We often notice that postings by new contributors receive upvotes after being downvoted before, despite these posts are

  • very low quality
  • completely unclear
  • obvious duplicates (no research done as recommended)
  • blatantly off-topic for the site
  • even obvious spam or clickbait

That's an easy to spot pattern from the reputation gain of the OP, e.g. question shows -3 votes, OP's reputation is 11.
I can only speculate about the reasons why one would upvote posts fulfilling the above mentioned criteria. Be it (misunderstood) empathy with the OP, missing experience with the scope of the site ("Oh, that's an interesting question"), voting fraud or whatever.

Why I deem this upvoting behavior is problematic

  • It gives a wrong signal about the posts content quality
  • It encourages new users in keeping up with posting off-topic content
  • It makes curation harder (especially if several upvotes weigh out former downvotes and the post goes > -31)

Proposed solution

There's already a popup reminder implemented for downvotes casted by users, which are relatively new to the privilege (stemming from this old answer by Jeff Atwood):

Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved

In a similar manner we should have a warning popup (at least for sake of consistency):

Please reconsider your upvote, or add a comment if you think this post is on-topic and can be improved. It seems to be very low quality or not appropriate for this site.

This should apply if the following criteria are met:

  • The OP is a new contributor
  • The post was down- and/or close voted before, and no edits (beside tag edits) have been done yet
  • The voter is relatively new to the upvoting privilege

1)The post can't be deleted then by manual deletion or the roomba bot.

  • 3
    I have noticed that bad questions often receive one upvote too. I just put it down to someone doing an awful trolling attempt. I don't think it is a big enough issue to warrant the devs spending time on it.
    – Mark Kirby
    Jun 27, 2020 at 10:40
  • 1
    @MarkKirby So why it's apparently considered to be an issue with downvotes? That's unbalanced and biased. Jun 27, 2020 at 10:41
  • 3
    I don't think it is an issue with downvotes either. I would agree the sympathy / troll upvote is a bigger issue than a downvote due to the amount of rep given / lost. The only reason SE gave a crap about the downvotes was because people who don't even use the sites complained that downvotes are mean on Twitter and for some reason company's today think that is the most important place to get feedback. I do see what you are saying (not my downvote) about bias but I just think we should go back to letting people just vote however they want.
    – Mark Kirby
    Jun 27, 2020 at 10:49
  • @Mark Well, I agree with you insofar, that the site is already cluttered with any kind of popups and warnings, and it's probably better to drop these in wole for sake of a better UX. But as long as we still have them ... Jun 27, 2020 at 10:57
  • 1
    Sure, if we must have them then absolutely they should be consistent, I can't argue against that.
    – Mark Kirby
    Jun 27, 2020 at 11:05
  • meh, the easiest way to deal with the issue is to bore the perp to death by not giving them attention, and handling unwanted posts as we always have Jun 27, 2020 at 11:46
  • While I agree that unwarranted upvotes is equal to that of unwarranted downvotes, we want to encourage voting in general (not enough people vote), but thankfully automatic systems take more into account then the user's reputation to determine if they can submit a question or an answer.
    – Ramhound
    Jun 27, 2020 at 12:04
  • I think the reason for those random upvotes by who-knows-who is because that user doesn't want the new contributor to feel upset, but more downvotes will bury that trashy upvote anyways. What's the point in it other than making people get angry and stuff? Jun 29, 2020 at 21:43
  • @mindstormsboi Didn't I say that clear enough? "Be it (misunderstood) empathy ..." Jun 29, 2020 at 21:57
  • Ok, maybe I was just blind. All I know is that it wasn't clear enough for me, but whatever. Jun 29, 2020 at 22:17
  • 1
    Recent related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/351031/282094
    – Rob
    Jul 25, 2020 at 14:15

2 Answers 2


Showing a warning to someone who is (most likely as I personally believe) deliberately upvoting bad questions is useless, and more likely to just encourage those kind of people to do it even more, as in "Hey, my efforts are not for nothing, they have actual effect on the system, so I'll keep doing it to change it even further!".

So I'm against this request as I think it will cause more harm than good.

  • 1
    Well, a warning would force the puppeteers and ring-voters to spend effort on modifying their noise-generator random-upvote scripts:( Jun 27, 2020 at 14:36
  • 1
    @MartinJames one-time effort. And not too big of one, even. And that's assuming they don't already send raw POST requests instead of generating click events. Jul 13, 2020 at 18:49

I don't think it is a viable option because of the following reasons:

  1. As you rightly say that such upvotes may be a result of an empathy with the OP, voting fraud etc., it is for sure that popups won't sway such people away from their determination, given that it doesn't cost anything to upvote. The idea of someone upvoting because of a missing experience with the scope of the site seems rare because if they are constant upvoters, they'll slowly realise what is on topic and what's not.

  2. Even if a popup reminder is implemented for downvotes casted by users, I don't see many people giving a reason for downvoting. Also, in the words of @MarkKirby:

    The only reason SE gave a crap about the downvotes was because people who don't even use the sites complained that downvotes are mean on Twitter and for some reason company's today think that is the most important place to get feedback.

  3. Such people would be very few in comparison to the large sample space this community holds. Most people understand their responsibilities, and I firmly believe that if a question is off-topic, it would be downvoted and flagged a lot and several upvotes would never weigh out former downvotes, and the post would not go > -3. So, if the community can do the job, why bother the developers in such issues?

  • In that case, users should probably lose 1 rep if they upvote a bad post. Is that a better idea? Jun 29, 2020 at 22:18
  • 1
    @mindstormsboi the problem is you can't define what a "bad" post is. There are some controversial posts, and it wouldn't be wise to charge them 1 rep for upvoting! Jun 30, 2020 at 1:33
  • 1
    It is better to take no action and let the community do its job as said by me in point 3. Jun 30, 2020 at 1:43

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