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This is the first time I met such phenomenon. At the same time two old questions

Is there a $2 \times 2$ real matrix $A$ such that $A^2=-4I$?

https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/2429346/multiplication-of-two-matrices-and-null-spacewith [now deleted]

with many old answers to these questions were "put on hold" and additionally extensively downvoted. Moreover all the answers were downvoted.

Could someone explain what's going on here? Is it some kind of vandalism or something else? Can it be reversed?

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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't look like serial downvoting. You've only received a total of three down votes on two questions. Now, the fact that two voters voted down answers from a few months ago suggests that the voting was coordinated, almost certainly by the folks in the CRUDE chatroom. $\endgroup$ – Mark McClure Feb 19 '18 at 11:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Widawensen Yes, the voting was coordinated. I thought I said that. :) In fact, the questions you refer to were singled out here. If you read in that chatroom a bit, it's clear that the folks there believe that problems stated straight from textbooks should be purged from the site and folks should be discouraged from answering such questions in the first place. Hence, your downvotes. To answer your question to John Ma, though - no, there is (by design) no reliable way to find out who specifically downvoted your answer. $\endgroup$ – Mark McClure Feb 19 '18 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand – you're not afraid to raise the issue in a post here, that everyone can see, but you are afraid to notify the moderators? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 19 '18 at 11:58
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Yes, I'm afraid now after visiting this awful crude room.. I was more optimist one hour ago.. $\endgroup$ – Widawensen Feb 19 '18 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Widawensen You should not be afraid of the moderators. They are generally quite nice and one of them would quite likely give a reasonable response to a flag on this issue. You do need to know to look for a response on your flag-summary page. Having said that, I seriously doubt that any specific rules have been broken and I think that one can make a reasonable argument against PSQs, as they call them. I'm not sure where I stand on the issue myself. $\endgroup$ – Mark McClure Feb 19 '18 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkMcClure I've checked the record of answers of some people who so easily are tracking supposed old PSQ , they don't hesitate to answer sometimes the obvious questions... why in that case disregard so much others work? Simply , I don't understand.. $\endgroup$ – Widawensen Feb 19 '18 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ "Serial downvoting" refers to downvoting many questions or answers by the same user only because of the identity of the user, without regard to other factors. It often arises as a "tit for tat" phenomenon - "if I think you downvoted me, I will downvote you!" . Downvoting several posts by different users is not serial downvoting, and even downvoting several posts by one user may not be serial downvoting if the quality of the posts, rather than the identity of the users, is what motivated the voting. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Feb 19 '18 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlMummert I used the name "serial" for downvoting en masse all answers in the range of several questions, in order to prepare these questions to deletion (unfortunately together with the answers). I don't know how to properly name such actions... $\endgroup$ – Widawensen Feb 19 '18 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ Well, another take on this matter, @Widawensen, is to refrain from answering no-effort PSQ's? $\endgroup$ – Namaste Feb 19 '18 at 16:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Widawensen FWIW I have also noticed a surge in questionable downvotes during the past week or so, quite a few clearly targeted at getting the question itself to be deleted by downvoting all answers (which did in fact succeed in some of those cases). I personally find it highly inconsiderate that someone would cast a downvote without even a hint to the poster as to why, and ironic that those serial downvoters feel the need to hide such self-righteous crusades behind the anonymity that allows them to game the system. All that said, life is too short to waste on worrying about downvotes ;-) $\endgroup$ – dxiv Feb 20 '18 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Widawensen If you want so badly to answer homework questions, get yourself a text in Algebra-Precal, Calc, Elementary number theory, and write you answers to the exercises (problem statement questions, all of them) on a personal blog you create. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Feb 20 '18 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy Telling someone to essentially "go away" is not terribly constructive. You are entitled to your opinions, of course, but so is everyone else. And if the consensus on PSQs was as strong as you make it sound, then there wouldn't be the same 3-4 users responsible for most deletions in the past days. $\endgroup$ – dxiv Feb 20 '18 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ The choice is every user's: answer PSQs/do-my-work-for-me-and-now!/follow-my-link-to-figure-out-my-question/no-effort/nonsense, and risk the deletion of the question (and with the deletion of a question, goes also all answers), or answer the many, many questions asked in good faith, with effort from the asker, or a responsive asker who doesn't rudely dump a question, but sticks around a few minutes after posting a question to answer comments, clarify, etc. No one forces anyone to answer crap. So don't come whining to meta to berate the users who recognized crap, as crap, and deleted it. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy silly dxiv If your level of discourse decayed to name-calling now, then bye for good. $\endgroup$ – dxiv Feb 22 '18 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ Looks like the PSQ thing is the most vehemently debated topic on meta (see for example math.meta.stackexchange.com/q/27918/72031). I think the problem is aggravated because of the downvotes to answers for PSQs. While I am against the PSQs and do engage in their closure/deletion occasionally, I don't downvote mathematically correct answers but then not everyone has similar opinion. $\endgroup$ – Paramanand Singh Mar 2 '18 at 10:38

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