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Java code to read the end page of PDF file and add a Digital signature at the end line of PDF using i Text.

Within less than 1 minute of being posted it already had one upvote. I see this quite often, really horrible questions with no redeeming content getting one or two upvotes. Usually, the questions are from very-low-rep users (i.e. <1000) but this happens for higher rep as well.

Is there a random new-user upvote "feature" to encourage new users?

Or, is there some other mechanism or unintended incentive that encourages this?

  • 8
    "Or, is there some other mechanism or unintended incentive that encourages this?" - Yes. The review queues... sadly...
    – Mysticial
    Mar 6, 2014 at 4:39
  • @Mysticial, doesn't it take at least 15 minutes for something to show up in the first posts queue?
    – PeterJ
    Mar 6, 2014 at 4:46
  • @PeterJ I have no idea...
    – Mysticial
    Mar 6, 2014 at 4:47
  • 5
    Sock-puppets may also be at work. See Suspecting Sock Puppets - what now? and/or How should sockpuppets be handled on Stack Exchange?
    – Werner
    Mar 6, 2014 at 4:53
  • There are a lot of people with a lot of (arguable) opinions on what makes a good question. It's bound to happen occasionally. In the end, it usually balances out though.
    – jprofitt
    Mar 6, 2014 at 5:01

1 Answer 1



  • Newish users don't really know how Stack Overflow works and ask bad questions. These newish users then look at a similarly bad question by another newish user and understandably (to some extent) think it's a good question and upvote it. I see this more as a flaw in the system (I mean, to get 2-3 upvotes for the required 15 reputation to upvote is practically nothing, and new users being able to give each other reputation certainly doesn't help much, nor does that fact that upvotes outweigh downvotes by a wide a margin as it does) rather than strange or unexpected behaviour.

  • Some more experienced users decide to upvote the question as a sign of being nice, rather than realizing that upvoting bad content is generally bad for the site. I see this more as a flaw in the human brain rather than strange or unexpected behaviour.

  • Some users may themselves ask good questions (or predominantly answer questions), but have a bit of shady judgement when it comes to questions asked by others. This sort of makes sense. We could probably try to educate users a bit more in some way or another - having asked very few questions might leave one with a tainted view about what's appropriate as a question and what's not, although it's sort of hard to miss the many comments pointing out serious issues on posts (although some may ignore comments), although (in general, not really applicable here) just off topic questions (not 'bad' as such) may take a while to get closed, so they may spend ages completely oblivious to the off-topic-ness of many of the questions they answer.

  • Sock puppets. There are checks in place to revert any voting done by sock puppets, so you typically don't have to worry about this too much but, if you suspect something (with sufficient reason to believe so), by all means (wait a few days and) flag one of the applicable posts, or find a moderator in chat, and explain the situation.

  • I would go with sock puppet as his other question which is even worse got upvote too. Probably he got one account with 15+ rep question banned so created new account to post his questions. Q-banned accounts can still vote. Easy rep, though useless in such a case. :) Mar 6, 2014 at 14:50
  • Thanks for an excellent response. You are probably right on all counts. I often wonder if it's not possible to force new users to read the guidelines before posting (i.e. require the user to check an "I understand" box on each item of the guidelines before SO accepts their first and second posts) but those suggestions usually get downvoted on Meta as increasing the friction for new users. Given the quality of posts lately I'm not so sure making it harder to post for the first few times is a bad idea.
    – Ex Umbris
    Mar 6, 2014 at 18:20
  • @ExUmbris I don't think the underlying idea is bad, but the more hoops you ask people to jump through, the more likely they are to try to skip them, i.e. just click "I understand" without reading anything - the key might be to make it as short as humanly possible while still conveying the most important guidelines (perhaps with a time-delay on clicking "I understand" to motivate reading it), or to end with a test of sorts (not that I think the Meta community will go for the latter). Not that I think this would deter most users asking bad questions, as many most likely just don't care. Mar 7, 2014 at 5:57
  • 1
    Sadly, I think you're right. But SO is being buried under an avalanche of bad questions. I don't see a workable solution.
    – Ex Umbris
    Mar 7, 2014 at 6:57

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