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Bounty question (for SO dev team only):

  • why can a user vote two answers (written by the same contributor) from two separate questions in less than 3 seconds?
  • Is there any way you can prevent massive upvote sequences (see below for the complete list)
  • Can you trace back an upvote to an account?
    Are the large rep drop I experienced (like this one) the result of account deletion?
    (I don't mind the rep loss here, I only wonder how many accounts are on this little game?...)

(Note: I understand perfectly this is not a "high priority problem", and that you are otherwise very busy-busy.
I just wanted to point out that "phenomenon" to you guys.)


For the last 3 months, I have seen massive sequence of "serial" upvotes on my answers: from 10 to 30 upvotes on 10 to 30 different answers, one every 5 seconds.
It occurred almost every day in June and July, not too much in August. And it seems to pick it up again this month.

Today alone, I had 51 upvotes (29, and then 22, obviously from two different accounts), each "upvotes sequence" in less than 2 minutes.

As usual, I have flagged those votes to moderators.

This is ridiculous, since most of those votes are rescinded the next morning (but not all of them), and eventually deleted (when the dev team finds the culprit and delete his account).
Boosting my rep isn't even the goal since some of those instances take place when I have already more than 20 votes for the day.

But this is also annoying, especially regarding badges: I sometime gain badges due to those spurious votes, and then I don't gain others (badges are never taken back, except maybe for tag badges, meaning when those votes are removed, some of the recent badges are not valid anymore).

Question:

Does it make sense to cast votes on a same user's answers every 5 seconds?
Is there any way to control and prevent that kind of (up or down) votes cast on one user's answers with a so small interval between each votes?


Note: this kind of incident was already mentioned in "Hidden lover and upvotes, Fatal Attraction?" or "Nicely discouraging serial upvoting", but I believe this is different:

  • the "mechanical" aspect of those upvotes (always one every 5 seconds),
  • the time of their occurrences (52 votes today means at least 30 won't add me any reputation anyway)

makes me think of some kind of API testing, not of a "fan" who would try to boost his/her preferred SO user.

share|improve this question
    
68 votes so far... I never had that many in a day ;) (except 52 of them should be removed) –  VonC Sep 10 '10 at 15:53
    
yay! 73 votes (and 5 accepted answer): even with minus 52 votes, I am still one vote above 20 for the day! In other word, that bizarre upvote experimentation won't have raise my rep at all for today. I still have at least 10 extra votes which will have to be deleted for yesterday though. –  VonC Sep 10 '10 at 20:38
    
Does this happen to anyone else or just you? –  Martin Smith Sep 11 '10 at 21:46
    
All I can say is "wow" –  Jared Harley Sep 11 '10 at 22:38
1  
@Martin: I have no idea. But it had happened to me fairly often those last three months. Every single time, I have flagged those events to moderators. Every single time the votes were deleted (partially through the vote fraud detector, or completely through account deletion) –  VonC Sep 11 '10 at 22:44
    
Someone must love you. Hope they don't love you to death :P –  wheaties Sep 12 '10 at 2:56
    
The curious question is: ... Why would anybody be doing this?! ... –  Daniel Vassallo Sep 12 '10 at 3:46
1  
@wheatis: a fan? No, I don't think so... the accounts are eventually deleted, one after the other. I'm thinking more to some kind of "upvote program or API" test. I mean, my specialty is version-control, in particular ClearCase. No ClearCase administrator ever had any fan, I can tell you that ;) –  VonC Sep 12 '10 at 7:10
2  
Maybe SO can just disable voting for anything with your user ID stamped on it - would that fix this issue? –  Mark Henderson Sep 13 '10 at 1:02
1  
Ouch, that is annoying. I would make the increased time-limit for voting on answers to different question a feature request, i think that is a good one. –  Georg Fritzsche Sep 13 '10 at 15:08

5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The main issue, though, is that you have no idea what your score and badge numbers actually are.

If you are a "true über-user" on SO, with more than 20 upvotes on a daily basis, you don't care.

But if, like me, topping 20 votes is an exceptional occurrence, here's what happen when the dev team finds the account responsible for those recent (and less recent actually) illegal upvotes:

alt text

Ouch. You find yourself with:

  • the massive upvotes series gone (and that is as it should be)
  • but also with 1 to 5 votes you thought legitimate 2 month ago just gone (because they were cast by the same bad account experimenting later in massive upvotes).
    The rep recalc from today reveals modifications dating back to last July:

alt text

So that's an issue:

  • you are never sure of what you actually accomplish on a daily basis (again unless you are well over 20 upvotes per day - every day - , in which case those "corrections" will go unnoticed)
  • those upvotes can incite other users to also upvote your answer because it finds itself on top, even though the first upvote has nothing to do with the intrinsic quality of said answer.

Just to be clear, I don't care about the rep loss ;)
I am only concerned about:

  • badges being harder to follow (not gaining a new badge because a current badge has been invalidated by this "correction")
  • never be sure of the actual number of upvotes per day (because 2 month later, some account deletion due to upvote abuse will remove some of them on a large period of time).

I don't mind the account deletion, I only want to know if this kind of vote pattern (on large number of answer every n seconds) could be avoided in the first place.

share|improve this answer

These votes anomalies are HARD DELETED from our database, so you should be emailing us when it happens.

Otherwise, I can't help you -- I looked but all the votes are hard deleted, so there's nothing to see.

In general, it is a bad idea to post about per-user issues here on meta for this exact reason.

share|improve this answer
    
Well, there are currently 27 votes still to be deleted, so maybe those can still reveal something. As for the "emailing us" part, I'm afraid I have lost that privilege 14 months ago (my fault, I know). –  VonC Sep 15 '10 at 7:03
    
@vonc I think I see what is happening and have sent a warning -- but meta is not the appropriate venue for this sort of thing. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 15 '10 at 7:13
    
yes! thank you :) I promise I will try email next time. –  VonC Sep 15 '10 at 7:23
    
HARD DELETED - don't you have regular database back ups that you can look at? –  Wikis Sep 15 '10 at 7:39

I just got myself 17 votes in two minutes.
Again.

Is there any way to limit votes, for instance limiting votes one per minute for:

  • answer to different questions
  • written by the same person

? So if you have voted one of my answer for a given question, you cannot vote one of my other answer (on another question) before 60 seconds?

Here's what it looks like when you get a "crazy upvote" episode:

alt text

Note the slightly longer interval between votes (7 to 10 seconds): not all of them will be detected by the vote fraud detection mechanism.
The account responsible will have to be erased, meaning lots of older votes might soon be gone as well (in addition to those recent upvotes which should go anyway).

That translates in:

alt text


... and those votes are now gone (this time without any older votes disappearing)

alt text

Of course, that makes my race to 100K rep on SO a bit... erratic, but I don't mind.
I'll get there.
Eventually ;)

alt text

share|improve this answer

You know the story by now ;) (if not, see the the previous answers to that MSO question)
For the fourth day in a row: x votes in two minutes (15 here)

alt text

How someone has enough account to play that little game?

alt text

Anyway, flagged (again), and I am confident those will be deleted (again) like all the other "crazy upvotes" instances were before.
The reason they will be documented here is because that little game is on for the last 3 months... and the joke is starting to get old ;)


Votes rescinded just now:

alt text

Until next time ;)

share|improve this answer

(CW answer: the last I will post, to list all the "crazy upvotes" instances)

Context and illustration: see the question and the previous answer.

  • 9 September: 12 votes every 5 to 10 seconds
    Rescinded
  • 10 September: 51 upvotes (29, and then 22); every 5 to 10 seconds
    Rescinded (account deleted -450 rep...)
  • 11 September: 17 votes; every 5 to 10 seconds Rescinded
  • 12 September: 15 votes; every 5 to 10 seconds
    Rescinded
  • 14 September: 27 votes; every 1 to 3 seconds!! (no rep gain at all, I had 23 votes already for that day)
    Rescinded.

Seriously... When will it stop?

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