I find it excruciatingly annoying when people strategically down vote competing answers in a new question in order to gain an edge in the up voting.

I've realised that it's actually quite easy to identify who is doing this. By opening the profiles of users who answer the question as they answer them, then when a down vote 'attack' happens, refresh all their profiles and see who's down voting counts have increased a lot.

This goes against SO's policy of never allowing anyone to ever know who has down voted answers. Regardless of the ethics of someone down vote 'attacking', I still think it's important to honour this promise.

The risks of allowing people to know who is doing this, is creating anger and conflict within the community.

My suggested solution is to cache down votes for a much longer period, so any impact on reputation or counts in profiles cannot be attributed to individual questions or answers. For example, rep impact on a down vote should influence the users rep and counters 24 hours after the down vote was actually cast.

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    So you want to make a change so that it's easier to hide the fact that people are gaming the system, because them doing so is causing friction? – forsvarir Apr 19 '11 at 10:46
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    "24 hours after the down vote was actually cast" would still let you see that the down vote was on. The update needs to be at a fixed time each day, or a ramdon time after the downvote. iff this is a problem that needs solving. – Ian Ringrose Apr 19 '11 at 10:48
  • @For, it got to the stage with me where so many of my answers are tactically down voted, I actually wanted to find out who was doing it and let everyone know out of pure frustration, but then I realised this probably isn't a good idea. It doesn't solve the underlying issue but it will help prevent some friction. It's gotten bad enough where I actually can't be bothered to answer some questions now because it's so annoying. – Tom Apr 19 '11 at 10:49
  • Seems like the wrong approach, you could infer the same thing by noticing that when XXXX answers a question that you do, you always seem to get downvoted... (plus presumably theirs is the only one that isn't downvoted)... – forsvarir Apr 19 '11 at 10:49
  • @For probably wrong approach but it needs to be addressed anyway, it's putting me off contributing answers. – Tom Apr 19 '11 at 10:50
  • I think delaying the visibility makes it easier to see who downvoted when (though one would not know what) for those who do not open up other people's profile page before answering... (Like: for most of us?) – Arjan Apr 19 '11 at 10:52
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    This really isn't an issue, you're drawing an errant conclusion here, that the downvote was on that content, you have no idea of knowing what that user downvoted. In most cases, it's very likely it was another user downvoting, and that the profile you're looking at voted elsewhere. The downvoting of competitive answers on a mass scale I'm not against preventing...but the profile viewing thing...yeah, we have to draw a line in the sand about how much obscurity is sane here. – Nick Craver Apr 19 '11 at 11:25

I personally don't think that this is a big problem. Indeed it can be an advantage if you're downvoted by your opponents. Other users that are visiting the question often vote up if you're at -1 for no reasons, even though they wouldn't have done that if you were at 0 or in the positive area.

In that way can earn sometimes more reputation if one opponent tries to game the system.


I am sure this happens, I just don't see it being that rampant. I don't think it is a huge problem because either the down-votes will last just a few minutes and be removed by the user or they will be permanent (In which case the down-voter will be losing rep).

The community excels at finding good answers and voting them up even if they don't start at the top of list. A single up-vote will wipe out 5 cases of competitive down-votes. So assuming that more than one of every five of your down-voted questions gets a least one vote you are going to be gaining rep.


A similar system to Slashdots-Moderation-System might be worth a thought, you're just not allowed to downvote competitive answers. Either you answer or you downvote.

On the other side, maybe the fraud-script could be changed to handle these kinds of downvotes.

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    I agree with Jon here. – Arjan Apr 19 '11 at 11:15
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    No, of course you must be allowed to downvote an incorrect answer while giving the correct one. – Bo Persson Apr 19 '11 at 13:36

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