Someone on Meta has started to upvote many/most off-topic questions. These are questions asked by people who are simply lost, here's a couple of examples:

These questions tend not to get more than one upvote suggesting that it's a single individual.

They may of course be simply upvoting everything as we wouldn't be able to distinguish that from upvoting only off-topic questions.

This is not serial voting as they aren't targetting a single individual but it does make deleting these broken window questions take slightly longer.

Firstly, if you're that person could you stop doing that please?

Secondly could we get a Community Manager to investigate, in case this continues?

  • 1
    These questions tend not to get more than one upvote suggesting that it's a single individual. Hrrm, depends. Does it happen around the clock? I sure have seen it happen several times in my timezone, but if it is more pervasive there may be more than a single user involved (that, or the user in question is incredibly dedicated). Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 9:11
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    I'm pretty sure it's a "voting troll" who got pissed off at SE and try to hurt it by planting chaos around the sites. It's not new, but these days it's expected such things will become more and more common. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 9:24
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    Also could be someone that is hunting for a voting badge, Electorate comes to mind for example.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:11
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    The person(s) that might be have done this might be completely unaware of it if they're using the SE app. I myself have up-voted/down-voted mistakenly due to stumpy fingers and not realised because the voting indicator is broken in the app (I primarily use the SE app).
    – Script47
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 11:25
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    I've been seeing blatantly bad questions on the the main site being up voted too. Like "so my homework" bad questions with no redeemable qualities. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 11:39
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    If you’re hunting for badges you might as well downvote the off topic questions, which you can do at 100 rep.
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 13:18
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    another, more recent example: Display an array pattern using multiple loops (FWIW per my experience, in some cases of persistent blatant mis-voting company staff doesn't hesitate to intervene)
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 17:18
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    It's going creepy: codereview.stackexchange.com/questions/231743/… Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 17:46
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    @πάνταῥεῖ looks like we're too late to the party. Question gone. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 18:46
  • +1 For reporting the issue and suggesting 2 solutions. Are you also interested in other potential solutions to this issue? If yes, please consider adding this explicitly to your question. Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 1:24
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    Someone's being silly. Considering these posts never hit the lifespan or quantity for those votes to be locked in? Its just someone being silly Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 14:23
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    I am noticing that behaviour at all sites I am participating. That's just annoying. It's even worse than what we experienced when the welcoming waggon blog post was offered these times. Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 15:00

5 Answers 5


I'm split. Maybe the best course of action, given the current context, is to ignore this (and compensate with one's own vote if one feels so inclined). Off-topic questions tend to go away very quickly anyway.

The reason I'm thinking this is because, although upvoting off-topic questions can very well be considered as a kind of sabotage, siccing a CM on that matter looks overkill to me.

If the offending user(s) are trolls, that would only feed them.

And even if they aren't, that would send the wrong signal IMHO. Serial voting excepted, votes are supposed to be free. The last thing we need right now are users believing SE has started policing votes in addition to speech.


(hopefully) all the recent churn about pronouns and the "Monica affair" attracted a lot of new MSE users.

New users need to find their way.

And both questions you use as example got deleted. So if there is some supposed malicious upvoting going on: the votes don't matter when everyone else does his/her/* job and votes for closure and deletion.

So I don't even see a big need for the CMs to research this. (I think there are more important unresolved problems around for them to worry about).

And beyond that, the correct way to address your concerns would be by flagging such questions.

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    Moderators have previously complained that we didn't let them know what was going on. If they don't want to investigate they don't have to but we wouldn't want them to say "we would have done something if only you told us about it, why didn't you do that?" Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 9:46
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    @RobertLongson but then the defined process would be to raise flags, wouldn't it?
    – GhostCat
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:20
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    If you read the link, the moderator asked us to "... leave public and visible artifacts" in that case. Since there's no meta effect possible here on the deleted posts (we can't vote on them) a public question would not seem to cause any harm and allows other people to weigh in with their answers e.g. CM intervention is not required or indeed that we shouldn't worry about this at all. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 12:33

C'mon, it's not like voting was forbidden. To be clear, it wasn't me but even if then so what? Every one is free to downvote or upvote what ever he desires.

Besides it's subjective whether a question is off or on topic. Apparently for that user some questions weren't and there's nothing you can do about it.

If anyone could objectively decide about offtopicness of any question then we wouldn't have to vote for anything.

So you know, I downvoted your question because I find it's off-topic. It's looking for problems where there are none and tries to make a mountain out of a molehill.

I support the freedom of voting.

  • 10
    " it's subjective whether a question is off or on topic" Really? I must of imagined this objective list of things people can ask about here: meta.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic While I agree, people can vote for whatever they like, it amazes me this reached +4 with this objectively false line in it.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:44
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    @MarkKirby you need no voting for something that could be objectively categorized. There are some rules, right, but their interpretation is always subjective thus we have the voting system. It's the users who decide about a question's fate and not software. Many times it's disputable so you see for yourself, it's not always black-n-white. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:48
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    No, the voting system reflects quality, not if something is off topic or not, that is what close votes are for. If I ask "How do I eat a sandwich?" that is objectively off topic here, there is no debate about that, if someone votes it up, that does not make it on topic because they like it, the objective rules about what can be asked override their opinion.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:52
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    @MarkKirby yeah, you're making it easy for you by picking one the edge cases where you with a great deal of certainty can say it's black or white but you need to vote for the other two million grey-area cases inbetween. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:54
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    The only debate I see about topicality is if this is the correct site for a question based on how localized it is and that is more if they should be moved than if they are on topic. Did you even read the help centre link? It gives three objective catogory6s of question you can ask about but mainly comes down to "Is the question about Stackexchange or the software behind it?" If yes, on-topic, if no off-topic, that is objective.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:59
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    Yes, this is a matter of context. @Jeff, "misaimed" questions on main sites are routinely upvoted, discussed, and dealt with -- that's why the whole migration feature exists. However, we're on Meta here, and our reactions to non-meta questions, which are off-topic by definition, are well-defined. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:59

Did you ever see upvotes before the downvotes? If not, then those might very well be pity upvotes to balance the downvotes, as downvoting without any explanation might be considered unwelcoming?

In general, I'm not feeling sorry for those who simply do not care to read about the site they're trying to get help from. Not at all. But as off-topic questions are posted on Meta's quite a lot, I indeed always figured that many people were simply lost, like you wrote. But even more: I've always wondered how many ended up on Meta's by following links from some "How to ask", so possibly actually trying to understand how things work. (Good!) Or maybe somehow got lost after following some link after signing up? (Your two examples are not new users on the main sites, but I think posting off-topic questions happens to new users a lot too.)

Also, once lost, the help they get on Meta is not really telling them they took the wrong turn. The weird requirement for the tags, "must include at least on of (bug feature-request discussion support)" might be the most explicit warning. The yellow "How to Ask" box might not be explicit enough: I feel it's not necessarily clear that "Is your question about the Stack Exchange engine that powers the Stack Exchange network?" is actually a requirement:

Ask a question on Meta

So, I often wonder if all the blame is on the users, or if onboarding or links in the help fail them too. For such cases, I could understand that some might cast a pity upvote.

I wonder if SE ever investigated the logs to see why so many people end up asking on Meta's. (Like: how often are off-topic questions posted, what path did the users follow, how many are posted by new users, how many users have been question-banned.)

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    Did you ever see upvotes before the downvotes? Yes, I did. I suppose they could be preemptive pity upvotes, but the issue would remain the same. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 10:39
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    I sometimes upvote off-topic questions when I feel the (number of) downvotes are too harsh. Asking your first question here and having it downvoted into oblivion feels like "F**k off!!" to me. I prefer to point the newcomer in the right direction without downvoting.
    – user642519
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 12:35
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    @user642519 "when I feel the (number of) downvotes are too harsh ..." Sorry, but that's total nonsense, and only makes moderaton of sites (not only MSE) harder. Voting shouldn't be done in (wrong) sentiment for the OP. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 12:52
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    Interesting idea. I've done that too, elsewhere. Some sites have an agreement in their local Meta, not to let a net vote go below -3. Personally, I think that on one of the smaller sites, even -3 is going overboard for a total dud of a question. Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 12:53

To reduce the frequency of upvotes on clearly off topic questions that are marked on hold as such, consider improving the UI. For example, when the user upvotes such questions, a short warning appears that says: consider voting up only if you think the question is on topic. If it is a good question but off topic on this site, don’t upvote.

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