I've recently fallen victim to unexplained downvotes in one of my posts. While this was obviously enraging, it brought up an interesting question about SO regulations against downvoting.

Suppose that I was downvoted for one of my posts, and I have very poor moral standards (hypothetically), what regulation exists to prevent me from taking my anger out on the community by downvoting every single post for an extended period of time?

I understand that this will raise a few eyebrows, but as a part-time penetration tester it's in my nature to assume the worst of people. But I believe that rules and regulations exist for this reason, to regulate the worst of people, and therefore should be comprehensive enough to cover such cases.

  • 3
    You have, at most, 40 votes a day. Depending on the site size, that could be a good chunk of incoming content, but even that, at most, is one vote per post.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 5:56
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    Take a look at what serial voting is; long story short if the pattern is iffy the votes will get "canceled" if they target a single user. Not sure about several user, buy as my above neighbour pointed out you only have 40 voted a day
    – Jenayah
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 6:09
  • Partly, by rate limiting: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/164899/…
    – Raedwald
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 6:51
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    Just start with the bad questions, and you're free (encouraged, in fact) to angrily downvote all you want on SO. Even if you randomly downvote questions, that'll probably still have a net positive effect (there are a lot of bad questions...). Downvoting answers costs reputation, so that will be harder to keep that up, unless you are already heavily invested in the site (in which case you'd be less likely to mess with things). Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 8:33

2 Answers 2


It looks like something very similar already happened. Someone upvoted all 500+ questions on a site. It was of course very suspicious, and it was apparently pretty easy to find who did it because they were one of the top 3 votes and it was pretty clear they had upvoted every question on the site. I'm not sure what happened after that, unfortunately.

On Stack Overflow, which currently gets 6.7 thousand questions per day, you'd run out of votes before you even downvote all of today's questions (this doesn't even include answers, either), unless you used 100s of fake accounts (in the process of making all these fake accounts you'd surely get caught very quickly though). Just downvoting 40 times per day wouldn't be suspicious on SO; I know some people legitimately use 50 close votes per day, most days, so I wouldn't be surprised to see people who honestly downvote that much (indeed, there is a popular request on MSO for more votes).

However, if you're targeting someone or even a group of people (otherwise how else would they know you're exacting your revenge?!?!) you're likely to be caught.


Moderators have the right to suspend users who are behaving in a way that is disruptive to the community at large. This includes, but is not limited to, "voting irregularities".

Moderators can't see what posts you voted for (only developers can), but I think this stream of downvotes would be noticed quickly by regulars on the site, who can then raise the topic on the site's own Meta. Note that vote totals are public and stored in SEDE; even without ♦ powers it'd take me at most a week to find out who is doing this.

In very excessive cases like these, the moderators could ask CMs to invalidate the votes from this account. Whether that would be honored is another question.

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