Recently one post was deleted (not mine) on https://ru.meta.stackoverflow.com/ as inappropriate. But before deletion I've up-voted it.

I can't share the full conversation with moderators, but they used the information about my vote against me.

I've found several related conversations:

  1. See who is upvoting/ downvoting my question/answer
  2. Could moderators see votes in the past?
  3. Is there a way to see who voted on your posts?

But they say, that moderators can't see who votes on questions.


  1. Has something changed? Can moderators/CM/SE employees see the list of voters?
  2. If so, can they use this information against members?
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    Were you caught in a voting fraud upvoting a question of a sock-puppet or operating in a voting ring? – πάντα ῥεῖ Sep 17 '18 at 11:49
  • @πάνταῥεῖ the conversation with mods wasn't about the votes. Moderators have used info about the vote in different case (chat ban). – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 11:50
  • @gnat Toon Krijthe's message doesn't answer my questions. It's all about assumptions. – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 18:46
  • @Suvitruf For what it's worth, normally if you receive a moderator message through the site, you're allowed to share the contents of that message. But if a site moderator or SE employee has told you not to share it in this case, then of course you should listen to that. – David Z Sep 17 '18 at 20:00
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    @DavidZ there is no case where the user receiving a mod message would be prohibited from sharing it. I would assume that part to be a misunderstanding. Moderators are not free to share the details unless necessary, but user are always free to do so (though they're often temporarily prevented from doing that by their suspensions). – Mad Scientist Sep 17 '18 at 20:01
  • @MadScientist hm, are you sure? Mods on SOru forbid to share this conversations without their permission. Can you share the link to the rules or discussions about it? – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 20:06
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    @MadScientist I've never known it to happen (and I can't imagine ever doing so myself), but I didn't want to rule out the possibility that a user might be told not to share a mod message, especially given the apparently unusual circumstances here. That's why I didn't make a blanket statement as you did. – David Z Sep 17 '18 at 20:07
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    @Suvitruf There are no official rules on this as far as I know, I never heard of any case where a mod declared a mod message secret, it's simply an unprecedented case. The private nature of mod messages is almost entirely to protect the messaged users, not the moderators. I'm a moderator on Skeptics, so I'm familiar with the other side, but I'd never even consider to prohibit publication of a mod message, and I haven't heard of any previous case where this happened. – Mad Scientist Sep 17 '18 at 20:11
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    @MadScientist ok, found related conversation meta.stackexchange.com/a/299031/260198. Interesting. – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 20:13
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    @Suvitruf Were you explicitly told you could not share it? – ɥʇǝS Sep 17 '18 at 20:15
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    @ɥʇǝS in SOru chat mods several times told as that we shouldn't share mods messages. And they referred to meta.stackexchange.com/questions/293213/… – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 20:16
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    @Suvitruf That's written from a moderator perspective. We're not allowed to post message text except in a few cases. But the user being messaged can. – ɥʇǝS Sep 17 '18 at 20:23
  • @ɥʇǝS I have to talk about it with our mods) – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 20:25
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    @Suvitruf I think you might know if it's okay to share a mod message. I've answered that question in SOru chat room in a conversation which you participated. – Nicolas Chabanovsky Sep 18 '18 at 6:46

I've contacted you (an employee, not a moderator). Moderators cannot see votes, as far as I know. Usually employees never look at votes, except for some serious issues like vote fraud.

In the case the issue is related to moderation: a question was posted which should have been deleted or closed by regular users, but instead it received some upvotes. The question is... horrible. It contains harassment, insults, etc. I wanted to check votes on two things:

  1. Votes from puppet accounts.
  2. Contact the voters with a few questions like why they up voted instead closing, etc.

Upvotes from real, regular users on such questions is a good indicator of possible issues in the community. So I've asked you to provide details on why you have up voted that question. At the same time, I've asked another user the same question. The plan, based on your response and the response of the other user, is to either take action or contact the next fellow if I do not have the whole picture.

I'm not comfortable looking at votes. It was not a random post or even not the first of such type. There is a serious ongoing issue in the SOru community which lasts for last several months. I'm investigating it. I respect the users' choice and their privacy. It was a forced step, which I personally would not have taken in other circumstances.

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    Are there any public guidelines about when employees are supposed to use the ability to see individual votes? My assumption was that it is still only meant to evaluate voting patterns, not individual votes, and especially not to go as far as judging whether a user is "voting correctly". As a moderator I would not feel comfortable with acting in this way on individual votes, it always felt like a very sensible restriction that we don't have that ability in the first place. – Mad Scientist Sep 17 '18 at 20:34
  • @MadScientist I updated the answer. – Nicolas Chabanovsky Sep 18 '18 at 6:53
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    @NicolasChabanovsky but the question was about guidelines. Or does this update mean, that there is no any guidelines, and SE employees can see individual votes whenever they want? For me it looks like personal harassment. I feel kinda uncomfortable in such atmosphere. – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 18 '18 at 9:30
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    @Suvitruf I apologize if I made you feel uncomfortable. I did not what that. Please, note that I've checked just the newest meta question with insults. One last question. I had no idea who I would need to contact. – Nicolas Chabanovsky Sep 18 '18 at 10:43
  • Moderators can't see votes directly, but they can work out voting patterns by looking at the number of votes cast by a user against another user, recording it, then looking at them again in a few hours or days. – Richard Sep 19 '18 at 14:27

Ordinary moderators can't see who voted. If you got a message from ordinary moderator, it means you also posted a comment and then deleted it, moderators do see deleted comments.

Stack Exchange staff on the other hand can see who voted, but it's rarely used, only in extreme cases.

All in all, I'm sure there is more to it, for example you took part in comment discussion involving offensive language, or something like that. Moderators or SE staff should not and will not take action against someone who just upvoted something.

That said, as mentioned in this comment, you might have been detected as part of voting fraud, i.e. moderators identified you as sock puppet account of the other user. Moderators do have tools to detect those, for example if you're sharing the same IP address as the other user.

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  • The message was from mods team (it includes CM). The post was deleted. It has 0 comments. So, to summarize: 1) They can see. 2) They can use it. Am I right? – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 11:51
  • @Suvitruf see my edit. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Sep 17 '18 at 11:55
  • "you might have been detected as part of voting fraud" No. Sorry, but I can't share conversation with mods without permission. But it's note about fraud, IP and all this things. Conversation with mods was about my chat ban. But they used info about the vote as aggravating circumstance. – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 11:56
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    Well, CM can see who voted, yes. If you think he abused his power, contact SE team via this page and give them all the details in that form. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Sep 17 '18 at 11:58
  • I've contacted them on Friday. But in the bot message mentioned that they "will send a personal response usually within 24 hours". So, should I wait more? – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 17 '18 at 12:00
  • Well, sounds like it's sensitive issue so yes, might take longer to process. I'd say if you don't get any response in the next couple of days, try sending direct email to Tim Post who shares his email in the profile, and also wait few days. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Sep 17 '18 at 12:02
  • I think here though, it seems like they're on top of it. – Journeyman Geek Sep 18 '18 at 8:27

Moderators can't see individual votes. Fortunately, abuse on our platform has yet to reach a scale where investigations into trolling and outright abuse are so consuming that we have to provide moderators with additional powers. I hope it never comes to that.

However, when we see a question where:

  • It's blatantly off-topic (and / or)
  • It contains targeted harassment, bigotry, racism, or other egregious violations of our Code of Conduct (and / or)
  • It's overt SPAM or self-promotion

... and it's visually identified as being welcome in a community through up-votes, employees ARE going to query the votes table and find out what the heck is going on. If they're not, that means they're not doing their job, and Joel is going to take away their standing desks.

Our promise to visitors is the best information rises to the top. If someone is deliberately interfering with the efficacy of any of our products, it's a serious issue, and one that will lead us to thoroughly investigate and might lead to multiple accounts being terminated. This has happened in the past.

The fact that you received a courtesy email from an employee prior to major action being taken giving you an opportunity to explain what's going on is quite frankly way above and beyond anything we'd normally do in a situation like this.

Your vote is your business, and there will never be repercussions for you voting as you see fit as long as you're not using votes tactically. If we see that, we're going to contact you (moderators do this every single day based on patterns alone) - that's nothing really new. What changed here was the seriousness of what happened, and in cases like that, we do need to be awfully thorough.

If you post:

I think we should kill [targeted group of people]. It will make PROLOG a better language. Please also buy discount Gucci shoes from my favorite psychic in India

.. and that gets up voted, I'm gonna do more than just look at patterns, and you'll only get away with blaming it on your cat once, max twice.

We're not big brother, but we do need to ensure that the actions of a few don't result in the many not being able to have nice things. But at this point, we're talking about outright abuse, not a difference of opinion on the merits of an otherwise on-topic post.

For voting rings where the content is on-topic, just of dubious quality and correctness, it's seldom that we need to look beyond patterns, and most of that is automated. It's all fun and games until our private SEDE instance times out.

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    1) The question was on meta. 2) I've upvoted it, 'cause I agree with some statements in it. 3) If summarize, basically, you just wrote, that I can not express my opinion by voting. And you said, that it's common practice for SE employees to tell me what's should I think. Ministry of Truth? – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 18 '18 at 15:05
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    Something most folks don't realize (mostly because they don't come in contact with it), but the majority of the worst kinds of harassment / trolling / emotionally confrontational situations actually play out on meta sites, the strict rules of the main site shut it down quickly. That it happened on meta doesn't really make it less actionable, in fact, quite a bit more in many cases. Every major upheaval that result in lots of feelings being permanently hurt started on a meta site (since I've been here). That's why we watch meta sites so closely. – Tim Post Sep 18 '18 at 15:11
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    We don't tell you what to think. We often point out how something you're doing, helping or engaging in is actively harmful for a healthy community, but this is a Q&A site, not a national government. And how you vote is up to you, but if it looks like your intent is to throw pieces against the walls instead of playing chess, then maybe the chess place isn't the best place to go :) – Tim Post Sep 18 '18 at 15:14
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    If we are talking about particular meta question...It wasn't, hm, polite, true. But it contains several good points. So, even if I don't agree with the message style, I do agree with intention and original meaning. I usually vote for meaning, not for formatting/style. – Suvitruf - Andrei Apanasik Sep 18 '18 at 15:53

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