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I have read some of the discussions on meta regarding the "fastest gun" and "tactical voting" problems. As mentioned before, there is a conflict-of-interest here, when you answer a question the temptation to downvote other answers is very high, regardless of whether you comes back later to undo the vote (which now we can't, because the undo grace period is now very short).

It was proposed (and denied) that users who answer a question be forbidden from voting on others. I agree that this is too harsh, but I want to suggest a different strategy:

  • Make it more expensive to downvote such answers. Instead of one rep point, it should be around 4 or 5.
  • Limit the number of answers that I can down-vote on a thread which I answered to 2 or 3.

This strategy still allows you to down-vote if you think other answers are wrong, it is not as extreme as banning you from downvoting, but it does changes the stakes a bit to encourage a fair behavior.

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The problem is not that big of an issue. Not worth the additional complexity. Besides, sometimes one answerer posts a wrong answer and you want to correct it. – xmm0 Jan 15 '10 at 17:27

There's only a conflict of interest if you don't really care about promoting a correct answer. As has been mentioned before, down-voting other answers is valuable when those answers are actually incorrect!

I highly suspect that rep gaming via tactical voting is less of a problem than some people would like to think. And I certainly don't wish to be presented with a choice between down-voting all 4 incorrect answers and posting a correct one.

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+1 Aye, well played. – squillman Jan 15 '10 at 17:40
I think the problem is more pronounced then some want to acknowledge. Furthermore, you don't need to make this choice, if the community is large enough then someone will do "the work" of downvoting for you. I also don't want to penalize good users, but the room for abuse here, in my opinion, is too large – Yoni Jan 15 '10 at 18:12
@Yoni: can you provide any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, to back up this assertion? – Shog9 Jan 15 '10 at 18:42

If you know the correct answer, and you know that the other answers are wrong, then the system allows you to both answer, and downvote the other answers. This is good usage, and should not be penalized.

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Unfortunately, a lot of SO users "know" they are right when in fact they are wrong. – nb69307 Jan 15 '10 at 17:39
@Neil: Which is why it's a good thing we have so many SO users. Someone else will come along, "know" the guy who "knew" he was right was actually wrong, and correct the mistakes with other up- and down-votes. :) – John Rudy Jan 15 '10 at 17:59
In theory, more people will know the right answer than agree with a given wrong answer. The votes will ultimately push the most correct answers up by community consensus. – Adam Davis Jan 15 '10 at 18:02
I agree with Niel, too many people "know" they are right. @Pollyanna, I also don't want to penalize good behavior, but the room for abuse here is too large. Also, as I mentioned before, if the community is large enough then other users will do the downvoting anyways. – Yoni Jan 15 '10 at 18:17
Well, if the problem is so bad, please link to example questions where this occurred, and where normal voting patterns failed to fix the problem. Also note that when such problems are found, flagging it to notify the moderator is probably the best bet. But first we need a handle on how often it's occuring, and how damaging it is to the question. – Adam Davis Jan 15 '10 at 19:03
@Yoni: With the anomalous voting pattern detection algorithm, I don't think the room for abuse is as large as you think it is. – John Rudy Jan 15 '10 at 20:33

Votes are completely anonymous, by design. Thus, you have no way of knowing that the -1 next to Answer A was placed there by the user who wrote Answer B. It could well have been downvoted by someone else, whether right or wrong. (I have seen right answers get downvoted. I have also seen wrong answer get upvoted and even accepted.)

I guess I see your point, you want to prevent abuse. However, the system has numerous safeguards in place already to prevent that.

My big problem with your proposal is that it operates on the assumption that there is an inherent conflict of interest in downvoting a "competing" answer. That assumption is absolutely wrong. If two answers are different, and one of them is the wrong way to approach something, then it should be downvoted.

Why should the honest users (which I do believe, perhaps idealistically, to be more common) be penalized for the actions of the dishonest, particularly when there are already safeguards in place to correct the actions of said dishonest users?

And if a user does decide to "strategically vote," what's the real harm? If the system doesn't catch it, it's -2 to the downvotee. It (currently) takes 5 downvotes to match even a single upvote. Yes, this is slated to change, but let's be real a minute -- this isn't the end of the world by any stretch. And again, the community at large will likely repair the damage and then some. It's not like our dishonest user can cast 20 downvotes on your answer.

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