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This is very hard to prove or even thinking of it may have consequences (let's see) but as any kind of democracy has its pitfalls, sometimes I feel a question (or maybe the answer too) has setup somehow to get huge upvotes.

I appreciate good questions and high level of knowledge and time which fulfilled the question but with that conspiracy theory in mind (with enough clues for myself) and just putting numbers in calculator, finding out how much time it takes to get such reputation in ordinary questions is disappointing.

  • Is there any pattern-recognition plan for eliminating such situations?
  • What policies may eliminate such temptations?
  • Do you flag such question?
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closed as not constructive by kiamlaluno, Martijn Pieters, Bart, hims056, Lucifer May 10 '13 at 9:34

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What do you mean by "setup"? Do you mean using sock puppet accounts to vote for a question? –  David Robinson May 10 '13 at 3:18
@DavidRobinson: Thanks for comment. No. I mean asking questions which are not going to happen to somebody unless it has been setup for upvotes. I've already got enough downvotes so don't ask for examples. –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 3:22
I have no idea what "not going to happen to somebody unless it has been setup for upvotes" means. But I think you are more likely to get downvotes if you don't give examples than if you do. –  David Robinson May 10 '13 at 3:30
@DavidRobinson: I live happier with down-votes rather than offending someone by making an example which I cannot prove to be a setup. –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 3:36
Maybe you can explain more what you mean by setup. Do you mean StackExchange was hacked, or something similar? –  David Robinson May 10 '13 at 3:45
@DavidRobinson: Check my comment on Lucifer's answer. Briefly: creating an amazing story. –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 3:46
@Xaqron Read your comment on Lucifer's answer, and still have no idea what you're talking about. –  Yannis May 10 '13 at 3:50
@Xaqron: If you don't want to post a real example, can you at least make up one so we can have some idea what you're talking about? –  hammar May 10 '13 at 3:52
@Yannis: I mean SOF as an expert community is somewhere to ask real questions, not reverse engineer an already known issue to get upvotes which is: 1) Very rare to happen in reality 2) always happens to same guys –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 3:54
@hammer: I'll example some which I'm sure is not a setup. Now if you have that level of hardware knowledge you can easily ask the rare question and answer it. –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 3:59
@Xaqron So... what you are saying is that people are crafting artificial questions based on known issues in order to get upvotes? If so, who cares? If they are good questions, they deserve the upvotes, if not, we'll deal with them as with every other question. –  Yannis May 10 '13 at 4:03
@Yannis: This is discouraging against answering real questions. Why should bother solving a real problem for a few reputation while building a scenario works much better (in terms of rep). –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 4:10
@Xaqron Hm... how about you stop worrying about other people's rep? –  Yannis May 10 '13 at 4:14
@Yannis: I even don't care about my rep (when question makes sense to me), otherwise this one was deleted by me at the beginning. –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 4:48

2 Answers 2

While your refusal to give an example makes it impossible to be certain, I think you're talking about questions like:

That is, questions that ask about a very unusual situation and become popular as a result. You're asking whether the askers knew about the strange behavior and asked in an attempt to gain popularity.

The answer is not to worry about it (and certainly not to flag it), for two reasons:

  • Unusual situations like these do pop up in programming, and the best thing to do about them is ask on StackOverflow. In the case of the Shanghai 1927 time difference, the asker could easily have been comparing times a few years apart and found that they weren't giving the expected result, then narrowed it down to that specific gap. (Notice that the asker lives in China, so it's certainly not surprising he'd be using that time zone).
  • Even if it is a setup (and there certainly isn't evidence, or even a "smell", in either of these cases), who cares? Even if someone is simply showing an exciting piece of programming trivia in the form of a question, does that make it not worthy of the community's interest and appreciation?

    Look at the "branch prediction" question. It has over 200,000 views: that's over 200,000 people who have learned about branch prediction failure thanks to the question (or, if they already knew about it, got to read an exceptional explanation). It is the first result in Google for "branch prediction failure." In what way is that question not making the internet a better place?

    Indeed, you'll note that the community itself doesn't usually mind even if is clear someone is asking a question about a situation they know the answer to. The same user who asked the branch prediction failure question also asked When does invoking a member function on a null instance result in undefined behavior?, which is a rather specific and yet interesting situation, and received many upvotes for it. But in that case, he had answered his own question- it was a way of sharing his knowledge in a question-and-answer format. There's nothing wrong with that, and when the community judges questions like these, it's judging them on the same criteria as other questions- that it is clear and useful to future users.

One other suggestion: If you really are bothered that some users are gaining "easy rep" by asking questions about very interesting situations, try "constructing" one of your own (and, if you like, answering it yourself). I guessing that you'll find it's nearly not ne as easy as you think. And if you do have such an interesting question ("setup" though it may be) that it will go viral and attract hundreds of thousands of views, then what are you waiting for? Share it with the world!

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Thanks for caring what was asked. About last paragraph: I don't fill good about playing with others that way. Maybe it increases visitors but something ethical is wrong with that policy. –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 4:36
@Xaqron: in that case, answer your own question as well. It's encouraged and it means there's nothing dishonest about it. –  David Robinson May 10 '13 at 4:44
I'm talking about situations where question is not answered by who asked it (your example is about less than 50 upvotes for both question and answer at the moment). If the question is asked and immediately answered by same person that seems fair. Appreciating your time to answer, I'm still not convenient with social engineering other guys. Without that in mind I'm accused for worrying about other people's rep at comments! –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 4:58
You're missing the point, which is that crafting a question that attracts lots of positive attention (even if it is a "setup") isn't easy at all. These questions have to be incredibly interesting to meet such a standard. In any case, given that you're refusing to name any specific questions, this is becoming rather difficult to discuss (like a conspiracy theory). –  David Robinson May 10 '13 at 5:07

Is there any pattern-recognition plan for eliminating such situations?

Yes there is automated script which recognize such voting patterns and reverse the actions. Also moderators can run tools to identify such situations.

What policies may eliminate such temptations?

Deemed classified information

Do you flag such question?

Yes, whenever it is necessary

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I didn't mean group-voting. –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 3:31
Then what are you talking about? –  nhinkle May 10 '13 at 3:37
For example grasping a situation (setting up a scenario) which is not going to happen by chance but will sound amazing to community. –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 3:40
@Xaqron, yes i smells such situations daily and also flag them for moderator's attention. –  Lucifer May 10 '13 at 4:08
Feels like Jim Garrison's feelings in JFK –  Xaqron May 10 '13 at 4:26

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