I will start with two real-life scenarios.

Recently another user complained about a down-vote on their post. (Well, we have lot of such posts here on meta.) But they also mentioned in a comment, that other answers were downvoted by the same user. We cannot know for sure whether they were downvoted by the same uses, but I checked profiles of the other answerers and I saw negative reputation changes in all of them but one with almost the same timestamp. Three answers are probably too few to be caught by software, but we can imagine somebody doing similar thing on a question with 10 answers.

To have also example with upvotes: I procrastinated on this site today longer than usual. As a consequence I run out of votes. I saw several nice post after that, so I copied the links with the plan to come here the next day and upvote them. So I will probably cast several votes in quick succession. I have already read the posts. Now I will only copy the link and upvote for each of these posts. I wonder whether it is possible that my votes will be detected as serial upvoting and reversed. (Or if I might be even suspended for voting irregularities.)

I saw here that serial voting is defined in the following way: "Serial voting is the act of casting many upvotes or downvotes on the posts of a specific user without proper reason. Also known as voting fraud." Judging by that definition, if the votes are not directed to the same users, that should not be considered serial voting. But I still wanted to check whether SE software checks also for upvotes/downvotes directed not only to a single user. (To know whether I am doing something wrong. And also to know whether some suspicious vote patterns can be caught and reversed.)

TL;DR: Is casting votes in the quick succession (but not on the post of the same user) detected by SE software? Are such votes reversed in some cases? Can a user be suspended for such votes?

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    $\begingroup$ So, you mean for example if I read six answers to some question, and the voted on all of them in a two seconds interval? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Yes, that would be an example. (This is similar to what I am describing in my votes. And also to what other user was complaining about in their post. That post was, to some extent, my motivation to ask this.) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ Is it just me or is this more appropriate for the general meta site? I ask because I am not sure. $\endgroup$
    – user157227
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ Here is an example that just happened. The whole post was downvoted in the span of a minute or less. The OP may have deserved due to no work shown but not sure why the answers were punished. $\endgroup$
    – dustin
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


The exact mechanism of the serial voting reversal script is not publicly known. Even moderators don't know any more about it than the general public. But we can make a pretty good guess on how it works from observing it.

To the best of my knowledge, the automatic mechnanism is strictly limited to reversing problematic patterns that target specific users. It is also a rather dumb script and can easily be avoided if you have enough patience and a good idea on how it works. All of the more complicated cases are handled manually by moderators or SE employees, though the reputation history won't show the difference, it always says "serial voting reversed".

The cases you described won't get picked up by any automatic mechanism I know of, and I would not consider them a misuse of the voting system. I could think of abusive voting patterns that don't target specific users, but those would be dealt with manually by SE employees on a case-by-case basis.


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