I guess this must have been asked before, but I want to report a serial downvote trolling on one of my proposal. It has almost reached to the commitment phase, then somebody started downvoting all questions which were at exact 10 votes, to set the proposal back. I stayed quiet, thinking someone will post better questions, they might not like what they see. But again after few days when the new followers of the proposal were making the commitment phase reality, again a series of downvotes and that also cleverly planned, to set the proposal backward by as many question as possible.

So someone (A group probably, since some questions have more than 2 downvotes), is trying to vandalize the proposal. I've no idea what should I do to stop it. If they've left any comment I'd have tried to change any topic or something like that. But it seems that whatever they are doing is illegal.

We've a chat room here and Some of us who wants to make this proposal in beta phase discuss there(I personally don't know anyone). They asked me to take action, inform mods etc. But I don't know how can I report this activity unless I know who're the people behind it. So I am making a post here.

Now why do I think that the downvoting is suspicious and illegal:

  • Cleverly planned, setting back the proposal as many questions as possible, without getting noticed.
  • It happens whenever the proposal is close to less than 10 required questions with 10 votes.
  • No comments.
  • We've a chat room, if they've any problem they can always ask, but they didn't.

Please have a look at the proposal downvotes and see if it's illegal according to the StackExchange rules or not.


Just an added info. Each of the top 40 question have at least one negative vote(some are as high as 3 negative votes).

Update 2 (After the initial investigation)
The proposal is still getting downvotes, 5 of my questions got downvoted yesterday, 3 of them were from another proposal named 'Indian Culture'. One of the follower of the proposal notified me that other questions are getting downvoted too. I think I am going to drop out of this proposal and will request deletion of the proposal if that continues. It's better to invest the energy where it's going to work.

  • 9
    +1 on your proposal for sympathy
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 22:51
  • 3
    Same goes for Arduino. We have at least one downvote on every question. One user even went to the trouble of casting 50 downvotes across two days.
    – asheeshr
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 1:26
  • It happened again!! Massive this time! Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 16:39
  • Flagged again for moderator attention.
    – noob
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 5:58
  • @Creator I looked at some voting data and there's nothing for us to act on. If you have specific evidence of any malicious behaviour, please bring it to us by email via the "contact us" link at the bottom of any page. Other than that... downvotes are a normal part of the process and some questions getting downvoted doesn't mean that the proposal isn't viable. Upvotes and downvotes are how consensus is built and proposals are shaped.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 6:14
  • I'm not sure I understand. Why can't we just have a system to upvote/downvote entire proposals?
    – nbura
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 22:54
  • Fwiw Not that the trolling is acceptable, but if a couple of trolls alone have the power to keep the site from advancing then the site was pretty borderline anyways. Think of the trolls as karmic balance for all those times a bad question was undeservedly upvoted just to game the scores to 10.
    – Jason C
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 15:24

3 Answers 3


The same thing has happened a few times on the Arduino proposal. Moderator investigation was requested and carried out, this was the response:

I looked at the actual voting data on the example questions and there is one person who cast a large number of downvotes. It looks like there's a user who doesn't think the proposal should go through or that the proposed questions belong to it, which is entirely fair. This is exactly what Area 51 is for.

The way the system is designed, it's impossible for one person to bring down an otherwise viable proposal. So, while you are right and someone is downvoting a bunch of questions, I still wouldn't worry about it. Presumably your proposal will have more supporters to offset this. :)

While this is a lousy way to express your disagreement with a proposal, it is not illegal

  • 1
    What if there're more than one user, which is clearly the case here..
    – noob
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:51
  • @Creator, what difference would it make? The same has been the case over at Arduino, at string of serial downvotes has occurred multiple times. Perhaps if one individual was creating multiple accounts to distribute waves of downvotes then there might be an issue. Unfortunately normal users lack the tools to investigate this, so perhaps a community manager can look into it as they did for Arduino.
    – JohnB
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:56
  • 1
    Well that's what I am requesting. An investigation. I'd be having no issues if it doesn't result into anything positive like reversing the downvotes. I had to try at least ;-)
    – noob
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:06
  • 4
    @Creator: An investigation would only amount to anything if it's the same user creating multiple accounts to continually downvote all the posts, which is definitely against the rules. I can't actually see the vote counts, but that is likely not the case. I can't imagine someone would care that much (given the fact that you do need 150 reputation to downvote).
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:17
  • 1
    @animuson The reason I think think this is multiple accounts is the fact that it has happened twice.
    – user200500
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 1:22
  • 5
    There is only one user who downvoted a large number of questions on that proposal (60, to be exact, at the time of this writing). The next biggest downvoter is at 10 downvotes (and 10 upvotes). Beyond a large number of downvotes, I have no reason to suspect malice. It's possible that the user simply did not think the questions they voted on were a good fit for the proposal or useful in general. The response @John has quoted in this answer is mine, and I stand by it for this investigation as well.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 2:05
  • @AnnaLear Thanks for the investigation. That's all I wanted. Cheers!
    – noob
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 2:37
  • 2
    I disagree with this answer. This is some kind of serial downvoting against a proposal instead of a person though. So IMHO SE should not tolerate serial troll downvoting of proposals on area51 in the same way as serial downvoting of any people on any site is not allowed.
    – Dilaton
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:40

I can't claim to know the intentions of the users behind this, but I must admit this smells like a certain rivalry gone too far. I would say it is probable this is an abuse of the system and not just coincidental. It would be a good idea to put in place measures to identify and reverse or correct the effects from a voting ring (possibly several accounts from the same IP address) on Area51, in much the same way as we have on other sites.

That aside, there are a lot of questions on your proposal with an excessive number of upvotes (18 upvotes by my count). Please try to get participants to repurpose their votes more strategically. This helps you get to the completion phase faster.

  • I can feel it too. Since the proposal is a superset of some of the existing proposal, any follower might get on rampage. I've tried the chatroom to redirect the votes. It was a little success. I know it takes some time to get used to the system, many of the followers on the proposal are new and might not know the use of tactical voting.
    – noob
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:31
  • Using the IP address to identify people is a very blunt instrument. For example, I share a corporate firewall with 10,000 other people. Reversing votes based on that is not very helpful.
    – Bo Persson
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 10:07
  • @Creator I am sorry for your proposal suffering under trolling behavior like this. I am currently experiencing a similar thing on area51 and the rules on area51 should IMHO be changed to forbid such a behavior ...
    – Dilaton
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:51

There's nothing "illegal" about it. If someone on a random Stack Exchange site decided to just start downvoting every question on the homepage one by one, that'd be a crappy thing for them to do, but it doesn't violate any rules. Same goes for Area 51 proposals (although voting on a lot of proposed questions by the same user does still get reversed if caught by the serial voting script). If the questions are good, they'll get more votes, so I wouldn't worry about it.

Also, a good quote from Area 51 Discussion:

The more this happens, the easier it will be to get from commitment to private beta and from private beta to public beta. As reaching a critical mass will be disproportionately easier, since more people followed the proposal before it managed to get to commitment. That's the same reasoning behind "don't upvote questions, just because they're close to 10, upvote good questions, regardless of their score". While a proposal gains followers it's a good thing to be weighed down and progress slowly. In definition, tactical upvoting hurts more than tactical downvoting.

  • 9
    As far as I know, serial upvoting/downvoting is not allowed on SO. What is the difference with this situation?
    – A. Rodas
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:19
  • Thanks for the info. I didn't know this discussion exists. But I am just concerned about the 2 year threshold. The proposal already seen 10 months.
    – noob
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:28
  • 2
    @A.Rodas Serial upvoting and serial downvoting refer to a situation where one user upvotes or downvotes many posts by the same author. Just voting on a lot of posts is entirely different, even if you use a lot of downvotes. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:14
  • 4
    @EliahKagan In my opinion this is also similar to voting fraud. It affects a proposal instead of a user, but ceirtainly it doesn't look a normal behaviour (maybe an equivalent for SO would be downvoting all the questions of a specific tag without any justification).
    – A. Rodas
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:31
  • 2
    @A.Rodas Downvoting all the questions in a tag (unless they actually all happen to deserve downvotes ...some tags come close...) is similar, in that there's no rule against that either, though it's worthwhile to inform mods because they (sometimes with the assistance of Stack Exchange employees) can investigate suspicious voting patterns. That is, I don't think there's anything inherently unallowed about downvoting all the questions in a tag, but it's cause for moderators to investigate further. Tactical downvoting on Area51 proposals is probably worse than a -1 on all questions in a tag. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:35
  • 3
    Fundamentally, even though these votes are not very nice and almost certainly do more harm than good, they are votes based on something about the posts being voted on, and not on their authors. Any action taken to prohibit such voting or retaliate/punish for it would deeply undermine the democratic nature of upvoting and downvoting on Stack Exchange. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:36
  • So the rules on area51 should IMHO probably be redrfined to not allow serial troll downvoting against proposals there either ...
    – Dilaton
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .