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A few months ago I reported an obvious case of serial voting, and a moderator said they escalated the incident to SE.

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Since then, deafening silence.

Another user told me this would probably happen.

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Unfortunately it looks like they were right.

So do voting fraud investigations ever go anywhere?

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Yes, they do. They go into a queue for the community managers to look at. But they didn't always, and there's a reason it's taking so long right now.

Some history

Back in 2015, JNat and I joined the team as support specialists, taking over the ZenDesk support queue where all community tickets landed. Part of that responsibility eventually included a queue where all the CM escalations would land. It was sorted by a special priority system that tried to organize certain types of escalations that might be more urgent over the others. If JNat or I couldn't handle the ticket, we'd pass it along to someone else. But we mostly handled them all ourselves.

About a year and a half ago, that changed completely. Our support queue transitioned to Freshdesk and combined with support for Talent and the newly created Teams product. JNat stayed with the community team and followed a different role that wasn't directly related to support, while I was joined by Grace Note in following to a new "support team" - not being technically a part of the community team anymore. One of the biggest departures from tradition with this change was that only support staff had direct logins with Freshdesk, whereas the entire community team now shared a single login to access stuff they needed.

With regards to CM escalations

Since these escalations were already set up to be emailed to the community support queue, they initially fell onto the support team for handling. Since I was the only one on this team that was familiar with the majority of these tickets and how they were processed, they all got dumped into my personal queue in the support system for me to process whenever I had time.

One rainy day earlier this year, I was asked by my manager what it would take to train the rest of the team to handle these escalations, because no company likes having only one person trained to do specific tasks. I might go on vacation someday, he says. Pondering this thought for a while, "it's probably a lot of work." Most of the support team isn't as familiar with the community or how the site works - at least not enough that they'd fully understand how to process these escalations without basically going through community manager training first.

This sparked an analysis - why is the support team responsible for these? Simple answer: because they were going into our queue and nobody questioned it. But it doesn't make sense for the support team to continue handling these.

The current backlog

So on September 18, I went back to the community team and asked them to come up with some process for their own team to surface and handle these escalations on their own. After all, they are called "community manager" escalations, and the support team are not community managers. I had planned on continuing handling these while that process was created. Unfortunately, around that same time, I got very busy with two other projects that ate up most of the free time I would normally devote to handling those escalations, and handled maybe a dozen over those two months.

Ironically, the exact situation we were trying to avoid by transitioning these back to the community team is what caused the current dilemma, and we ended up with a huge backlog which is still over 250 tickets long.

But they are there, and they are slowly being processed again. That system is in place for bugging community managers to handle them, and the backlog has shrunk over the past month. How fast it continues to shrink depends entirely on what else the CMs have to deal with over time. But we also have to remember that some inappropriate voting is an extremely low priority, and just about anything else that can possibly come up will likely be higher on the list than plundering through a bunch of voting invalidation tickets. But at some point, someone will look at it.

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    Thanks for sharing the details. I still think the only viable long-term solution is to give moderators the ability to handle more of this themselves, without having to escalate so much to the CMs. That will require additional development work in the short term, but it will pay many dividends in the long term. We've discussed before in private channels about possibly letting moderators invalidate votes by consensus (i.e., after two or more moderators agree). – Cody Gray Dec 13 '19 at 1:33
  • We'd also need slightly better tools to see this, and possibly work out stuff auto-checks miss ._. – Journeyman Geek Dec 14 '19 at 14:20

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