It is pretty much every day when I see on my reputation page serial downvoting, when within minute or two several downvotes are recorded for my posts. Usually the next day I see serial downvoting reversed, but some days it is not reversed.

Maybe silly question - what should I do and what should moderators do about it? It is annoying and certainly unfair.

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    It looks like someone is actually putting in some effort to make the downvotes stick. :( There's a threshold in the detection algorithm. And it looks like the downvoter has learned to avoid tripping it in the last 3 days. Now that you've posted here on meta, I think it will be taken care of appropriately. :P – Mysticial Apr 30 '12 at 18:28
  • @AndrewBarber. When I got 20+ serial downvotes (after a comment to a guy asking about properties with the tags: java, c#, php, C++ and C), the serial downvoter got only two days suspended, so don't be so sure! – user173320 Apr 30 '12 at 18:35
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    hahahaha I'm sorry I just have to laugh at some people. I have to admit one time I REALLY lost my cool with a guy who was following me around commenting on all my answers trying to annoy me AND downvoting me, so I gave in and downvoted a bunch of his stuff which tripped the alarm and it all got reversed. Needless to say I got in trouble and I'm embarrassed that I sunk to that low, but if I might pull the old school-boy excuse, "he started it first." Sorry to see you've run into one of these types. He's certainly a committed fellow. – user159773 Apr 30 '12 at 18:35
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    @gdoron that's a moderator thing. One time I was told I was gonna be suspended for 30 days for calling a guy "old" after he asked me if I was "on my period." A day later someone followed me with comments cursing and swearing at me... he didn't get any suspension. I admit the wrath of the moderators seems unjustly imbalanced at times. – user159773 Apr 30 '12 at 18:37
  • @gdoron hahaha yes that's all I said. Well, sort of. I said that I understand now why he's bad at flash because it must just be a hobby he picked up in his old age. lol not nice I know, but 30 days? Cmon. Anyway I don't wanna get off topic too much. – user159773 Apr 30 '12 at 18:40
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    @AndrewBarber - I am downvoted for even answers that were accepted by OPs. I am not saying that some downvotes are not legit, but I believe I am targeted and downvoted regardless of quality of my posts. And such experience leads to not participating - you can see I didn't post anything (not even comments) for couple days and maybe I will never do that at all, as there is no enjoyment... – user181540 Apr 30 '12 at 18:44
  • @stackoverflow don't despair, you've done the right thing. This post will get moderator attention and it will be dealt with accordingly. I'd suggest changing the title of your post to "I am a victim of serial downvoting. Help?" or something similar to more accurately represent the content of your question and thus grab more attention. – user159773 Apr 30 '12 at 18:46
  • @AscensionSystems - I'm not going to change subject to "Please help!" as you are suggesting... I am not begging for help. Not at all. I just want SO to be better system that I can enjoy. – user181540 Apr 30 '12 at 18:53
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    Have you considered that your name might be bothering somebody? Calling yourself "stackoverflow" is pretty presumptuous. – meagar Apr 30 '12 at 19:31
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    Maybe you just post bad answers? How do you know that these are indeed "serial" downvotes? It sounds like some of them are indeed getting automatically removed, so why would you suppose that the rest of them are also illegitimate? If you truly have reason to suspect that, then you should have raised a flag to bring the evidence to the attention of a moderator. – Cody Gray Apr 30 '12 at 19:36
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    @stackoverflow Freedom? Stack Overflow is a for-profit, closed-source system, and your name choice (it could be argued) makes it appear as though you are trying to appear as somebody in an official role. – meagar Apr 30 '12 at 19:50
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    @TheEstablishment - Maybe you just haven't notice that downvotes are posted within a minute. Do you personally read multiple page posts such fast that you can judge within second which answer or question is bad? ...and do you personally absolutely randomly every day select posts from same users to read one after another one without targeting such user? If yes, then your are the mystery guy! – user181540 Apr 30 '12 at 19:51
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    There are lots of users on Stack Overflow. I get lots of votes within minutes of one another. – Cody Gray Apr 30 '12 at 19:53
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    @stackoverflow: Yes. If somebody downvotes your posts because of your name or your gravatar, it's bad faith. If somebody went through all your posts and decided to downvote those he considers bad, it would be different. – Dennis Apr 30 '12 at 19:56
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    @stackoverflow: I'm not saying that this is happening (I actually think you're getting serially downvoted), but it would be possible to open your posts in several tabs, read all of them, and then proceed to downvote those you consider appropriate. – Dennis Apr 30 '12 at 20:02

You have an interesting way of answering questions. By interesting I mean unusual. By unusual I mean it's going to irk some people.

You tend to post code without much discussion. Sometimes it appears (for example in the linked question) that you don't seem to answer the question exactly, instead just provide a working example of code. Although your code might work, it doesn't tell the reader how it answers the question.

Don't expect people to make leaps like this. Put 2+2 together and completely explain how your code answers the question.

In your answers, try not to post just code, but explain what the code is doing/supposed to do.

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    Hmm, that's a good point. I have a habit of downvoting answers that include only code without any explanation. Those answers are completely worthless. – Cody Gray May 1 '12 at 2:56
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    I see a lot of answers wihout code and I believe the best teacher in most cases is an example code. Even bad programmer can read code and learn from it. But I understand your point and will comnsider it. Thanks. – user181540 May 1 '12 at 17:10
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    No, bad programmers don't read code and learn from it. They copy and paste code without having to bother understanding it. And therein lies the problem. That's not to say example code isn't useful, but merely that code-only answers are unhelpful. – Cody Gray May 1 '12 at 18:13

I have yet to see a better-than-mediocre answer to Perl questions from this poster. I will continue to downvote answers I do not consider to be good Perl regardless of the identity of the poster.

As a case in point, consider this answer. While the answer seems to work, module names starting with a lower case letter are reserved for Perl pragmas and, as such, his answer clearly constitutes bad Perl. The answer is incomplete in that it does not link to Perl documentation on modules, use, and require.

Or, how about this answer which is in PHP and contains a typo that makes the code suspect. I decided not to vote that one down, because I can't tell if the code would work or not, but it is not an answer that clearly deserves to be voted up, and I would not see a problem with someone voting it down.

If one's answers range consistently from meh to awful, it shouldn't be surprising when one's answer get downvoted.

  • "his answer clearly constitutes bad Perl" Fair enough. So... why didn't you correct him with a comment? I totally understand the downvote, but where's the comment explaining it? – Nicol Bolas May 1 '12 at 5:00
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    The people commenting on his code were subjected to ad hominem attacks, accusations, and other abuse, now removed after it was flagged. After a couple of those, you just stop commenting. That is, you stop feeding the troll. – brian d foy May 1 '12 at 6:26
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    @briandfoy: From him? That's... surprisingly unsurprising considering how he changed his name to DOWNVOTE ME for some reason. Though it is audacious in the extreme that someone who's known for doing that has decided to bring himself to the attention of MSO by posts like this one. – Nicol Bolas May 1 '12 at 8:23
  • @briandfoy - I seriously believe you are one of users who downvote me at least 20 times. Am I right? Should I flag you for moderators' attention? Please be honest and reply... – user181540 May 1 '12 at 17:12
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    @DOWNVOTEME (previously stackoverflow) Please learn to separate your identity from the points on your posts. I have downvoted your posts many times as well. It's not about you. We don't know you. – Sinan Ünür May 1 '12 at 17:15
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    If you had at least 20 bad posts about Perl, then I probably down voted you 20 times. Flag all you like. If you don't like down votes, learn Perl, learn how to answer questions, and bring the good content. – brian d foy May 1 '12 at 17:30

It is not about me. I don't care if you going to reverse my downvotes or not. I am trying to say that the system needs improvements.

But that's the problem: you're using yourself as evidence that the system needs fixing.

As it stands, it seems very much like some of your answers are... junk. Things that should be downvoted. I took at look at some of your most recent answers, and you have a consistent style of "Code: [] Test: [] Output: []". Only half of the answers I saw had anything remotely resembling text.

Quite frankly, I now want to serially downvote you ;)

You are contributing a lot of junk to the site in the form of poor answers. You're getting downvoted a lot.

The fact that you're getting downvoted a lot doesn't doesn't mean the system needs fixing; it could just be crappy answers from you being downvoted. That's the system working, not the system being broken.

In short: you need to find someone else, someone who posts better answers, who is still getting serially downvoted. Then we can use that as legitimate evidence of a problem that needs solving.

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    If I was more comfortable with perl, I suspect I would have tested the limits of this theory. ;) – Andrew Barber May 1 '12 at 5:37

From a quick look at your profile, the votes do look suspicious. I haven't looked in detail at your answers, so I won't say whether the downvotes are justified, but the pattern looks unusual to me.

The primary defense against serial downvoting is the daily script that reverses those votes. In this case it looks like it wasn't triggered on many days.

If the automatic tools fail to reverse the downvotes, you'll need to get a moderator or even the SE team involved. The common way to do that is to flag one of your own posts and explain the situation, but a meta post works as well.

The reversal script is the primary defense against malicious downvoting, but it isn't the only one. Moderators can detect if a user is targeting another user specifically for downvoting and such behaviour is not acceptable and will result in a suspension.

  • It is not about me. I don't care if you going to reverse my downvotes or not. I am trying to say that the system needs improvements. Otherwise more users will give up and never come back, as they will not enjoy the system when serial downvoters knock them down. – user181540 Apr 30 '12 at 20:43
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    The system works pretty well, it's not intended to catch everyone automatically, sometimes you'll need to bring it to the attention of the moderators. This is just not something you can handle completely automatically, in more difficult cases you need a human to decide. – Mad Scientist Apr 30 '12 at 20:46
  • My point is not how to receive reputation back (that I don't care), but how to get rid of users who do this mess. They enjoy this serial downvoting even they know that it will be reversed. I don't like approach of fixing the issues, I prefer to prevent them... – user181540 Apr 30 '12 at 20:56
  • @stackoverflow Don't let a tiny number of bad apples ruin it for the rest of us. – Andrew Barber Apr 30 '12 at 20:59
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    @AndrewBarber - Reversal votes is not solution, it is a fix that works in majority of serial dowvotes for users who care just about reputation. I brought this to attention with believe SO can improve system to kick out users that doing this mess... Reversal will not kick anyone, so the system will stay messy. – user181540 Apr 30 '12 at 21:06

I think you have already done the right thing just by bringing here to Meta, and thus bringing to the attention of people who care about this sort of thing. Not only are you making others (and hopefully mods) aware that there is a person harassing you, but you've also shown that there is a serious issue in the system that has been put in place to prevent this sort of abuse.

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    I wouldn't say there is a serious issue in the system. The system works. This is a unique case where the user is actively and consistently trying to downvote this user, for which a more severe punishment is obviously needed. – animuson Apr 30 '12 at 18:47
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    I'd say the system's slightly flawed at the least. I still have -1's on accepted answers of mine left over from serial downvote rampages that were reversed (but not reversed enough...). – user159834 Apr 30 '12 at 18:48
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    @WesleyMurch Not all DV's are removed when serial down voting is reversed... only those deemed to be invalid. – Andrew Barber Apr 30 '12 at 18:49
  • I am not sure if there is a solution at all. I can make a script in minutes that would auto login and downvote someone recent posts with random timing, with not serial downvotes (meaning always just one downvote within a hour or so) and such downvoter will not be detected by moderators or any detection algorithm. Should I post such source code? :D – user181540 Apr 30 '12 at 18:49
  • @stackoverflow I can personally confirm that there is nothing about what you have suggested that would avoid the system. I have seen "serial" down votes being caught across many hours - and even days. – Andrew Barber Apr 30 '12 at 18:50
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    @AndrewBarber: That's my point - the DVs that are deemed invalid are often only the majority, not all of them. Is it possible that one or two DVs in a serial downvote rampage were "valid"? Sure, but c'mon - if they're part of a string of downvotes by a user abusing the system they should be reversed. – user159834 Apr 30 '12 at 18:51
  • @animuson when there is a system put in place meant to stop a certain type of behavior, and people can still get away with the exact behavior it is meant to prevent.... well I'm not sure there is any other appropriate way to describe this: serious flaw. It's like an alarm on a bank. When there is an exploit whereby you can bypass it, that is a serious flaw because it's not doing the job it's mean t to. – user159773 Apr 30 '12 at 18:52
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    @AscensionSystems: There will always be ways around it. If you make it too strict, then you get false positives, which are even worse. – animuson Apr 30 '12 at 18:52
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    @WesleyMurch You are assuming those votes came from the same person. For instance, in one of the apparent "DV Rampages" on stackoverflow (the user), is a single DV from me. – Andrew Barber Apr 30 '12 at 18:52
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    @AscensionSystems Your assumption is at least partially incorrect. One of the votes is mine. – Andrew Barber Apr 30 '12 at 18:55
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    @stackoverflow Stack Overflow is not "nice and fair" to all of us if people breaking the rules are not caught. That said; do not post their name here - that info should be sent privately (if at all... if you are right, the user will get caught without you needing to send that info) – Andrew Barber Apr 30 '12 at 18:59
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    Unless you have access to information that us regular users do not, then I think it's a little inappropriate and perhaps even inflammatory to suggest that "it's quite obvious this is one guy doing this and doing it just to be malicious". If you do have that proof, then show it to a mod. If it truly is just one person doing it, then as a result of this post, they will be caught, otherwise you're just making assumptions and throwing around accusations. – RivieraKid Apr 30 '12 at 19:09
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    @DOWNVOTEME: "But because I got multiple downvotes for same posts, that means he has more followers, more accounts or just it is not him." Or maybe it's just a guy who thinks that you should post more than code as an answer. Or even more, maybe it's many people who just don't like crappy code-only answers. – Nicol Bolas May 1 '12 at 5:09
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    @Ascension: "I have suggested a theory based on the evidence." That's great!. So... where's the evidence? You can't suggest "a theory based on the evidence" without providing evidence. To do otherwise is intellectually dishonest. – Nicol Bolas May 1 '12 at 5:11
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    @Ascension, you only have to look at the level of commenting on this question to see that it's inflammatory. Besides, if you read my comment, I said "perhaps" - as in, some people may consider it, or it may become inflammatory. For the record, I'm not saying that you're intentionally trying to start a flame war or upset people, but by casting aspersions and throwing around accusations, you may find that you do indeed upset people regardless of your intention. – RivieraKid May 1 '12 at 8:01

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