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What happens if a user has multiple accounts and keeps upvoting himself/someone else? Does that happen? Is there a system to stop it?

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marked as duplicate by gnat, hims056, Aziz Shaikh, Tobias Kienzler, Lance Roberts Aug 1 '13 at 14:22

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Just for reference in searching meta, this is known as sock puppeting: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sock_puppetry and has a tag as well: sock-puppets –  Nick Craver Jul 8 '11 at 14:18
    
I have a follow up question to this if anybody could answer it. Are the people trying to upvote themselves to get rep just trying to be cool, and have a lot of rep and medals or is there something to be gained by doing this? Do users with high rep gain enough of a benefit, that if they have high rep they can get away with pushing more of their own product? –  J Lundberg Jul 8 '11 at 14:22
    
@J Lundberg for some people it's having a high rep. I dare say if a user started posting blantent spam it would get flagged regardless of rep. There are more efficent ways of spamming products then building up a high rep to push spam on the SE sites. Most spam gets nukes fairly quickly anyway. –  tombull89 Jul 8 '11 at 14:25
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What happens if a user has multiple accounts and keeps upvoting himself? That's easily answered: He comes to Meta complaining why his reputation is missing. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jul 8 '11 at 15:06
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The system automatically detects votes received from a user, when they are given from the same user on a short period of time. Once the votes are removed, the reputation increase is removed as well; that means you will lose the reputation you got from those up-votes (and you would gain back your reputation, if those were down-votes).

Moderators can see suspiciously high levels of activity between users. This means that moderators are able to detect cases of cross-voting, where you vote a user's posts, and that user votes for your posts.

It could also be that it was not just a single user voting you. In some cases, it happened that a question, and its answers, received many votes right after a link to the question has been published on some social networks. As far as I know, in some cases the votes to those questions/answers have been removed; I don't recall if that was done automatically by the system, or manually by some moderators.

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It happened to me too, that a user up-voted my answers in a short period, and got me more than a hundred points; at the end, it was a user who was trying to get one of those badges given when you use all the votes you have in a day. I would say it's a good think the system detects such votes, and it's a bad thing somebody votes the same user in so short time. At least, it means the user didn't understand what he is supposed to do, and how the system works. You can do anything, except reporting what happened, in the case the system doesn't detect those votes. –  kiamlaluno Jul 8 '11 at 15:03
    
Do we do anything to users like that? –  Daniel δ Jul 8 '11 at 15:04
    
Moderators take the necessary actions, in those cases. We (normal users) can do few, in those cases, as we are not able to understand who voted. Writing a comment to say "@voter Consecutive votes given to the same user in short time are automatically detected, and removed" is not useful. –  kiamlaluno Jul 8 '11 at 15:08
    
So I just wait? –  Daniel δ Jul 8 '11 at 15:09
    
Yes, you can only wait. –  kiamlaluno Jul 8 '11 at 15:17
    
I sometimes look through the questions/answers on other users' pages, and then vote the good ones up (and bad ones down) - shouldn't I do such things? Does this mean I will seem to be that user's sockpuppet? –  Paŭlo Ebermann Jul 8 '11 at 16:55
    
@Paŭlo Simply voting others' posts does not automatically make you a sockpuppet. If you would vote fifty posts of mine (out of a hundred of casted votes), and I vote twenty posts of yours (always out of a hundred of casted votes), then it is probable somebody would check our accounts to verify if our accounts should be merged. Having a high number of votes for a user is something that alerts moderators for something that needs to be checked, but it doesn't mean an action is necessarily taken. –  kiamlaluno Jul 8 '11 at 21:33
    
FWIW: the details of the fraud detection script here are not, strictly-speaking, at all accurate. However, the principles are mostly correct. –  Shog9 May 30 '12 at 4:34
    
@PaŭloEbermann - Hang out on the sites long enough and you will be subjected to a serial voter at some point. I have had a serial down voter who obviously was aware of the threshold range. I don't worry about it as someone with a vindictive action pattern is not likely going to stick around. Some people take it personally when you make direct suggestions but a brown tree is a brown tree no matter that they WANT it to be green with large attractive flowers everyone admires. –  Mark Schultheiss May 30 '12 at 12:11
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There are ways and methods that the SE Team and moderators have in place of detecting "sockpuppet" accounts. In the case an account is detected, it is merged into one account and any illigally gained rep is lost. And, just in case you though you could try it, account suspensions will happen, and have happened in the past.

Also, see this question, answered by Jeff and this question, answered by Mark Gravell.

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It definitely happens.

There are systems that will detect that automatically. Moderators can (and will) merge accounts to invalidate reputation gains and suspend the offenders if necessary.

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