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We've spoken recently about the great recalc where anomalous voting patterns were wiped clean...and some people have asked about "stalking"...where you follow a user around because you appreciate some of their answers, and want to check out (and possibly vote up) other answers they may have.

I recently did some anti-stalking...where I found I recognized a user (whom I've seen give horrible answers before) give a new horrible (and offensive) answer. This was bad enough that I wondered, 'gosh, what else has this person done?', and I looked at their other answers, and ended up marking another couple down.

(lest the curious wonder...this is a user with fairly low rep, and who is not overly active...)

Now, I'm not terribly worried about a recalc...if the algorithm decides that these few markdowns are inappropriate "revenge" and wipes them out, it won't matter to me overly. But does this seem like reasonable behavior? I've followed a few people around and voted them up a few times, but specifically following someone to look for other items, expecting to find some more bad ones...well, it gives me pause.

I do feel that I only marked down items that deserved it (and one item they've posted got marked up), so in that sense I'm pleased with it...but does seeking out a person's answers expecting them to be poor/offensive strike people as morally suspect?

I think I've decided how I feel about it, but I would be interested to hear what other people think.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I think it's perfectly fine. In fact, I've done it too. I've received great help from some, and took some time to evaluate other answers they've given - upvoting many. Likewise, I've received horrible responses from others, and followed suit. Many of their past-answers were downvoted.

Posting anything brings attention to yourself, and your record. Just don't vote for the wrong reasons - let the individual answers stand for themselves. Don't downvote great answers that were written by a jerk. Likewise, don't upvote horrible answers that were written by friends.

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I don't see any problem with this, as long as you're able to properly evaluate whether the answers are good or bad. If you don't have any expertise in a particular area, it might not be appropriate to follow a user and vote on their answers in that area. However, if you're familiar with the topic they're discussing, I think it's perfectly appropriate to vote on their answer.

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Does anyone actually know how much stalking you have to do before the great and infallible SO engine decides it is "anomalous"? I'd think you'd need to cast nearly all of your day's 30 votes on one user before it would trigger something. I'd be surprised if less than 10 votes for the same user are considered anomalous.

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Ultimately this is not supposed to be encouraged behaviour.

Upvoting and downvoting questions/answers should be done based on the questions and answers, not based on the user. Obviously, in this case you were still evaluating each answer based on it's own value, but the fact is that you were still chasing down all answers by a certain user. You were not finding the questions in the 'normal route'.

Ideally, you should be looking at the questions that are similar to your own questions, or you have an interest in. And then upvoting/downvoting the answers you like or dislike. It may happen that you downvote the same user over and over again, but that shouldn't be your aim, and you probably shouldn't go one-by-one through their answers to find posts that you don't like just so that you can downvote them.

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I've done this, but I've also ended up upvoting a fair number of their answers in the process as well. I don't think the 'normal route' should have anything to do with whether or not votes are cast. –  ajm Sep 4 '09 at 20:23
    
I've done this as well, but it also has the side effect that for users you don't like, you're likely to start at the bottom, and for users you do like, you'll start at the top. Since those are already their worst answers, you're likely to dislike them. So it is self-reinforcing, even if it seems like you're judging each one 'fairly', you've pre-judged it based on the fact that you found it by the author. I'm not saying there is anything we can do about this, I'm simply saying that we should not encourage this. Neutrality is my recommended stance. –  devinb Sep 4 '09 at 20:54

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