Possible Duplicate:
Nicely discouraging serial upvoting

Update after closure: I had not found the other post, despite doing an (admittedly quick) search.

There is indeed huge content overlap.

The only additional points I contributed--and I think they add something to the discussion:

  1. Do this just once for newish users, providing a learning opportunity. Don't make it a regular feature.
  2. Rationale for why this would be a far superior learning experience for new users.
    The current learning experience is deeply broken, IMO. It's a shame that most users will find out what they are doing wrong only when it happens to them themselves at a later time, at the hands of another new user. This later event (being on other end of serial upvote) will probably happen much much later, when the original user has accumulated enough post content to be serially upvoted.

Bottom Line: Users don't learn that their behavior is problematic when they actually need to--when they themselves are engaging in the practice.

Original question

I've been seeing some serial upvoting of some of my posts recently and I'm guessing, based on when it's happening and some answers I gave, that this is happening when uninformed users are trying to express thanks.

In one case, I gave a book tip along with my answer--and a user went and bought the book and then told me in a comment that they really appreciated the book tip (Mastering Regular Expressions). However, my answer had only received one upvote (which is fine). I'm guessing that the user wanted to express extra appreciation and rapidly upvoted a bunch of my posts.

If the user were to receive a warning/teaching popup while engaged in the action, this would probably prevent the majority of serial upvoters from ever doing it again . As it is, apart from me contacting the user, I doubt that person will any time soon learn about the fact that their actions are frowned upon (and I'm not certain that things happened as a I outlined--I'm just guessing).

They way things work now, most users will probably only learn about serial upvoting when they themselves are the recipients of serial upvoting. At this could be long after they themselves started serially upvoting. Immediate instruction on the problematic action would be so much more effective than them learning about the problem only when it happens to them at the hands of someone else.

Here's how i'd see this working (this is just a rough example).

For newish users (newish needs further definition), if they, say, upvote the same user on a few posts, say 3, with the space of, say, 1 minute, their next upvote for that user--if it comes within a minute--would give them a pop-up saying that they might be serial upvoting, with a link to a FAQ type page with more info. This would only ever happen once for a user.

Using such a naive approach to possibly detect serial upvoting for the purposes of providing instruction to new users could prove valuable orientation for these users at a time when they have no idea the practice is problematic. It would also not give away any details of the real serial-upvote detection and correction logic.

This may a significant missing piece in dealing with serial upvotes. Reputation correction is already happening. But early prevention/training is not, as far as I know.

  • 1
    If this trigger is significantly earlier than the serial upvoting trigger and happens immediately, it might prevent actual official serial upvoting in the first place, hooray! (I found serial upvoting disproportionately demotivating at the receiving end.)
    – AndrewC
    Dec 23, 2012 at 10:59
  • It could be so that this user found your answer good and was interested to read moref your answers which he also found good. Dec 23, 2012 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


DWright's once-only, earlier-than-counts-as-serial-upvoting warning is a nice idea. I'd like to suggest an alternative/additional:

AFAIK, serial upvoting reversal actually occurs at 0300 UTC. The first time a user causes this, there could be a message added to their inbox saying

You voted several times for the same user. Please only vote questions and answers on merit rather than voting for users. Your votes have been reversed. See What is serial voting? for further details.

I think it's useful to inform/warn once, because at the moment the only people who get feedback on their serial upvoting is those who are using a sockpuppet for vote fraud, because they get it at the receiving end - the only people getting info about when it does and doesn't work are those who are deliberately cheating!

It would be useful if naive serial upvoters were also told.

This gives no more information away than the existing system about what counts as seral upvoting, it just lets the upvoter know they made a mistake as well as the recipient. (And like I said sockpuppeteers already get this information.)


While this suggestion is submitted with the greater good in mind, the problem that I see with this is that the limits on the vote fraud detection scripts are not known to the public or even moderators.

To display a popup warning might actually expose the limits and boundaries of this system designed to protect the integrity of the reputation system, which is at the core of the Q&A part of the system.

If they are doing things that aren't good for the Q&A, and they do this often enough, then a moderator can step in and send that person a private message.

  • 4
    What if this were only done once for a user, the first time the user did what looked like a serial upvote. And maybe only for newish users. And it could be done naively, rather than using the more sophisticated approaches used to actually correct reputation after upvotes, so nothing would be exposed. Criteria: (1) Newish user (needs further definition). (2) Say, 3 upvotes on the same user in one minute or less. Next upvote on the same user (within a timespan, maybe within one minute of the first three upvotes) gets a little pop-up. And that's it. Either they are teachable or not.
    – DWright
    Dec 23, 2012 at 6:55
  • Hi DWright, that sounds like you're defining what the criteria should be for serial voting, 3 votes on the same user in one minute., which sort of lets the cat out of the bag.... Also, let's say we do implement that. What do we gain from this? What is the benefit?
    – jmort253
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:01
  • Well, as a thought experiment, let's say that 70% of serial upvoting happens from newish users who've never even heard of serial upvoting and engage in the practice because they think they are helping someone out/thanking them. Granting that for discussion's sake, then this disruptive practice is happening because the newbies don't know anything about what they are doing wrong. Further, the way things currently set up, there is a good chance they won't even find out about what they are doing wrong until much much later, when the have a weird blip up and then down in their own reputation.
    – DWright
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:10
  • Given them a shot at being instructed early could really help reduce this disruptive practice and all the static that comes with it.
    – DWright
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:10
  • Hi DWright, why would a user who upvotes you or I repeatedly see a change in their own reputation? ;)
    – jmort253
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:11
  • 1
    And the way I outlined it, we're not saying that they are definitely serially upvoting, we're just saying that they are new and might need to be given an opportunity to learn about this practice early.
    – DWright
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:11
  • They wouldn't see a change in their reputation as the result of their own serial upvoting activtiy. That would happen much much later when someone serially upvotes them and they have this weird blip in their reputation. Then they go and investigate what happened, realize that there is this whole problem out there they didn't know about. But in the meantime, they've been doing this themselves, perhaps a lot
    – DWright
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:12
  • 1
    As I mentioned originally, your idea comes from good intentions. I'd be interested to see an official SE response on, for instance, just issuing a little early warning way in advance of the actual limits. It sounds positive, so as long as it doesn't help anyone game the system, I'd personally be for the idea.
    – jmort253
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:13
  • 1
    Well thanks for the constructive interaction!
    – DWright
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:15
  • 1
    You should add the details from the comments here, such as your idea about the once and only once warning, to the actual body of your question, just so people don't miss it. :)
    – jmort253
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:18
  • Done. Thanks! Now I'm going to go and serially upvote you as an expression of my gratitude. :-}
    – DWright
    Dec 23, 2012 at 7:37

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