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Today I received a "moderator message" with what seems to be a serious accusation. Quoted in full:

Hello,

We're writing in reference to your Super User account:

https://superuser.com/users/931000/gabrielagarcia

After reports of unusual voting patterns coming from your account, we found a lot of upvoting against specific users.

Please note that these upvotes will be invalidated. We need to ensure that the voting on Stack Exchange is anchored in the quality of the post, and not the person who wrote it.

If this is a simple misunderstanding, no harm done. The system has processes in place to detect various types of targeted voting between users. Everyone has their own criteria for why they vote, and sometimes we have to tolerate small indiscretions, even if those reasons are somewhat ill-advised. We're not assuming that is the case here, but voting irregularities are something that we take very seriously and can result in a prolonged suspension for all involved.

This is just a friendly notice to let you know what happened, so take care and enjoy the site.

Regards, Super User Moderation Team

So, here's my reply being made public in order to avoid it being lost somehow and before further interactions as a preemptive strike against possibly being the next victim of yet another smear campaign:

a lot of upvoting against specific users??? What???

I suggest reviewing the processes, systems, reports, whatever... Maybe there's a bug somewhere.

Accusing me of conspiring in "targeted voting" is unfair and ridiculous. If it was regarding downvoting you may have had a point, I do that almost automatically in questions (and some answers) about EOL OSes and some questions about Kali that are from people who clearly shouldn't be using it.

Complaining about upvoting is ridiculous: I don't know any of the persons who's answers I upvoted, I have zero contact with them outside the network and I don't even do chat or whatever other means of private communications available inside the network. All interaction I ever had with other users has been in (very public) comments. I don't know who they are, what interest I could possibly have in benefiting them? This is total nonsense.

It's not my fault this company has been consistently driving away many highly valuable users that now the ones still here stand out a lot more so yes, whatever process triggered this should be reviewed in order to account for this fact and avoid this kind of total nonsense and the inevitable harm that comes from making such accusations. This caused me a lot of stress.

But not really surprising considering some recent events and other not so recent. The glaring hypocrisy of pretending to care about users' feelings while at the same time totally disregarding the harm caused by messages like this. Don't you have better thing to do? Like, just an example out of many that could be pointed out right now, truly apologize and reinstate Monica Celio?

Now, how exactly are this reports generated? Automatically by some algorithm? If so this is seriously flawed. If not, and this comes from an actual complain please show yourself (or yourselves) so we can have a chat.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – DavidPostill Dec 23 '19 at 21:16
  • @DavidPostill .... Why not just say "The comments have been moved to chat", is that a standard template response once you take the mod action you use or something? Is there a "moved to chat" clickable shortcut syntax such as there is with edit in comments or whatever where it automatically moves all comments to a chat when you're a mod or something? – Pimp Juice IT Dec 31 '19 at 18:47
  • @PimpJuiceIT It's a standard comment added when mods move comments to chat from our mod menu. – DavidPostill Dec 31 '19 at 19:12
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Some thoughts:

  1. The question makes a valid point. There is a need to ensure that voting is based on post quality rather than the poster, but the automated system is too heavily weighted toward "organic" voting patterns. By that, I mean voting based on encountering posts at random.

    I'm aware of that characteristic, so I'm careful to avoid triggering the detector. On occasion, though, I've spotted an exceptional post by a new user or someone whose posts I haven't seen before. Because of the interesting subject matter and quality of the post, I check their profile to see what else they've posted. People tend not to post single exceptional posts, so it isn't unusual to find a number of other great posts of theirs, all worthy of upvoting based on quality and usefulness.

    I don't believe that looking for past posts by an author who you've found provides useful information for you, or upvoting in succession multiple great posts by the same author should be a problem. I think that's completely consistent with the basic objectives of the site. Apparently, though, differentiating meritorious upvotes is too nuanced for the system. The workaround is to be aware of the problem and spread out the votes.

    I don't know if moderators can undo vote invalidation by the system if the votes were actually meritorious. Voting is anonymous, and my understanding is that moderators can see limited patterns between users, but not voting by specific users on specific posts. I'm also not aware whether there is an "appeal" process for when the system gets it wrong.

    If the posts were exceptional and automatic invalidation was an unfair penalty for the author, I might be tempted to list the posts within a question like yours here, so other people can decide whether to vote and replace the lost upvotes.

  2. For no apparent reason, you took a valid question and negated it by gratuitously playing the age, race, gender, and gender identity cards, which have no bearing on the issue, or validity (the automated system that monitors the patterns has no race, gender, or gender identity). That's a shame because without that, this could be a valuable question. It's inclusion destroys the question's credibility and triggers a negative reaction leading to downvotes.

  • 1
    Mods can't see vote sources, but I think CMs can. If there's an issue with voting, it's usually escalated to employees. – TheWanderer Dec 20 '19 at 22:37
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I'm not middle aged (I THINK!), white (last I checked at least) though I do admit to being male, though the other stuff is not for discussion.

That said the votes were invalidated automatically. While we do joke sometimes about community's gender - the vote invalidations were done by an entity that is not white, cismale or middle aged. It has also done this fairly reliably for over a decade, and we kinda trust that piece of code to do its job implicitly.

Now, how exactly are this reports generated? Automatically by some algorithm? If so this is seriously flawed.

Yes. The exact details are not available even to us.

Reviewing the data available to us - however, it seems pretty clear that there was some targetted downvoting and it was reversed.

I do that almost automatically in questions (and some answers) about EOL OSes and some questions about Kali that are from people who clearly shouldn't be using it.

This isn't the case here. Downvoting on topics is a bit meh. There's reasonable evidence that its downvoting on a user.

preemptive strike against possibly being the next victim of yet another smear campaign

Quite frankly this was never our goal. You actually are one of the folks who I feel could be (is?) a promising user who, while a little enthusiastic (as it seems) might help form the next generation core of the site. On the other hand, its precisely those folks who we sometimes need to nudge with a reminder. The goal of mod messages and even suspensions is to correct behaviour, quietly rather than to drag folks through the mud.

So I'd say, taking into account automatic voting reversals (and you can see this on your reputation table, and get why it happened) - no mistake was made on our side.

  • You actually are one of the folks who (...) might help form the next generation core of the site What?? No, a thousand times NO. I don't work for free unless it's for a good cause and this isn't, this is a morally bankrupt entity. If you're happy, good for you. I'm not and I'm nobody's minion. – user931000 Dec 22 '19 at 14:03
  • Sounds like you have irreversible differences that cannot be resolved. Serial upvoting is just as bad as serial downvoting. Even though the offensive description of the moderator team was removed, any thing positive that might have come out of this question, will be negated by your offensive description. – Ramhound Dec 23 '19 at 13:23
  • @Ramhound It seems you're right about the irreversible differences and this is probably the last time you'll hear of me. I'm in the process of finding out what can be done to entirely dissociate my person from this shitty company and make damn sure the (probably not sincere) Journeyman Geek's "prophecy" commented about above will NOT be fulfilled. – user931000 Dec 23 '19 at 15:49
  • @Ramhound I think I found it - superuser.com/help/deleting-account - and even this process is again morally bankrupt with the content made anonymous after account deletion. Probably even illegal because it violates the attribution clause of the Creative Commons license, but I'm no lawyer and I don't care. My peace of mind is more important . Bye. – user931000 Dec 23 '19 at 16:00
  • Geez, take you ball and bat and go home is your solution, better yet create a Q and A site of your own that is better and I will contribute there. Most people think of stack exchange sites as forums, but they are not, completely different. – Moab Jan 22 at 19:40

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