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Here is a hypothetical situation. I am working with a small team (less than 5 people) on a project. While the project progress, we have some questions that we tried to solve, but for some reason failed. Then one of them post a question on SO.

Definitely for them:

This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear

(assuming it really shows effort to solve, but it is surely useful and clear). So they have high incentive to upvote it.

But this introduces a high correlation between upvotes from specific people and can be considered as cheating. But the users who upvote are not puppet accounts and are real people.

So the question is: is it a right thing to do?

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Short answer: no, it's not cheating but it's also not a good practice.

Upvotes on Stack Overflow are usually not given lightly and are hard earned. By getting, say, 3 "free" upvotes from your mates on every question, you get ahead of other users by unfair (not illegal, just unfair) means.

My own advice would be to ask your mates to not upvote all your questions - one upvote from one mate on some of the questions might be fine - but let the other users judge if the questions are really good or not, as your team might be somewhat biased.

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    It should be noted that even if the teammates are using votes appropriately, a high number or percentage of them cast only to one user (or even a group of users) may still get reversed if a moderator looks into it. Use your votes sparingly and don't get carried away. Even if your intentions are good, it's easy for bias to take over and those votes to become about you and not your content.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Mar 16 '14 at 13:02

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