I know that if someone is looking to just upvotes one person, and does so in a matter of minutes the system catches that. I feel like I may have had the reverse and been down voted on three questions that are largely upvoted.

Did Sauron survive?

Where do I need to start, to understand 'modern' Avengers?

Was Harry Potter inspired by The Lord of the Rings?

Is this a thing that the system could counter, if needed? I'm not going to complain about losing 6 rep, but I want to know if this could be done to lots of people maliciously, and if it could be countered somehow?

  • What time frame are we talking in this specific case?
    – bitmask
    Jun 20, 2012 at 11:45
  • One is a few seconds, the other about 2 minutes.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Jun 20, 2012 at 11:55
  • How do you know one person did it, instead of several individuals?
    – user1027
    Jun 20, 2012 at 14:10
  • It's obviously impossible to know 100% who casts a vote, up or down, but I don't think it's imprudently rushing to judgment to suspect, when you get 10+ upvotes each at the same time or within a minute of each other, that a serial voter is possibly at work. Respectfully, I want to point out that the system does not always seem to catch what appears to be blatant serial voting. Do we know for certain it's an infallible script? Jun 20, 2012 at 14:42
  • The timing isn't even really evidence. I know in my usage of the site, I will open a bunch of questions in tabs, read them, and then go through and vote/comment/edit/answer in one sweep. If voting, there wouldn't be that much time between votes, but they're not serial votes. That's just my practice, whether I'm looking at posts on the main page, or on a user's profile. And no, Pureferret, I didn't downvote you. :P Jun 20, 2012 at 16:15
  • Just for kicks, check out my rep for May 9, May 10. :) Oh, and I forgot to mention that just because you don't intend it as serial upvoting doesn't mean the system won't take it as such, especially when it's a fair number of votes from the same IP address that are close together. SO meta has a lot of discussion on this topic. Jun 20, 2012 at 17:27
  • I'm less concerned at the fact it may have happened to me, than that if it did happen what would be the systems response.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Jun 20, 2012 at 18:19
  • The system is supposed to catch serial upvoting and downvoting and remove or reinstate points accordingly. I had it happen to me once, this past March, where the system removed 45 points for serial upvoting. I was frustrated because I had nothing to do with someone deciding to vote my answers up in succession. Jun 20, 2012 at 18:38
  • @Slytherincess I new it caught serial upvoting, but I didn't know about the downvoting.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Jun 20, 2012 at 18:57
  • 1
    Sorry, it was me. I just really hate ferrets ;P Jun 20, 2012 at 20:10
  • 1
    @Pureferret - I can definitely confirm that the script catches and rolls back at least SOME serial downvoting (I had at least one case of such DV of my posts caught and all my rep restored to me; but that was on SO and not SFF). Jun 21, 2012 at 1:35

3 Answers 3


Serial voting, in both directions is detected by the system. It then is reversed periodically (I think daily, but don't quote me on that).

  • Daily. 100% of my reversals of DVs on SO were applied to my rep around 0 GMT Jun 21, 2012 at 1:41

In that case it could've been two different users. And even if it was the same, it could still be legitimate (judging only from the titles, I'd say the first question is awesome, the second I have no universe knowledge and the third smells subjective). A case of three votes from the same user to the same user in either direction doesn't qualify as a red flag, if you ask me. Only if this happens repeatedly to the same user, I'd start asking for help.


I know how frustrating serial down votes can be, but think about how great serial up votes feel, especially for very old questions. And the latter happens more often than the former, judging from my own experience. It happens if somebody has a look at your profile and checks out some of your posts.

Anyway, to more directly answer your question: I'm pretty certain that -- if you can detect serial up votes -- you can detect serial down votes. But I have no knowledge of the SE implementation. I would guess that there exist measures to detect massive abuse.

  • Serial upvotes for old questions feel AWFUL, because you know that not only are they likely to be reversed by the script, but if you hot the cap and they are reversed, you lose BOTH the rep the serial upvotes would have given you AND the rep that you lost AFTER those upvotes due to the cap. Jun 21, 2012 at 1:38
  • @DVK: Well, I'm a little peasant, I rarely hit the cap. And I don't remember having a series that was long enough for the detection to take it back (or I didn't notice).
    – bitmask
    Jun 21, 2012 at 12:59
  • "I'm a little peasant" - thats the name of my (next) punk rock group :) Jun 22, 2012 at 17:01
  • @DVK: If you like "The" bands, you could go right for: "The little peasants" :)
    – bitmask
    Jun 22, 2012 at 18:12

Yes. If user A votes several times for user B in quick succession, the votes will be reversed, whether they are upvotes or downvotes. There is a batch job that runs every day (early morning GMT) to eliminate such votes. See What is serial voting and how does it affect me? on the main meta.

Nobody outside the development team knows the details. I doubt that three votes would be considered fraud, though. Looking at your reputation history for today, you received 6 votes in the space of 44 seconds. This would be suspicious and definitely reversed if they were all upvotes and downvotes, but with 3 up and 3 down, I don't find a malicious intent credible.

Another possible explanation for a quick succession of votes is someone who ran out of votes yesterday and left some tabs open. The chronological order of the votes matches the reverse chronological order of the questions. It's strange that they'd be catching up with posts from last February though.

  • Perhaps I have a fan?
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Jun 20, 2012 at 20:28
  • 3 votes are NOT in the script's logic - I've had numerous times both here and on SO where presumably the same user DVed 3 posts in a very quick succession and none were reversed. Jun 21, 2012 at 1:36

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