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Probably the most risky post I ever posted on AU, nevertheless need to get it of my chest...

Don't ask me how I got the impression, nor whom it involves, but there seems to be a tendency lately that people "exchange" favours.

No one on AU has any objection to an occasional sympathizing vote, nor with an upvote just because of the work that might have been involved in writing an answer.
I do object however strongly to a structural exchange of favours. Probably just inside the limits of what the system allows and detects. I don't like it, even resent it and I don't do it.

Please, please don't publicly upvote someone, often on multiple posts at once, as an obvious "present", probably even without having read the answer(s). Just hoping someone will return the favour as a result. It is cheap, bad for the voting system and bad for the site.

If you vote, vote for the quality of an answer or question. Nothing more, nothing less.

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    I've noticed this trend too, and it is very disturbing. In general you shouldn't be asking people to vote for things; meta being the only exception I can think of, since there's no reputation and it deals with important policy changes. I know a lot of people take reputation here very seriously. I don't. That's ok, but don't be so childish that you need to go out of your way to get votes. Thank you.. – Seth Apr 24 '16 at 19:36
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    100% on this one. It's also very annoying when you're the target of those aimed upvotes. You have to politely assume they read and understood your posts, and naturally you feel like you should do the same, which takes time since you don't want to upvote random posts. I fell for that a couple of times, and since then decided I won't again. Please just don't ask that kind of thing, neither explicitly nor implicitly. If you feel someone's posts are worthy, just upvote them in silence. I don't think anyone will have problems in upvoting your posts anyway, if they find them to be good. – kos Apr 24 '16 at 21:22
  • @kos, glad I got this of my chest. have been dragging around with it for some time. .. – Jacob Vlijm Apr 24 '16 at 21:27
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    I've been noticing this for a long while too. Luckily personally I've been dragged in into that kind of thing only a few times, but yeah, it happens pretty often, so I'm glad someone finally said it. – kos Apr 24 '16 at 21:31
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    I second this. It is very annoying. And I also have been an object of this kind of behavior. – Pilot6 Apr 25 '16 at 15:32
  • I thought it was against the rules to do serially upvote someone. I know for a fact that on other Stack Exchange networks, people get suspended for doing so. – TryHarder May 1 '16 at 23:52
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    @oooooo not if you do it carefully enough. – muru May 2 '16 at 20:03
  • This should be on Meta.SE in my opinion. – haykam Aug 31 '16 at 0:04
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My two cents;

Don't browse users, browse questions.

If you're genuinely enthusiast about a user's post, upvote it. Comments shouldn't be used for that, but if from time you time you like a post so much that you feel like letting the user know that you liked it, you won't be pilloried for that.

You shouldn't be serial upvoting a user. Really, don't serial upvote users.

I'm a bit afraid to write the following, because serial upvotes shouldn't be tolerated. I'd like the following to be a good reading for those who bindingly decided they're going to do that regardless already. If you really feel like a user deserves more reputation and you can't be stopped from upvoting more than one user's post, at least please do that under the following constraints:

  • Absolutely, check out the validity of the posts. No one will pillory you for having upvoted deserving posts, but they'll do if you upvote crap (virtually, technically they can't know).
  • If it's an answer, check out also the other answers to the same question, and upvote also all the other useful answers (and downvote crappy answers). That is, at least change your serial upvote to a "serial objective review of Q/As".

And don't let the user know you just serially upvoted their posts. As Jacob and others already said, it just looks fishy and no one likes it.

Finally, if you're upvoting / serially upvoting a user hoping for a return, I'm sorry to say you're here for all the wrong reasons.

Rep is nice, indeed, but what's really nice is a great post. The idea behind voting is primarily to shape the number on the left of the post; in that view, reputation is a just a side effect of that. When voting, you should be focusing only on making that number reflect the validity of the post.

Consider that by doing that well, users' reputation will start to reflect the overall validity of their posts with the best approximation possible.

  • Can tell you don't live in Canada. Two cents rounds down. Unless, of course, you're on credit. – anonymous2 Aug 25 '16 at 15:20
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I do object however strongly to a structural exchange of favours. Probably just inside the limits of what the system allows and detects.

A big issue here is that the system for detecting this has a couple of really basic flaws, which cause it to miss votes on a regular basis and which make it a bit too obvious what those limits are.

I've written a query to identify votes that were overlooked because of these flaws, and am currently running it against past voting data; 192 users were affected, most by only a few votes but some by hundreds - those people greatly affected by this I've sent messages in preparation for some consternation.

This correction should be completed in about an hour; hopefully it puts a stop to the worst of this behavior in the future.

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    I'm not sure I'm understanding. Explain it to me as if I was five? – Braiam Jun 6 '16 at 20:58
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    Ok; you're five and I don't want you to spoil your supper, but there's cookies on the table for later. I point at them and tell you, "don't eat these cookies". So you go into the pantry and eat the rest of the package of cookies, because I didn't tell you not to eat those cookies. Here, we have a system that inadvertently said, "don't vote exactly like that" when it really meant, "don't vote for people, vote for posts". – Shog9 Jun 6 '16 at 21:03
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    This affects only "serial votes" or "targeted votes"? – Braiam Jun 6 '16 at 21:05
  • Both. "Serial vote" always implies "targeted vote". Incidentally, we've kinda moved away from using "serial voting" in the UI because of this confusion. – Shog9 Jun 6 '16 at 21:06
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    @Shog9 But the problem is that if someone posts many good answers, you system considers it as a targeting. But it is not the case. Many people know that I am not a very friendly person ;-) but I am still affectd. – Pilot6 Jun 6 '16 at 21:07
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    No it doesn't, @Pilot6. Forgive me for not being too specific here, but... The detection is based on patterns of voting, not simply "X voted for Y too much". Invalidation once detected is currently somewhat more blunt, but the actual detection is quite conservative even with the corrections I've made. – Shog9 Jun 6 '16 at 21:10
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    But at the same time Y could upvote X too. It still does not mean targeting. It may or may not. – Pilot6 Jun 6 '16 at 21:12
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    @Pilot6 These checks almost certainly aren't that simple. – Undo Jun 6 '16 at 21:17
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    @Undo I think the point he's trying to make is that we don't know. We're used to the implemented system, not to whatever is coming. This may be unnerving to people. – Mast Jun 6 '16 at 21:54
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OK, to spice up the discussion I disagree with your premise: " don't publicly upvote someone, often on multiple posts at once, as an obvious "present""

If upvoting multiple answers from a helpful user is done to reward the user for being helpful, that is absolutely fine. Even more: it is why this site has a reward system... not just to encourage good content, but give good content producers recognition.

I do it from time to time. When someone leaves a super helpful comment, I find a good(!) answer given by the user and upvote it.

That said, this is, as with all morality, a matter of intentionality. If you have the intention to 'receive' votes following your upvotes, that is just daft.

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    Now that is spicing things up :) As you'll understand, I disagree. The voting system is to mark good answers or questions without looking who is the answerer. If you like to reward someone for his or her overall contribution, pick a good answer and award a bounty. I haven't got the slightest doubt on your integrity in how and why you vote by the way. – Jacob Vlijm Apr 27 '16 at 7:44
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    The biggest issue IMO is the fact that people "package" -vote, and make sure the beneficiary is aware of the favour, either inside or outside AU, so the favour will most likely be returned. It is childish cheating, making a joke of the voting system and harmful for the atmosphere, if constantly people around you have a "secret language" (you won't believe it) to announce the "presents", raising each other's reputation for nothing else then reputation itself. – Jacob Vlijm Apr 27 '16 at 8:18
  • I could agree on the matter of intention btw, but the line is thin and since that is hardly measurable in an objective way, we'd need some kind of guideline, which we do. Also, as mentioned: No one on AU has any objection to an occasional sympathizing vote, nor with an upvote just because of the work that might have been involved in writing an answer. – Jacob Vlijm Apr 27 '16 at 8:18
  • Thanks for taking my response seriously. Just out of interest, how do you spot serial up-voters? Do they talk about it in chat? Or do you see rising stars in the user section? I am not sure how I could spot this? Or is this in the mod tools? – don.joey Apr 27 '16 at 10:56
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    I am not a mod, so I cannot use that :) It is mostly combining a number of signals which are all together too obvious to be a coincidence. – Jacob Vlijm Apr 27 '16 at 12:00
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    Votes for an answer should be an indicator as to the quality of that answer. There is no other good reason to upvote. – TryHarder May 1 '16 at 23:56
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    @oooooo I agree with your statement. Only upvote good answers, how and why you find these good answers is a different issue. – don.joey May 2 '16 at 10:22

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