Often when I get a good answer where I see that the answerer went through a lot of effort and answer revisions to help me, like with this unix.so question, then I like to go through the answerer's old posts looking for similar gems to learn from. Of course I upvote these if I found them helpful. However, I am worried that the SO algorithm might decide that I am overvoting a particular user and thus punish either me or him for this behaviour, or at the very least not give to him all the upvotes that I've selected. I stress that I am not upvoting all his posts to give him more points (I freely hand out bounties, even on other peoples' questions) but rather because each upvoted post is helpful to myself as well.

How can I avoid tripping the SO algorithm that looks for people gaming the system?

  • 3
    I doubt you'll get an exact answer to this. :) Everything is vague on purpose, in order to make it harder to game the system.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 23:01
  • 1
    From what I've seen, as long as most of your upvotes are not on the same user, and you don't cast multiple votes on the same person in a short amount it time, it'll probably slide. In the few cases where I went down somebody's list and wanted to upvote more than 3 things (because it was good content), I intentionally spread it out over multiple days.
    – Mysticial
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 23:02
  • @Mysticial: Actually, I do upvote other users as well, but a good portion of the votes will obviously go to the user whom I found to be very helpful and am reading his backposts for the very reason that he is helpful.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 23:05
  • 2
    I've yet to find a user who's body of work is so scintillating that I've tripped the voter fraud detector upvoting them, and I've cast a lot of upvotes.
    – user102937
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 23:33
  • Thanks Robert, that is good to know.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


As a couple of the comments have pointed out, I cannot tell you specifics about the vote fraud algorithm. I actually had a long post written with some good advice for making sure you don't trip the signal -- and then realized I was giving sockpuppeteers a how-to guide to avoid detection.

So, instead, I'll say this:

  • One of the many considerations that goes into the vote fraud script is a careful examination of the balance of voting frequency and voting volume. I literally can't get more specific than that.
  • Moderators sometimes will request vote cancellations from the Community Team. All requests are reviewed thoroughly for real signs/evidence of wrongdoing.
  • If you are caught by the script, your votes are reversed and, chances are, you'll receive a moderator message.

In your specific case: frankly, as long as you're taking the time to actually read the responses you're voting up, it is highly unlikely that you will EVER trip the fraud script, at least at this point in your usage of the site. Checking your stats, you've voted well over a thousand times total, both up and down, and you're active in multiple tags.

Frankly, if you hadn't asked, I would never have bothered to check the moderator tools just to be sure.

  • 1
    That's it exactly. The biggest moderator tip off is a post with an inordinately high number of votes in either direction. As long as the posts seem to warrant the score that they receive, we typically don't find reason to go looking which is a very tiring process. This is a little skewed by crazy signal coming out of /review lately, but still the biggest tip off for vote fraud. And if that bit of information causes puppeteers to write better questions and answers, I say mission accomplished :P
    – user50049
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 5:18
  • Thank you. So long as I'll get a warning when / if the issue happens then I can rest easy.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 10:25

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