I've been recieving quite a bit of criticism over this question so I have edited it to hopefully reach a compromise that everyone can agree upon.

While I disagree that imposing a downvote limit from one person to another would negatively impact the SE voting system, I understand that imposing such a limit is not an answer that will be agreed upon and thus is not the proper solution.

For this reason I propose an alternate solution that does not impose any limits whatsoever. Instead of imposing limits, a simple notification system to let a user know when they are in danger of being flagged by the automated system for serial down/upvoting could be put in place.

Adding this alert would effectively discourage people who actually intend to "serial down/upvote." I'm sure most people who are serial voters are unaware that a system is in place to stop it, and just notifying them that this system exists would be enough to discourage many of them.

To address another point made:

This would also be very helpful to those who run into a user who frequently asks bad questions. As noted in a previous comment on Monica Cellio's response to this question, the automated system frequently fails when a user spams multiple bad questions and the downvotes are falsely detected as being "serial downvotes." (See here)

Alerting users that their votes may be reversed by the automated system if they do too many would relieve some of that problem. (Obviously it would not fix the problem, the system is inherently broken when dealing with situations like these, but a true solution to that issue should be left for another proposal).

The original question below is kept only for consistency and so all of the responses make sense. All future votes on this question should reflect the edit and not the original post.


I've asked numerous questions on Stack Overflow. Just recently I began to notice that almost every new question I ask always gets one downvote, regardless of the quality of the question.

Obviously I don't know who is downvoting my questions, or even if it is the same person each time; but it at least begs the question . . . Could there be someone out there purposely downvoting my questions because of a personal vendetta?

Not that this kind of rivalry happens frequently, but people have it out for each other in the comments section all the time so I wouldn't be surprised if some rivalries form.

I think it would be a good idea to limit how many times one user can downvote another user. (Obviously the limit would be reasonable, for example you may be only allowed to downvote another user's questions and/or responses 10 times in one month.)

Even if such a limit were imposed and you find that you reach this limit; if the user you wish to downvote truly has bad questions all the time, they will get enough downvotes from other users anyways.

Chances are if a user reaches this limit they are probably trying to abuse the voting system anyways. If a user frequently reaches this limit it would be a useful indication to look into them for potential serial downvoting.

To any naysayers to this question saying it would be a bad idea because it encourages users to ask bad questions... Think about it realistically. Would you frequently reach this limit..? I highly doubt it. And if you would frequently reach this limit, maybe you should stop for a minute and question your voting habits.

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    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/126829/… (possibly answers all your questions too)
    – Oded
    Aug 12, 2015 at 18:59
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    If you suspect that a single user is targeting you with downvotes, you can flag a post and ask a mod to look into it for you. We can't see who cast votes, but we have some tools to detect this kind of thing at a higher level, and we can escalate to SE team if necessary. This is the kind of thing that calls for case-by-case evaluation, not a broad downvote limit.
    – ff524
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:40
  • @ff524 but don't let that suspicion only be based on looking at your own profile. On some tags on SO you pick up a down vote quickly, so a flag would only fly if the users watching that tag up vote new posts all day long, except for this particular user. If they down vote all posts the flag would be declined, this OP is still targeted by a couple of users but nothing will change. And I see enough comments pointing out stuff/asking for clarification so I doubt your advice will turn into success for this particular case.
    – rene
    Aug 12, 2015 at 20:14
  • Also, and since it's your first time on meta, please note that down votes here don't indicate quality, but legitimate disagreement.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 12, 2015 at 20:26
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    This would prevent those that actually care about site standards from expressing that view. It means low quality can beat curation by just increasing the amount of crap they spew out. Which is extremely destructive for the site in question.
    – fbueckert
    Aug 12, 2015 at 21:50
  • Afaik, this is automatically handled. I disagreed with someone's answer once, and ended up losing a few hundred Rep due to him going over a ton of my q/a, and downvoting them all. It was fixed automatically the next day. Aug 13, 2015 at 2:05

2 Answers 2


I think it would be a good idea to limit how many times one user can downvote another user.

No. Please no. A lot of people are arguing that there aren't enough downvotes happening, and the negative rep of downvote(s) can't and sometimes doesn't remove the rep of pity upvotes. 1 There are scripts that will detect serial-voting. You can also run a reputation recalc on demand. Rep recalculations are consistently being run these days. That's already covered.

With restricting downvotes, you're also stopping users that qualify for evaluating the bad quality of some questions 2, among a small percentage of users who are the real culprits. And stopping some users from getting the bans they deserve for their low-quality contributions.

So it's a no.

1: which triggered Should the weight of downvotes be increased? That failed though. :/

2: I have seen "leeches" that tend to ask low quality questions all the time. Knowingly, or unknowingly, you're stopping their bad posts from getting downvotes.

  • 2
    Pretty sure manual rep recalc has gone the way of the dodo; recalcs happen pretty continuously these days. Aug 12, 2015 at 19:28
  • Realistically this would not stop "leeches" from getting the downvotes they deserve. The only way this would stop them from getting more downvotes is if users are purposely following their actions and looking to downvote their questions. (How many times can you say you've downvoted the same user 10 times in a month? If you reach that limit frequently you might want to consider whether you're downvoting them for the wrong reasons.) If a question is bad it will be downvoted by other users regardless. Imposing a limit for a specific user won't stop that. Aug 12, 2015 at 19:35
  • In other words, your argument is hardly valid. Imposing this kind of limit would rarely effect users who are not trying to deliberately abuse the voting system. Aug 12, 2015 at 19:38
  • @Nathan noted, edited. Thanks for the clarification.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:43
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    @tjw Not everywhere is like Stack Overflow's C++ tag. There are some tags, and some other SE sites in which people who really know and will downvote a bad answer, ensuring they'll see it, is low. You're stopping them from being consistent with their indication of low quality, while the low-quality poster will continue.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:45
  • If that is the case, very few people will see these posts to upvote them and encourage bad posts either... so again, not really a valid argument. Aug 12, 2015 at 19:52
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    @tjw don't mix this with "pity upvotes". We need downvotes to show that the quality of the post is low. We shouldn't disallow those people to downvote bad posts just because it was the poster's 10th bad post.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:57
  • I wasn't talking about "pity upvotes"... if the question has very little views it won't get very many upvotes or downvotes. It's as simple as that. Aug 12, 2015 at 19:59
  • So, why stop the downvoter from saying this is a bad question just because the asker has a bad record of questions? Note that (no. of people ab-voting / no. of people voting) is a very small ratio.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 12, 2015 at 20:00
  • It would not be stopping the downvoter because the asker has a bad record of questions. It would in fact be the complete opposite of that. It would be stopping the downvoter from downvoting because their record of downvotes is questionable. Aug 12, 2015 at 21:09
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    Yet, the very decision to ask the question earned @tjwrona1992 a full 11 down-votes. Why? Even if there is no legitimate way to limit this practice whole cloth, I feel the constant down-voting of the question is somewhat disturbing. It is almost as if any questions relating to the caliber of ones reputation or the voting process, or who is voting and why, seems to be generally frowned upon as evidenced by down-votes on these type of inquiries.
    – gracey209
    Aug 17, 2015 at 5:27
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    @gracey downvotes here, and pretty much on any feature-request on any meta, only indicate disagreement. Why shouldn't the 11th person say "I disagree with this idea"? It's their right.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 17, 2015 at 5:38
  • Of course, but IMHO it just seems retributive because nearly every question I've seen that has a similar topic, in general, just seems to automatically gain instant disapproval, and these are valid questions. People want to feel like they are being listened to, and if you feel you're being targeted in the first place, and then to simply ask results in a loss of 11 points to your reputation, I can see this chilling the will of others to ask these type questions.
    – gracey209
    Aug 17, 2015 at 5:47
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    People coming in with relatively big changes or rate-limits should/must have evidence to back it up. This guy just came in with a request and said It's just common sense. No reason why this would be a good idea; rather, he tried to negate the arguments of the two answers. And, if people take downvotes personal, it's their problem. And if people don't look at the "Vote difference on meta page" on FAQ, it's again their problem.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 17, 2015 at 5:52
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    @tjw as I said before, it's your job to convince us that it'd be useful; not the other way around. We've given an argument against, and all you said was it's just common sense. It's over now, get over it. It isn't happening.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 17, 2015 at 12:58

In addition to the reasons given in this answer, if your limit on downvotes in a time period is lower than the limit of posts someone can make, then you're handing people who consistently post low-quality material a "get out of consequences free" card. Most people downvote rarely or not at all, and I want those who do downvote to continue providing that indicator of quality.

If targeted voting is happening, moderators and community managers have ways to detect and investigate that.

Finally, for parity you would need to also limit upvotes, because for every grouch with a vendetta there are probably a dozen fans of someone else. Before you say "yes, upvotes too, then", consider what such a limit would do to the economy of a site, particularly ones still trying to get off the ground.

  • Again... realistically why would a person reach that limit when voting on a single other person? In 99% of all cases either serial downvoting or serial upvoting would be a factor. Aug 12, 2015 at 19:58
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    @tjw you're making assumptions. Please show stats that support "In 99% of all cases either serial downvoting or serial upvoting would be a factor."
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:59
  • Obviously I don't have those statistics... No one does. it's just common sense. Aug 12, 2015 at 20:00
  • Show me your statistics that lead you to believe this would prevent a large number of valid downvotes from happening. Aug 12, 2015 at 20:04
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    Your common sense is lying to you because you're frustrated by possible serial voting targeted at you. Just custom-flag your question, and ask a mod to take a look at it. And, we're not here to prove anything; you have to prove this is useful and doesn't counter with the banning mechanism.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 12, 2015 at 20:06
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    @tjwrona1992 I have seen users post dozens of junk questions (sometimes junk answers too) in just a few days. Auto-bans will stop the bleeding until we can educate them (if they're receptive) or they go away, but those bans require downvotes. You want somebody to be able to make 50 posts in a month (I think that's the current limit) but you don't want the community to be able to regulate those posts. No. If you have some evidence please offer it. (The burden of proof should be on the one seeking a change.) Aug 12, 2015 at 20:15
  • I do want the community to regulate their posts. Regulating posts is a community effort and cannot be done by a single person. If multiple people think the post is bad it will get the downvotes it deserves. If someone is frequently reaching the post limit of 50 every month that is good reason for a moderator to personally look into the quality of their posts. Aug 12, 2015 at 20:19
  • example when users post junk at a damaging rate: Fix serial downvoting reversal to not apply to users spamming site front page with bad answers
    – gnat
    Aug 12, 2015 at 20:48
  • That's already broken. Changing this would actually probably help because it would trigger less automatic resets Aug 12, 2015 at 21:12

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