Hypothetic situation:

You answer a question, a couple of minutes later another user with much more reputation than you post the same answer. And that's all for you in that question! All votes go for the second answer(the same as yours) which author has more way reputation.

My question is:

This is a normal thing here in Stack*? There is some kind of moderation/flag against this? The edits to answers can be seen by moderators right? So, they would know who wrote the answer first.

Do people vote reputation? Or is just my mind?

As @PolyGeo suggests, here is an example:

Here the OP asks for what is wrong in her/his code, I explained and later put another option. I've seen situations like this many times.

Note: My apologies to the other user in the example, I'm not making an accusation of any kind.

AttributeError: 'str' object has no attribute 'readlines'. Where did I go wrong in my code?

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    Can you post a link to an example where you believe that this has happened? That could be investigated. Hypotheticals are hearsay. – PolyGeo Jan 22 at 3:51
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    If this is about Stack Overflow, should it not be on meta.stackoverflow.com? – tripleee Jan 22 at 4:58
  • Very much related or a duplicate of The bikeshed problem and Stack Exchange – Nog Shine Jan 22 at 5:38
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    Related/duplicate (don't want to use the hammer): The problem with reputation: does high reputation attract too many upvotes? – Glorfindel Jan 22 at 7:56
  • FYI I proposed an experiment on MSO to check to see if this is the case. – Sonic the Introverted Hedgehog Jan 22 at 10:07
  • People vote for whatever reason they can justify. There's little we can do to avoid people choosing reputation as that justification. – Kevin B Jan 22 at 15:59
  • @KevinB True, but this is a thing I don't want to avoid, I just want to know if the is a trend to people voting highest reps (I think there is, I ask here to find out if I'm wrong about it). – Raydel Miranda Jan 22 at 16:05
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    You accepted an answer that doesn't at all talk about that – Kevin B Jan 22 at 16:07
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    The reality is... There's no concrete way to pull data that would be able to prove or disprove whether or not there is such a trend. Naturally, as people write more answers and earn more rep, they'll get better at doing so and attract more upvotes. You wouldn't be able to separate those who upvoted because the user has more rep, or because the answer was simply better – Kevin B Jan 22 at 16:09
  • @KevinB On the contrary, it has to do with that, the answer I accepted said Users almost always vote based on the usefulness of the post rather than the author's reputation, so according to that answer I might be wrong on my assumption, and on the other hand, the same answer explain how to proceed if I don't agree with the situation. – Raydel Miranda Jan 22 at 16:11
  • That's just an opinion. There's no data to back up that claim. – Kevin B Jan 22 at 16:12
  • @KevinB Ok, thanks for your opinion. I'll take it into account. Of course is an opinion, if not where the case I wouldn't asking. I did clearly write in the question: Do people vote reputation? Or is just my mind? – Raydel Miranda Jan 22 at 16:16
  • I agree with KevinB's point Raydel, but without a means to obtain hard data it's just an opinion (from someone active on many sites) and not an answer: "The tendency that one might rightfully opine that higher reputation users receive upvotes varies both depending upon the particular user and site in question but it's also the case where some might perceive that said user has enough reputation or ought to have provided an even better answer, thus they get no upvote but no downvote either". Also, senior users are better at research, general knowledge, and preparing accepted answers. – Rob Feb 12 at 3:09

Users almost always vote based on the usefulness of the post rather than the author's reputation. If you read the tooltip for the upvote button:

This answer is useful

The author's reputation does not affect the usefulness of the post in any way.

There are flags you can use for duplicates. If the answer is exactly the same as another answer, you should leave a comment and downvote. I would also recommend to submit a custom moderator flag. Duplicate answers tend to be poorly-received.

In your example, your answer is slightly different than the other one. They are extremely similar, but they aren't exactly the same.

So, to directly answer your question, it is very unusual for a duplicate answer to be upvoted, no matter what the reputation of the author is. Custom moderator flags should be used in these situations. People should not and almost always do not vote based on the author's reputation.

  • Not voting reputation here ... :) – Raydel Miranda Jan 22 at 4:06
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    Worth noting that two answers can be significantly or even exactly the same (assuming we're not talking about plagiarism, here) without there being any misdeeds. With a minute or two difference in posting time, it's just as likely that the second answer was "in progress" while the first was being written and the author of it never noticed it. Flagging such answers would likely result in those flags being declined. We don't punish people for taking the time to write an answer and missing being first by a minute or two. – Catija Jan 22 at 4:20
  • @Catija Perhaps a bad example taking the time difference into account. But I'm not saying the other user must be punished. Let me re-formulate the question for you: Looking at the two answers in the example I posted: What answer would you vote if the other user were only 300 rep points (taking into account the response time)? – Raydel Miranda Jan 22 at 5:34
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    "Users almost always vote based on the usefulness of the post rather than the author's reputation" - [citation needed]. I mean, we all know that's supposed to happen, but it sounds like you've got evidence - I'd be interested to see it. – EnergyNumbers Jan 22 at 7:35
  • @EnergyNumbers I'll invest some time gathering it. – Raydel Miranda Jan 22 at 15:05
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    That's unfortunately not always the case, especially for low-rep users (at least from my experience) – Asuna Jan 22 at 15:41

As I find myself vaguely accused here, let me chime in with my explanation.

I opened a question with what seemed like a simple answer, and typed up that simple answer. Because I was on mobile, it took a while to type in, even though the first version was quite spare. When I submitted the answer, I found that another answer had been submitted (the timeline reveals it came in a couple of minutes before mine) and I considered deleting mine; but as the other answer had what I perceived to be a flaw, I left a comment on it, and left mine.

To improve my answer, hopefully help the OP, and diversify the answers, I further edited my answer to comment on the overall design of the code in the question, to the point where you can no longer argue that our answers are identical. (This apparently happened within the edit grace period, so it's all in the first revision.)

There is also some unattractive bickering in the comments on your answers as to whether closing files is useful. I guess we eventually converged on both recommending this.

This sort of sequence of events is by no means unusual on Stack Overflow. The consensus is to let votes by visitors be the final verdict.

Personally, I don't look much at the reputation of the author of a post I vote on, though of course, after a while you start to recognize some authors.

If you find what you suspect to be a voting ring, do contact a moderator. Situations where ostensibly unrelated accounts systematically upvote each other are definitely abuse of the system, and a problem for the credibility of the Stack Overflow / Stack Exchange model.

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    Sorry if you feel accused I stand here and say is not the case, this is a post I wanted to do some time ago. It just turn out my case with you was the most recent. I understand you don't do anything intentionally, it just happend. So please, do not feel accused, you didn't put a gun on users head an made then vote and everybody here knows that. – Raydel Miranda Jan 22 at 5:10

The two answers on the linked question look to me to have similar themes and were posted a few minutes apart but are not the same and offer visitors that read them the opportunity to upvote/downvote either, both or neither.

Personally I would upvote any answer that looks useful and high rep users have often written MANY answers and get good at writing clear answers focused on the question asked.

As a result I suspect their answers will attract more upvotes than new users or users with much less reputation, but it is because of the quality of their answer rather than their current reputation.

  • You said focused on the question asked based on that, and the question made by the OP in the example I posted, the answer focused on the question is not the one with votes, even being a correct and clear answer. – Raydel Miranda Jan 22 at 4:27
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    @RaydelMiranda: I disagree. Triplee's answer is shorter, more direct, and probably more "Pythonic" in nature compared to yours. It's just as good as yours in content, only without so much verbiage. – Nicol Bolas Jan 22 at 14:43

Whenever you come across a late answer that basically replicates an answer that was posted hours or even days earlier, the best piece of advice I can suggest is to flag that post.

If however, the second answer contains more detail, more supporting evidence and a better explanation, I believe it's perfectly appropriate to upvote the stronger answer. Generally speaking, I do not care about the reputation of a user but it is true that a high-rep user has proven their mettle, just like a new contributor, they too started with 1 rep.

I admit, I have often swayed to upvote a newcomer's contribution simply because it was a good-enough answer, we should all encourage those new users who will provide valuable contributions in the foreseeable future, give them a second chance and a leg-up. Personally, I am happy to upvote three or four answers on the same question if they are all “correct” but offer a different perspective. (I don't think this type of philosophy is possible on Stack Overflow where, as far as I can tell, there is only one right answer.)

If there are less than 20 minutes separating the two answers, and they are nearly identical it is best not to raise a flag. Instead, leave a comment encouraging either user to include references, quotations, or any supporting evidence they can find which will enhance and strengthen their answer.

Addendum: Yes, I realize I'm repeating what other users have said, but seeing as I don't come from Stack Overflow, I think it's worth pointing out that similar incidents happen across the entire network.


I must share my experience here.

This is an answer that I wrote when I had only 200 reputation on Stack Overflow. There's also a competing answer written by another who already had 120k+ rep.

Mine was accepted by OP, and in a few days rose to 38 (net score). The answer from the high-rep user stayed at 24 or 26 (didn't remember).

So people do vote for answer quality :)

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    Perhaps the fact yours was accepted has to do with the outcoming result in the long shot? Would be the same if the 120k+ user's answer was the accepted answer? Nobody can't tell. – Raydel Miranda Jan 27 at 16:47
  • On the other hand, after accepted , you eddit your answer several times, one of those times you add +500 characters and other +300 which are very good improvements to your answer. It is obvios it wuold get more votes, it is an excelent answer but not fit as example here. Yours it is clearly better than the other user. – Raydel Miranda Jan 27 at 17:02

Yes, they do. That is reality, not a myth. There are a lot of students here and some of them are not that great at the subjects they study. So, high reputation answers are more reliable for them. But that's a secondary or tertiary reason behind this phenomenon. It's more of some kind of "herd" instinct, I believe. The same holds in real life just as well. And of course, it holds across various SE sites, and there can be no doubt at all that it is the case. There are other minor reasons that reinforce it. High reputation contributors are usually more professional and can give more precise answers, and they can do it faster getting more votes.

But there are more serious problems, such as creating quality content. High reputation answers don't necessarily warrant high-quality content. I can often observe the practice of showing off, which although reinforces the student's beliefs in the answerer's supreme expertise, but that does not improve the content at all, and may actually make it less accessible to other students or those who want the answer to a similar/identical question. So there are other seemingly unusual patterns. It's not just the pattern of the high reputation contributors receiving more points. As I see it, the SE team constantly tries to improve the SE sites. Slowly but gradually the issues are being resolved, but I don't think seeing things through rose-colored spectacles is conducive to improvement. We should say things the way they are. This issue of voting is here. Serial deliberate (unfair) votes may also occur, and that's much more serious. That's what should be the priority, not the way students receive answers. A lot of them are just rote-learners, unfortunately. Yet it is not the reason to castigate them. And it's an excellent decision to remind the whole community to be nice (be nice to a new contributor), although it is sometimes neglected to some extent.

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