I have encountered a user on a Stack Exchange site who has posted a lot of answers scored 0 or <0.

They have a large amount of reputation for that site. I think they are achieving this reputation by adding a massive amount of low quality content.

Since every upvote on a post compensates 5 downvotes, their reputation continues to grow.

I downvote these poor answers so as not to confuse students.

Other users on my site are doing the same.

What else can we do?

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    Very related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/161285/… – Shadow9 Feb 10 at 9:10
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    There are automatic answer bans that kick in for posting bad answers repeatedly. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Feb 11 at 10:23
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    @PolyGeo Why was "we" substituted by "I"? By changing the pronoun, it seems that the OP is handling this situation single-handedly when instead the problem seems to be acknowledged by other users as well (as implied by the "we"). – Mari-Lou A Feb 11 at 12:36
  • @Universal_learner you're not obliged to accept all the changes. If the editor has misinterpreted something, don't feel you have no say in the matter, it's still your post. – Mari-Lou A Feb 11 at 12:39
  • @Mari-Lou A Well I was said that violates the code of conduct. I just wanted to help my mod on Earth Sciences. But I also think the edition brokes your quote "what else can we do". But I want the question open and not violating anything. – Universal_learner Feb 11 at 12:41
  • You didn't name anybody but you left clues. By removing the number of questions that scored 0 or less and removing the user's rep, it becomes impossible to trace that person, unless... – Mari-Lou A Feb 11 at 12:44
  • @Mari-Lou A I edited the post not to break your quote. – Universal_learner Feb 11 at 12:44
  • @Mari-LouA in a sensitive question question like this I think it is best to speak from the singular so as not to suggest “and everybody agrees with me”. If they do then voting will show that. Using the singular helps focus on the behaviour and its impact without implying that there’s a mob with the same view. I asked permission from the asker before I edited. – PolyGeo Feb 11 at 19:50
  • @PolyGeo Equating "mob" with "we" is a bit OTT. The behaviour pointed out by the OP is not new nor strange, and if the user's contributions are receiving several downvotes it's helpful to know that they don't all come from the OP. – Mari-Lou A Feb 11 at 19:57
  • @Mari-LouA I wish I’d used the word many instead. In Australia I think we use the word mob in a much less charged way than some other places. A mob here is not considered sinister e.g. “a mob of sheep”, “our mob” (= our people). – PolyGeo Feb 11 at 20:06

Actually, this is really tricky.

Targeted voting isn't appreciated, so you (or anybody else) walking the profile/activity page of another user, identifying troublesome content and downvoting over and over ... is not an option. Obviously: "aligning" yourself with other users to do that on scale would be even "more wrong".

What is left:

  • every time you run into a post of that user (for example after reading some question and finding the answer there) ... downvote it. Include a comment, expressing why the answer is bad. Consider to delete-vote the answer if the rules for answer-deletion are met.
  • probably targeted flagging. If you scan the activities of a specific user, and you find (repeating) patterns of mis-use, then it might be fair to flag each incident. Alternatively, you can flag just once, but provide reasonable explanations why you think this is a repeating pattern.

But in the end, that is for the moderators to decide.

Final note: there has always been a struggle between those that want "only reputation" and those that want "only quality", and the people in between these positions.

Don't expect that to ever change, or be fully resolved. In other words: it is a part of reality around here, and no worrying will ever change that.

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    Upvoted but the problem with leaving a comment every time you cast a DV is the OP whose post was downvoted, rightly or wrongly, will feel targeted and might retaliate by DV (anonymously) the commenter's posts their turn. Flagging, I feel, is the safest solution. – Mari-Lou A Feb 10 at 10:49
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    @Mari-LouA Yes. I tend to comment much less for problematic users that have reached "downvote" privileges ... – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Feb 10 at 10:55

The type of problem described by the OP is more common than we might think.

Users whose sole focus is to gain rep are easily identifiable and will, more often than not, provide low-quality posts. Theirs will be among the first that answer easy, off-topic or very low-quality questions. Theirs will be the one that will replicate (not copy and paste) the correct answer but add a new line or mix the order in order to appear "original".

In the scenario described by the OP, the situation is indeed trickier. The user in question is providing original content by answering on-topic questions but if they cannot provide supporting evidence for their contributions then it should be the responsibility of the community and of the site's mods to make sure that visitors and users are aware of this requisite.

What else can we do?

It might be worth suggesting on the appropriate meta site that answers, especially on a site dedicated to science, must always be supported, failure to do so will risk deletion. I don't know how feasible this will be to put into practice but reaching that minimal standard in the future should be easier to enforce and maintain.


In order to stay on the right side of the Code of Conduct, whatever you do, I think that you should not try to single this, or any other user out, publicly (e.g. on Meta) for their behaviour:

No name-calling or personal attacks.

Focus on the content, not the person. This includes terms that feel personal even when they're applied to content (e.g. “lazy”).

If you think a behaviour of theirs is egregious, then simply flag one of their posts, using the Other reason and describe in detail your concerns. The moderators of the site involved will have ample tools to attend to the situation discretely.

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    Does earth sciences still have moderators? I know on writing.se , there wouldn't be anyone to handle the flag, unless a CM got bored one day and checked. – April Salutes Monica C. Feb 10 at 14:58

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