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Today I saw a behaviour which really surprised me:

I answered the question and then after a minute another guy answered it as well. The answer was basically a duplicate of my answer (which was not a surprise, the question was simple). I checked him, because he was quite reputable guy with 21k reputation.

Then I saw that my answer was downvoted. So the answer of another guy (not the guy with 21k, who also happened to have similar answer to mine). I was surprised, because both our answers were correct. But then I decided to check one more time the 21k guy who was not downvoted.

To my surprise I saw that right now he had +2 downvotes in his statistics. This was extremely lame. He basically downvoted two correct answers to be on top of the results.

Question:

Is this behaviour acceptable and what should a person do if he sees or suspect such behaviour? I was lucky because I saw two opened page and was able to see the difference in votes and it happened in less then a minute so I was pretty sure that he downvoted correct answers.

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    You don't know if he downvoted, and without his explicit admission you don't know why he downvoted if he did. And furthermore, barring vote fraud, users are free to vote how they see fit.
    – Bart
    Nov 17, 2013 at 8:21
  • There is nothing to do, voting is anonymous, and he is entitled to vote as he please. Nov 17, 2013 at 8:22
  • @Bart I thought that the idea of this site is to upvote correct answers, but apparently there is nothing wrong in downvoting my opponents just to collect some points. Nov 17, 2013 at 8:25
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    @SalvadorDali It's your assumption that is what happened. And that's a pretty big assumption. Ideally correct answers should not be downvoted. But at the moment you're calling a user out for something you simply can't prove.
    – Bart
    Nov 17, 2013 at 8:25
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    @Bart, I wouldn't say it's a pretty big assumption if he was able to see the timing in action. The mods or the Team could check it out if they wanted to and let the other guy know his behavior wasn't appropriate if the information is correct. Nov 17, 2013 at 8:27
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    Indeed, in the question I linked it's said to just flag it for mod attention if you suspect it's happening. Nov 17, 2013 at 8:28
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    @LanceRoberts A user having cast 2 downvotes at what is more or less the beginning of the day, and then directly linking that to two downvotes on the posts, .... yeah, pretty big assumption.
    – Bart
    Nov 17, 2013 at 8:29
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    OOO.. a post all about me - how fun :P This was not a strategic downvote. No time to formulate an entire answer ATM, but will add my 2 cents soon.
    – Lix
    Nov 17, 2013 at 8:43
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    @Lix: You're famous! Nov 17, 2013 at 8:47
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    I don't think meta should be used to target individuals, even if it just to emphasize a larger point. There is no way to verify with certainty (unless you're an admin?) that it was him down voting, even though it seems probable.
    – Wold
    Nov 17, 2013 at 9:00
  • Did you delete your answer? Nov 17, 2013 at 9:00
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    @Wold: only Stack Exchange employees (not moderators, though they have access to tools which give general aggregated numbers for dealing with serial voting) who have access to the database are able to tell who voted. Nov 17, 2013 at 9:00
  • @Qantas94Heavy yes, I deleted it. But not for a reason that I think it was wrong. Just that I was really surprised to see such behaviour and do not see a reason helping others just to be downvoted for a few rep scores. This is not a behaviour I would like to see on this resource. Nov 17, 2013 at 9:12

1 Answer 1

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The principle behind the site is simple: correct and good answers should get upvotes, while poor and incorrect answers should get downvotes, more or less. Users who downvote or upvote content for tactical reasons only are not really playing the game right, especially if those tactical votes are "incorrect" in a sense.

Another principle behind the voting system is that votes are anonymous. You don't really know who voted for what. And even if you happen to figure it out, you don't know why this happened. Were those correct answers really correct? Was there something about them that you missed? Might the voter have missed some of its points? Was it one user who cast all the votes across posts? Was it more than one user?

The thing is, it's pretty human to want to see patterns, or to confirm our suspicions. So you look at whatever information is available to you, and you use it to confirm the ideas you already had. The thing is though, that you're still pretty likely to be wrong. A ton of things could have happened. And even if it was a single user downvoting all competing answers, you'd still have to establish it was for tactical reasons.

So please don't go around and accuse others. No good things will come of that. If you want to know why you received a downvote, at most put a comment below your answer asking "Why the downvote? Is there anything I can address to take away the concerns?". If there is no response, you'll just have to move on. If your answer is correct, it should in general receive its fair share of upvotes. And if there is a response, with a legitimate explanation, it might well help you improve something you did not think of.

And if you really expect foul play, you could potentially flag for moderator attention, clearly explaining what you think happened. But I'd personally not do so for a one-of deal. I'd have to have a pretty big suspicion of this particular user doing so time and time again, before I'd ask moderators (who might even have to escalate it higher up) to investigate such an issue.

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    Idea of posting the question here was to find out opinion about such actions and to find out is it a common thing. You idea about "Why the downvote" also sounds valid in reality are not really helping. I have seen a lot of questions like this with no response what so ever. I have nothing against downvotes, if they show what you have done wrong, but the downvote for a correct answer - this is an overkill. I am not going to flag a moderator I just wanted to find out are there any actions against this and is there going to be new improvements which will deal with this issue. Nov 17, 2013 at 9:25

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