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From time to time, I look at the profile of a user who's posted something crap, done something I think is inappropriate, or otherwise annoyed me. If I see that they have a history of posting rubbish, I'll tend to click through and downvote much of it. (Of course, I don't downvote decent contributions out of spite - even if I don't like the authors.)

As far as I know, what I do is allowed, but I worry that one day the serial downvoting script is going to consider me evil and reverse my downvotes.

If this happens (assuming it hasn't already), will I be notified, or do serial downvote reversals happen without informing the downvoter?

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    "As far as I know, what I do is allowed" - no, it's not. – John Dvorak Dec 30 '13 at 16:50
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    @JanDvorak Source? I don't see any reason that looking through a problem user's profile for bad posts to downvote would be any different than looking for any other kind of bad behaviour to address. Looking through a known problem user's profile for e.g. plagiarism or spam to flag is actively encouraged, so why would this case be different? – Mark Amery Dec 30 '13 at 16:52
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    because then you're 1) rating the poster, not his posts (no human is perfect), and 2) skewing the quality filter, which assumes the primary source of votes is the front page. – John Dvorak Dec 30 '13 at 16:55
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    @Mark, it looks like you're focused on the user instead of the content. Bad content may be downvoted indeed, but going through a user's profile to downvote his/her contributions because s/he "annoyed you" seems too much. – Frédéric Hamidi Dec 30 '13 at 16:55
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    The behaviour is not disallowed per se, but the general understanding is it's likely to be caught by the reversal mechanism and that's it. Adding a notification is arguably counterproductive, as it would alert malicious voters. – Pëkka Dec 30 '13 at 16:55
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    @JanDvorak No, I'm not rating the user - at least not intentionally. I'm quite possibly going to be biased by my initial opinion of them, though, so I can see why this behaviour might be frowned upon. – Mark Amery Dec 30 '13 at 16:56
  • @JanDvorak My apologies - mod Oded's post here corroborates what you're saying. If I'm reading correctly, the official line is that looking through a problem user's posts for stuff to flag is encouraged, but I mustn't downvote anything that I see in the process. – Mark Amery Dec 30 '13 at 17:15
  • @JanDvorak Although I find it amusing that on the question I just linked to, you were making the exact same points I just did (only you made them more eloquently than me): but he's voting on posts, not the poster. Being from a specific user just happens to be a pretty good heuristic. Did a knock on the head induce a personality change between then and now? :) – Mark Amery Dec 30 '13 at 17:25
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    It's not a personality change. It's that I've been convinced by the the same arguments I'm making now. As a side note, please be more careful when posting comments that might be offensive to their recepient. I think you didn't quite succeed in your last comment. – John Dvorak Dec 30 '13 at 17:36
  • If it is a question or answer that is really bad I may go back a couple. After that it is targeting the user. – paparazzo Dec 1 '16 at 17:31
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There is no notification at all, only an entry in the reputation history of the target user. The only notification that can happen is a moderator contacting you or even suspending you if they consider your voting patterns to be abusive.

You generally should avoid going through the profile of a user and look for crap to downvote, you're very likely to trigger the vote reversal script that way. While you're still voting based on the quality of the post, you're also targeting a specific user which is far from ideal.

  • Having just experienced having votes reversed for serial downvoting for the first time, I now know that this answer that I accepted years ago is wrong - in fact, the reversal shows up in the reputation history of the user who cast the votes, not just the reputation history of the user who received them. – Mark Amery May 13 '17 at 15:20
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Contrary to the answer by Mad Scientist that I accepted here years ago, you will receive an entry in your reputation history if your serial downvotes get reversed. I discovered this recently when I downvoted all 4 of the posts of a bot that was posting plagiarised code samples as answers.

The reversals will show up as "undownvoted" in your reputation history, as shown in the screenshot below:

My rep history

A couple of interesting observations:

  • The reversal doesn't reverse all the downvotes that you made on a user's posts. Given my memory of the exact actions I took and the times between them, I have some strong suspicions about how it decides which ones to reverse, but I won't disclose them here.
  • As you can see higher up in the image, there's nothing stopping you from immediately re-downvoting the exact same posts as soon as you are notified of your downvotes being reversed.
  • feature request related to voting on that plagiarizer: Fix serial downvoting reversal to not apply to users spamming site front page with bad answers. Wrt re-downvoting, it is quite likely to be reversed as discussed here: "the guy who serially voted you once, will have harder time trying it next time, even if they vote less..." – gnat May 13 '17 at 20:14
  • If I understand this correctly, this only shows the reversals of downvotes on answers but no question - a downvote on question does not decrease your reputation, so you do not get the reputation back if it is reversed and there is nothing to be shown on your reputation tab. – Martin Apr 19 '18 at 5:43
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Do not vote on a user, rather vote on the content. If you are voting in the normal course of a day, and voting up and down content, and just happen upon the posts, sure, it's okay. But if you are only downvoting because they posted one bad thing, and looking through their other posts, this is not okay. Vote as you would in any other regard, downvote bad stuff and upvote good stuff. However, don't target a user with only (or practically only) one type of votes. You also shouldn't be visiting a person's profile just because they posted that bad post to look for things to downvote, rather, go about your day, and if you see a bad or good post, vote in that way for it. In regard to your question, see this from the Serial Voting FAQ:

Currently, serial voting reversals only reverse the votes. You can see what happened by viewing your reputation history, but that is about the extent of what the script does. There is no automated ban for users who engage in serial voting, nor do those users receive any form of notification that their votes were reversed.

  • It's not about which type of votes you use; don't ever go through a user's posts to vote for them, period. – John Dvorak Dec 30 '13 at 17:02
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    You say Do not vote on a user, rather vote on the content, but this is unhelpful here because the behaviour I've described falls into a grey area between those two categories. – Mark Amery Dec 30 '13 at 17:03
  • @Mark If the content of a post is bad, vote it down. But don't vote the post down just because they had made one bad post or annoyed you. – hichris123 Dec 30 '13 at 17:06
  • @hichris123 also, don't go to the user's profile to look for posts to vote on. – John Dvorak Dec 30 '13 at 17:06
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What you're doing isn't necessarily disallowed (AFAIK), as long as you're voting on the post, not the user. However, I'd refrain from doing that in the future, don't go out of your way to downvote a single user, or upvote for that matter. The script will be pretty likely to catch on to some sneaky behavior like that if you repeatedly down-vote a person, but the exact algorithm isn't known to many people, because if it were, people would just get as close to the limit as they could without exceeding it

I don't think you are explicitly notified if your votes have been reversed, and no action will be taken against you unless you have a history of doing it. However, you'll be able to see in your vote history if you care to look, as well as in the user's rep history, which will say "serial voting reversed". However, you may be contacted by a mod for this

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