Note that I'll use user name XYZ here. If the user really exists, sorry, you aren't meant.

I encountered many times the situation, that a certain user: @YXZ, downvoted all answers to a question without a comment and adds his own solution. His own solution is then mostly a general answer which won't acutally fix the special question, mostly tries to point out, that all other answers and the opener have no plan about what they are talking.

Now this happened, I think the 4. time for a post of mine. Here ist the post (for example): PHP exceptions try and catch

Note that I've donwvoted his post, but 2 minutes later my post got a second down-vote and his were upvoted again. Although there were no activity in this post anymore since hours before. This are really reasons to assume that the user is using a second account for this.

I will find more examples if we need them for discussion. One time we could even get this user into a discussion and he admitted that it was he and that it was vandalism. He told us to edit or posts again (just minor) to make it possible to him to turn the down-votes back into upvotes.

I've flagged this post as vandalism every time, means 4 times. 2 times the flag were deemed helpful. Two times declined. (today).. I think it was just declined because the moderator don't see the vandalism in this actions, as he has no understanding about the technical background in the PDO tag.

Question: What to do?

  • try to talk with the user (tried many times without success. Just no reaction)?
  • accept the situation (unsatisfying)?
  • don't answer questions in the tag anymore and let @XYZ answer all those questions (sometimes wrong). (Also unsatisfying, as I have some experience with this. At least as much as the user in question, as far as I've seen)?

Btw: Here is text I've added to the flag:

This user has (likely) down-voted all answers, in favour of his own, (again) His own answer isn't good here. (believe me, I'm experienced with that). The problem here is that all of the methods will throw the same type of Exception and it would be hard to separate these afterwards. Note that it is really annoying to get downvoted again and again for every question I answer in the PDO tag, by this user. He should be banned from that tag. – 10 hours ago declined -


flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

  • 3
    Why did you flag for vandalism? And there is no need to call a specific user out here on Meta. Use a custom "other" flag for moderator attention and let them handle the situation, if there is any. – Bart Jun 9 '13 at 16:56
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    I think I've used other. Check my update. There is a need to call this special users name. He is an every day vandal with 50k rep – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 16:58
  • No wonder they declined that flag. Moderators are not in the business of judging the correctness of answers. Nor are they going to ban users from tags (that's not even possible). It's a terrible use of a flag. – Bart Jun 9 '13 at 16:58
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    Why it was two times deemed helpful? Don't you see that vandalism? Please just answer if you have the techincal background to do – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 16:59
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    Come on YourCommonSense does not always downvote all other answers. Sometimes he misses one. – juergen d Jun 9 '13 at 17:02
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    I have downvoted every single answer to a question before, because they were all wrong. It's impossible for anyone to say, yourself included, whether it actually happened in this situation. If it did happen it's still none of your business unless the rules are being broken; it's a valid thing to do if they're not. – ben is uǝq backwards Jun 9 '13 at 17:02
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    Seems @juergend is the only one who understands what's happening here. This guy downvotes good posts as well, adds his own bad post. votes up using second account. What breaks not the rules in this case? – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 17:06
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    @hek2mgl No rules are broken there. Any user is free to vote how he sees fit. If you were right about this voting behaviour, it admittedly wins the user no awards for decency. But it's not forbidden. As for the second account, that's moderator territory. If that is truly the case, they will be able to deal with that and a flag suffices. Flag and move on. That's all there is to it. – Bart Jun 9 '13 at 17:08
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    @benisuǝqbackwards As I said, at least once he admitted this in a comments. (must be an enlightened moment). Every guy who answers questions in the PDO tag knows what I'm saying – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 17:10
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    @Bart Flag and move on. That's all there is to it. Thanks for the hint (asnwer it, and I'll up-vote), but this is unsatisfying. Note that I'm coding 12 years with php and don't want to be down-voted for good answers. Note that his solution is the worst one can do in case of application portability, flexibility and maintainability. (I know what I'm saying) – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 17:16
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    Using a second account to vote for yourself is a pretty serious charge. And in this instance, it is completely without merit. That particular user has had more serial down-voters attacking him than just about anyone, but no sockpuppets that I'm aware of. – Shog9 Jun 9 '13 at 17:32
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    @Shog9 Not from my site. After he once admitted vandalism on one of my post, I up-vote him many times. Also in situation were he got down-votes from others (for a good post). I never was offensive against him. I like friendly communication. (mostly) Your comment just does not apply here. I've only down-voted this special answer, as registering a global exception handler isn't a good advice. – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 17:46
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    The user in question is often enough right; he is just... direct enough to downvote everyone who is wrong. This can be very irksome, but it's not vandalism. – Pekka Jun 9 '13 at 17:48
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    @hek2mgl: it's relevant because you straight-up accused him of having an accomplice to up-vote his answer. If you knew who really up-voted it, you would be... chagrined. But I can't tell you that. So just know that you're very, very wrong and should be more careful about throwing out such serious accusations in the future. – Shog9 Jun 9 '13 at 17:52
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    @hek2mgl He means that you are wrong in accusing the user of fradulent voting. As a moderator he has tools to verify such things. He does not mean that your answer to the question would be wrong. – JJJ Jun 10 '13 at 8:24

That specific user has traditionally very strong views about how to do things. I'm not saying he's always right (although he very often is), and I would not have downvoted your answer. However, he believes that catching individual exceptions never makes sense; he is entitled to use his votes to express that view. Not many of us do that as extremely as he does, but what he does is not vandalism.

The lesson we should take from this is not to take downvotes too seriously, listen to him where he's right and ignore it where we don't agree.

Also, as some moderators already have confirmed, there was nothing fishy going on here in terms of vote fraud.

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  • thank you!! :)... (note that I've just up-voted just once!! hehe! :) I don't have a second account and won't have once. this is like cheating ... ) – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 18:11
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    The problem only begins when you get more than one or two downvotes. Never get excited over one downvote. – Madara's Ghost Jun 9 '13 at 18:19
  • @MadaraUchiha yeap. was just annoying because this happened frequently. however.... – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 18:35

You keep using that word, vandalism. It does not mean what you think it means.

Let's say I ask "what are the prime numbers less than 10?" One person answers with a definition of prime numbers. Another answers saying "3 and 5". Another provides the complete list. Yet another provides some code for calculating them. Perhaps some of these people downvote some of the other people's answers, considering them incomplete or alternatively considering them full of irrelevant stuff that wasn't asked.

That is not vandalism. That is disagreeing. Feel free to comment on answers (not on meta behaviour like "I think it was you who downvoted that other answer, stop it") and to downvote answers you think are not useful. You might also edit "fluff" out of answers including things like "I think my answer is the only good one".

Vandalism would be if I edited the question to "What is the capital of Ontario?" or "ha ha you people are all so stupid, you're stupid stupid stupid!" or something meaner and ruder than that. A moderator who is told about vandalism and finds a number of answers that are all just answers to the question is going to decline the flag. And rightly so.

What should you do? Ignore this person. Keep asking and answering and voting, and where you can, ignore who writes things. And if you can't, then just make a sort of tutting noise with your teeth when you realize "oh, its that guy again," and move on. Just move on.

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  • 8
    Came here expecting someone to say the first sentence. Was not disappointed. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 9 '13 at 17:44
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn somebody had to – Kate Gregory Jun 9 '13 at 17:45
  • @KateGregory Thank you! :) your answer is very helpful. I've learned a lot. Pekka's just fitted more in this special situation... – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 18:30
  • Now I want to know what the capital of Ontario is. – Pekka Jun 9 '13 at 18:36
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    @Pekka웃 Making a screenshot everytime I see such posts (that's funny :). Maybe I should put them on my website once... something like: I AM AN 10 YEARS IRAQUI SOLDIER. HOW COULD YOU ..... ASS... DELETE MY POSTS :D – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 18:41
  • Btw, can even deleted post's being found using data explorer? – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 18:43

The answer here is simple: flag once with a clear explanation and move on. If you think there is some vote fraude or sock puppeting going on, say so in a flag and leave it at that. The moderators will have a look and see if any action needs to be taken.

As for the flag you have left, it's no surprise it got declined:

This user has (likely) down-voted all answers, in favour of his own, (again)

Any user is free to do so. Does it win him an award for decency (if this is what happened)? Nope. But users are free to vote how they see fit.

His own answer isn't good here. (believe me, I'm experienced with that). The problem here is that all of the methods will throw the same type of Exception and it would be hard to separate these afterwards.

Frankly, moderators are not in the business of judging the correctness of answers. This whole section is pointless for a moderator and does not change what I said before.

Note that it is really annoying to get downvoted again and again for every question I answer in the PDO tag, by this user.

It's your assumption he is doing this. You can't be certain. And even if you're right, users are free to vote how they see fit. Serial downvoting is not allowed, and targeting a specific user with downvotes is also problematic. If you think this is indeed the case, flag (as you have done) and move on. If a moderator ultimately takes no action, there must not have been any evidence of problematic behaviour. Or at least not enough to take action at this point in time.

He should be banned from that tag.

That's simply impossible. Users can not be banned from a particular tag.

All in all, especially with you flagging multiple times for the same situation, I'm not surprised that the flag was declined. Wrong answers and annoying voting behaviour (if not fraudulent) is not something moderators need to get involved in.

I'd advice you to stop focussing on a single user and just move on. If your answers are good, you'll get far more rep out of them than you'll lose by the downvotes from others.

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  • 1
    Frankly, moderators are not in the business of judging the correctness of answers. This might be true but how should they detect vandalism? Means this that even my mother (highly skilled in communication with programmers but no technical background ;) can be a moderator for the PDO tag? (btw, thanks for taking time to answer, +1) – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 17:19
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    I still don't see what you mean by "vandalism". Is this user vandalising the other answers by changing them? Is he vandalising the question? If it's merely the voting you're worried about, or the adding of incorrect answers, that's not vandalism. – Bart Jun 9 '13 at 17:22
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    Don't you think that it is vandalism, to give an incorrect answer and dovwvote correct ones? Don't you think a 50k+ user should be aware of his role here on SO? Note that unexperienced users may just copy into their mind what he is saying. Don't you think this should be punished? maybe we are talking about different things? – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 17:24
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    If his answers are incorrect, why are they not downvoted by other users? – JJJ Jun 9 '13 at 17:24
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    @hek2mgl That's annoying, but it's not vandalism and not something that moderators will get involved with. The community is more than capable to deal with that by itself through appropriate voting. – Bart Jun 9 '13 at 17:25
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    @Bart Again many thanks for the discussion. I appreciated it, although results are not really statisfying for me. (this can happen when discussing, sad but true). Just let me mention one last thing. I really had users here (below 200 rep), which told me: no this is not possible, check this answer I got yesterday, from ... don't ask who ;) ) .. But however, if it is ok for you I would wait a little bit what may others have to say but will accept it later.. thanks again! :) – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 17:31
  • @hek2mgl Take all the time you need. You don't have to accept my answer at all. Perhaps a moderator will weigh in as well, but I'm pretty sure I'm not far off. – Bart Jun 9 '13 at 17:32
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    I see: you'll get far more rep out of them than you'll lose by the downvotes from others. I know that! I never used the word reputation here. But I think the quality of the site isn't guaranteed in this tag anymore. I was responsible for the apprentices in my last job. those guys just copy this, and I have to tell them this is wrong. not good advertisment for SO (btw, why I got now 3 downvotes for my question?) – hek2mgl Jun 9 '13 at 17:39
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    @hek2mgl It's a single user, not a reflection of the quality of the community as a whole. As for the downvotes here, on Meta they often are used to indicate disagreement. – Bart Jun 9 '13 at 17:39

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