I'm new here and giving this a try since the Neuroscience SE proposal has been shut down. For some reason I seemed to have pissed someone off. There was a bad answer in a question about Dopamine and maybe I was too mean to the person, the answer has since disappeared. I went an checked out some of the user's questions to get a feel for the way he exposes his ideas and down-voted a couple of one liner questions that seemed not well thought out. I forget the user's handle but I know his/hers rep is in the thousands. Today I found all of my contributions down-voted, as a result of what I can imagine is some retaliation. I don't care about the points.


In any case this got me thinking if there is any safeguard in place to discourage personal attacks like indiscriminately down-voting all of a particular user's contributions?

I know that down-voting answers costs 1 point to the down-voter and 2 points to the down-voted, and also know there is a limit of votes per day. The relationship between up-votes and down-votes also seems appropriate as one good answer "deletes" 5 down-votes. However, if I get two or three friends with rep to spare can hypothetical me down-vote a target into oblivion?

Should there be a counter that limits down-votes to a particular user, so if user-A just down-voted more that X% of user-B's contribution user-A looses down-vote privileges to that user for some time?

  • $\begingroup$ More: If you have the feeling that you got targeted by serial downvoting, please contact the mods in chat. We can look into this (I will do that right now) and reverse this if necessary. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mod Sep 16 '16 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ A number of downvotes where actual from serial downvoting and have been corrected automatically by the system as @MattMDo explains below. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mod Sep 17 '16 at 16:28

I understand your concern about indiscriminate and malevolent downvoting but restricting the number of down/up-votes per person is not a good idea. In any case there is an upper limit on the number of votes that can be cast by a user in a day (40). It is also not a great idea to specifically restrict the percentage of downvotes a person can cast. Some people may choose to be critical and cast downvotes more often than upvotes; this does not mean they are doing so indiscriminately (in fact, I have cast more downvotes (1.2 times) than upvotes but I cast my votes quite judiciously).

Malevolent downvoting is not such a frequent phenomenon that SE has thought it is necessary to develop a proper mechanism to control it. Usually, if there is a consistent problem in a site then the moderators can look into it.

  • $\begingroup$ I understand that the daily limit is probably THE solution. I was not saying to restrict the percentage of down-votes, just its allocation, 40 votes per day to X different users. I don't think down-voting all questions and answers of a user is appropriate conduct, I was trying to find an easy way of deterring this behavior. There must be a way of detecting when this happens, no? Maybe one could use spikes in the nice trend graph of the user profile, maybe imposing a max votes per recipient. $\endgroup$ – nico Sep 16 '16 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ btw, what would happen if I asked a question, answered it myself, mark it as correct, delete it, rinse and repeat? Would I get a lot of points? is there a system to prevent that? I realize these might be questions for meta SE and I'm off-topic of my own question, I know... $\endgroup$ – nico Sep 16 '16 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ @nico Regarding your first question: If someone is downvoting all your posts, and if you have a reason to suspect that their intentions may be malevolent then you can report that to the moderators and they can look into it. It is not a very explicit mechanism but as you said, based on vote spikes, we can find out such behaviour. Regarding your second question: You won't get any point if you do that. If you delete the question then your answer points are also lost. Plus, you don't get the +2 points for accepting your own answer. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Sep 16 '16 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ OK so how do you report something? $\endgroup$ – nico Sep 16 '16 at 11:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There actually is a system in place network-wide to reverse serial downvoting. See my answer. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Sep 17 '16 at 16:51


Malevolent downvoting is not such a frequent phenomenon that SE has thought it is necessary to develop a proper mechanism to control it.

Actually, that is completely untrue. There is a bot that runs at some point after midnight UTC and examines all the voting of the previous 24 hours. Using an undisclosed algorithm, it can determine (usually) fraudulent voting patterns, both up and down, and reverses them. There could be a group of colleagues/friends who go and upvote every answer the other person gives, which is not fair. People (unfortunately, somewhat frequently) go on rage-downvoting sprees because they didn't like something someone said or whatever, and if their behavior (number of votes, time between votes, possibly other things like relationship between votors) matches, the votes are reversed.

If you would like to learn more, please see What is serial voting and how does it affect me? on the main Meta.SE site.

As a follow-up note for all: questions regarding the operation of Stack Exchange itself - voting, reputation, features of the site, questions about moderation and elections, etc. - should be asked on http://meta.stackexchange.com. Site-specific metas like this one are only for questions the apply just to us: whether a certain question is on-topic or not, community issues like the behavior of certain members, other stuff relating to the running of Biology.SE as opposed to the entire network as a whole. I know that if you are only a member on a single site, it can be hard sometimes to broaden your view to the overall network, but as of right now (Sat, 17 Sep 2016 12:18:50 -0400) stackexchange.com reports that there are 160 individual sites, so just keep in mind you're a part of something much bigger than just Biology.

So, if you have a question that conceivably could be about the entire network ("Would it be possible to change the site to allow animated emoji like Facebook?"), ask it on meta.stackexchange.com. If it just relates to our community ("Who else thinks MattDMo is the greatest scientist ever?") ask it here.

  • $\begingroup$ @Chris I actually meant to write "quoth". It's an old-fashioned way of saying "... said". See Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven": "Quoth the raven 'Nevermore.'" The first one is at the end of the 8th stanza. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Sep 17 '16 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ You never stop learning, this one I didn't knew. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mod Sep 17 '16 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks.. I was unaware of this too. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Sep 17 '16 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ It's from American Literature, so perhaps you're not familiar with it. I highly recommend reading the poem, especially on a dark, stormy night. And if you're not familiar with Poe, check him out. He invented the modern detective story, and wrote a lot of horror/macabre stories and poems as well. He's a real favorite of mine. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Sep 17 '16 at 19:50

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