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Revealing voting patterns - new trend?

Is down-voting on SO supposed to be anonymous? I ask because it does not seem to me to be.


I asked a question today. I got 3 good and 1 mediocre responses. I voted up the two that helped me and accepted the one that worked best. A while later, several new comments from one person appeared, to which I responded (since they were questions for me), and then that same person posted a new answer. This answer was crap. The person missed the whole point of the question and gave vague "pseudo-code" (and calling it that is generous) that basically restated my question.

Though I try to use down votes sparingly, especially when someone takes the time to answer a question I asked, I really want to down vote his answer. However, if I do, then my "reputation" will report "-1 downvoted" today. Since we've been going back and forth in the comments (in my failed attempt to explain the question to him), it's fairly likely that he'll peg me for the down vote.

In rumaging through the his reputation, I noticed that he gets down voted a lot. Moreover, he often votes down things on the same day as he gets down voted. Looking at a few recent questions where he posted an answer that was down voted, it's pretty clear that he (often successfully) down votes questions or competing answers when he is down voted, perhaps based on comments or, as is easier, based on profiles where down votes are recorded.

In this particular case, it's worth it for me to down vote him because (1) it's a stupid answer, (2) I don't live and die by my SO reputation, and (3) it really wasn't a great question that I asked. However, this does bring up the larger point that perhaps a date should not be associated with a down vote.

  • 1
    I do/did update the question immediately. It was not lack of details he missed, but the entire point of the question.
    – PengOne
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 21:08
  • 3
    Ohh boy, it's not Joe "I have the right answer to your question" Blow, is it? That guy drove me nuts once over an incorrect answer I gave (and pointed out as such once I realized my mistake). I think he even E-Mailed me about it. I half expected to get a phone call. :)
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 21:22
  • I see his reputation precedes him.
    – PengOne
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 21:25
  • 1
    @Peng yeah. The funny thing is, I think he's actually pretty good in some fields, in the direction of math and algorithms. But it's hard to tell which ones those are because of his obnoxious rhetoric. (I can't judge on the subject matter of your question)
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 21:25
  • Yeesh, that guy reminds me of Yuhong Bao, who'll be familiar to anyone who reads (the comments on posts at) blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing ...!
    – Rob
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 21:52
  • Erm, wait, you feel entitled to downvote because you asked a bad question? You can get a sock puppet, earn some rep, downvote your question. Hope that makes sense. Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 22:36
  • I don't think it was a bad question. I just don't think it was a particularly good question either.
    – PengOne
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


Yep, voting is supposed to be anonymous and the new design of the reputation tab can sometimes hint on who downvotes but it can't prove anything.

I say go ahead and downvote if you so strongly say it's a bad answer - that's exactly what downvotes exist for, to tell everyone "it's not a good answer".

Worst case you earned yourself nemesis who will stalk you and use all his daily downvotes to downvote questions and answers of yours - at some point he will get tired of this or blocked if there is "vote pattern recognition" that stop one from voting (either up or down) on single member.

  • 1
    Casting down-votes on answers should probably carry an even harsher penalty than they currently do. Currently, you can down-vote 10 answers, then gain all of that rep back with a single +1 on one of your own answers. Thus, down-voting is basically free. -2 or -3 would be a more appropriate penalty if the idea is to make the user think before casting a down-vote.
    – crush
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 15:02
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    @crush I don't agree with this and I doubt such idea will have much support. You can start new feature request if you like. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 15:22
  • Can you offer a reason to support your disagreement? I'm just curious why. I'm fairly certain this request already exists as a meta topic.
    – crush
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 15:25
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    @crush didn't find such request, only request to increase the "weight", no "cost" i.e. make a downvote reduce 5 points instead of 2 while still costing only 1 point. Needless to say it was declined. Why I disagree? Because the rep penalty should just make you think twice, not prevent you from downvoting. For low rep users, who are the major part of Stack Overflow, every point count. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 15:27
  • I didn't mean for it to prevent you from down-voting. My argument is that -1 penalty doesn't make anyone think twice. Down-votes are distributed liberally over at StackOverflow for this reason.
    – crush
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 15:29
  • @crush you might get more opinions by starting new discussion or feature request.... but prepare for quite a few downvotes if you do this, even if you only ask for pure discussion. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 15:31

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