When I come across an awful question like this one, my gut instinct is to "investigate" that user to see what else they have posted.

All too often, the user has posted several poor questions that are en route to closure. I will typically add some comments and cast a down/close-vote here and there.

It occurs to me that this might be serial voting – a sudden rash of votes from one user to another. Do I risk being caught out by the serial voting algorithm?

  • It depends on the number of posts you downvote. If you keep it on the down-low, then the algorithm won't reverse it. Oct 16, 2013 at 19:06
  • 1
    @Lix Reading that link, I feel like the Grinch in comparison :-) Oct 16, 2013 at 19:10
  • 3
    @DuncanJones You're a mean one, Mr. Jones.
    – Servy
    Oct 16, 2013 at 19:13
  • If you go hunting and looking at all of a users question that would count as serial voting. If you come across multiple questions by the same user in normal use of the site it should not count.
    – Joe W
    Oct 16, 2013 at 19:22
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    @joe - the problem is that it would be quite hard to differentiate between those two scenarios.
    – Lix
    Oct 16, 2013 at 19:32
  • I often go on investigation but I only ever vote/flag based on them because that has oversight (other people have to agree with me), unlike voting Oct 16, 2013 at 20:05
  • @Lix Well in general if a user casts a lot of votes on someones question is it more likely that the went looking for questions to vote on or came across them in normal site use?
    – Joe W
    Oct 16, 2013 at 21:15
  • @joe - usually you are correct. There are some cases on high volume low turnover tags where you pretty much only see the same 5 users answering almost everything...
    – Lix
    Oct 16, 2013 at 21:17
  • @JoeW Are you suggesting looking for questions to vote on is wrong? As someone who cares about the quality of the site, should I not take an interest in someone who's questions may be of below-acceptable standard? Oct 17, 2013 at 7:05
  • @DuncanJones Targeting a user and voting up or down on their questions is considered serial voting and there is plenty of information on it meta.stackexchange.com/questions/28756/….
    – Joe W
    Oct 17, 2013 at 12:10
  • @JoeW That link is focussed on malicious targeting (e.g. down-votes for no justified reason). My situation is quite different. Oct 21, 2013 at 8:49
  • @DuncanJones Serial voting does not concern if there is a valid reason to upvote or downvote a lot of a users questions but rather the fact that one user has targeted another user to cast a chain of votes on their questions and answers. Here is an example that is talking of reversing upvotes that where done to thank a user meta.stackexchange.com/questions/49651/….
    – Joe W
    Oct 21, 2013 at 12:18

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's possible you'll be caught by the algorithm, so keep it reasonable.

  • "Reasonable" requires some definition to maintain any utility as a rule of thumb.
    – jball
    Oct 16, 2013 at 23:39

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