Could it be possible for someone to get numerous people to upvote all of your questions/answers in an attempt to make it look like voting fraud is going on and suspending/deleting accounts?

For example, if you had (say) 20 questions and someone who had a grudge on you created 50 different "sock-puppet" accounts to upvote each and everyone of them, wouldn't there be some sort of automatic system detecting this "fraud" and placing punishments where it's actually not the fault of the upvoted account's owner?

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    This has been asked before, and the answer was, if I recall, "no, not really". I'll see if I can find the dupe. – ale Jul 1 '13 at 13:59
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    Related: How to act when you're being serial upvoted – ale Jul 1 '13 at 14:00
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    It takes certain rep to vote, so puppet accounts are not easily created. Also, what @AlEverett says, it would be more of HIS problem, not yours – Mołot Jul 1 '13 at 14:01
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    @NullPoiиteя - It should be pointed out that all of the accounts there were removed manually by moderators after a lengthy investigation into odd voting patterns. There was no doubt that this was a coordinated attempt by one group of users to game the voting system, and the account at the center was clearly complicit in this. – Brad Larson Jul 1 '13 at 14:55

I've seen a number of people be worried about this, or flag about serial upvoting on their account because they're afraid that they'll be suspended as a result. This is not something that should cause you concern.

Suspensions always require manual action by moderators, so a human will always be the one to make a decision on whether or not there is a suspicious pattern to any voting. As Mad Scientist indicates, we have some very detailed tools that allow us to identify these patterns and determine if fake accounts are being coordinated to benefit another. Only when we have very solid evidence that indicates these accounts are related to yours do we remove them and suspend. If there's any doubt, we don't.

I've even started experimenting with not suspending people for minor incidents of sock puppetry, to see if a suspension is needed in those cases to reform user behavior. Results have been mostly positive so far.

It would be really, really hard for someone to attack a person in this manner in a convincing way. They'd almost have to be someone you're related to or work with, and you would most likely know exactly who tried this if they did. Even in a case like that, odds are that we'd simply invalidate the votes and warn the people involved instead of suspending.

If you do see a coordinated ring of people voting for your account, flag it and we'll take a look. Frankly, I've only seen this once, but I've seen coordinated downvote attacks several times. You're far more likely to be hit with one of those.


The automatic system will only reverse the votes; it won't perform any other punishments. Such other punishments would only be given by a human moderator (who would likely be notified of a possible action to take by the automatic script). For that human moderator there's a pretty good chance that they would be able to determine what was going on, and that it wasn't you who was voting yourself up. You would also have an opportunity to explain yourself in the event that a moderator did take some further action against you and be able to explain that the other accounts were not yours and that you were not complicit in their actions.


There's a bit more to sock puppet detection than that, and while this kind of attack would be theoretically possible, it would be very hard to make it convincing enough. The tools moderators have available are not public though, so you probably won't get a more specific answer than that.

The votes themselves would likely be removed automatically by the serial voting script, but any further action is done manually by a moderator or SE staff. There are no automatic suspension or account removals.

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