Is there any way to somehow address serial downvoting that seems explicitly targeted on me, but is done in a way that is careful enough to avoid serial-downvoting script detection (3 votes only)?

Yesterday, I have recieved 3 downvotes in the space of 1 minute.

-2  11:05  downvote  Select a row where one column is min
-2  11:05  downvote  Perl system call without path to executable, except using PATH variable
-2  11:04  downvote  Perl - while (<>) file handling

Those 3 posts were:

  • NOT recent themselves
  • NOT posted in the similar timeframe (2/17/2013, 2/3/2013, 8/30/2012)
  • None of the Qs or As were edited recently (the latest edit to any of the posts on any of those 3 was on the day they were posted/answered, no recent edits or activity)
  • None of the answers on those 3 questions were downvoted other than mine
  • No comments explaining the downvotes
  • They didn't all 3 share tags (2 were Perl, one PHP with no Perl tag)
  • They were clearly not obviously wrong

BUT... one thing that IS common among them is that they were all among the 25 latest answers I gave (#1, #4 and #21).

This sounds like someone was deliberately targeting answers made by my user by using this list.

Typically, I would just leave proving that something is serial down-voting in the hands of the all-knowing script, but I know that 3 votes aren't enough to trigger it even if it was the same user.

Frankly, I don't care about the rep hits (at ~50k, you stop sweating small stuff :) and they weren't among my rare beautiful cherished answers where I care about the vote counts... but I would definitely love it if whoever did this got a wrap on the knuckles even without reversing the votes (unless of course it was a rare statistically improbable fluctuation... and to quote Commissioner Gordon from Dark Knight Rising, "you are a detective now... you are not allowed to believe in coincidences).

Is this specific pattern enough to prove malicious intent?

Is there a way for moderators to verify if the 3 downvotes came from the same person? (and if so, refer the matter to SE who would have the means to track who it was so they get told to cut it out)?

  • 4
    Is there a way for moderators to verify if the 3 downvotes came from the same person? No.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:29
  • 4
    Does 6 rep really matter enough to ask a question on meta?
    – Doorknob
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:31
  • 6
    As posted here- If after 36 hours (give the script time to run) you still see a problem, then flag one of your answers and ask a moderator to look into the anomalous voting patterns. If it still hasn't been corrected, contact the SE team via the "contact us" link at the bottom of any page on the site. Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:32
  • @Yannis - fancy you popping up... I was just contemplating adding a theory that this was someone who took a dim view of me on Politics.SE (especially given a serial downvoting that happened there 2 days ago L)
    – DVK
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:32
  • 6
    @Doorknob - did you read the question carefully? I explicitly stated that don't care about rep (and didn't request the votes to be reversed). I care about whoever did it getting a rap on the knuckles so they stop doing that.
    – DVK
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:33
  • 1
    @DavidRobinson - worth being an answer, IMHO
    – DVK
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:35
  • @DVK: I disagree :-), since it indicates this is a dupe of another question. (I just don't have the ability to vote to close as such) Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:36
  • @DVK Serial voting doesn't really apply on small betas, especially new ones like Politics. We have only 93 users who can downvote, and assuming people are voting properly (only on topics that they are somewhat familiar with and can judge correctness), then we are all serial up & down voters. But if a disagreement on one site translates to serial downvoting on that site and on another, that's a very serious offence. If you have reason to suspect that's what going on here, you should contact SE directly and ask them to check both your accounts.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:46
  • @Yannis - Serial voting script sees your one "doesn't really apply on small betas", and raises you 3 reversed downvotes via "undownvote" label on Politics.SE :) I'm just the messenger for our Scripting Overlords.
    – DVK
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 4:03
  • 2
    @Yannis re: cross-site voting, I'm not very sure... but I see ZERO reasons for me to be serially downvoted today on SO, where I'm almost dormant lately (last downvote cast 2/14, last asnwer 2/17, last question 2/22, last comment 2/28). Given that i WAS serially downvoted on Politics, it seemed a bit suspicious, but I don't have any reason to be certain it's Politics related... I'm active on 3 other sites.
    – DVK
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 4:08
  • related: Spiteful downvoting? Two fast DVs to my unrelated posts
    – gnat
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 8:22
  • When this happened to me over several days, I simply left the site... not the best choice that i made, but felt the irritation from one or two (or however many) who insist on playing this litle game wasjust simply not worth contnuing with the site. Now, I would just flagand report.
    – user234239
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 11:29

2 Answers 2


Moderators have to judge the intent behind the votes to decide whether they are malicious and should be reverted or not. This is almost impossible with such few votes.

Moderators could not even investigate this case and would need the help of an SE employee because the voting information we moderators have is not detailed enough. And even if an SE employee would determine that the votes are from the same person, I don't think that would be enough to invalidate them without some additional evidence.

If someone intentionally avoids the automatic reversal script and puts a large number of downvotes on you, that is certainly something you can flag or write to SE directly. But I would just ignore a small number of downvotes.


I had a similar problem on Stack Overflow, and I may say, strongly suspect this has been spilling over to some of my other Stack Exchange accounts (yes I upset too many people). As I'll notice odd downvotes on different accounts on posts, like your, that haven't been recently bumped.

Every time I would log on to SO, I would find a couple of random poss had been down voted, and it seemed like someone was going through all my posts gradually, as they were always a different post (In that way multiple downvotes on a single post are more authentic, if that makes sense?).

I emailed the SE community team and one of the team members checked the voting and saw that it was a case of serial down voting.

When I first came on Meta here, I had a very high rep user go over to my SO posts and systematically edit and downvote them. He did about four posts, so they were not reversed, although I complained.

Quite frankly the childish nature of retaliation via the voting system undermines what makes SE a good site, as it hacks into the system of floating quality posts, and makes it about personality.

On one site (new site), I have been the highest rep user (I currently have an account suspension so my rep is temporarily 1 - yes could be the reason I attract personal vendetta downvotes). I have a great deal of downvotes there (in spite of this my rep is still high), and I know one or two users who regularly downvote me, as they would comment and tell me! I always edit a downvoted post to improve (not here on Meta, only exception), but for some people they are not interested in the quality of the post, but more an easy target to have a brawl with.

When I downvote I try to explain why. Sometimes this just leads to momentus debates in comments, chat or meta and becomes exhausting and dramatic. So it seems people want to post and don't want to be taught how to improve the posts.

To tell you truth I am tired of this and wish there was something in place on SE to circumvent this. There are means to pay back a member you are angry with, if they have been offensive or misbehaved within the system, through flagging and emailing the SE team. Retaliatory downvoting just pushes people away from the site.

  • 1
    Retaliatory downvoting just pushes people away from the site., that's their intention, no? I guess the traditional suggestion applies: don't engage and move on ;) Oh, and this When I downvote I try to explain why, you do this always? I believe only a small percentage understands we are downvoting the quality not the person.
    – brasofilo
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 9:16
  • 1
    @brasofilo I don't know who was doing this serial downvoting, and if it continues over a prolonged period, it's not about not engaging or moving on. No one liked being serially down voted do they? Besides, this isn't a question, an attempt to answer and address the issues of the Q :)
    – user310756
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 9:19
  • Nope, I would certainly not like that. But, apart notifying the moderators and/or opening a Meta post, what else can be done? 1) Go away -they win. 2) Move on -you win. Is there a 3rd? What can we possibly do about people who behave childishly on the internet?
    – brasofilo
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 9:31
  • 2
    @brasofilo I have no idea.. create more and more exotice scripts lol And yes, I guess you're right there is no other option
    – user310756
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 9:41

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