I have just posted a question Meta, and, as soon as I submitted it, I saw that it already has a downvote. Surely, this must be an error. Nobody has had the chance to read it yet.

The question is: How can I prevent wholesale changes to my question?

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    I can't speak on behalf of the downvoter but perhaps they thought it was a duplicate. Here is a slightly distant example that provides a lot of related links in the right column. The subject has been presented many times over the years, you can upvote some of the similar questions or edit your other question to clearly state how it differs from similar questions (and link to those questions). The downvote could have also come for a variety of other reasons; improve your other question or move on.
    – Rob
    Mar 6, 2020 at 10:38
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    For reasons possibly known to themselves, but certainly not to anyone else, some users here on MSE seem to think that duplicates deserve to be downvoted. Perhaps they believe the search function actually works and dupes are easy to find? In any case, I am afraid that this sort of abusive downvote (downvoting simply because something is a dupe) is something you need to accept on this site.
    – terdon
    Mar 6, 2020 at 12:46
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    You seem to be not the first one to observe that. I remember other people saying similar things. FWIW I always wanted to estimate how well the first vote (if it happens quickly) predicts the overall score of a contribution. My guess was that the first vote is considerably more negative than the final score, but maybe not. Mar 6, 2020 at 13:10
  • "proficient readers are able to read 280 - 310 wpm without compromising comprehension.". Even if we double that to 10 words per second, the 153 words in the linked question would still need 15 seconds to read. Probably somebody just quickly skimmed over it and then hit the vote button. Mar 6, 2020 at 13:24
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    @Trilarion: the title alone would probably have been reason enough to vote. We see these questions come up from time to time, and, certainly to me, the title shows that the OP didn't do their research. Mar 6, 2020 at 15:13
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    @MartijnPieters Sure. There is no obligation to read a question before voting on it. That's okay. Just wanted to argue that in this case it's also unlikely. Probably somebody just had a quick glance and voted. No error but probably also not a full read. Mar 6, 2020 at 16:06
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    There is no such thing as "drive-by downvoting", @Rob. The phrase makes no sense. All votes work this way: you come across a post and you vote on it. There's no poll tax or entry fee or survey or anything else involved. Mar 7, 2020 at 0:23
  • @CodyGray What is meant by drive-by voting is probably the speed of the action: vote after a quick glance and be somewhere else, don't bother to stop and read it all. Mar 9, 2020 at 8:40
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    @Trilarion It's still ridiculous. I can read very quickly, so it's not unusual that I will read an entire question and vote on it within 30 seconds after posting. Mar 10, 2020 at 9:04
  • @CodyGray Then you are not drive-by voting. Doesn't mean that it doesn't happen in general though and one characteristics would be a high speed of the action, even though there is no hard threshold. Anyway, this is all not very meaningful, because we don't put any formal conditions on voting. It doesn't matter if you read the entire contribution before voting or not and it's impossible to say with certainty anyway. I just believe it happens. Mar 10, 2020 at 10:04

3 Answers 3


Some users are very fast readers.

Some users may feel that the title alone gives them enough information to cast a vote.

Maybe someone voted by accident.

But consider that the first vote came a whole ten seconds after you posted your question (question asked at: 10:20:13, first vote cast at: 10:20:23).

Here you have the timestamps for the events:

Question posted:

enter image description here

Vote cast:

enter image description here

I believe that that's more than enough time to read that question and to make a voting decision. Although it logically varies from user to user.

  • You make a point, but I don’t think that’s what happened here. I don’t think 10 seconds is enough to read and give serious though to the question, but, more importantly, it wasn’t actually there for so long. I submitted the question, found that I should have included another tag (support), added the tag and submitted again. As soon as the question appeared after the click (1 or 2 seconds later) it already had the downvote.
    – Manngo
    Mar 6, 2020 at 10:45
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    You can check the timestamps here. If someone voted earlier, they retracted their vote so I guess it doesn't count. For what it's worth, I believe 10 seconds it's more than enough time to read the question and decide to cast a vote. YMMV.
    – yivi
    Mar 6, 2020 at 10:48
  • I trust you on the timestamps. I just think there must be an error, since downvote appeared considerably sooner that that. Literally just as the page was refreshed after the submit.
    – Manngo
    Mar 6, 2020 at 10:50
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    @Manngo you doubt if the servers, OS, SQL Server, .Net are capable to correctly record a timestamp?
    – rene
    Mar 6, 2020 at 12:22
  • @rene Well, MS may have been reusing code for this...
    – yivi
    Mar 6, 2020 at 12:24
  • "I believe that that's more than enough time to read that question and to make a voting decision." I don't believe that. Mar 6, 2020 at 13:05
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    That's fine @Trilarion. It's healthy to disagree. Not everybody reads or makes up their mind at the same speed, nor are they required to.
    – yivi
    Mar 6, 2020 at 13:07
  • @yivi I know. It's just disagreement but the second part ("Not everybody reads or makes up their mind at the same speed, nor are they required to.") is not what I believe. I believe that the speed that everybody reads or makes up is limited and 10 sec. is not enough in this case. Mar 6, 2020 at 13:13
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    @Trilarion you are assuming that the voter has to read every single word on the page to make up their mind. That’s not a valid assumption. Mar 7, 2020 at 3:20
  • @Martijnpieters That's not what I'm assuming. I'm just assuming that even a fast reader could not have read every single word of the question in that time. That's all. Doesn't mean they can't vote. Mar 7, 2020 at 7:39
  • @rene God forbid that Microsoft Technology be found imperfect. I’m not pointing the blame on the technology. I’m saying that the downvote appeared as soon as the page refreshed after the submit. This was less than 10 seconds.
    – Manngo
    Mar 9, 2020 at 9:55
  • @Manngo meta.stackexchange.com/questions/343470/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/312408/… so much fun scripting these actions ...
    – rene
    Mar 9, 2020 at 10:25

I wasn't the downvoter, but maybe their voting behavior is similar to me at times...

Vote prediction: Sometimes I predict my eventual vote based on an initial general impression, then read the post in more detail.

  • If I change my mind, I go back and change the vote.

  • If I don't change my mind (as is usual), then I don't need to scroll back up to find the vote buttons.

It's akin to branch prediction.

For the particular question in question, my first thought was "this post is about Stack Overflow alone, and therefore should be asked on meta.SO, not here". I could imagine someone immediately downvoting based on that alone.

  • With respect, what’s the hurry? Branch Prediction is all about taking saving a few nanoseconds in the pipeline.
    – Manngo
    Mar 8, 2020 at 3:30
  • For me, I guess it's a habit nowadays. I tend to have lots of tabs open and upvote a lot, so I reflexively pre-upvote many posts based on a first glance, and check to make sure I wouldn't change my mind (and simply close the tab when I'm done). Mar 8, 2020 at 3:36

As others have said: some users are fast readers, and fast voters (and that isn't necessarily a good thing btw).

But the real point: you assume that everybody else saw your question the moment you saw it. That isn't necessarily true. It is possible that other people saw the new question before your browser came back to you telling you: "the question is up".

And thing is: the achievements notification about votes is damn fast.

So, most likely:

  • you hit the submit button
  • someone else happens to just refresh his page, and gets to see your brand new question
  • you get to see the submitted question
  • that other user quickly votes
  • you end up being really surprised
  • "that other user quickly votes" May be part of the problem. Mar 6, 2020 at 13:07
  • Websockets deliver new questions at the same speed as vote notifications. No need to reload anything. All you need to do is open the questions page and wait for new posts to appear. Mar 7, 2020 at 3:21

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