I have noticed some suspicious downvotes on my questions recently.

Jul 25
-2  23:44   downvote    XML, XHTML, SGML and HTML
Jul 23
-2  51 mins ago     downvote    GUI editor for editing djvu bookmarks
-2  7 hours ago     downvote    “Processor register” and “IO register”
Jul 20
-2  11:53   downvote    eMule cannot create Incoming Files directory
Jul 19
-2  12:23   downvote    kill all processes of a user except a few in linux
Jul 15
-2  22:21   downvote    Text processing: convert text of table of content into djvu bookmark format?
-8  22:19   downvote    XML, XHTML, SGML and HTML
Jul 10
-2  02:29   downvote    What determines endianness
Jul 8
-2  20:43   downvote    What determines endianness

I have given it some time and I am afraid the downvotes, possibly except some on "XML, XHTML, SGML and HTML" which was closed, might be out of someone's hostility towards my account. I was wondering if moderators are able to confirm or dismiss my worry.

  • 1
    one person can only downvote a question once. but that aside, you can always flag it and write that you think it might be suspicious, a mod can look. It isn't possible for one account to give 2 downvotes. I'm going to guess(a weak guess) that in the case of -8, XML,XHTML,SGML,HTML many people commenting don't know it that well themselves and some know it a bit and are only really capable of a more practical question. it's more of a stackoverflow question. That said, it's worth getting used to the kind of questions the FAQ and community generally are ok with and good at answering.
    – barlop
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 22:58
  • Some people seem to be a bit trigger happy with the down-vote button. I have seen questions where the OP plus all the answers including my own were down-voted for no apparent reason. I wonder if it might not help that you have a low accept rate which at present is only 55%. Some people seem to get a little upset about such things.
    – James P
    Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 13:56
  • @James: I have explained the accept rate before. It is not that I am not willing to do so. I have upvoted virtually every reply I have got to show my appreciation. But as to accepting a reply, I don't rush. There may be several reasons: (1) I don't quite understand the replies yet because of limitation of my knowledge, and I always reread the questions and replies as my understanding improves and accept replies whenever it applies. (2) there are no satisfactory answers yet and I am still open to other opinions; ...
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 14:00
  • Actually, to correct myself , when it says -2, that's from one downvote. I just checked for one of my questions that said -2 in activity, and it was from one downvote. So I wouldn't say it's not suspicious.. but a moderator can see
    – barlop
    Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 21:53
  • @barlop No, a moderator can't see (see Sathya's answer)
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 6:54

4 Answers 4


TL;DR: To be honest, I don't see anything too suspicious about it. Remember that voting is highly subjective. Reasons why it's probably normal and why you shouldn't worry:

  • The votes occurred on different dates, sometimes days apart from each other.
  • You asked a lot of questions (over 170). You will probably have to live with the fact that you might receive the occasional downvote.
  • The reputation loss is marginal. It takes three downvotes (-6) for every upvote (+5) for you to actually lose reputation.
  • You haven't given an answer yet – if you have something useful you want to share or anything you can help with, a good answer will get you 10 points per upvote :)
  • Finally: If there really was one user being hostile against your account, you would have received much more sequential downvotes

To help you understand though, let's take a closer look at those questions. Please don't take it personally, I am just trying to explain why it's probably not as suspicious as you might think.

Why have you received downvotes on those? Well, ever since voting on questions became "free" for the user casting the vote (i.e. by not losing any reputation), it became easy to downvote a question.

One of the reasons for doing so (it says so in the downvote button's caption):

"This question does not show research effort".

... which can be argued is the case in some of these questions. Note that I did not downvote any of your questions, but other users might think they fall under that category. Also, take a look at the How to Ask guide:

If you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer.

... and of course (emphasis mine)

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers

... and, last but not least, from the FAQ:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face

To summarize, if a user reading one of these questions thought they might not meet the quality standards or guidelines of the FAQ, you'll get a downvote. It happens.

Now let's see the other two you've mentioned:

For those, it's not that obvious anymore why somebody would downvote those. In fact, I upvoted your second question because it's a valid and practical one, based on an actual problem, and it might also be useful to others. The other one, well, you will have to live with that.

I believe it has happened to all of us. For example, on this question I got downvotes on both the question and my own answer – I still haven't figured out why. But it's nothing to worry about.

Hope that helps!

  • (1) To your query about my own effort and research, I have answered you down right where you asked me. (2) During our discussion here, there was another downvote. I included it here as soon as I found it.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 17:45
  • @Tim That's why I said, please don't take it personally -- I haven't downvoted any of your questions! I was just trying to outline a few reasons why you could have received those downvotes.
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 17:46
  • 1
    @slhck - I like the tone and approach you took in your answer. Very humble and welcoming. Plus its a great answer. +1
    – nopcorn
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 1:43

Voting is anonymous - any user, including a Moderator cannot determine who put in the votes.

I don't think the downvotes are anything suspicious ( and I certainly don't think anyone has any hostility towards you or your account).

IMO, the voting trend on your account look normal - there's nothing suspicious - whether upvotes or downvotes that seems to come out.

  • 1
    The trend is normal, because the trend is about both upvotes and downvotes from all other accounts. I was concerned about whether some of the downvotes came from the same user.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 13:58
  • 1
    @Tim As Sathya mentioned, it's not appropriate to look into who downvoted if there is no apparent pattern or hostility involved.
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 14:04
  • 1
    @slhck it's also not possible.
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 14:10

Unfortunately, a certain "effort" in facilitating the downvoting has unbalanced the system in favor of answering questions instead of actually asking them. It's easier to lose reputation if you ask questions. It's something I cannot agree with, since questions are the arteries of this place; where everything begins. But it's this imbalance that must have you prepared to that type of voting pattern you experienced.

It's also quite visible that, contrary to even an year ago, questions do not often get upvoted. I've been seeing more and more questions, with quite a few answers on some instances, sometimes even with an accepted answer, and often with a considerable number of views, and no one -- not even a single soul -- upvoted the question. It's a sad state of affairs that is only bound to increase I'm afraid, and that is going to slowly corrode at this place. It denotes a certain hostility towards people asking questions, even if unintentional. Especially when coupled with all the other problems.

We just don't properly reward the inquisitive in here. And that will cost us. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Anyways, what this all means is that when asking questions, downvoting patterns will be much harder for you or anyone else (including moderators and any detection scripts) to properly identify as ill-intent. There's too many subjectivity around this matter to allow anyone to confidently be accused of abusive behavior, for one. And there's too many reasons for one to get downvoted when asking questions and too little to be upvoted, for another. As an example of the latter, take a look at old questions (circa 2010 and 2009) and what we used to allow to happen here and the type of behavior we have today. Most of those top voting questions would be torn to pieces by today's... erm, standards. Particularly this curious one; the "do your research before asking" one. You can bet a lot of this place would be much quieter if people actually did that research. Everyone would probably leave and Superuser would close because serving 5 or 10 questions a day isn't sustainbale (if that much, since most days I can count only one or two questions that actually showed said research effort). So should we downvote any question that doesn't include proof of any research being done? There's a lot of downvoting to be done there. Well, I think not. I don't even think this rule makes any sense whatsoever. It just contributes to introducing a gray area where everything is pretty much allowed. And with that you hammer another nail on the questions coffin.

I'm afraid I used your question let some air go. But I hope you heard some different insight to some of the canned answers you got above.

Be well... and want an advise?... answer more than what you ask. I know, it's silly. But it works.

  • wregd: questions not getting upvotes, that's been a sort of perennial problem - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9508 meta.stackexchange.com/questions/509 and there have been discussions on what can be done to improve it meta.stackexchange.com/questions/89698/…
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 4:55
  • I absolutely agree with you on the voting part, but regarding the "research" thing: It's somewhat there for a reason. If you for example want to know how something works, why not tell us what you already know? Users always neglect that part, but where should somebody start their answer if they don't even know what the OP knows? Still, that doesn't necessarily justify downvoting. What do you mean by "It just contributes to introducing a gray area where everything is pretty much allowed"?
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 6:51
  • @slhck It is a vague "rule" that can be interpreted in many ways. Mostly because it introduces subjective analysis. I can think some person didn't make an effort, you can think they did some or much. In itself this shouldn't be so bad, right? I mean it's part of human nature to appreciate certain things differently from others. The problem is that on the matter of questions we are also mostly only reminded of the ways a question should be downvoted. The rules themselves show quite a few ways why one should downvote a question, and very little on why one should upvote it.
    – A Dwarf
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 10:54
  • Couple that with no reputation loss and a natural bandwagon effect downvoting tends to share, and we have the conditions for some loose downvote behavior along with a certain upvote strictness; both contributing directly to reduce question voting. That is, people become more exigent (often beyond what should be reasonable) because they are coached into this behavior by the website rules that so marvelously fit into their critical thinking.
    – A Dwarf
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 11:00
  • Unfortunately there is so much more that I'd like to discuss on this matter... but comments boxes aren't the best medium. Neither I want to edit what's above since it would fall entirely off-topic. I'll have to stop here.
    – A Dwarf
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 11:01
  • > The rules themselves show quite a few ways why one should downvote a question, and very little on why one should upvote it. I know, that's a bit of a problem when taking into account that you can downvote without losing reputation. Well, I think that's already been a topic of discussion on meta.SO.
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 11:14
  • And yeah, absolutely agreed on the bandwagon effect -- but I think we should leave it at that for now. I personally upvote questions a lot, but I guess there are others who don't, at all, so maybe (a) badge(s) would help (but that's mentioned in Sathya's linked posts as well).
    – slhck
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 11:16

Well everybody loves reps.. however, when you felt so badly that you need to raise a post just because of some 20 rep lost, please do take a break and realize that it is just a simple number, no more and no less...

plus it is designed to be accomodating. it is not like you are penalized by a downvote as much as you are rewarded with a upvote. there is a large ratio there, and most people, like me (I must say that honestly I haven't voted on any of your questions or answers as far as I could remember) almost don't downvote.. (i think i have given three downvote or something so far...)

and there is already some mechanism in this site that prevent downvoting en masse.

in essence, be nice to others, give good quality answers & questions, and you will have a great flow of reps going to your account, sometimes years after the original answer..

 2    149510 (10)
 2    149510 (10)
-- 2011-06-14 rep +160  = 4724    

the answer there was this answer.

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