Today I saw a user in a per site meta that has a reputation tab like this:

Their meta post is about something else though. The problem I have is with this very screenshot:
4 un-upvotes took place in a range of 5 minutes

For the sake of a consensus, I'm not asking for someone to look into the particular case, but I'm asking if there's a new (?) phenomenon we should be wary of: Serial un-upvoting

There are two opposing views:

  • Every person has the right to vote and undo their vote. This isn't something to worry about.
  • There's no reason for us not to deal with this like we deal with vandalism et cetera: What if the destructive behavior the user chose was to unupvote useful answers? The post score isn't for decoration; the usefulness of the voting system relies on the maxim of vote on the content, not the person.

So how should we deal with a case of "serial un-upvoting", if we do consider it unacceptable behavior?

  • 1
    Please note that this isn't a case of account removal; in which case a "user was removed" notice would've been displayed. Still, I would be happy if we not restrict the discussion to this particular situation. – M.A.R. Jan 10 '16 at 9:45
  • I think there is already a script that handles such things but the threshold is more than 4 for sure. The actual count is not revealed for obvious reasons but I would assume it to be definitely higher than 5. – Harry Jan 10 '16 at 9:50
  • @Harry I remember having 4 serial upvotes reversed, than why the threshold for other similar things should be higher than 4? – nicael Jan 10 '16 at 9:51
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    @Harry There is a script that handles the most cases of serial "upvoting"; I haven't heard anything about "un-upvoting". – M.A.R. Jan 10 '16 at 9:51
  • @Nica I noticed them today since I'm old and late. – M.A.R. Jan 10 '16 at 9:51
  • But the screenshot is outdated too, were you preparing this question for a week? :D – nicael Jan 10 '16 at 9:52
  • @nicael: I once had something similar (serial upvoting of my answers), it was not reversed even at 5 and when I flagged it for attention, I remember being informed (not sure if by mods/users) that 5 doesn't trigger the script into action. Maybe its changed with time if yours was a recent case. Or maybe its a combo of time + no. of votes. So, something like 4 in 4 minutes triggers the script and not 5 in 10. Not sure. – Harry Jan 10 '16 at 9:54
  • @Ϻ.Λ.Ʀ. Valid point, I am kind of assuming all avenues to be covered when it comes serial voting actions. But your question is very valid because it will atleast get an official response if not a correction. – Harry Jan 10 '16 at 9:55
  • @Harry Mine has happened almost a year ago, Feb 28 '15. – nicael Jan 10 '16 at 9:57
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    @nicael: Mine was in '14 :) – Harry Jan 10 '16 at 9:57
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    And also it possibly depends on how "serially enough" you're upvoted. – nicael Jan 10 '16 at 9:58
  • Wonder - suppose that user A uses account B to serial-upvote himself. When the voting is reversed, what is displayed on B account? There is a specific message or just a sequence of un-upvotes? you may be seeing that. – SPArcheon Jan 10 '16 at 13:32
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    @SPA if the sock is removed, it's "user was removed"; if only the votes are invalidated, we see a "serial voting reversed". – M.A.R. Jan 10 '16 at 13:36
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    tangentially related - New phenomenon: Rage Unaccepting – gnat Jan 10 '16 at 20:22
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    What I want to know is how the user got around vote locking.. Did they edit all the posts they wanted to unupvote? That makes this even more interesting.. – ɥʇǝS Jan 10 '16 at 23:59

I consider that inappropriate. It is just like serial downvoting or serial unaccepting. It seems one user singled out another user and 'changed his mind' because of something that happened. (If he is not targeting one user but actually unupvotes every post I think it is like rage quiting behavior, which should be caught too.) This is unacceptable since we shouldn't vote if we like or dislike an user, but we vote for the quality of the content.

The other thing is: what should we do about it? This is a hard question since it is somewhat the same as serial upvoting or downvoting, but it misses some characteristics. Also the impact is quite low (just four votes).

Personally, if it was me being downvoted, I would let this rest.

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    We can't know for sure. Good chance the user started to unupvote all his/her votes, not just votes on a specific user's posts. This is still not a good thing, kind of like self vandalizing own posts - it harms the community in general. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 10 '16 at 15:20
  • I guess the serial voting script would have caught that. It seems it checks for 'rage quiting' like behavior too. – Patrick Hofman Jan 10 '16 at 15:21
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    Nope. I really doubt there's any script checking for unupvote. It's just too rare to be worth checking, IMO. (until now? :)) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 10 '16 at 15:21
  • Okay. Then it should ;) – Patrick Hofman Jan 10 '16 at 15:23

As @Shadow Wizard points out, all of the un-upvoted posts have been edited, so it is likely to have been malicious un-upvoting. Which is a bit like serial voting, and wrong.

However, a list of "undownvote" or "unupvote" can appear in a reputation tab for another reason.

I have seen one case of serial downvoting, where not all of the serial downvotes were caught by the script. When Stack Overflow was alerted to this, the serial downvotes were reversed by un-downvoting.

Note that the other parts in the reputation tab are a day earlier. The voter can only have downvoted if these posts had been edited since their original upvoting.

So, it may be a case of a moderator or developer manually reverting serial upvoting (whether by a third party or the OP themselves).

  • 1
    No, I really don't think that's the case here. All posts with the un-upvote have been edited at least once. For a while now, there is "Serial voting corrected" reputation event, what you remember was probably long time ago. And I'm pretty sure moderators can't undo upvotes - maybe alert the system, then the script does it, but almost certainly not doing it manually. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 11 '16 at 11:03
  • You see this as a serial downvoter, not the one who's being voter on. – nicael Jan 11 '16 at 11:11
  • @ShadowWizard The serial downvoting I'm referring to happened to my own SO account. The parts that were caught had indeed "Serial downvoting corrected" on them, but the part that needed attention from Stack Overflow (the company) were simply listed with "undownvote". Check my SO reputation tab for Oct 9, 2015. The serial downvoting was on Oct 5, 2015, the automated corrections a day later. – S.L. Barth Jan 11 '16 at 11:13
  • Interesting. So, this might be it, though as you see the hour in your case is 3 AM, the same hour the script is running. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 11 '16 at 13:35

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