; I don't think it's ever happened to me. (And I'm hoping it won't now that I've just opened that up! :D) I'm a professional developer, but like many (I used to say, "all," until I saw Jon Skeet), I'm not perfect. I do believe I deserve many of my downvotes, and the ones I don't think I deserve, well, I can see where someone else might think I do. I just move on, and try to learn from it -- especially if the downvoter comments and tells me why I'm wrong.

Seriously, as others have said, if this happens to you, go to the moderators. That seems obvious to me; if it were to happen to me, I'd want it corrected. If you're tempted to do it to someone, well ... don't. First off, downvoting costs you rep -- sure, not as much as the downvotee, but cost is cost. It's cutting your nose to spite your face. Second, if there's someone you think truly has done something outrageously awful or is horrendous for the community, again, go to the mods. That's why they're there! Vigilante justice rarely works in the real world, and online is no different. As programmers, we ought to be logical enough to grok that -- and rational enough to at least consider what we're doing before letting our emotions run wild.

I must admit I'm having a blast reading the comments on some of the responses to this one ... Very touchy.

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You don't need to go to the mods. The recalc script will fix it in most cases. –  GEOCHET Jul 13 '09 at 22:08

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