My understanding (inspired by this answer and conversations in The Workplace chat) is the serial-downvoting script currently does not include:

  • Overall +/- votes for an answer
  • Whether answer was deleted by the user
  • Whether an answer was deleted by moderators
  • Whether an answer was flagged
  • How new a user is to a site

This is normally not a problem.

However, there are situations where new users on boards appear and post lots of bad questions/answers in short succession. It would be really nice as more active users on sites to be able to freely downvote all this material (as appropriate, obviously) without worrying about accidentally tripping any serial downvoting scripts.

We have had a couple instances on The Workplace (though this also happens elsewhere as well) recently of newer users coming and receiving a lot of downvotes in short succession due to volume of low quality answers/questions.

The problem is when bad answers/questions which were not necessarily bad enough to be deleted have downvotes removed regardless of how many other posts were deleted, heavily downvoted by others, etc.

If a user posts in short succession and all are bad enough to warrant downvotes and a large percentage of them are eventually deleted by users/moderation, it makes no sense to include them for serial downvoting purposes:

As of now, vote reversal script involves deleted posts:

Posts bad enough to be deleted should be downvoted. If someone spams a bunch of delete-worthy answers and 2 "bad but not quite delete-worthy" answers, they should all be downvoted -- and stay downvoted. Not accidentally trigger serial downvoting flags.

What can be done to fix this?

Here is a good example from just now of a string of... downvote worthy stuff posted in short succession just today

But it's not all delete worthy necessarily, which means downvoting all them has good odds of serial downvoting being triggered since it's a rapid fire succession of terrible stuff.

Update the vote reversal script described here to consider only content which was not deleted.

  • 1
    If a user posts 10 things in short succession... -- Is that actually happening?
    – user102937
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 23:07
  • @RobertHarvey Rarity (back then WP moderator) mentioned the case when there were 20 posts not 10
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 23:09
  • @RobertHarvey it doesn't necessarily even have to be 10. See here for an example involving 3 posts.
    – enderland
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 23:10
  • After you notice 3 or 4 low quality posts in a short period of time, maybe you should just flag one to get a moderators attention? Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 5:45
  • 1
    @AustinHenley sure that has to be and is done, the feature request is about down-votes "organically" accompanying reading through such posts
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 6:20
  • 4
    the more I think about what kind "message" is sent by script actions like these to target voter, the more weird it feels. Hey, remember that guy who advertised Gucci handbags yesterday? Next time you'll see stuff like that, don't even attempt to downvote because it will be reverted.
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 7:32
  • @RobertHarvey see links here
    – enderland
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 22:14
  • 1
    @gnat how much did Pekka pay you to say that?
    – Pops
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 22:39

2 Answers 2


If someone's flooding the site with spam, don't waste your votes - just flag them as spam. That's why that flag exists - spammers generally don't care much about reputation or even the rank of their answers, but the spam flag provides an automatic down-vote anyway just to be safe. And more importantly, enough spam flags will automatically delete the answer.

Beyond that, spam flags tend to get the attention of moderators, who can quickly destroy the user and all of their posts.

Finally, keep in mind there are several different rate-limits in place. A new user shouldn't be able to post 10 things in short succession, and once a few people have down-voted (and/or spam-flagged) their first efforts they'll tend to be even further restricted.

The problem is when bad answers/questions which were not necessarily bad enough to be deleted have downvotes removed

Then we're not talking about spam anymore. If the answer isn't so bad that it can't be salvaged, take some time to leave a comment when you vote. The script catches various forms of serial voting, but tends to be a lot harsher when you're just going through someone's profile, voting on each post as quickly as you can click. And if you leave a comment describing why the post is bad, it'll possibly help others who are less informed avoid up-voting and thereby counteracting your efforts.

  • 5
    The problem on some sites is that bad questions/answers can get upvotes if they hit the right buttons. And we have some huggy feely types that think that downvoting is rude.
    – Chad
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 5:17
  • 1
    per my reading, question is about spam answers that were evaluated by moderator and considered worthy of deletion. "Salvaging" these - how?
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 10:48
  • 2
    Back when I posted this answer, @gnat, this question was actually a question (see the revision history). I realized later that enderland was really just trying to suggest something else, merged his answer in, and changed the title but I didn't get around to editing this last night. Revised to address spam directly.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 15:47

The idea of the suspicious-voting checks is to **keep** people from targeting specific users in their voting.

If a user is posting poor content, their posts should be down-voted organically. The perceived value of someone's contributions should be based on the preponderance of the voting by the community at large… not the whims of one user (no matter how well-meaning they are). It is simply not your job to single handedly vote this user into oblivion.

Consider it this way —

The suspicious-voting checks apply equally to up-votes as they do for down-votes… and for good reason. If you suddenly noticed that, hey, I'm a pretty smart guy, you might be inclined to track down and up-vote all my content. With a few other users following suit, I've suddenly racked up an astronomical reputation. But my reputation would be completely disproportional to my actual contribution.

That's why we say that you should "vote for content, not for the person." Nothing that you've said suggests that some should be exempt from that behavior. The story you're telling yourself is that, if a user is bad enough, they deserve specific and targeted retribution by a few users. But the potential for abuse (no matter how well-meaning) is simply too great.

  • 4
    I do not see how removing deleted posts from the script really increases the chance of abuse
    – Chad
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 5:18
  • @Chad You get the reputation you spent on downvoting someone back when the posts are deleted (well, for answers, anyway), so that's not an issue. But invalidating the votes sends an important message that you shouldn't vote for or against a user. Besides, the posts could get undeleted, in which case we likely would want to invalidate serial/targeted votes.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 5:32
  • 1
    @AnnaLear - I get the theory of that arguement. But the reality is if there is someone with several deleted posts then there is practically no chance that they are being undeleted. Thus the chance of there being abuse from this is basically nil. It is not voting against the user it is voting against their poor content.
    – Chad
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 5:36
  • 2
    "should be down-voted organically" hm. What could be more organic than down-voting confirmed spam. Mind you, word "confirmed" is there for a reason. I am not talking about something that just looks like spam to me, but something that has been assessed, confirmed and deleted by moderator. With all due respect Robert, here your reasoning sounds as simplistic as automated script approach
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 6:17
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    @gnat But you are cherry-picking a case where the aberrant voting patterns should be deemed 'okay' as long as it gets the results you want. That's like saying that illegal search and seizures are okay if it turns out that you found something criminal. Perhaps a flawed analogy, but you don't get to "abuse" the voting system because you deem that someone deserves it. How do we even explain that you can't vote for specific users... except when you can? The ends simply do not justify the means. Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 17:28
  • 2
    @RobertCartaino well your reference to the need to explain seems to make sense. Still, text of your answer differs from what you state in comments, and frankly looks less convincing. Much less. You say vote for contents - well in the question asked this is exactly what happens. Voting goes for spam, not for spammer - assuming of course that this is manually verified by moderator who reviewed and deleted the post. In this context (since nothing of what you wrote in comments is there), - in the context of answer text your reasoning looks poor to me sorry
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 18:38
  • 1
    It is more like we took the gun away from the man and turned it in to the police. The police arrested the man but now we are being punished for taking the gun away from the criminal.
    – Chad
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 22:30

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