The current help pages do not make it clear that targeted voting (either up or down) is not allowed.

The only mention of this is in Why do I have a reputation change on my reputation page that says "voting corrected"? which users may only read after their votes have been reversed.

On the other hand users are told when they are awarded the vote up privelege.

Can we please add a section to this page advising users not to target votes at another user's posts?

Something like:

When should I not vote up?

When a user continually votes (up or down) on many of another user's posts within a short period of time, the system considers these votes to be invalid and removes them.

This could happen for a variety of reasons, such as a user finding a user's great answer and visiting all of their posts to up-vote them, or a user getting into an argument with another user and down voting their posts indiscriminately in revenge.

No matter the cause, this sort of systematic targeted voting is not considered normal behavior and the system will not allow it. The system will automatically reverse such votes and you will see change on your reputation page that says "voting corrected"

If such a voting pattern continues to happen between two users mutually or from one user towards another, or otherwise falls outside of normal voting patterns, moderators and/or developers may investigate the matter; intentionally voting merely to reduce or inflate another user's reputation is considered abuse.

The above could also be a completely new help page "Targeted Voting" in the "Reputation & Moderation" section of help.

See also Please add some basic guidance on voting to the tour for additional justification on why this is needed. The suggestion there is to mention targeted voting in the Tour.

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    We should be teaching basic morality? Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 15:42
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    @MartinJames Many users don't realise it's not allowed, so it's about informing those users. There is nothing moral or immoral about voting. Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 15:49
  • Does it matter if it is specifically allowed or not? It's pretty clearly wrong, ruled or not. Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 22:21
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    @MartinJames it's clearly wrong, but it does not make users less oblivious to it being wrong (and yes, I fear that in this day and age, even basic morality has to be taught, we both know that). If you ask me, if we make the tour a bit more useful for those that do read it, it's a win enough to justify adding the guidance to it. Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 22:39
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    @MartinJames: Users are probably coming into this with an "oh, upvotes and downvotes, like on Reddit" mindset. On Reddit, everything is made up and the points don't matter, so new users may feel surprised that voting would be subject to any rules.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 2:58
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    @MartinJames just because we get hung up on imaginary internet points and choose to give them value doesn't mean they are actually worth anything. And if you don't assume they are worth anything, why would there be a problem if you were always up/downvoting the same person? This isn't about morality, it is about the site's mechanics and the weird attachment us locals have to meaningless internet points.
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 10:46
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    @Kevin: Reddit also has rules against targeted voting.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 20:02
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    @V2Blast: Yes, but nobody cares unless it's really egregious (voting rings, bots, etc.). Upvoting your friend/coworker's posts is far below Reddit's radar and they basically don't care at all unless the overall numbers start getting way out of line from "normal." (There's a difference between "the rules say don't do X" and "we will actually stop you from doing X").
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 20:11
  • @Catija can you please tell what exactly was done to have this mark completed? The answer only says "...adding something about targeted voting is of value..." and does not mention is was added already anywhere. Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 13:38
  • @sha: See the Vote up privilege page. The section When should I not vote up? has been added. Catija probably has yet to update their answer.
    – Justin
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 14:14
  • @Justin well if it's that simple, we can do it on her behalf. :) Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 14:21
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    @sha: I've updated her answer for now. She can rollback or edit if needed.
    – Justin
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 14:35
  • @Martin James But there are some badges which animate users for such behavior. Also what should be imoral, as long you are note voting fo yourself?
    – convert
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


UPDATE: The section When should I not vote up? has been added to the Vote up privilege page in the Help Center across the network - with the exception of the non-English sites. Translations for these are in progress.

Original post:

We agree that adding something about targeted voting is of value not only because it might increase awareness for new users that this isn't OK but also because it will give mods a place to point that explicitly warns of the possible results of targeted voting.

Because the content on this page is already somewhat long - and because we try to keep these pages short in general, we've pulled together what we think of as a concise version of this that's hopefully easy-to-read and contains sufficient information to address the concerns in this post.

This would go directly below "When should I vote up?"

When should I not vote up?

Posts should be voted on based on the content in the post rather than the person who wrote it. Voting for specific people, whether you know them or not, can negatively impact our ranking system. Here are some examples of common cases that should be avoided:

  • Repeatedly upvoting several of a user's posts to say "thanks" for one great answer.
  • Repeatedly upvoting posts created by people you know, often friends, family or coworkers.
  • Targeting a specific user with upvotes for any other reason.

In cases where voting patterns appear to be targeted, the votes are likely to be reversed, either by automatic systems or manually following an investigation by the staff, which will cause a loss of reputation earned from these votes.

If this seems clear, we can also add a similar version of it to the down votes page.

Let me know if there are specific changes I can make to this text - we've discussed it internally and feel generally confident that it should address the most common cases where people may simply not realize their voting habits are problematic for this site.

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    I'd change "upvoted" to "voted on" in the first paragraph to make it clear that the whole sentence applies to any type of voting. I'd also add in a sentence at the end indicating that one may be suspended from the site. Other than that, it seems good! Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 19:32
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    I would happy with this change. It satisfies what I asked for :) Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 20:10
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    This looks like a great improvement! Thank you! I recommend changing "Targeting a specific user with upvotes" to "Targeting a specific user with votes", to make it clear that it is problematic regardless of whether it is targeted upvoting or targeted downvoting.
    – D.W.
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 20:59
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    This has the converse problem, you might be scaring users into not casting more than 2 or 3 votes on a given user (assuming they're focused on one expert subject it can undermine tags where there's 1 single expert). Changing "several" for "too many" might be better, but I'm at a loss to find the optimal adjective for an unspecified quantity...
    – bad_coder
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 22:04
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    Why are users who commit serial voting (probably without awareness that this is prohibited) not informed after they make that mistake? Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 18:11
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    That's actually an interesting idea, @YuvalPeres. If the reversal script runs and invalidates a bunch of user's votes, it warrants an automated warning to the user (that does not go too much in detail about how it is calculated to avoid abuse). However, it is unknown how such a feature would affect voting rings (which are the primary source of invalidations), so if done, SE would have to tread very carefully (likely with A/B testing). It seems like a good feature-request, though. Commented Jul 24, 2022 at 18:21

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