I would like to know if other users here experienced a curious pattern.

Let's say that someone comes to meta to solve a problem triggered by a post on a completely different subject in one of the StackExchange sites.

Now, the author asks a very good question which also find many supporters in meta. Not only that, but also the content of the original post suddenly receives many upvotes. Or vice versa, a badly asked, criticizing or offensive question in meta in relation to a post causes a stream of downvotes of the post in question.

Let's call that "mirrored voting": The vote for a post on meta give you also a (unrelated?) bonus/malus for the content you have linked to.

The easiest explanation is that the quality of the originator surely has an influence on the quality of his meta questions. But that does not explain why posts with a steady direction up/down (even long ago) receives a sudden surge in the opposite direction shortly after the meta question.

Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, how do you handle it? As I am rarely here, I have no problem with the pattern myself, but I am curious if other users experience it. Perhaps there is already a term for it, but I did not find any posts about this specific pattern.

EDIT: The pattern is different from serial voting because it really affects only the linked question and it is not revenge voting because there are no incidences of downvotes after the original meta post hibernates.

Should be anything done about it in your opinion (I can understand that it is quite a natural behavior) ? Or do you see the problem more on the side of the poster (better manners, be more defensive...)

  • 2
    Good questions attract users. These users will go to a profile page and may click on the linked accounts for other sites. So a popular question may very well end up attracting attention to questions by the same user on other sites. I have nothing to support the above ;)
    – Oded
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:18
  • 1
    Well when you post it on the meta, the question will get more attention (as it is reviewed). And if the question is good it will get upvoted, and else it'll get downvoted. Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:18
  • @HugoDozois - OP is asking about voting patterns across different sites.
    – Oded
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:19
  • 3
    @Oded Well that's what I meant to reply about, but I was probably unclear. When you do post a meta post about a SO question, it will attract attention to that SO question. Thus the SO question getting some votes suddenly. For sure, if the meta post is rude, the SO question might get more downV and vice versa. Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:21
  • Since meta votes are often used to indicate agreement, seems likely that someone who upvoted on meta would also upvote the linked question, if they chose to vote there. Same with downvotes, especially on meta questions like "why was X closed?" or "should I have asked this?".
    – Troyen
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:22
  • @Hugo: That is exactly the pattern I was referring to. Oded: Lucky man ! (Referring that you do not experience this) Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:23
  • 10
    Discussing a SO question on meta is almost like putting a bounty on it.
    – juergen d
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:28
  • 3
    @juergend - Or the opposite of a bounty...
    – Oded
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:29
  • @juergen d: Seems I am not alone in my observation...:) Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:31
  • Occasionally the beneficiary on SO doesn't even have anything to do with the Meta about it. The other day someone posted essentially a rant complaining about closed questions and got very heavily downvoted (something like -40) and as an example he posted a question where I happened to have the top-voted answer. The question was edited into shape and re-opened, and in the process I got several upvotes. I wasn't even aware of the meta post for most of the day. I saw all the upvotes first and thought it very odd that I suddenly got a surge of attention on an answer I posted years ago...
    – Ben Lee
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 23:33

1 Answer 1


It's actually even more complicated than that; there's three main scenario's for the average "please look at my question" meta adventure:

  1. The rant - Normally involves an assumption of correctness and a disdain for other's opinions. This normally results in downvotes on meta and possibly some downvotes on the question in question.

    This approach should be avoided.

  2. The question of supreme awesomeness. Yes, it does happen. This normally results in upvotes all around. Happy days.

    If you're lucky and eloquent have a go.

  3. The rest. This is a wide bucket and, as you say, can result in pretty much anything you care to name. However, and this is a big however, I'm beginning to notice that the results of the meta question is solely determined by the tenor of the initial comments on that question.

    You might get a "meh" reaction and come out relatively unscathed. You might get a few negative comments, maybe someone disliked your grammar or was having a bad hair day (I still don't know what that means) and you get punished. Equally, someone could be sympathetic, maybe you're new to the network, and it's roses all round; whether you do anything or not.

    It's a bit scary to believe that you're effectively putting the results of attempting to ask for help in the hands of the first few people to notice your question but it's sometimes true.

People's reactions are, essentially, random. You takes your chances and on meta you take your chances more than elsewhere.

There are a few ways to survive meta and protect your "mirror" question: ensure you've searched before; the nth duplicate is not widely adored. Don't be snarky; the nicer you are in your question the nicer people will be in response. Lastly, don't assume you know everything; nobody does, least of all me. Dictating how people should react, however nicely you do it, will not go down well.

Simply put if you're a nice person, who writes a well researched, grammatically correct, question you're more likely to be received well than if you'd done the opposite. Your "mirrored" question is likely (nothing is certain) to perform similarly to your meta question (unless you haven't read the FAQ).

  • Uh, that rings awfully true (and I do not like the "bit scary" part). Hopefully there is another poster who does not share your opinion and is equally convincing... Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:53
  • You could take "don't assume you know everything; nobody does, least of all me" as a hint @ThorstenS :-). Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 21:55
  • Found now out that there is no private chat. So a hint from me: Do not assume that I am not aware of the reasons for my decisions, even if you do think that I would have said this sentence before now ;-) Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 22:30
  • Re: "it does happen", the user got ~340 points in Main after posting that Q in Meta o_O
    – brasofilo
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 23:10

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