I got a strange entry in today's rep list called "Serial upvoting reversed". I don't remember a question with that name and was curious to see what it was about, but the really strange thing is that unlike the other entries this one is not clickable. I guess I got a 150 bounty a while back and someone changed their mind who should get it? I know there's been a bunch of discussions about serial ports, although I don't remember a bounty like that specifically. Of course now I'm curious about what I wrote and what the better answer is. How can I see that questions, or is there something else entirely going on? Please explain.

Here is what I see:

  • \$\begingroup\$ Happened to me too. This thread shows how 7 answers from a user were upvoted within a minute. Those can't be real upvotes; you can read and evaluate answers that fast. That's why they're removed. AFAIK there's no way to know who's the culprit. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    May 7, 2012 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh - There's no way for you to figure it out, no. However, it's easy for a mod to find. If you want to talk about it I'd be happy to open a private chat with you. \$\endgroup\$ May 7, 2012 at 17:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @self - "can not read that fast" of course. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    May 8, 2012 at 6:02

2 Answers 2


Nope, this isn't about a post on serial communications. As clabacchio noted, this is about reversing votes posted by a single user to another. This is considered fraudulent voting, and has been removed. The votes were on posts which you'd previously received reputation for. Rather than deleting those entries in the log, the effect of the votes were reversed by this entry. The votes were deleted from your posts, but I don't know which posts were affected. A similar thing would happen if someone were to decide that they don't like you and downvote all of your posts.

The problem here is that a vote total ought to be a measure of the quality of each question and answer individually based on their content as well as in concert with the author's total reputation. Your accumulated rep is an indicator of your trustworthiness, but each post you make must be able to stand on its own: We won't let you rest on your laurels!

What happened here was that someone opened your profile, opened 15 of your answers, and upvoted all of them without voting on any other posts. Take a look at your log from yesterday:

enter image description here

Those votes are all from the same user.

In some cases, this is evidence of rep-farming: Creating multiple accounts and upvoting yourself. However, I've done some analysis using a combination of common sense about your character and behavior together with some fancy-shmancy tools that analyze your activity on the site and concluded that you're not doing that. Not a difficult conclusion, of course, but it needed to be investigated.

Here's a snippet from one of the tools I used showing what happened:

enter image description here

Each chord segment in this circle is a user. The chord lengths reflect the site rep of each user. You're the large blue chord at the bottom. I've clicked on the purple user at the upper left which is the serial upvoter. This causes the user chord to radiate arcs of upvotes. The purple arc from this user to you at the left is to scale with the widths of the other arcs terminating at other users: Of the votes that this user has made, 85% have been to you. That's not an analysis of posts based on merit, that's a fan club. It distorts the distribution of votes and doesn't help anyone.

I've sent a gentle, instructive email to the user referencing this post, so it should stop. However, this could happen again from someone else.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, thanks. Wow, I didn't realize the extent of the system watching for stuff like this and the fancy tools you have to analyze things. Impressive. \$\endgroup\$ May 8, 2012 at 12:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thinking about this more, there seem to be three scenarios: fraud, fanclub, and appreciation. I agree the first two are bad for the site. What if someone sees a helpful well written post, then think Let's see what else this guy wrote, goes to the profile, finds more posts, likes them and upvotes them? That seems within the intent of this site, but I can see it could be hard to distinguish from the other cases. In this case at least 4 separate upvotes in the same minute means the posts couldn't have been read carefully, but have you given thought to distinguishing this? \$\endgroup\$ May 8, 2012 at 12:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop - Yeah, they've thought about it. I can't disclose the algorithm that detects serial upvoting as opposed to the rapid-fire upvoting you observed, but there's some effort to distinguish between the types. It probably doesn't catch everything that it should, and it probably catches some things that it ought to ignore, but it's pretty good for an automated system. \$\endgroup\$ May 8, 2012 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kevin - say I read the three answers to my question, decide I like them, and then upvote them one after the other. Would that be seen as a serial upvote? \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    May 11, 2012 at 6:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which tool is this that produced that circle? Is it one of the mod tools? If so....where might I find it in the UI? \$\endgroup\$
    – user8997
    May 29, 2012 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh - No, the serial voting only applies to a single user. Assuming the answers are from different authors, voting for each of them won't trigger any cancellations. However, if they're all three from the same user (as in this example where one user added 5 answers to his own question), you might trigger it. It's probably better if you read each individual answer and then vote on it, and then read the next answer. That should take enough time to avoid triggering the script. \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2012 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CodyGray - I was about to ping you in the Teacher's Lounge, but then I read your profile. Yes, it's a mod tool, run it on a specific user by going to the user profile, clicking 'mod' next to their username, choosing the 'info' tab, and then clicking the 'votes' link. Or just go straight to /admin/show-user-votes/<userID>, here's an example. Scroll down for the circle diagram. /admin/show-suspicious-votes will help detect suspicious pairs and rings. \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2012 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kevin - Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    May 29, 2012 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kevin: Ah, I do TL, but don't tell anyone. :-) And thanks! I can't believe I've been on that page, but just never scrolled down far enough to see the circle... Duh! \$\endgroup\$
    – user8997
    May 29, 2012 at 20:41

No, this is due to a sort of algorithm which analyzes the votes made by an user, and if it detects that an user is serially upvoting posts from another user (always the same), it deletes them, to avoid botting.

So probably this system has detected someone upvoting you continuously, and deleted the supposed misbehavior. So it's not clickable because it's the sum of many votes on different posts.

If you look at your profile, yesterday someone upvoted many of your answers (I guess 15), giving you 150 rep which has been removed today.

See these:

  • \$\begingroup\$ by upvoting continuously I would say in rapid succession on many of your posts without anyone else interspersed in any real magnitude. There is not a great way to put it i know of, maybe a mathematician does. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    May 7, 2012 at 13:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .