What's a widely used term for a (small) group of users voting up each other's questions / answers/ comments?

Does Stack Overflow have any tools/rules in place to prevent this? Say for instance maximum amount of rep from one user to another? I've seen the FAQ, and it only discusses per day maximums.

I did do a search as my assumption is that this would've been discussed before - but I can't think of a search term other than 'cartel', which yields no results.

Just curious.

  • 6
    Try "voting ring", that may turn up some hits. Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 11:40
  • 10
    Have you found one, or are you part of one?
    – slugster
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 11:44
  • If you have a hunch that you've discovered a voting ring, flag a post by one of the participants for moderation attention and explain that you suspect sockpuppetry. It'd be helpful to provide links to the other users' profiles.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 11:53
  • 1
    @slugster - my ring's clearly not very effective !! 'voting ring' turns up just this : meta.stackexchange.com/questions/116699/…
    – Sridhar
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 11:54
  • @yannis - really just curious. I've no suspicion / evidence of a voting ring.
    – Sridhar
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 11:55
  • 1
    Some of the rings we find are certainly elaborate enough to earn being called cartels. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 4:04
  • @slugster he doesn't seems to be a part of it. I have experience of finding such things, so i can say that.
    – Lucifer
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 4:40

1 Answer 1


It's called a voting ring, and it's considered abusive behaviour. If it's only two / three accounts, we may also call them sockpuppets.

Moderators have a few tools to detect unusual voting patterns, and that includes groups of people voting each other en masse. If a voting ring is discovered, the usual route is to invalidate the group's votes and suspend everyone involved. I think this is as much information as I can give you on the subject, the rest is super secret.

Voting ring and sockpuppetry are not specific to Stack Exchange / Overflow, they are widely used terms in online communities that have some form of voting, like Hacker News, Reddit, Digg, Quora etc.

  • 11
    Is it true the algorithms exploit a vulnerability in certain Netgear routers that makes the device overheat, and burns down the perpetrator's house?
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 11:58
  • 4
    @Discount Gucci Handbags: We can neither confirm nor deny this. Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 12:01
  • 2
    Ah, I always figured that sockpuppets are really just one single person, (ab)using multiple accounts?
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 12:05
  • @Arjan Mostly that, but we also use the term when it's people knowing each other in real life. Some times it's completely innocent, a friend thinking he's doing another friend a favour.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 12:08
  • The algo at work: dailypicksandflicks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/…
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 17:39
  • 7
    The term you are looking for is 'meatpuppet'.
    – Rosinante
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 18:21
  • I call this phenomenon a cross-pollination.
    – Sergey K.
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 13:30
  • Technically, doesn't the entirety of StackExchange constitute this? Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 23:23

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