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I wouldn't expect this to happen much, but after reading about the R-Mob hitting the SO servers recently with their questions, I thought I'd go and check out what R is. I found the question "Sample Code for R?" and was giddy to see what I'd find.

The accepted-answer, with 6 up-votes (last I checked) is a link to a blog (http://www.climateaudit.org/) that occasionally may discuss R. Seriously? This is the accepted answer for a question asking about "Sample Code for R"?

This is sad, in all honesty. I wanted to learn about R, and instead I ended up on a blog discussing the surface-temp of Africa.

It got me wondering, what is to keep 2 people from asking questions, providing nonsense answers for eachother, and accepting their friend's "solution"? We spend a lot of time thinking up ways to prevent a single user from gaming the system, but this type of senario seems like we should start considering small groups of 'gamers.'

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Wanna be in my group? –  Lance Roberts Jul 23 '09 at 18:23
    
+1 . –  jmfsg Jul 23 '09 at 18:29
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I know some of us are pretty liberal with our usage of the spam/offensive flags. If I see questions that look like some pretty obvious gaming (write a crap question, write a crap answer, accept said crap answer) I will be more than happy to flag. –  TheTXI Jul 23 '09 at 18:34
    
@TheTXI I would gladly flag this type of thing, but I don't want to become "the boy who cried 'gaming'" and ruin any future flagging. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 23 '09 at 18:35
    
This would be like answering "Sample C++ Code?" by linking to Raymond Chen's blog... –  Kip Jul 23 '09 at 19:01
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@Kip, almost, I atleast found some code on Chen's first page. :) –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 23 '09 at 19:04
    
lol - this reminds me of kids pairing up on Call of Duty to take turns using tactical insertion while the other kills them over and over. –  Alex Humphrey Aug 19 '10 at 21:52

8 Answers 8

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It got me wondering, what is to keep 2 people from asking questions, providing nonsense answers for eachother, and accepting their friend's "solution"?

The wrath of the other users on SO.

Bookmarks this question for use the next time someone suggests that down-voting isn't useful...

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The "wrath" seems absent from that question. If anything, it appears the user received much praise for linking to climateaudit.org. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 23 '09 at 18:24
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I like to believe that the mills of SO grind slowly, but grind exceedingly small... –  Shog9 Jul 23 '09 at 18:28
    
Nice imagery. :) –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 23 '09 at 18:29
    
Yet more evidence to support increasing the weight of downvotes. –  Perpetual Motion Goat Aug 2 '09 at 14:29

I'm the guy who gave the answer in question, as a genuine suggestion as to where real-world 'R' code was shown and discussed. It was a long time ago, and it may well be that at the time I gave the answer there had just been a lot of 'R' discussion on the blog in question. The need for 'digging-down' is an assumption made from following the link to a dynamic site months after the link was posted.

It was a genuine answer to a question, and it clearly suited the questioner, because he 'accepted' it.

Over the following 9 months or so, tensions have clearly risen somewhat on SO, and it's obviously a less friendly place than it was at the start (no surprise, it's the way of the Internet).

It would take an ill-educated ant about 10 seconds of looking at my SO profile to establish that I didn't participate in sock-puppetry, and the same ant could probably figure-out that down-voting an answer to punish a questioner for accepting that answer was probably not very productive...

I couldn't give a hoot about my SO score - nothing that easy to come by is worth worrying about losing, but the suggestion that I'm both sad enough and dishonest enough to be asking myself questions and accepting my own answers is faintly irksome.

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Wow, calm down, Mr. Dean. I didn't accuse you of gaming the system. Instead, I asked what to do when we come across answers that have little to no relevance to the question. Perhaps this is a lesson not to link to blogs. Perhaps instead you should link to specific blog posts in the future. –  Jonathan Sampson Aug 2 '09 at 13:38
    
The ill-educated ant is not interested in your profile. It is interested in good answers. Yours wasn't one till dbr fixed it. –  Ladybug Killer Aug 2 '09 at 17:23
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Jon - don't worry - I'm amused by all this, and the amazing amount of voting (up, down and sideways) which everyone seems be putting into the subject. Whether it was your intention or not, you've started a thread which is basically about sock-puppetry, and cited my answer at the top of the thread. My final commment is that, in much the same way as I should not link to the front page of a blog because the content will change, you should probably not cite a specific answer in a thread about puppetry if you don't intend it to be held up as an example of such behaviour. –  Will Dean Aug 6 '09 at 5:46

If they really wanted to get a lot of rep, they'd ask and provide answers back and forth, but wait a few days then put out bounties then immediately accept the answer. The system throws in an extra 50 rep for the bounty.

Just sayin...

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True. I'll put that in my notes. I mean, complaints. Suggestions for bugs, um, nevermind. This never happened. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 23 '09 at 19:00

Hopefully they've programmed in some heuristics to monitor that kind of 'group collaboration'.

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If you look at the list of accepted answers with negative votes, you can see how the community reacts in these situations. Moderators do have scripts we can run to detect this sort of behavior, but we also depend on the community reporting it to see if there's a pattern that we need to correct.

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I wasn't sure if I should report this type of stuff or not. I mean, what do I say "This guy is an idiot. Please correct." –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 23 '09 at 18:27
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You can report it, but if it's just one bad answer accepted, I as a moderator would just leave it alone since everyone can vote down a bad answer and vote up a good one. I would check the history of the users to see if there's a pattern of abuse, in which case it will get corrected. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 23 '09 at 18:30

Supposedly there are measures in place to detect puppet accounts. Presumably these would detect this sort of behavior.

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Ah, but I'm not talking about puppet-accounts. I'm specifically asking about Jonathan always accepting Pesto's answer, regardless of its quality. Meanwhile, Pesto is asking questions of his own, and always accepting Jonathan's answer. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 23 '09 at 18:28
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So that's what you guys are up to! ;) –  gnostradamus Jul 23 '09 at 18:29
    
@Jonathan: That's called a meat-puppet, and the scripts can detect that suspicious pattern too. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 23 '09 at 18:33
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@Jonathan: Well don't just talk about it, get to it! Accept this answer already. Oh, also, what Bill said. –  Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 23 '09 at 18:51

I think you've jumped the gun a bit, at least on the post you're referencing.

The question is valid, and the answer is actually valid. It seems that R has something to do with statistics and must be useful to climate study. For instance, see the following entry on that blog:

http://www.climateaudit.org/?page_id=372

The answerer should have pointed out that you'd have to dig a little bit through the blog to find content about R.

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@Boden, I didn't jump the gun. Read my question again - I stated that the blog may refer to some R-related material from time to time, but that is a sad solution to a question asking for Sample Code. You shouldn't have to dig down into an accepted-answer to find meat. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 23 '09 at 18:55

Read Will's answer - this doesn't seem to be a common occurrence at all and a moderator usually handles these things.

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