Someone around here likes to downvote every post of me, of course without giving any reason why he downvote my question/answer.

All started one month ago, luckily an automatism reverted the downvotes.

enter image description here

Just 5 days later, the next posts have been voted down, but not enough that the reversal automatism would be activated.

After that, it take a bit longer but at the end of may there were again a lot of downvotes, and again some of them just in a couple of minutes. Peculiar: The downvotes are again created faster than anyone is able to read a question and the answer. Not to mention that you have to think about what you read and decide if it is good or not.

Here another example:

enter image description here

Since that, in average every other day some of my posts get downvoted.

Half of my posts already got exactly ONE downvote in the last month. That does not include the reverted downvotes, but some of them are downvoted again.

I'm pretty sure, that (nearly) all the downvotes comes from one person.

  1. Ignoring my recent questions (which got some downvotes 2-3 hours after creation), there is no (active) post with two or more downvotes which were voted in the last month. 98% percent of these downvotes was the first downvote on the question/answer.
  2. Even posts which had a relative good voting (or even accepted by OP) got downvoted for the first time. And I don't think that it's done from someone else then the troll, I don't believe in such a coincidence.

So, I don't care if someone downvote me for a given reason. Of course, some of my posts are not so good, that's OK. But in that case it is obvious that a downvote troll is active.

So, what can I do? Maybe moderators are able to help me?

Update: One hour ago, a serial downvote reversal raised. Thanks for looking into that issue.

  • 4
    So far as I can see, I didn't downvote any of OP's answers. But it's worth pointing out that of 14 answers, only 3 have attracted any upvotes at all. I didn't upvote any either - I can't in all honesty say I think any are particularly good, and several are definitely bad. It's not obvious to me that the "serial downvoter" was necessarily doing something he shouldn't have, so I'm downvoting this question because it looks to me like a somewhat unjustified complaint. Arguably the downvoter is a bit harsh/rude, but I don't see anything significantly wrong here. Jun 3, 2012 at 21:42
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers That's nonsense. Look at the picture and you know it. And I'm not talking about my answers only, but my questions, too. As you should've seen I'm more active on ELU in questioning than answering. So, recount please, and if I'm allowed to be ironic: This time, please count correctly; there are more than 3 answers upvoted ;) Anyway, if the downvoter would've given any reasons as you did, ... yeah, you know what it means.
    – Em1
    Jun 4, 2012 at 7:06
  • 1
    I didn't look at the questions before, but I think I counted the answers correctly at the time - they've picked up a couple more upvotes since then. Anyway, as I said, I didn't downvote any of them, and I'm certainly not intending to discourage you from providing answers here. But as a non-native speaker you have to expect some of your answers may be wide of the mark. I'm not entirely unsympathetic, but I don't think it's realistic to expect a mod to decide which of your downvotes are "unacceptable", and should therefore be cancelled. It's just democracy in action. Jun 4, 2012 at 14:50
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Yeah, you got me wrong. I don't care about some downvotes, but since there were a huge number of downvotes in a short time, don't you also think that this is a strange thing? I'm pretty sure, there must be a way, and Paola said that some moderator was able to help him. I asked here, because I can think of, that someone is able to have a look into the database, who (at least get IP's or something like that) downvoted and if always the same downvoted (what I really think), the moderator can work against that serial downvoting.
    – Em1
    Jun 4, 2012 at 15:11
  • 1
    Btw. feel free to downvote any posts of me, you think are wrong, or something like that; don't forget to comment, so that I'm able to improve that post. I think that's the way votes are created for. ... And what I meant by "count correctly". Two weeks ago only 2 or 3 of my answers had no upvote, but since serial downvoter was active, only two answer have no downvote. So... every post of mine with the count zero right now, does have one upvote (most likely by the OP) and one downvote (most likely by the troll).
    – Em1
    Jun 4, 2012 at 15:14
  • And to point that out. A post with zero or one upvote (perhaps by the OP) are most often OK, but neither good nor bad. They does say nothing wrong, but are also not very helpful or informative, or something like that (imho!). So, about 7-8 of my answers haven't been noticed as good or bad when the topic was active. Now weeks or even months later almost all of them are getting attention once in just a few days, and always negative. No, no. Absolutely no chance that ALL downvotes are reasonable!
    – Em1
    Jun 4, 2012 at 15:18
  • Having had another quick look I can't see any of your answers are so bad I personally would want to downvote them - especially in the present situation. Incidentally, if your only offering on this answer had been competitive spirit, I would definitely have upvoted it. That seems to me far and away the best answer on the page, and if you discarded the other distracting possibilities I suspect that over time you'd get far more votes there. Jun 4, 2012 at 15:25
  • @FumbleFingers Maybe, maybe. Though, I don't change that answer yet, that wouldn't solve my current issue. Anyway, now that you said my answer are not so bad (which of course also means not good enough for being upvoted), I think you can follow my doubt that all these downvotes are reasonable. I hope that a moderator come to that conclusion soon, too. :)
    – Em1
    Jun 4, 2012 at 16:56
  • Just to clarify my first comment, which was a little vague. Whilst I think your "serial downvoter" is definitely rude for not explaining his actions, I think it would be difficult to unequivocally classify any specific downvote as "unjustified". Yes, in total the whole thing is unreasonable, so I do sympathise with you, but I don't see this justifies changing the established convention here that voting is anonymous. Jun 4, 2012 at 17:22
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers let us continue this discussion in chat
    – Em1
    Jun 4, 2012 at 20:17
  • 2
    @fumblefingers it is most certainly NOT democracy in action and it is perfectly clear in the first screen shot. The first three downvotes, in the SAME MINUTE! The only way that happened is if someone went to EM1's profile page, and started going through all the answers there, just downvoting, hitting back, going to the next one, downvoting, hitting back, going to the next one, etc. The pattern is so clear that it TRIPPED UP an automated system that is in place to spot this kind of malicious activity... and you have the gall to doubt it is happening?
    – Bon Gart
    Jun 5, 2012 at 13:51
  • 1
    @Bon Gart: When I looked, not every answer had been downvoted, which suggests some degree of consideration from the downvoter. It would be daft for an automated system to identify every one of any rapid sequence of downvotes as "axiomatically invalid" and auto-cancel them. I don't deny the downvoter probably acted in bad faith - I just think it's unrealistic to expect a mod to decide which to allow, and which to cancel. A private email warning that we never get to hear about, perhaps, but that's about all anyone could do, imho. Jun 5, 2012 at 14:25
  • 1
    @Fumblefingers with three answers downvoted within a single minute, the individual doing the downvoting wasn't even READING, they were simply clicking the down arrow, clicking back, going to the next question, clicking down, etc. But I've ALREADY SAID THAT, and it is interesting how you seemed to ignore it. If the individual doing the downvoting wasn't even reading the question, then that's malicious. Not "every" answer had been downvoted? That degree of consideration could simply be someone not trying to trip that automated system... since they tried more than once not to do that.
    – Bon Gart
    Jun 9, 2012 at 12:35
  • @BonGart, this "clicking the down arrow, clicking back, going to the next question, clicking down, etc." sounds like an inefficient process. It may be faster, on a page of questions, to middle-click each question of interest (opening each in a new tab), then click the right-most tab and do each tab in turn. Jun 9, 2012 at 15:55
  • 3
    @All: I stand corrected - apparently in this case it was possible to take remedial action. OP's downvotes have mostly disappeared following deletion of a vexatious user. My apologies to all for having taken such a negative stance in this issue. Jun 10, 2012 at 16:24

5 Answers 5


The user responsible has had his sockpuppet account deleted and his main account has been warned accordingly. As a result of the deletion, the serial downvotes have been cancelled and your reputation should have been adjusted as if they had never taken place.

Just to follow up on this, since a lot of flags have come in regarding possible serial downvoting and I want to keep you guys updated—we've asked the SE team to look at this since there's not much that moderators can do, and see if possibly some/all of the offending votes can be revoked. We'll keep you updated with what we hear.

  • 2
    waiwai, re "there's not much that moderators can do", can you expand upon that slightly in your answer? What is it that you want to do but cannot? Jun 4, 2012 at 19:19
  • 1
    Thanks for that respond.
    – Em1
    Jun 4, 2012 at 20:24
  • Thank you from me as well. I don't expect downvotes to be revoked, but I appreciate the effort you may make to avoid this situation for the future.
    – Paola
    Jun 4, 2012 at 21:13
  • 1
    @jwpat: I think waiwai means that, if someone wants to downvote based on the user, rather than on the content of an answer, there's little a moderator can do to detect, prevent, or reverse that, particularly when the user is sly enough to only downvote one or two answers per day. It's difficult to judge motive based on downvote record alone.
    – J.R.
    Jun 5, 2012 at 10:07
  • 1
    @jwpat7 We can see a little bit of data indicating general voting trends for each user, but I can't see that a specific vote was cast by User X (which is intentional—it's to prevent abuse on our parts) nor can I invalidate votes. So in certain cases, such as this one, we have to raise this to the SE team to deal with if the script doesn't catch it. I can identify "User X is being serially downvoted, and User Y is likely responsible", but beyond that, it's up to either the script or the team.
    – waiwai933
    Jun 10, 2012 at 1:30
  • waiwai, thanks for the reply. I wasn't aware of those restrictions on moderator powers. The first sounds like a reasonable restriction (even if it complicates correction of some problems) but I think the latter restriction (inability to invalidate votes) would not be necessary if such actions were transparent, ie publicly done. Jun 10, 2012 at 4:47
  • numerous downvotes on a single of your questions/answers, whether all in a short period of time or over a longer range, probably means there's something wrong with it. Since there's only one vote per person per item, and there's little communication among users except by comments, there's little chance that people are ganging up together against you. There is the possibility of people jumping on the bandwagon (deciding to vote like others)

  • single downvotes on many of your questions/answers over a short period of time is most likely one person willfully choosing to downvote because it's you.

As to ways to deal with this:

  • There is an automatic process to detect such patterns and undo them (search the meta sites for 'revenge downvoting').
  • you can flag a moderator to inform them of the strange voting phenomenon and they can investigate and possibly undo the downvotes.

I'm not in the position of giving a proper answer to your question, as I am relatively new to this site; however, a similar question was asked recently and one of the answers indicated discussing the matter here on meta, or else "flagging" the problem to the moderators' attention.

As I'm experiencing something similar (although on a smaller scale, as for approximately one week I got one downvote per day, both on questions and answers of long standing and which often had not received any downvote before), yesterday I decided to flag one such post asking the moderators if they could look into the situation and let me know whether my guts feeling that it was always the same person who downvoted was correct. So far I haven't heard any comment, but today there was no downvote (or at least, not yet...) and I hope this means that the "leak" has been stopped.

As you say, being downvoted is not relevant "per se" but I too resent having the feeling that it is done out of spite or for no real reason. Hopefully, someone will be able to solve the problem.


I'm not sure what you're actually asking here. Is the vote-checking system good enough to catch all unjustified downvotes? - obviously not, it's only an automated system. Can a moderator look at the situation? is fair, and waiwai has done all that can reasonably be done. But your question reads as if you expect moderators to check every downvote, and decide whether each is reasonable. Even if that were possible, it would only be replacing the subjective views of the community as a whole with the subjective views of a few moderators. I am genuinely sorry that something like this happened, and hope you stay with the site. But if you do, I think you will find that 'community moderation' means you get some downvotes for reasons unconnected with the quality of answers, and some upvotes in the same way; it's happened to all of us. Democracy in action is not always attractive, but it's worth persevering with; the site won't improve if people go elsewhere because of its flaws.

  • If the programmer did their work I'm pretty sure that it is very easy for a moderator to check if this is an abuse of the voting system, provided that they have access. And yes, actually, I expect such a thing. Again, if the system provide a way to have a look into the database, it would be a work of 5 or let be 10 minutes.
    – Em1
    Jun 6, 2012 at 23:01
  • Of course, if excessive downvoting by some trolls happen often, this work would be annoying for the moderator. But then it would be time to reconsider the voting system, not only on ELU, but on all SE sites. Don't ask me about ideas, it's none of my business.
    – Em1
    Jun 6, 2012 at 23:04
  • 2
    @Em1 To the best of my knowledge, community-elected moderators do not have access to who actually cast a particular vote. All votes are anonymous. Only SE employees have access to the actual database, and can unravel such things. I believe that’s why our moderator team had to turn it over to SE staff to finally figure out. I might be wrong, though.
    – tchrist Mod
    Jun 10, 2012 at 1:21
  • -1 for: "But your question reads as if you expect moderators to check every downvote, and decide whether each is reasonable" and "I think you will find that 'community moderation' means you get some downvotes for reasons unconnected with the quality of answers" It was evidently not the case, hindsight I agree is wonderful, but the OP's case was compelling from the beginning and thoroughly backed up with facts.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 28, 2013 at 13:25

Unfortunately, the voting system here is flawed.

First, let me say that ANYONE who looks at those screenshots and can't see the pattern of abuse is most likely guilty of doing that kind of thing themselves. It is not only clear as day to me that you were targeted for serial downvoting, but as you pointed out it was clear to the automated system that is in place to pick up on that kind of abuse. Anyone who wants to argue and call that "democracy in action" instead most definitely has a hidden agenda.

Second, the voting system itself is unfortunately being run by a "good ole boy" network, and it is entrenched across the SE network. By that, I mean that a large majority of the votes being handed out to people, are being done by people who ALREADY have a large number of points. Those are people who spend a lot of time here on SE sites, and having spent that time they are quite sure of themselves in that they know what a good answer is, and what a bad answer is. On some of the SE sites, they even spend time together in the same chat rooms, every day. Now, by saying that it is "run by" I don't mean that they can alter the system at a coding level. But I do mean that if one votes up and comments on it, many more from the same clique will ALSO vote up on it. I've Personally seen this in reverse on a different SE site, where after alienating more than one of these "elite" users, the number of votes on my answers dropped significantly (and in most cases completely) where before I was regularly getting two or more votes. No, I'm not turning this into a gripe for my own benefit. I am simply pointing out that a majority of the voting going on is being done by a select few at each SE site, because they are the only ones who care to spend that much time voting and either encouraging or discouraging users.

Third, aside from the "elite", the majority of other voters out there tend to vote with the crowd, IF they vote at all. A positive vote is more likely to attract another positive vote, just because it is there. People will see the positive vote, and look at the question in a positive light. This also works in reverse. A negative vote will attract another negative vote. People will see that a question or answer is being downvoted, and they will look at the material in a negative light (instead of trying to see something worth salvaging). Think about how many questions or answers you saw get multiple negative votes, when it could have simply been EDITED and improved... probably by YOU!

I'm sorry you have been targeted by someone who has nothing better to do than try to make life miserable for you. It proves what I am saying, that votes are passed out for multiple reasons OTHER than merit though.

  • Yeah. That's mostly what I think, too. I also know some other "not so good" practices on other SE sites. The whole thing has a lack of quality. But I don't want to go so far. First thing first. And that's abuse of the voting system.
    – Em1
    Jun 5, 2012 at 14:39
  • I agree with you: the screenshots provide ample evidence that some kind of spiteful downvoting occurred. That said, I don't think FumbleFingers has any hidden agenda, nor do I think he downvotes based on anything but merit. He has almost 7,500 comments on main, and nearly 400 more on meta. Every now and then, he'll say something that causes many of us to shake our heads and wonder what he was thinking. :^) In this case, I think he simply spent more time investigating the individual answers, vs. studying the screenshots. But I don't think he's part of some clique; he marches to his own drummer.
    – J.R.
    Jun 9, 2012 at 11:13
  • @J.R. he may indeed, but honestly, if it wasn't FumbleFingers who said those things, but rather some complete stranger... would you still defend him the same? I realize it is because you know him as you do that you stand up for him... but I don't know him. What I believe is based on the merits of his response here, and to me that response is fishy. Moreover, as we all know... power corrupts... and being a "member with standing" does grant a certain amount of power. So status does not in any way equate to innocence.
    – Bon Gart
    Jun 9, 2012 at 12:28
  • Don't think of it as me "defending him," think of it as me trying to put his remarks in context. FF & I have butted heads every now and then, and he downvotes my answers on occasion. I can understand your suspicion based on the remarks alone, but I just wanted to offer that this could be a simple case of "FF being FF."
    – J.R.
    Jun 9, 2012 at 17:13
  • 2
    Just so that we're clear—FumbleFingers isn't the user responsible for the serial downvoting here.
    – waiwai933
    Jun 9, 2012 at 21:12
  • @waiwai933: Thanks for vindicating FF. Even more, thanks for your detective work to solve the larger problem.
    – J.R.
    Jun 9, 2012 at 21:35

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