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I found a number of questions on Meta relating to revenge downvoting, but most of them were discussing the situation in which a user suddenly receives a deluge of malicious downvotes.

My situation is different — a single, tit-for-tat downvote in direct response to me downvoting their post, which the other user explicitly admitted in a response to my comment:

me: [explains why their post didn't adequately answer the question]

them: [correctly inferring that I downvoted them] "I downvoted your question too then."

I won't lose too much sleep about the -2 rep, but this is clearly not how downvotes are supposed to be used. What's the best response to this situation, or should I simply ignore it?

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    We're really not going to have a major investigation over a single vote. I'm afraid you'll just have to move on and remember that one upvote is worth 5 downvotes. Oct 30 '20 at 17:32
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    If the downvoting is repeated over a week (and you strongly suspect it is the same user), bring it to the attention of the mods by flagging the misbehaviour.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 30 '20 at 17:49
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    Consider it a badge of honor (and cease further engagement with said user)
    – Kevin B
    Oct 30 '20 at 20:03
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    Does this answer your question? Victim of Revenge Downvoting and meta.stackexchange.com/q/106704/282094
    – Rob
    Oct 31 '20 at 1:22
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I'll share my two cents.

First of all, trying to respond to "I downvoted your question too then" can never end well. No matter what you'll say, you'll just make things worse. The person made their mind, acted upon it, and since you're strangers it's not like you can make peace and become friends. So do not try to respond.

Second, if you're really into it, you can start "monitoring" that user. Check their other activities, their comments to other posts, etc. If you identify pattern of such behavior as you described, it might be worth to bring it to the moderators attention since it's indeed harmful to the community and abuse of the downvote privilege. One or two cases are too minor to make any impact, but when it's more than one or two cases, it's a different story.

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  • I agree. In fact, I've tried the second method. I will share my experience. There's a user on one of the SE communities whose answers are merely copy-pasted from other sources (not original answers). Sources are used to "support" answers, not a substitute for them. The user is quite experienced and has 50k rep on that particular SE. About six months ago, we both answered the same question. Their answer was, as always, merely copy-pasted. My answer was (well, not praising my answer but it's the truth!) way better than their answer. I got upvotes and their answer got downvoted [con..] Oct 31 '20 at 9:15
  • After some time, they deleted their answer and downvoted my answer. I noticed that both the events (deletion of their answer and the downvote on my answer) happened at the same time. I moved on. After a week or so, we both again answered the same question and trust me... the same thing happened again. That user continued to downvote my posts without any apparent reason (I believe they didn't even read my answers, but downvoted anyway). They've been downvoting my answers ever since their first answer got downvoted. I keep an eye on their rep points. [con...] Oct 31 '20 at 9:15
  • I've also noticed that when someone's answers outscored their answer, they just downvote it. I contacted SE team by the option given in the site (contact us), but they didn't respond. This behaviour is toxic and dangerous to the community. What am I supposed to do? They didn't respond, so now I keep downvoting their answers. I think I should contact them again about this behaviour because it's not how votes should b used, but there's no other way to get around it. Oct 31 '20 at 9:15
  • @Serendipity as I said, the impact is big enough to justify "external help" only when more than one user is affected. And when there are no comments, you really can't know what that other user is doing. Your case is classic serial downvoting, there are many discussions on MSE about it. The discussion here isn't about the downvoting being serial, but rather act of revenge. Oct 31 '20 at 9:56
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There is no need to respond. Everyone is free to use their votes as they see fit. And they have plenty of reason to downvote as the question wasn't (obviously?) clear enough for the answerer to lead to a correct answer. Such questions are not useful and deserve a downvote (from the view point of the user that wrote the answer).

Just flag the comment as no longer needed and move on.

Check if the question needs a clarifying edit to prevent that the next expert that tries to answer makes the same mistake.

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    Disagree with the "question wasn't obviously clear enough to lead to a correct answer". Too far fetched. Question can be perfect, and yet many can post crappy answers. You can't blame the one asking. Of course you might be correct, but blaming the OP by default is wrong, IMO. Oct 31 '20 at 8:52
  • I should've clarified - contrary to the other user's comment, the original question wasn't mine, but one of the other answers was. Weirdly, it seemed like this user thought both were mine, because both got downvoted without explanation (other than the explanation provided the user, namely that it was in revenge for the downvote they received). To my mind, neither the OP nor my answer were especially poor quality, though of course others may disagree. Oct 31 '20 at 11:36
  • @LionelRowe thanks for clarifying. The advice still holds, if there is a clarifying edit possible to a question that attracts wrong answers then by all means do so. If you run into that one user now and then that doesn't take critique easy then it is best to just move on. If they are not open for advice it often doesn't help to push on. It is awesome that you explained your down vote so they could improve. It is unfortunate that earns you some downvotes but in the long run your valuable contributions will outweigh the few pity downvotes you pick up along the way. Keep it up!
    – rene
    Oct 31 '20 at 11:43

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