A while back I provided a very high-scoring answer to https://stackoverflow.com/q/4927230 that is currently three votes away from earning the Populist badge. However, if I down-voted the accepted answer (which is a perfectly valid answer!), I'd only need one extra up-vote to get the Populist badge. Of course, I actually have integrity (I swear!), and I would never do this. I could easily see that someone who wanted a gold badge and was in a similar situation might be tempted to down-vote the accepted answer just to ensure that their own answer outscored it by 2x. Similarly, if someone wanted to give someone the populist badge, down-voting the accepted answer and up-voting the user's answer would effectively add three votes to the non-accepted answer (+1 vote, +2 votes that don't need to be earned any more).

Is this a problem worth addressing, or is this scenario so uncommon that we don't need to worry about it? I just want to ensure that people who offer good answers that get outscored aren't penalized solely to allow someone else to earn a gold badge.

  • 7
    Hm, a gold badge or a clean conscience, tough choice ;-). Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:17
  • Unrelated note: Oddly that question offers me a delete link with a count of 17: delete (17) Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:25
  • 4
    Did you just post this so that the meta crowd would get you your badge? <_< >_>
    – Mat
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:43
  • @Rick: I tried to delete it but it said I've already cast my vote :(
    – user7116
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:45
  • @Mat- That honestly wasn't my intention. I've been watching that question for a while and have been concerned about the downvote issue ever since I realized it might be possible to game the system. Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:48
  • @template: I believe yours got +6 at this time compared to when you posted this question, and the accepted got +3 today. So, the meta effect is currently... neutral. :)
    – Mat
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:56
  • Cast downvote, get badge, rescind vote, ???, profit!
    – John
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:56
  • As the 150th voter, enjoy your badge.
    – John
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:58
  • 3
    @Rick Nothing odd about it. We've got a popularity protection against deletions now. Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:59
  • meta effect won. The badge is secured.
    – Mat
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 21:09
  • meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10078/…
    – mmyers
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 22:47

2 Answers 2


It works the other way as well. Take Single call ternary operator as an example. Currently, the accepted answer has a score of 4, while the other two answers have scores of 22 and 20. As one of the other two answerers, it's in my best interests to upvote the accepted answer so that I can get the Populist badge (and I have, that'd be a nice badge to get).


Since the accepted answer needs at least 10 upvotes for you to get the Populist badge, and the accepted answer will never leave the top of the page, I think the damage in you downvoting it would be minimal.

Also, you're talking about a difference of two votes on a scale of at least 20, so I don't think it's going to tip the scales towards "cheating" very often.

  • While I agree that you're unlikely to "damage" anything from the downvotes, I think it sends the wrong message to the person who came up with the answer. It's not that they had a bad answer - far from it - but the downvote sends a message saying that their answer isn't very good. Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 6:29
  • @templatetypedef: I don't think one downvote on an answer with ten upvotes is going to change anyone's mind. Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 11:13

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