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I recently encountered a case where someone - a new user who didn't know any better - serially upvoted the answers of a user who'd answered their question. After they mentioned this in chat, they were told not to serially upvote based on the user, and the votes were reversed.

I also linked the user to the /help/someone-answers page, which contains useful info about what to do when you receive an answer. However, when I went to look at the page myself, I noticed that it's actually pretty short, and is missing some things that I would have expected to be in there.

Among these are mentioning not to go serially upvote a user. The page should make note that this is not something that is encouraged when you get an answer.

Another thing that I'd expect to be in that page is a mention of the bounty system (and a link to the relevant help center articles). These two things are related - instead of serially upvoting, add a bounty.

Something like this:

If you found the answer especially helpful and would like to reward the author in an additional way, you are welcome to start a bounty and award some of your own reputation to the author. Please do not go upvote posts written by that person simply because this answer helped you; vote for the post, not the person.

This would be especially helpful if we link a user to /help/someone-answers when they first receive an answer. (Also, reformulating the help center article on bounties to focus on bounties that reward an existing answer would probably be good if this was to happen - currently, the existing focus on drawing attention could confuse new users following a link from this page.)

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Not an official answer, but a personal, philosophical response —

Over the years, we've had a tendency to bury (or completely omit) system responses to inadvisable actions which don't necessarily warrant a full-on confrontation with a user. For example:

  • surface flags you received
  • serial voting reversed
  • let users know if their post is automatically closed/deleted
  • user heading into ban or suspension waters
  • how was my flagged handled?
  • so so many more…

The reason I heard most often for omitting this type of feedback was that it simply isn't worth kicking a hornets nest where a user might disagree with the action-response. So we allow users muddle along, screw up, and screw up, and screw up… until — bam! — they find themselves on the wrong end of some sort of Moderator action or ban. This is where an errant user suddenly becomes a victim of that "nasty SO community".

If we ever want to truly become more inclusive (i.e. increasing the approachability of this network), the ideal way is to have much more built in just-in-time learning. The trick is to make it a completely natural (and expected!) way to interact with the site. Saying, "Hey, where is what became of that <thing> you did" (good or bad) is the best way for users to learn and improve. But the system UX has to be gracious and humble and exhibit a tone of "nothing concerning here; this is how we all learned to use this site!"

I've even gone as far as talking about a "personal audit" of sorts where a personal review of recent activities becomes an integral part of the user experience. I'm always surprised how much activity goes on around my posts whenever I click back on 'all activities' over the past week or so. Today, you don't even get an indication on your question if an answer has been edited or commented on, so it's difficult to know if those posts have been improved or corroborated, much less if system actions have been taken where you simply did not know any better.

I'm getting a bit off topic, but I hear where you're coming from. There are hundreds of opportunities like this all over the system.

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    Interesting thoughts, thanks! Just one thing - this seems like it'd be more applicable to the linked question about linking users to the help center article when they get an answer. Did you perhaps mean to post that there? (if you meant to post it here that's fine, just wanted to check.) – Mithrandir Jan 28 at 22:30
  • @Mithrandir Both seem applicable.in the sense of "why don't we do more to help when users are in the process of doing something wrong / inadvisable?" Automatically. – Robert Cartaino Jan 28 at 22:31
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    Yes! Activity on answers to your questions is especially frustrating; if it's a recent question I'm checking back anyway, but sometimes somebody makes a significant edit weeks or months later, and if there's no comment that pings me, I might never find out about it. Somebody tried to help me and, through no fault of either of us, I didn't notice. How sad. – Monica Cellio Jan 29 at 0:12
  • The serial voting part of this is really grinding my gears. So often users get 3-4 automatic reversals before a mod sends them a message and it turns out they're not really malicious just have no clue about why we don't tolerate serial voting & the conventions about it here (which are pretty anomalous as far as the 'web goes) – Magisch Jan 29 at 8:13
  • Also an option to get a ping when you get a custom non template response to a flag would be a godsend – Magisch Jan 29 at 8:13
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    Interesting answer: it is intriguing to see some member of the staff (and not just anyone, the Community Development director) acknowledge the "hide bad stuff under the carpet and hope the user won't notice" behavior that has been a standard for so long. Up to today, even received downvoted have been "handwaved" and somehow "hidden" to the user, perhaps in the hope of avoiding have to handle "rants" about "Tim's lost keys". Will surely keep an eye on this, to see how this seed will evolve in the next months. – SPArchaeologist Jan 29 at 8:57

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