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I am witnessing very bad voting behaviour on a low traffic beta site, which I suspect is the work of one fanatic user who is gunning for easy gold badges such as the steward badge and the electorate badge. Low quality one-liner answers and badly asked questions are being up-voted on a regular basis. This has affected the overall quality of the site as bad questions and answers are being encouraged. The problem is compounded by the fact that high-rep users are not down-voting enough on the site.

I noted that someone had already asked a similar question before. But, what I am requesting, is for this to apply only to low traffic beta sites where there is only a handful of questions a day. All these can be "reviewed" at the landing page itself without even the need to go to the review queue. The badge is only useful for high traffic sites where new posts aged very quickly. It is not particularly useful for posts that stay on the front page for quite some time. And is counter-productive if people abused it just to get gold badges. So, why not have it removed on low traffic beta sites?


Well, for the uninitiated, here's the requirement for Steward badge:

Completed at least 1,000 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type.


In response to the queries in the comments below, here are a few observations why I suspect it is the work of one user:

  • The user has an abnormally high vote count per week
  • The user would be logged on whenever a low-quality question or answer gets up-voted
  • The user is very active on the review queue
  • Despite the low traffic, the user is still manages to obtain a reviewer's badge in a very short time.

As mentioned, I do not want to point fingers directly at someone, therefore I am asking it here instead of asking on that low.traffic.SE site. Also, as these are pure conjectures and not hard evidences, I do not want to call out that user on the site.

  • For those of us that are much too lazy to perform the two-ish clicks required to find out, what is this badge and what do you have to do to obtain it? – Undo May 9 '14 at 3:33
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    There are low-volume beta sites that get 1000 entries in any review queue? – Monica Cellio May 9 '14 at 3:40
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    The sites that are sufficiently low-volume that reviews are unnecessary also seem like sites that would never attract 1000 posts (the requirement for Steward) in any of the queues (close votes, low quality, even first posts). On one small beta where I was active in the queues, it took something like a year and a half for me to earn Reviewer (250 reviews). On what small beta sites are you seeing this problem? – Monica Cellio May 9 '14 at 3:48
  • @MonicaCellio, your point that it will take a long time doesn't invalidate the fact that there is such a problem. I don't want to name the site to avoid pointing fingers. If there is a better workable solution, I am happy to hear. – Question Overflow May 9 '14 at 4:02
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    Wouldn't it be better to raise the discussion on meta.lowtrafic.se? And try to bring in the fanatic voter and those non-voting-high-reps? – brasofilo May 9 '14 at 4:37
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    Do you have evidence to back up that it's one fanatic user, and not a more systemic problem with the community as a whole upvoting poor material? – doppelgreener May 9 '14 at 5:01
  • How are you correlating the voting with reviews and with the gold badge in particular? Which site is this? Without anything to back your statement, you are making this very difficult to believe. – asheeshr May 9 '14 at 6:33
  • @JonathanHobbs, see my update. – Question Overflow May 9 '14 at 8:42
  • Instead of disabling the queue, isn't this an issue for your meta community or (if someone is badge farming and auto-approving everything) moderator team? – Troyen May 9 '14 at 9:12
  • Note that the "history" tab of the review page lets you see who took what review actions. This isn't secret information. If one person is clearly consistently doing it badly, I don't think asking them to improve their reviews is out of line. – mattdm May 20 '14 at 16:29
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I don't see how the issue you're describing - low quality questions being upvoted - would be caused by encouraged active review. The only review queues that allow voting are first posts and late answers, and both of them allow downvoting too. The queue itself is not encouraging the reviewer to upvote low quality content.

If a significant amount of low quality posts are being upvoted and you feel like they shouldn't be, you should post about it on that site's own meta to get the attention of the relevant community.

I also don't see why an active reviewers should not be rewarded for their efforts simply because the traffic on the site is low. A thousand reviews is still a thousand reviews. Some people could argue it encourages reviewing quickly instead of properly, but that doesn't even matter that much on low traffic sites, when there's rarely more than 2-3 items in the queue, assuming there are active reviewers, which seems to be the case here.

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I don't think it has much to do with the site traffic. If someone wants to misuse upvotes to game the badge, he/she can do it as well on StackOverflow. While big sites give the possibility to pick the best questions/answers to upvote to get a badge, someone interested only in badge can pick at random anyway.

Why do you think someone is voting for badge? Even removing the badges won't stop users on low-activity sites from uploading anything simply because they want to or because they want to upvote a collegue without looking "suspicious"?

Upvoting anything, even highly downvoted answers is suspicious and you can try flagging for moderator attention, but honestly, up- and downvotes are to use as you wish, so if you decide to upvote anything you've found interesant to read, and you're readyng everything on the side that gets a little questions, only because it's not much to read, I don't see any legitimate reason to stop you from doing that.

Unless the post is an obvious crap, you can't proove someone hasn't found anything useful enough in the post to justify the upvote.

Yes, a single user has more impact on low-activity site, but if that impact is negative, it's easier to catch. Even the smallest sites have their moderators, and if those moderators became inactive, the site gets closed (like OnStartups).

As for reviewing badges, I suspect here some if-I-can't-get-that-noone-should syndrome. Even if there are no audits on such sites, if you suspect robo-reviewing, it's much easier for moderator to inspect reviews case-by-case and give audit ban manually.

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    1) The actions of one user on a smaller site has a greater impact than that on a larger site. 2) Removing the badge would remove an incentive for abuse. 3) As you pointed out, it is the freedom of people to vote whatever way they want. So flagging is moot. 4) The upvoted posts are indeed crap that I have flagged to delete. 5) The person is not a robot. 6) I have no proof and therefore would not want to discuss it on the site meta. – Question Overflow May 9 '14 at 9:34

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