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Recently I have been randomly downvoted and I suspect it is the same user. The user doesn't stop at downvotes. He/She ensures that he/she upvotes the other answer where I have replied no matter how good my answer is. Fair enough, I don't loose my sleep over it but how do you deal with such users? So I thought of searching meta and I came across THIS question where a mod did specify that

If you suspect you've been downvoted by a particular user, flag the thing that makes you suspicious of that user (a comment they made to that effect for example).

There was another thread which I am still searching but unable to find where a mod had said the same thing... "To Flag It"

On three occasions, I did that. On two occasions, It was marked as helpful but on the 3rd, I was confused with the Mod comments.

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My Question

Can any mod share some light on it? When can or can't a mod help with downvotes?

I am not worried about reversals. I want to understand the process and hence my question above. If you see THIS link, the last line says that

If you find you are the victim of serial voting multiple times within a short time span, feel free to flag one of your posts for moderator attention and explain the situation so they can investigate further.

If the mods seriously can't do anything about it then I will stop flagging. Let those users downvote/upvote and be happy for all that I care :)

I am ready to accept an answer by a mod which can be as simple as "Sorry, We can't do anything"

  • Are the downvotes automatically reversed? A script runs every UTC night to try to detect this – Richard Tingle Feb 4 '14 at 9:19
  • @RichardTingle: No they have not been reversed as it is not serial downvoting but strategic downvoting – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 9:21
  • I'd say just move on. If it's only a couple of downvotes I don't think they will get reversed. I've also received 1-2 downvotes on some of my questions (don't see how they would deserve them), almost always after explaining a downvote to a poor answer. – Xavi López says GoFundMonica Feb 4 '14 at 9:25
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    Your declined flag is for 2 downvotes. Theres not really anything that can be done about 2 downvotes. Even if its the same person it doesn't constitute a pattern – Richard Tingle Feb 4 '14 at 9:26
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    @XaviLópez: I am not worried about reversals. I was to understand the process and hence my question at the bottom of the post. If the mods seriously can't do anythign about it then I will stop flagging :) – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 9:27
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    @SiddharthRout I usually flag when I see typical voting irregularity patterns (sockpuppets, ridiculous amounts of upvotes on poor answers, ...). There's no need to flag about 1-2 downvotes, because mods can't do anything about it anyway. However it will be interesting to hear what mods say when this behavior gets repetitive (1-2 downvotes every day or so). Possibly flag for attention and they'll maybe talk to the user. – Xavi López says GoFundMonica Feb 4 '14 at 9:31
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    @Downvoter: LOL... I know voting is different on meta but that is only restricted to "feature request" tags where you express your opinion by upvoting or downvoting but this question is nothing like it. It is asking for information from a mod which I am confused about. So if you are downvoting it then I would like to know why so that I can improve on it. I hope I am not asking for too much? ;) – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 9:35
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    Two downvotes do not constitute serial downvoting. From that flag alone, I can easily see why a moderator says "Two downvotes? I can't even see who votes for what, nor can I change votes. What on earth do I need to do with that". If this is all part of a larger whole however (and that doesn't necessarily have to be the case here) be clear about that particular suspicion in your flag. But given that you've flagged this twice before already, I don't think you need to do so any more, unless it continues for a significant amount of time. – Bart Feb 4 '14 at 9:37
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    @Bart: Did you miss my edit? – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 9:38
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    No. I'm explaining to you why that flag is easily declined. The big picture only exists in your head. It's not expressed in the flag. A moderator only sees "User complains about being downvoted". Not "I might be the victim of a pattern of careful downvotes (and suspicious upvotes) that don't trigger the reversal". – Bart Feb 4 '14 at 9:39
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    @bart I am surprised you say that as I have clearly mentioned the reason in the flag so the question of a mod seeing it as a user complaining doesn't seem quite right. @All: It really doesn't matter if it is 1 downvote or 100. Please read my question again. When can or cannot a mod help with downvotes? If you know the answer FOR SURE then I would appreciate it if you post an answer else let's wait for a mod to reply? Come on wouldn't you like to know about it assuming that you do not know and the same thing happens with you today or tom? – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 9:48
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    @Siddharth well it does matter if its 1 vote. A user can make a single downvote for any reason, including ridiculous reasons. The principal that a users vote is their own is a key elementfof stack exchange. Only repeated voting on the same user becomes voting fraud – Richard Tingle Feb 4 '14 at 9:51
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    @Bart: Could you please point out where I have mentioned that I want the downvotes to be reversed. I want to understand how it works? Do they have some king of tool which helps them? Hope my question is clear now? – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 9:58
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    @SiddharthRout the answer is simple, mods cannot see who downvoted you. The tools they have do not provide sufficient information into voting records. What they can see is patterns in voting, but that would not be sufficient to make any kind of conclusions for voting on 2 specific posts. – psubsee2003 Feb 4 '14 at 10:00
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    This was a different question to the one it had been marked a duplicate of - which doesn't make sense anyhow as this link was itself marked as a duplicate. – brettdj Feb 4 '14 at 11:46
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Moderators don't have a way to validate a flag while giving additional guidance, this happens to be one of those rare instances where having that ability would make sense. For the most part, a flag should fall into one of two categories - valid or invalid. If it's in the middle, err on the side of the user's perspective if you see why they might have flagged as they did, even if you don't fully agree.

It's different when flagging is being used as a means of support. By dismissing as helpful, they validate your flag (well, you asked for support, why wouldn't they validate it?) but they can't really tell you that there's no irregular patterns. Declining the flag in this case sends mixed signals - it's like saying "I rejected your request for our help because there's no abnormal patterns" .. the user will naturally tack on "and I should feel bad." at the end of it, no matter what they say.

It's hard for them to know quite what to do in cases where they want to accept the flag, but also say "please stop flagging this, there's nothing to be seen here". But we're getting into semantics on how flags should work, let's get back to voting irregularities.

The golden advice to follow here is what we've reiterated time and time again - if the reversal script doesn't do anything, and flagging doesn't do anything .. then there are simply no irregular patterns and the votes are just anomalous.

So yes, do flag - but don't flag repeatedly. If it's dismissed as helpful, then there was simply nothing to find. If it continues after that, contact us instead. (just use /contact on whatever site you're reporting).

Mods can intervene, but they don't have the power to reverse votes, or see anything but patterns. If you're sure that someone is onto you and cleverly evading detection, the community team are the folks you want to reach.

Still, be ready to hear the same thing from us - there's simply no evidence of targeted voting, which is more often than not the case.

By the way, I looked at your account (pulled the votes right out of the DB) and there's no evidence of targeted voting. Blame the moon, or me losing my keys.

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    Tim, you need to gimme sometime to digest this. I read it twice and it gave me a different meaning each timee. Let me have a cup of copy and read it again with a fresh pair of eyes :) BTW thanks for taking the time out to reply. – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:09
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    @SiddharthRout the tl;dr is - mods can't mark flags as helpful and convey a custom message. I think the mod handling it just noticed that you had flagged multiple times and perhaps didn't use the best choice of words. – Tim Post Feb 4 '14 at 10:12
  • Yes multiple times but see the dates :) – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:16
  • I just noticed "if the reversal script doesn't do anything, and flagging doesn't do anything .. then there are simply no irregular patterns and the votes are just anomalous." That is not true :) If you can access my account then you will see that the 2nd link 19 Jan, the moderator found that what i said was true and the reversal script had conveniently missed it so the votes were reversed. – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:20
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    @SiddharthRout I was speaking in a general sense, and 99.999% of the time, it's true. That's also why I added, if you really think someone is flying under the radar, contact us. – Tim Post Feb 4 '14 at 10:23
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    So back to my question and if you answer that in one word say "Yes" or "No", I will accept your answer :). I will rephrase my question so it becomes easier to answer. The question is Can a mod see who downvoted? – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:25
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    No. Mods can only see a percentage of the type of votes users have cast, if there's a sufficient number of votes between those users (up or down). They only see patterns, only community managers and devs can see actual votes on a per-post basis. Mods will escalate likely cases of targeted voting to us for handling. – Tim Post Feb 4 '14 at 10:29
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    Superb. Thanks. – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:30
  • You're welcome @SiddharthRout - sorry that questions involving votes and flags tend to get winded, it's ... just a little complicated :) – Tim Post Feb 4 '14 at 10:33
  • Offtopic: You know what I liked best about your answer... "perhaps didn't use the best choice of words...." It really takes guts to say that. Being a moderator myself in two reputed forums, I can understand the importance of that sentence... – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:36
  • "Moderators don't have a way to validate a flag while giving additional guidance" Isn't that what happened here? A moderator marked my flag as helpful and gave me additional guidance about how I should have flagged that, which seems to contradict your statement. – Donald Duck Aug 12 '18 at 21:56
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For the process on flags about voting and addressing questions on downvotes, the answer is very simple. Moderators can't do anything about individual votes because they can see the exact same information as you, which is absolutely nothing. They cannot see specific votes and who made those votes. Reference (thanks to @Bart): Can moderators see each user's Votes tab?

The moderator tools do not provide any kind of information on detailed voting records so it would be impossible for them to investigate. The mdoerator tools do have access to info into voting patterns which can be useful for investigating serial voting, but looking at voting into specific post is impossible. Reference (thanks to @Bart): Robert's answer on Could moderators see votes in the past?

The only people who can see the specific voting are the SE community team and the developers, so if you have specific questions on specific voting, it is often better to handle it the way Tim has suggested

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    Finally it is good to see someone actually answering my questions rather than explaining why the votes cannot be reversed (which was never my concern anyway) or downvoting from sidelines. Thanks for replying. I have one question for you and I hope you will not take that in the wrong way. I asking it with sincere intentions. My question is "How can you so authoritatively say "The moderator tools do not provide any kind of information on detailed voting records" I checked your profile to see if you are a mod in some Stack site but couldn't see it. So how do you know this info. Thanks again – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:15
  • Is there any link/faq which specifies that?Maybe I missed that? – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:17
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    @SiddharthRout probably not, I just know this from spending too much time on meta. – psubsee2003 Feb 4 '14 at 10:18
  • @SiddharthRout I've added the references you wanted, thanks to Bart's links – psubsee2003 Feb 4 '14 at 10:28
  • + 1 Thanks for the input. I am going with Tims' answer based on his last comment under his answer but I really appreciate you taking time out to answer the question. Thanks to you Bart as well. – Siddharth Rout Feb 4 '14 at 10:31
  • You're welcome @SiddharthRout. Glad it's all cleared up now. ;) – Bart Feb 4 '14 at 10:36

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