I have seen this many times. I answer a question with an ok answer, the votes start going up. The next morning I wake up and happen to log in and see that a couple high level users have come, picked some minor mistake in the answer (or a perceived mistake) , voted it down, and answered the question with a worse or identical answer. Suddenly the result is that my good answer has a score of 1 and a bunch of bad comments, their copy of it has a score of 3 and a stupid "yes!"-level answer by a highlevel user has the top score. For some reason this "yes!" never gets voted down..

So to me it seems that there are groups of high level users roving about and instead of voting on the merits of answers, they vote other answers down, and upvote the group, and in this way hijack the question.

2 PostgreSQL indices on the same column of the same table - redundant?

(answer in that link has already been heavily edited, so read the edit history first.. )

  • 16
    Is this just a rant, or did you have a specific point to discuss? Can you include specific post links? Jul 5, 2013 at 10:41
  • I guess the questions are "has anyone else seen this" and "is this ok or not" Jul 5, 2013 at 10:42
  • 21
    Have you considered that those minor points are perhaps the crucial difference between a correct and an incorrect answer? High-rep users generally have gained the high rep because they have provided correct answers to questions. Jul 5, 2013 at 10:43
  • 1
    Please link to some specific answers otherwise it is just a rant...
    – hayd
    Jul 5, 2013 at 10:43
  • 1
    and I would rather not include post links, since I was already wondering whether to post this with my name or just create a new account since this will probably get me downvoted more and or incur the wrath of highlevels. Jul 5, 2013 at 10:44
  • 3
    Likely recent example
    – AakashM
    Jul 5, 2013 at 10:44
  • and they were not a crucial difference between correct and incorrect. Jul 5, 2013 at 10:44
  • 2
    @MarkusMikkolainen Which part of which comment are you 'offended' by?
    – Clive
    Jul 5, 2013 at 10:51
  • 14
    We don't edit wrong posts to make them right. Jul 5, 2013 at 10:54
  • 1
    OK, this was not nice, but quoting way outdated docs is not smart thing to do either.
    – Mołot
    Jul 5, 2013 at 10:54
  • 2
    Well my experience has been the opposite - a couple of days ago a 60K+ user made an alternative answer to mine, which happened to be worse. He left it there for a day, received no downvotes (from me or anyone else), realised mine was probably better and deleted his own answer (I'm putting thoughts in his head, I know, but that's how I saw it). It may even have been a comment of mine rather than an answer (just been looking ...) Jul 5, 2013 at 10:59
  • 4
    About the comment: He could have used more delicate language, but answer based on outdated docs is a sign of dangerously carefree mind. About "just not a link" - source is a source when you can show it, prove it.
    – Mołot
    Jul 5, 2013 at 11:00
  • 1
    @MarkusMikkolainen In this case the easiest thing you can do is accept that a bunch of people think the answer you've provided is less than brilliant, and move on. If you know better than them, great - feel happy that you're ahead of the curve, and know more than users with higher reputation. Or if you feel this is a wider problem please provide more than just the one isolated example; I find it difficult to reconcile your claim that high rep users are "roving about and instead of voting on the merits of answers, they vote other answers down, and upvote the group" without seeing any evidence
    – Clive
    Jul 5, 2013 at 11:09
  • 3
    @MarkusMikkolainen I've felt wound up by high rep users too, and I've seen comments (not answers) from some that also appear rude or arrogant. I've flagged some and they've been deleted. I could rant about it, but I dont. I just work on the site like I used to and my own rep seems to be going up quite well. Eventually I will have real power and then I can change the world ... bwahahahahaha ... Jul 5, 2013 at 11:10
  • 15
    "...and see that a couple high level users have come, picked some minor mistake..., voted it down, and answered the question..." You have exactly zero idea whether the people who commented voted the answer down, unless they said so. None. Zip. Zilch. Don't assume. A lot of people comment without downvoting, and a lot of people downvote without commenting. To assume that someone taking the time to comment also downvoted is a mistake, and a useless, pointless one. Also note that people don't downvote you, they downvote the answer. Jul 5, 2013 at 12:10

3 Answers 3


simple answer: if someone is being abusive, flag it, and let mods handle it. Trust me, we don't take reputation into account when judging that sort of thing.

Next, for votes; just take them as they come. use them as a guide, or ignore them altogether. If you find your content is regularly being down voted, perhaps consider that the fault may not be with other users.

As far as patterns go, I simply do not at all see what you describe happening. People around here love seeing new folks provide good answers, and up votes are not exclusive; they could (and do) up vote multiple answers on a single question, if they think they deserve it.

Finally, if you think someone is unfairly targeting you for down votes , that is a separate matter, to be looked into by moderators and/or staff... But I see no evidence of that here at all.

  • 2
    And even more so, you don't need to take reputation into account. I've seen as many "*ç*%/(! users of low-rep (of perhaps even more so) as I've seen of high-rep. Let's face it, high rep users stand out. Their actions and behaviour are noticed more often and not as easily shrugged off as those from some random lower-rep user.
    – Bart
    Jul 5, 2013 at 11:18
  • I dont mean that EVERY high level user, but some minority seem to be doing this. Jul 5, 2013 at 11:19
  • 2
    and Imo high level users should be noticed more when they act bad since they should know better. Jul 5, 2013 at 11:19
  • 4
    Again, @markus if you see something rude, flag it. Reputation has nothing to do with it. Jul 5, 2013 at 11:21
  • 3
    I've seen many, many times almost identical answers by a high-rep user and a low-rep user where the high-rep gets voted up and the low rep gets ignored. (Ignored being important here; I haven't seen the case as presented in the question).
    – user213634
    Jul 5, 2013 at 11:24
  • 1
    @AndersUP I've definitely seen that happen. I do wish people would check out some of the other answers too at times like that. Jul 5, 2013 at 14:53
  • 1
    @AndrewBarber Me too, but in a sense it's a behaviour encouraged by the site: Rep is a function of "the amount of subject matter expertise you have and the level of respect your peers have for you" (meta.stackexchange.com/a/7238/213634) It's only natural that the answer from the higher rep gains more; (s)he is by the site's definition the more authorative source. I suspect critical mass required for being generally percieved as the authorative source has risen steadily, making it more difficult for newbies to be noticed. At least we are some that still have a shot at Unsung Hero. ;-)
    – user213634
    Jul 5, 2013 at 18:41
  • well. It seems that in the comments of answers we finally get the discussion I was aiming for. sadly the question which brought this commentchain is voted to hell and these comments will probably quite soon disappear. Jul 5, 2013 at 20:15

Your question here doesn't actually summarize the situation well. It's a well known phenomenon that in an all-other-things-equal comparison of two identical answers, upvotes are more likely to go to the higher rep user. It's a confidence thing. However the issue you raised really isn't about that. Your case study isn't an apples-to-apples comparison between the same answer from a low rep and a high rep users.

There is an obvious reason why your answer isn't as well received. The faux pas with the version of the manual is one issue (fixed) but you still don't do much more than quoting a line from the manual. The other answer, besides citing the relevant part of the manual, goes into detail about WHY and gives case studies explaining the situation. This is much more useful and deserves more upvotes.

Rather than worry so much about others' behavior, the best thing to do would have been to:

  1. Edit your answer to fix the issue with the manual.
  2. Flag the comment as obsolete, maybe thank the user for pointing out the potential source of confusion.
  3. Compare your answer to other higher ranked answers and note any little details you might have overlooked that could help you write better answers in the future.
  • 2
    Regarding correcting and thanking; I've almost always found that when someone else notices a small mistake on my answer; I correct it and thank them then I almost always get an upvote. Co incidence? I think not Jul 5, 2013 at 12:17
  • @RichardTingle with me it is just so mood dependent (unfortunately for everyone else here), I am trying to practice being gracious, most people are just trying to help, if not me the actual site, to have good quality posts, besides we are all pedantic and sticklers for detail.. which makes us good for programming and probably annoying to our friends and family..
    – user310756
    Jul 18, 2013 at 16:03

I have also seen this pattern, particularly from a specific user.

Example: data insertion using PDO

  1. User @YourCommonSense answered the original question with a flippant rant:

    I don't know what's particular problem with your insert, but your implementation is just terrible.

    He goes on with a long reply about exactly what's wrong with the OP's code, but without addressing the question.

  2. Two other users, myself and @moskito-x, answer the OP's question and give helpful and correct answers. Despite what @MartijnPieters suggests, this is not a case where the abusive user answers more correctly.

  3. @YourCommonSense marks each of our answers down, and writes a comment meant to justify the downvote (he has since deleted his comment on my answer, but it was dismissive about my answer as merely correcting the OP's typos).

    I understand we cannot know for certain that he gave the downvote just because he made a comment, but the fact that they happen so close together in time, and that I have seen the same pattern on several other questions, makes me think he is in fact the downvoter.

    At least his negative comment to @moskito-x was completely wrong ("Insert cannot fail because of incorrect data.").

This isn't the only instance. @YourCommonSense is an example of user who is rude, disrespectful, and abuses the downvote system. He routinely downvotes other correct answers, and justifies them with trivial or outrightly false objections. He routinely posts grouchy rants about other people's code style, without answering their question.

My point, though, is that the StackOverflow site does not give us any means to flag such users who repeatedly behave badly. We can flag their individual offenses, but there's no way to raise the broader issue to the moderators.

What I'd like to see is a way we can call for an intervention. I'd like moderators to confront the user and tell him, "behave more respectfully, stop downvoting other correct answers, and don't post without addressing the question -- or you'll be banned."

You must log in to answer this question.

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