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For quite sometime now, I am seeing a very alarming trend here. Wrong/incorrect answers are being upvoted, quite a lot.

I have seen some answers lately, that deserve downvotes without any doubt, but to my surprise they are upvoted (more than twice in some cases).

I am not talking about partially incorrect answers, just the answers that are plain wrong and deserve to be downvoted, or not upvoted at least. I'm afraid this won't help us at all as we are loosing quality and stature of this site undoubtedly.

I am seeing this trend for quite a while now, this is not something random. Again it is really not something that we can control (can we?), apart from downvoting with comment; Nevertheless I will feel good to get this one off my chest.

What to make of this?

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    I too have seen this, it seems to me people are not checking answers before they vote on them, just "that looks about right +1" In this example all it took was for me to look in the PPA given to see it was wrong, no 16.04 packages but it had +2 askubuntu.com/questions/781283/… I just voted down and commented, what else can we do? – Mark Kirby Jun 11 '16 at 17:50
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    "it is really not something that we can control" - downvoting incorrect answers, and, more importantly, leaving a comment for the poster and others, is definitely something that can be done, and should be encouraged. Matt Kirby: "what else can we do?" - encourage others to do the same, and encourage answerers not to post incorrect information. But how ? – JonasCz Jun 11 '16 at 18:00
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    @MarkKirby, I should have worded that better, "Encourage users to check that what they're posting is correct". I don't think there's any malicious intent, just folks not checking what they post, I agree. – JonasCz Jun 11 '16 at 18:11
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    "even marked as accepted." remember that the OP is the only one that can accept answers. The community can not. – Braiam Jun 11 '16 at 18:19
  • @Braiam sorry, that portion is misleading in the context. Removed. – heemayl Jun 11 '16 at 18:26
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    @MarkKirby absolutely spot on. Two things come to mind straight away: 1.they don't know that the answer is wrong 2. They don't check the answer properly – heemayl Jun 11 '16 at 18:28
  • @JonasCz that's the way to go and I believe any experienced user would do that but again the next reader could overlook the comment and give an upvote based on current positive voted again without reading properly:( – heemayl Jun 11 '16 at 18:30
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    @JonasCz On a funnier note, once I downvoted an answer of a 500+ rep user leaving a comment with the reason. Guess what, he went ahead and downvoted all my questions on all sites he has an account on :) – heemayl Jun 11 '16 at 18:49
  • That's the exception though - most people will be grateful if you point out an error in their answer. – JonasCz Jun 11 '16 at 18:54
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    There is another factor I believe contributes to why these answers get multiple votes and not just one but I can't prove it or even research it, it is just my observation. There is a "jumping on the band wagon" type effect, where one user up votes (this applies to down votes too) an answer and others come along and think "this got a vote, so I will vote it too". This is not just an AskUbuntu thing though, it is human nature "My friends like X, so I like X too because I want to fit in". Like I said, there is no way for me to prove this but I think I observe it a often. – Mark Kirby Jun 11 '16 at 19:11
  • The issue this creates is, one vote is negligible but two or three or four is more of a consensus and makes a bad answer look good. – Mark Kirby Jun 11 '16 at 19:13
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    @JonasCz "most people will be grateful if you point out an error in their answer" In my experience it is about 50/50 on that, you just never know how people will react to being told they are wrong :/ Many user won't comment on down votes because so many people react in an aggressive manner. – Mark Kirby Jun 11 '16 at 19:36
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    @MarkKirby That's a very good observation. Another reason is voting on person instead of the content of the answer. One could easily think that, "this answer is written by X, so must be correct, I don't have to go through it..let's just upvote !!" – heemayl Jun 11 '16 at 19:45
  • @heemayl I can see that too, the problem is, there is nothing we can do to combat this, people will always want to fit in and follow the trends. – Mark Kirby Jun 11 '16 at 19:48
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    I often see very low quality answers with upvotes, meaning I'm not able to flag them as such if they have more than one upvote (that I can't reverse with a downvote)... Which is related to this. – user364819 Jun 12 '16 at 17:41
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Yeah some things look right (so attract votes for effort) but are technically incorrect. It happens to anybody who answers enough on the site.

There are things you can do that are genuinely useful:

  • Leave a comment. Explain what is wrong and why. Be technical. This lets the poster and other potential voters know. They can fix it, or even explain why they think you're wrong. A technical debate isn't automatically a bad thing.
  • Push that home with a downvote. This adds urgency for the poster.
  • If it's dangerously* wrong or an otherwise unsalvageably awful answer, flag it under one of the quality flags. But make sure you also leave a comment, or edit in a warning. The OP might see the answer before we see the flag.
  • If the user shows a wanton disdain for detail (ie they've posted this sort of stuff many times) use a custom "moderator attention" flag on the best example you can find and tell us the problem. There might be a bigger problem (eg sock puppets).

But don't call them an idiot (that's against the rules) or harass them across multiple posts. Keep your contact brief and technical. If it's a sustained issue, let us deal with them out-of-band.

* By dangerous, I mean an answer that tells the user to do something that a layman might not understand and in its raw form could easily lead to the loss of data. While rm -rf / variants are borderline offensive, there are milder examples of mistakes that could still cause harm. These can usually be edited to be safer but if they're also technically incorrect, flag them for the mods to dispose of. No mod is going to fight you because it wasn't dangerous enough.

  • for clarification, by dangerously wrong we mean wrong in such a way it would pose a critical security problem, or run the risk of torching the system completely, right? (This was always my interpretation of this point, but I want to clarify :P) – Thomas Ward Jun 13 '16 at 14:49
  • @ThomasW. This is how i would interpret it, the problem here is to find a path of informing the person of their error and maintain professionalism in the way how you do it. – Videonauth Jun 13 '16 at 14:54
  • @ThomasW. Yes. Dangerous to the system/data but also technically wrong (otherwise you could edit it, add a notice or deactivate the dangerous parts) – Oli Jun 13 '16 at 15:00
  • @Oli thanks for the clarification :) – Thomas Ward Jun 13 '16 at 15:04

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