My SO account received 5 downvotes within the space of ~2 hours yesterday, mostly against questions I asked. The user started with two, just before the day flipped. Then returned for two more, and the final one was ~30 min after the last batch. To be honest, I was looking forward to a recalc.

Anyways, just hoping the algorithm might be updated so it isn't gamed like this again in the future.

I have no idea of what the algorithm is, but there's a request for my input so I'll suggest that it take rolling time into account rather than end of day (assuming that this is not the case currently). The number of votes between a user pair should be suspiscious, especially given age of the answer/question.

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    What kind of an algorithm would you suggest? (This won't go anywhere without at least a suggestion.) – Jon Seigel Jun 21 '10 at 15:49
  • @Jon Seigel: I updated with a suggestion, but figured I provided enough information for followup without making assumptions about how the algorithm works. – OMG Ponies Jun 21 '10 at 16:22

All of those who follow meta and anyone who has severely malicious intentions can fairly easily figure out a certain part of the voting algorithm. That is to say, we can determine fairly easily how many votes are "safe" and not necessarily figure out the internal mechanism.

Unfortunately for you, this means that those who are serious about gaming the algorithm can do it, and there really isn't anything we can do about it.

The threshold that must always be considered is "What is suspicious" and "How can we sieve malicious from valid". In your case, although I believe you that those downvotes may be malicious, it is also equally plausible that your questions just came to light from a few people who disagreed with them.

Every time attention is focused on your question, it leads to the possibility of someone downvoting you, and if that person clicks on your name, they might feel like downvoting something else as well.

Ultimately, as Jon Seigle noted, the algorithm is currently tuned as best as they are able, and unless you have directly suggestions of improvement, I can't think of anything they would be able to do.

Also note that in your case, because the suspicious downvotes were spread out, I'm not really sure that there's any algorithm that could conceivably catch that without also revoking hundreds and hundreds of valid votes.

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I'm almost positive this was asked before, but I can't find it, so I'll answer.

The algorithm is designed to deal with human behavior (or machine behavior that humans initiate). This means it has one major flaw, it has to deal with human behavior.

The algorithm has to be able to assume that (most) people who down vote 'serially' do so in a condensed 'hissy fit' of sorts and thus trigger its attention. Or the reverse of that when it comes to 'fans'. It can't take into consideration that someone is so annoyed or obsessed that they'll set their alarm clock so that they wake up in time to make sure all of their votes 'stick'.

If the algorithm in use could do that, it would not be catching serial voters, it would be catching serial killers and identifying sociopaths.

I'm really sorry that you attracted a stalker, but there's nothing that can be (progmatically) done about it without venturing into false positives that annoy 'bystanders'.

Quoth the person you annoyed "It may take a year, but I'll take the rep I lost out of you!" .. you just can't stop someone that determined without inconveniencing millions. Just try to be tactful, it works, unless its meta where the merits of ideas carry more weight than anything.

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If you feel there's a pattern not being detected, and that you are the target of repeated malicious votes, email the address at the bottom of every page with details.

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See my answer here.

If it's not one user (which it may not be), then they could be legitimate downvotes.

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  • I agree; this isn't like Felix yesterday who got downvotes 7 times in 20 seconds; 5 downvotes over the course of 2 hours is possibly legitimate. OTOH, it could just be someone intelligent enough to realize 7 downvotes in 20 seconds is going to get reversed automatically – Michael Mrozek Jun 21 '10 at 16:36
  • Downvotes on my questions with only one vote, in the space of two hours, is hard to dismiss as coincidence. – OMG Ponies Jun 21 '10 at 17:15
  • @OMG Ponies remember that you received these downvotes (by your own words) against questions you asked. It's possible that those questions were bumped to the front page, and that's why the downvotes occured. – George Stocker Jun 21 '10 at 17:37
  • They haven't had updates within 6+ months, I don't see how else they'd appearing on the front page. They aren't even my most popular questions. – OMG Ponies Jun 21 '10 at 18:11
  • @OMG Ponies I said it's possible, not likely. – George Stocker Jun 21 '10 at 18:40

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