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By definition serial down-voting applies to a window of time in which a number of down-votes are directed to the same individual. Today I'm seeing a particular user (whom it isn't particularly relevant to identify) come through the Low Quality Post review queue with several one-liners. Some I can legitimately vote for deletion, but I tend to give the benefit of the doubt when an Answer can be construed as a genuine attempt to Answer.

When I cannot bring myself to vote for deletion, I may down vote such posts because they are simply wrong or so incomplete as not to be helpful unless the Reader were to know enough about the problem to do without the brief hint. (This is of course a judgement call...)

Now we come to my point. When a particular user keeps showing up in said review queues, my down-voting will quickly begin to satisfy the automated criteria for serial down-voting. I do not care so much for the stain this might cast on my reputation (ha!) as for the fact that I would be wasting my time in trying to delineate between junk one-liners and churlish but legitimate attempts to Answer.

Is there perhaps a precedent for flagging for Moderator attention? I did a meta site search for something on this topic but came up dry. It seems to me these Posts are in the Low Quality review queue in some cases because they've already been manually flagged (though many, perhaps most are there out of automated searches that flag one-liners).

Moderator attention is a valuable/scarce commodity, but I think recognizing a systematic behavior by a User may be called for in this situation. Of course it might be redundant if a higher-order search exists that Moderators see when multiple of a User's Posts go into review queues.

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    $\begingroup$ It's unclear what a Moderator should do, especially if the answers don't warrant deletion. Send the user a message: "please write better answers"? $\endgroup$ – user147263 Oct 30 '14 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ Not entirely related, but according to this, raising a custom flag could be an appropriate action in this scenario. It certainly solved the "problem" that prompted me to post the question. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R Oct 30 '14 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielR If this is the user I believe it is (is he a doctor by any chance?), he is hardly new, and I've already seen people writing him comments about the quality of his posts. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Oct 30 '14 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi I think the newness of the user is of little significance. And I believe the user you are speculating about has been "taken care of" before due to the same reasons... $\endgroup$ – Daniel R Oct 30 '14 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielR I agree, but it also means that a simple message from a mod isn't likely to change anything (because, empirically, it didn't). So the question is, can something more be done by simple user (otherwise just call for moderator action again). $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Oct 30 '14 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi In both cases I think there have been more actions than a simple message (unless you consider a suspension a simple message :-)). But I think we'd better stop speculating, we can't be sure who this is about, and it's not important for the question at hand. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R Oct 30 '14 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ I know which user this is. I feel like it would be rude to tell them to write better answers. I also notice that this user has no votes of his own and only answers. Hmmm. $\endgroup$ – Ali Caglayan Oct 30 '14 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ I think I know who he is too. I once formatted his answer properly and suggested he gave more detail, he rolled back and ignored me. $\endgroup$ – Git Gud Oct 31 '14 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ I'm conflicted about whether such answers would warrant deletion; they're obviously low quality (and honestly, I wonder if they are putting the questions into Wolfram|Alpha, and posting the results), and there's some which are clearly irrelevant - yet the reasons for deletion only address misunderstandings of the SE system & spam, so it seems like marking extremely low quality answers for deletion is not the intended behavior (even though, I think many of their answers are unobjectionably bad and need more work than a simple revision - that is, a good answer would be fundamentally different) $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Nov 2 '14 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Meelo The SE definition of Very Low Quality answer is "This answer has severe formatting or content problems. This answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed." $\endgroup$ – user147263 Nov 2 '14 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ @just I see that under the "flag" menu, but it's not one of the options under "Recommend Deletion" in the low quality review queue - perhaps the options change for users who can actually cast delete votes, rather than just recommend? I suppose if the site has it stated that very low quality answers ought to be deleted, then I can use the "No comment needed" option under "Recommend Deletion" for such answers - but the fact that low quality isn't an option in the dialog is confusing to me. $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Nov 2 '14 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Meelo This is a common confusion. The suggested comments in "Recommend Deletion" are just that -- boilerplate comments you might want to leave for the author when applicable. They are not "possible reasons" for deletion, because votes to delete do not have any "reason" attached to them (unlike close votes). There is no boilerplate comment for "this is a very bad, useless post" since such a comment would be of no use without a concrete indication of why it's bad. Boilerplate does not work for this case; but you can leave a free-form comment if you want. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Nov 2 '14 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Meelo: in my own opinion, an answer which is so brief and short-of-content that it would be better to delete it and completely rewrite it from scratch should not be considered "salvagable" by editing. Every bad answer is salvageable if we are willing to delete it and start from scratch. Editing can reasonably be expected to fix minor errors and omissions, grammar, formatting, etc.. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Nov 2 '14 at 23:47
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    $\begingroup$ Are you automatically notified if your votes are considered to be part of a serial downvoting campaign and therefore reversed? How big an offence is this considered to be? $\endgroup$ – Daniel R Nov 6 '14 at 8:46
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When I feel like I might be bordering on serial down-voting (even beyond the review queue--I occasionally go on witch-hunts for people who post contest problems, which can lead to many down-votes/close-votes on a single user in a short time), I self-regulate and take a break.

If I'm in the review queue and find myself reviewing the same user a lot, I start to "skip" those reviews instead of participating. That way, the next person who reviews the item can downvote and the poor answerer/questioner will receive the votes they are due.

(Per my understanding, skipping the review has no negative consequences for the flags--only "no action needed" reviews (or upvotes) should make the flag disputed.)

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If a user's poorly written questions or answers keep showing up in the review queue, it's perfectly reasonable to keep downvoting and/or voting to delete them. Otherwise (1) the poorly written posts will remain, so the user has less reason to improve; and (2) the flags that put the posts in the review queue will show up as "disputed", even though you did not mean to dispute them.

The serial downvote detector makes Type I errors from time to time (that is, false hits). Like many aspects of the software, it isn't perfect, but it can safely be ignored.

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