I posted an answer to a question that was voted closed as too localized, which it very much could have been. However, I did get 2 upvotes for that answer. As I browsed SO, I noticed that my rep went down 2 points, so I looked — both the original question (which was at 0) and my answer (which was at 2) were downvoted.

I think it is a perfectly legitimate question and my answer was perfectly valid. However, the community thought that it should be closed, and that's how things work. And if you think the question is bad or inappropriate, downvoting, voting to close, and commenting are the proper means of communicating this. However, downvoting answers to questions you think are bad is inappropriate, unless the answer is bad on its own. Really, there are two distinct ratings here — one for the question and another for the answer. Even if a question is bad and should be closed, that shouldn't prevent answers from being upvoted.

So what can be done to prevent people from downvoting perfectly legitimate and good answers to even the worst questions? Can anything be done about this?

For the record, I don't care about the 2 rep. However, I think this is a kind of "bad behavior" that needs to be discouraged. Behaviors that need to be encouraged are: treating answers independently of their question (but in context); commenting; voting to close for proper reasons; and making sure that even the worst questions are as readable as possible and properly tagged.

  • I did a quick search and didn't see one that discussed it in general...could you link to it? Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:12
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    Previously discussed: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1790/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/22771/… Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:12
  • I re-opened the question since based on the amount of answers, no one suspects that this is a duplicate. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:15
  • Diago, I don't see how those are duplicates. 1790 is talking about people who go after an individual and downvote many of his/her questions and/or answers. 22771 is about people downvoting answers on questions they answered to make their answer bubble to the top. This question is about people who downvote a question and all of its answers because they don't like the question or don't think it belongs. Not the same at all. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:16
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    @Thomas - I completely disagree. Serial downvoting is serial downvoting no matter how you describe it. The issue has been overly discussed on MSO, and is actually getting tiring now. Either way. I've re-opened the question. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:18
  • 1st, I don't think it belongs. 2nd, there are people that cant vote to close, so downvote. People can vote for any reason, even irrational reasons. Random votes will happen, I still think that the current system works well.
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:19
  • 2
    it's possible that someone downvoted your answer because it looked like spam (with all the mailing address and phone numbers and such)
    – Kip
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:20
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    It seems strange to me when an entire country can be viewed as too localized. Is there a guideline somewhere stating what too localized should be?
    – Eric
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:30
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    I don't think two downvotes count as a series.
    – sth
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:31
  • Duplicate? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/22973/…
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:54
  • Today I suffered the same for this question Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 19:06
  • Sadly nothing you can do about it. It's part of so. You come for answers you leave with frustration Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 14:40

6 Answers 6


Speaking in general, it can't be prevented without changing the voting system into something else. To date, there has been no consensus on the need to change, or even what to change it into among those who believe change is needed.

People have discussed their dissatisfaction with downvotes (in whatever context) at excruciating length here, and on uservoice before meta was available. The conclusions are:

  • If this is a case of one or two downvotes that you found unpalatable, just live with it. The problem isn't big enough to justify the changes that could (possibly) fix it.
  • If you receive a large number of "revenge" downvotes from a single user, there are automated systems to detect and correct this, so just sit tight.
  • If you suspect repeated abuse from a particular user, contact [email protected]
  • I think this falls into the first category for me, but I'm also thinking of cases where a question as 5-7 answers, someone doesn't like the question, so downvotes the question and all answers. I think the automated system should be expanded to undo votes in the same direction by one user on all posts in a question. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:19
  • @Thomas: Poeple have a limited ammount of votes to cast per day.
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:21
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    @Thomas: If the person downvoting genuinely thinks all of the responses are bad, then what is the problem? The personal attack mode is seen as obviously incorrect, but if (for example) I browse to a question and I find 5-7 answers, all wrong, why shouldn't I downvote them all? On the other hand, if a person answers themselves and is downvoting all competing answers, this becomes a tactical downvoting question. Again, tactical downvoting is seen as a potential problem, but there has been little hard data (to date) to justify changes to the SO dev team. The search is ongoing. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:23
  • And you can easily downvote the question and all answers in most SO questions, since there are fewer posts then downvotes in a day. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:24

Some people think that answering clearly awful questions only encourages more of the same, and downvote those answers. I seem to recall that on one of the sites there was even a stated mod policy to very strongly discourage such answers.

In any case, one downvote to one answer is not 'revenge' nor is it 'serial'. It's just someone who doesn't like your answer. That can happen any time, for any reason, and you need to learn to live with it.

Abuse comes into effect when someone starts looking at list of all of your answers and questions and downvotes a bunch, and indeed there is a site mechanism to detect and undo these events.


Adam Bellaire points out that there is an automated system to detect and undo revenge downvotes. I feel that this should be expanded to detect when one user votes on a question and/or all answers in a given question in the same direction (minus a post by the user that he/she can't vote on). This action should be undone.

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    Not really, if all answers are really wrong, people downvote all of them and answer. This has been proposed and declined before for that reason.
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:22
  • voyager - In that case, you wouldn't downvote the QUESTION as well...either the question is bad and you downvote the question, or the answers are bad and you downvote them. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:28
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    Nothing stops you from answering a bad question :)
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:43
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    The problem is you are assosiating meaning or reason (this question doesn't belong here) to an action or fact (I downvote everything in this thread). Short of mind reading we can't help this.
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:45
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    I've run into borderline bad questions with uniformly bad answers before, and on at least on occasion I was able to contribute what I thought a helpful answer. I can understand leaving an answer and downvoting everything else. On the other hand, I don't see how downvoting the question would be tactically useful. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:46
  • To expand on this idea: if this were implemented could the automated system take into account time between downvotes? If a person very quickly downvotes the post and all answers then it seems more likely they are trying to make a statement and not individually evaluating answers.
    – Brian Risk
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 18:09

Questions can be reopened. If people fell it should be reopened, it will.

But I believe that that question was innapropiate for this site.

People disagree and downvote for no reason. Its the way humanity is.

Trolls will exist always. The system already is designed in such a way that they can do little damage. Move along, nothing to see here.

  • You really should make up your mind with your name, or I will call you AKA in the future! Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:27
  • Tomorrow I'll get back definetly to voyager, I'm trying to make it easier to track who the hell is this sucker?
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:42
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    It's easy to track who you are if you stick with the same name. Doesn't have to be the same name on the other sites, just so long as the accounts are associated and stalker-mode can be effectively made simpler.
    – random
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 2:06
  • I know. It was meant to be a joke. I'm sorry for any headaches caused. Specially now that there is a thread on meta with my (implicit) name all over it! Will restrain from changing my name needlessly in the future. Smeagol out... I mean voyager out.
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 5:11
  • At least you didn't change it to AKA ;) Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 7:25
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    @John: don't give me any ideas ;)
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 14:49

If the answer is helpful or not is the decision of the voter. If you think there was a vote fraud, flag it for moderator attention. In any other case: Live with it!

  • Is this really a legitimate use of the "flag" feature? I use flag for when a question probably should have been moved and wasn't or when something is so bad, it needs quick action. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:17
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    Vote fraud is definitely a legitimate use of the moderation flag. Maybe they cannot decide if it was a fraud or not, but keeping the system clean is their business. Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 14:22

I think that there should be a time limit that has to pass before you can cast another downvote. And if you attempt to cast another within that time limit, it resets. A time limit of ~30 seconds would work well to combat vengeful downvoters, giving them a "time out" so they hopefully cool off.

  • 3
    NO MORE SLIDING TIMERS! Every time a timer gets reset, a pony dies. Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 4:51
  • @Chacha102: I didn't care for it either when it was briefly implemented for comments - it was a solution to a non-existent problem. But given the downvote behavior, it would effectively limit sweeping and vengeful downvoting rather than reactively handling with a running job.
    – OMG Ponies
    Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 5:03
  • I would argue that this should only count for a single user. AKA, I can only downvote User X's posts once every 30 seconds. Making it for all downvotes would be very bad, especially when a couple of people are answering a question and are all clearly wrong/unhelpful. Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 5:05
  • @Chach102: I've seen cases where someone downvoted everyone who provided answers, so I can see the benefit in not distinguishing between users. I wonder what the impact would be to track timers for different users. 'Sides, last I remember comments don't discern between users - the time limit is what it is.
    – OMG Ponies
    Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 15:42

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