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Since yesterday, seven posts of mine have been downvoted. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. The first four yesterday within at most two hours' time, and the rest today, within an hour.

I flagged number 4 for moderators' attention, and the posts were undownvoted with the flag considered helpful, so I'm guessing a moderator undownvoted them, or maybe they were undownvoted by the system. Since then, the other three posts were downvoted. All downvotes were without a comment.

I don't consider any of these posts a great one, and I can understand downvoting some of them. 3 is a poorer version of Brian M. Scott's argument, which I even deleted at some point to undelete it later after talking about it to Brian in chat. Number 5 can be considered irrelevant to the question, although I think it's relevant enough. Anyway, I don't mind the posts being downvoted, but the fashion in which it is done is a bit irritating.

I would like to ask the downvoter(s), if they're reading this, to comment on the downvotes so I can learn from my mistakes. Also, if the downvoter(s) don't reply, I would like to know if anything can be done about it. What worries me the most is that I may learn to ignore the downvotes, believing they're all dishonest. The only (I think) time I was downvoted before, I took it seriously and looked at my post closely to see what could be wrong with it. I don't remember if I found anything serious because it was some time ago, but I think the downvoter did the right thing if they thought the post wasn't good, and they had a reason not to leave a comment. It is useful to me to know that someone didn't like my post. But when I start suspecting that someone dislikes me personally or is just bored, the downvotes stop being useful, at least to me.

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  • $\begingroup$ Seems the DVs have been removed. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff May 17 '12 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterTamaroff Right, thanks. The problem may persist though... $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 17 '12 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see any downvotes on the first 3 posts. Nor does the SE software show any recent suspicious voting patterns on your posts. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque May 17 '12 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque The downvotes on all of the posts can be seen here. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 17 '12 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ymar Ah, that reveals that those 3 downvotes were placed within 37 seconds, which looks suspicious. Perhaps it was the SE software that removed them. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque May 17 '12 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque Perhaps. I'm guessing it might remove the downvotes on the last three after some time too, as well as the downvotes on Graphth's posts. But I find it hard to believe someone bored enough wouldn't be able to fool the software by downvoting in smaller portions. Also I believe this is all done by one person, the same one who downvoted this question and Graphth's answer. If that's true, I have the problem I wrote about in the question: the person will continue doing it and I will not know which downvotes are serious and which aren't. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 17 '12 at 23:56
  • $\begingroup$ @ymar If it continues then the automatic heuristics should kick in again to remove them. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque May 18 '12 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque I understand by "them" you mean the downvotes. Yes, it will, but after a day. Before that, I will see a downvote and have no idea if it was cast for a reason or not. I will disregard it, forget it, and if it was an honest one, lose the information it could provide. I think there should be a solution preventing a person who has cast votes in a suspicious way from continuing to do so. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 18 '12 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ @ymar There is not much we mods can do about that (we don't have any more access to such data than do you). I get strange clusters of downvotes too - as probably do most active users. After a while one realizes that they are of little importance in the grand scheme of things. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque May 18 '12 at 0:32
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    $\begingroup$ I downvote a lot, so I'll just say: it wasn't me. $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 May 18 '12 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ A logical mind doesn't downvote when it's possible to leave a comment and explain to the poster what do you think is wrong with their post. (I'll run for moderator next year, make a list of what I say so you'll beat me again @TheChaz) $\endgroup$ – Gigili May 18 '12 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ @TheChaz You don't downvote a lot. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 18 '12 at 11:13
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Why would you believe the downvotes were dishonest to begin with? In what fashion was the downvoting done that is irritating?

Keep in mind that no one is obligated to explain downvotes, much as no one is obligated to explain upvotes. There are many imaginable reasons why someone might not want to comment after downvoting, and only a few of them have anything to do with dishonesty and disliking you personally. In the grand scheme of things, even, even if a few people do downvote you out of such reasons, it is more or less inconsequential.

If unexplained downvotes might result in your disregarding downvotes, one can but wonder what weight you do attach to upvotes, since it is quite probable that pretty much none of them was explained! :)

As a moderator, the way I react to flags like yours is to query the system, which detects very irregular voting patterns. Very few times such a pattern was actually there---and in the immense majority of cases the downvotes were probably only caused simply by a post being bumped onthe front page and people seeing it and disliking or some other natural phenomena. Including, I should say, the phenomena of actually bad posts :P

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  • $\begingroup$ Please note that I explicitly said that I don't mind unexplained downvotes. It's the fact that they are given serially that makes me doubt the honesty of the downvoter (I will drop the plural) and me makes me unable to know honest downvotes from dishonest ones. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 17 '12 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ If someone downvotes you serially in a signifcant way, the votes are undone automatically without even the intervention of mods, as far as I recall. I would suggest to consider all downvotes just as honest as you consider the upvotes. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez May 17 '12 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ I must say that I don't really care about the honesty of the upvotes, as I care little about the upvotes themselves. It's nice to get them but the ways people upvote here remain inexplicable to me, which makes them uninformative. For downvotes, when I get one, I understand there's something actually wrong with my post that I should correct. This is useful information. As for automatic retraction of downvotes, it seems fairly easy to circumvent if someone wants to downvote posts for the sake of it. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 17 '12 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Mariano: Do you suggest that most upvotes on this site are honest? I'm not sure how wrong this statement is, but I would think that a non-trivial part of the upvotes are actually given for the wrong reasons, or worse. Of course many of the upvotes are reasonable, etc. etc. but still, there should be quite the portion of undeserved upvotes. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 17 '12 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila, I am only saying that there is no reason to believe that downvotes are less or more honest than upvotes, nor that they are cast for worse or better reasons than them. (There are many much more upvotes that upvotes—I don't know if that has any weight in this matter, though) $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez May 17 '12 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Mariano I think that there is a reason to believe that downvotes are cast for a smaller range of reasons, which makes them more informative than upvotes. The downvotes I have seen have been generally on questions and answers I could see problems with. I've been unable to recognize any clear pattern in how upvotes are cast. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 18 '12 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MarianoSuárez-Alvarez: Is it clear this is not some kind of system bug? I have also received downvotes on several answers almost simultaneously, but only on those which had zero votes. The downvotes were subsequently removed. It happened again just a few minutes ago: two (new) answers with zero votes were downvoted simultaneously. $\endgroup$ – user641 May 19 '12 at 7:13
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I actually came here myself to ask the same question. 2-3 weeks ago, I had 2 answers downvoted within 1 minute of each other. I thought it was a bit weird. Just as above, there was nothing wrong with my answers. I can't justify a downvote to either. They weren't exceptional, but then don't vote for it if that's your feeling. Now, today, within a short period of time, I had 4 downvotes, 2 of which were the same question/answers as above. And, the 4 downvotes were my 3 highest rated answers and my highest rated question.

Update: I would like to add that the 4 downvotes of my answers/questions today were right about the same time as the downvotes ymar mentions. So, perhaps it was even the same person.

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    $\begingroup$ It seems that someone didn't like this question and your answer to it. At least they cannot downvote this comment. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 17 '12 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ymar: now we shall wait until the feature-request question appears on meta with the title "Need to downvote comments" and see who asks it :) $\endgroup$ – Ilya May 18 '12 at 16:54

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