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Today I've got two downvotes in 1-minute interval. One of them was on a banal answer to a today's banal question, and another one on a completely unrelated 1-week old non-banal first correct answer. Since before even a single downvote was pretty rare for me, these two were kind of unpleasant. There was no massive downvote, so it is unlikely that this will be detected by the system, and maybe the things will even continue in the next days.

I think I have no illusions about human behaviours and I can well live with that. I just wonder how more experienced users react in such situations.

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    $\begingroup$ Some of them react by posting on meta: one two three four five six... You can think of such votes as background noise of the Internet, to be tuned out as other kinds of background noise. $\endgroup$ – 40 votes Jul 9 '13 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ I took a quick look (we normally occupy non-intersecting parts of the forum, so I didn't know). I guess that your actions: A) giving a full solution to a probable HW problem, and B) relying on Mathematica to do a definite integral, pushed somebody's buttons. I got a downvote of type A on my first day here, and tightened up my approach a bit. These are "political" issues that we shall never have a forum wide consensus on. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 10 '13 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen Alas your guess is incorrect. By deleting/undeleting downvoted answers I have observed the expected changes in the reputation of a past-life research mathematician whose answer I commented just before downvotes. By the way, I think that graduate/PhD students should be advised to spend some time on MSE before deciding to pursue a research career, as this allows to get a useful insight on possible academic behaviours and phenomena on a much shorter timescale. $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 10 '13 at 9:33
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    $\begingroup$ What is a "past-life research mathematician"? Do we have reincarnated souls posting to m.se? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 10 '13 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ If your research conclusively points at spiteful downvotes by a single user, then I would advice that you bring this up with moderators. Public trials of a specific user are IMHO a bad idea in most cases - in particulaly for a minor offence (hopefully you can agree that this is minor). $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 10 '13 at 9:59
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    $\begingroup$ -1 I think you went too far; this post with its comments is now more of a problem than a couple of spurious votes. $\endgroup$ – 40 votes Jul 10 '13 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ @user85506 Again I think I can live with that. The thing was brought to moderators attention yesterday. No action followed. $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 10 '13 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ A side note: I'm a bit shocked about the existence of this trick giving evidence about the identity of a voter. While a clever trick in a way, I think that compromising the anonymity of votes is more serious than the other matter. Would a feature-request asking that downvotes are processed (on the voter side) only, say, weekly (or even daily) be a good idea? $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 10 '13 at 10:19
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I don't know the number of users here but I think they are hundreds if not thousands. Therefore for the trick to work you must have a very precise idea on the downvote source. This can only be 1) a situation like mine 2) a situation where the user suspects spiteful attempts to downgrade his answer by another person answering the same question (if the downgraded answer is wrong, why not to point this in comments/another answer?). In both cases, I wouldn't stand for the anonymity of the downvoter - the community should know its heroes. $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 10 '13 at 10:34
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect that a clear majority of anonymous downvotes would fall under either 1 or 2, so a trick like yours will break the anonymity in most cases. I'm not ok with this. Not because I would not be willing to justify my anonymous downvotes (there are a few, but not many), but because in believe in secret ballots and all that. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 10 '13 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen Besides secret ballots, I also believe in the use of airport security checks. And if in the airport I notice that all security guys have taken their holiday and I hear "tic-tac" from the clothes of a suspiciously looking person bearing a strange device with a red button, it is unlikely that I will stay quiet. In spite of individual rights and all that. $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 10 '13 at 11:14
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    $\begingroup$ "I think I have no illusions about human behaviours". No, you have at least one. You think of public shaming as a solution. $\endgroup$ – 40 votes Jul 10 '13 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, folks, if we allow anonymous downvotes, then the terrorists have won. Sheesh. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 11 '13 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ @RonGordon I've just got downvoted this answer math.stackexchange.com/a/364989/73025 and another one. Should similarly not show research effort. Interesting. $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 14 '13 at 0:03
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen: This loophole is known and discussed at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/133433/…. $\endgroup$ – Nate Eldredge Jul 15 '13 at 19:46
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I just wonder how more experienced users react in such situations.

My approach is generally something along the lines of, "it's 4 rep. Who cares?"

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    $\begingroup$ Well, I don't think the people mentioned in the 1st comment care about 4 or 44 or 444 points. But it seems they do care about something. $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 10 '13 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ @O.L. My contention is simply that the best approach is to move on and not worry about it too much. Just one man's opinion. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Jul 10 '13 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I understand. Now let me develop an analogy. A young person (YP) comes to give a talk at some place where there no people from his domain. At some point somebody in the audience starts to give loud comments like "this is a complete nonsense", "that was done in an old paper by X" etc. YP knows it's not true but he is young, and shy, and the seminar turns into a disaster. In place of the seminar organizer, would you just tell the YP afterwards "Don't worry, that happens here regularly, the people are accustomed. After all, it doesn't influence your career". Or would you do something else? $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 10 '13 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ @O.L. A more appropriate analogy would be if during YP's talk, a professor in the audience mutters "ha- yeah right" under his breath. For a moment, this distracts others in the audience, but after the talk noone remembers because this comment doesn't bring YP's presentation to a halt. Much like 2 downvotes do not significantly affect your MSE rep, this single derisive gesture from a random stranger will not significantly affect YP's career. Now, YP can go to the conference organizers and demand the name and home address of the scoffing professor, or he can spend the night meeting girls in the $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Jul 10 '13 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ bar of his free hotel. Which do you think is a better use of his time? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Jul 10 '13 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ This does not address at all my question but paradoxically, in a way, gives an answer to it. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 10 '13 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexanderGruber I know some YPs who are married... $\endgroup$ – Julien Jul 11 '13 at 5:47
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    $\begingroup$ I know some that are women. And others that are gay. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Jul 12 '13 at 16:33
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Reputation means next to nothing. You get more of those points so easily and you lose them so hardly that downvotes mean very little (as well as upvotes and 'reputation' mean very little too, since you get them that easily). A downvote can mean so many things. I usually waste those points downvoting to organize the answers to a question, or in bounties. Upvoted answers go up and downvoted ones go down in the question's page. So I use the votes as expression of my opinion on how useful the answers are, to bring to the top the answer(s) I think are better. The 'reputation' points are not really useful in many more ways. Perhaps if you want some privileges on the site you may want to accumulate some. But just participating enough will give you plenty.

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    $\begingroup$ I completely agree with what you are saying. But I think everytime when there are similar complaints, it is not a matter of some point stuff, it is a matter of fair-play. And this latter thing means a lot. $\endgroup$ – Start wearing purple Jul 15 '13 at 16:36

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