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I've seen quite a bunch of "popular" votes recently which just rephrase a bit the next popular answer but suddenly get a bunch of votes.

I assume this may be down to people using their social network to vote on their responses and I feel this is tweaking a bit the vote system as original posters do not get the recognition that the points system should support.

There is an incentive for users to use their social network, of course, as they receive points. However, seeing this happened a few times I feel less motivated myself to answer in the future.

How will stackoverflow balance against these techniques?

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Examples? How are you picking this up? – random Oct 20 '09 at 12:01
Voting is a voluntary action; people do it because they want to (for whatever reason); as soon as you require votes to be 'arms length', you'll find that the community gets much smaller. – George Stocker Oct 20 '09 at 12:41
Are you asking because you're thinking of doing this and wanted to see what checks and balances are in place? – random Oct 20 '09 at 12:42
I actually want to encourage people to vote for another person's answer - I'm 4 bloody votes away from getting the Populist badge... – Tom Ritter Oct 20 '09 at 15:24
@Tom Ritter, I've upvoted the top answer:… and here… to get you closer to your goal. – George Stocker Oct 20 '09 at 17:03
You're only one vote away on that last one... was a fairly silly question to begin with! – Paul McMillan Oct 29 '09 at 9:39

You can always send a broadcast out on twitter for people to vote for your post.

Whether they do or not is up to them.

I can ask you to send me money, but it's still up to you whether or not you send me money.

So long as I'm not coercing anyone into it; it's not a 'crime'.

In reference to Stack Overflow, so long as you don't have sock puppet accounts upvote your posts, you ought to be fine.

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I'm so sending you cash for this answer. – Ólafur Waage Oct 20 '09 at 12:55

I think the number #1 balance check in place is the requirement to have at least 15 reputation to be able to vote up. This means that any user in these "social networks" is already eligible to vote answers and questions up anyway since they have contributed to the community already.

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Explicit patterns of vote fraud are automatically detected and removed by the reputation algorithm. Boosters and serial downvoters -- people who vote primarily for or against a particular user -- have their votes removed by a daily fraud detection process.

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