I just had to deal with an understandably irate user who had been participating on the site I moderate only in one specific tag, where only a very small group of people were active. It turned out that this was a group of folks who were running workshops on a particular technology and were using the SE site to post Q&As about it. It therefore transpired that they very naturally voted for each other a lot. As a result, I thought they were sock puppet accounts and committing vote fraud.

There is an interesting discussion to be had about whether or not that is actually vote fraud and there are good arguments on both sides, but that isn't the point of this post. Instead, I would like to focus on one of the complaints the user brought up: they objected to being accused of breaking an unpublished rule. They had no idea there was anything wrong with voting for specific people.

I tried to find where this rule was explained to point out that the user was wrong and I also had a lot of trouble finding it! I was finally pointed to the /help/serial-voting-reversed page where this rule is alluded to:

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

That page, however, isn't easy to find, isn't prominent, isn't really mentioned anywhere. So new users have a very valid point if they complain that they had no idea that targeted voting is against the rules. Can we please add this to the Tour?

Our rules are absurdly complicated, with many spread out across various site-local and MSE meta posts, others hidden in FAQ pages with uninformative names (serial-voting-reversed?), and even the actual Help Center is pretty hard to find as it is only shown as an obscure "?" link to new users:

help center link

Given all this, combined with how strongly we as a community feel about the rules, we really need to include some information on voting and what constitutes vote fraud either on the Tour or on some other location that will be prominent, easily discoverable and preferably shown to all new users.

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    IMO the FAQs need to be rewritten. They're too long winded, too detailed and too obsessed with what was acceptable in the past but has since changed. If you've memorized where to find the info, it's great but you need to know where to look for it. Saying that, I would refrain overloading a newcomer with an extensive set of guidelines of whom, how, how not to and when to vote. Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 20:16
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    @Mari-LouA That's why we have the help center. Those are the short guidance pages; FAQs are the longer versions where you go if you want more info. Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 20:41
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    @Sonicthe the FAQs remain convoluted verbose pieces of writing. They need to be succinct. Easy and quick to read especially for users whose second, third or even fourth language is English. Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


In general our systems are very complex and we want to give information when it's timely. As such, we've added this information to the vote up page as requested in this feature request - Informing new users that targeted voting is not allowed - rather than adding it to the tour. This privilege page is shown to users when they reach 15 reputation and hopefully they will review it at that time.

The tour is designed to explain to users how the site works but going into detail about when not to vote is a bit more detail than seems appropriate to us right now. Hopefully this change meets the needs requested here, even if we're not making the specific change requested.

  • "Informing new users that targeted voting is not allowed" But how exactly targeted voting is defined?
    – convert
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 13:41
  • That's explained in both the linked post, which has a draft of the updated text, or on the privilege page for upvoting. This question is not about what targeted voting is, so it's not covered in this answer, @convert.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 14:05
  • But the problem is to run into targeted voting patern without really wanting that.
    – convert
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 14:57

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