I've been downvoted unfairly at least 26 times in one of my recent answers.

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This is bad because if my answer was really rubbish, why would the three voters upvoted my answer?

The problem started when my answer started at -1. I was unlucky that my first response was a downvote, otherwise everything else would have been fine.

This meta-post is similar.


It has been my experience on multiple answers and even on closure votes on questions that unreasonable downvoting occurs like a flock of geese landing on a pond, more of a follow-the-leader activity, as contrasted to independent, original, individual thought.

What can we do to discourage the bandwagon effect here?


Thanks for the responses by our mods and everybody else. May I please remind the following comments by a user:

this excellent answer got 29 downvotes, so it does happen, I don't think it's a huge issue though, I usually only get around 10 downvotes

We have independent data to confirm gang downvoting does happen. I'm not trying to cause trouble here, just trying to point out the possibility.

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    Do you really think insulting people who downvoted your answer is going to help at all? – enderland Sep 27 '18 at 1:14
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    @ElysianFields Sorry, how did I insult? The link I posted was written by someone else. I claim unfairness, that's all. – HelloWorld Sep 27 '18 at 1:15
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    Perhaps you should consider how describing everyone who downvoted you is a "flock of geese" can be considered an insult. Maybe it's just me, but being compared to a goose... doesn't exactly fill me with warm fuzzies. – enderland Sep 27 '18 at 1:23
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    @ElysianFields while what you say is fair, perhaps we should all in-turn consider how bandwagon downvoting doesnt fill others with “warm and fuzzies”... – user30031 Sep 27 '18 at 3:09
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    Why do you assume that the three are right and the 26 wrong, rather than the other way around? (This question is based purely on your meta question; I haven't looked at the specific case yet.) – Monica Cellio Sep 27 '18 at 3:13
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    I just noticed that you have cast, on main, 211 upvotes and 3177 downvotes. (On meta those numbers are 3 and 80 respectively.) . How do you reconcile a position that downvotes are "unfair" with your own activity? – Monica Cellio Sep 27 '18 at 3:17
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    @MonicaCellio that was completely unfair and it seems borderline vindictive. Can you prove that any of those votes were “bandwagon” votes? – user30031 Sep 27 '18 at 3:40
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    My voting pattern has nothing to do with this question. – HelloWorld Sep 27 '18 at 3:43
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    I'll be honest: if I had enough rep to downvote, I'll downvote your answer because I disagree with your premise. That's all. – Andrew T. Sep 27 '18 at 7:02
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    Is ganging up with downvotes actually a problem here at The Workplace? I haven't noticed a lot of that happening. I don't see a whole lot of answers with a lot negative votes. – Joe Strazzere Sep 27 '18 at 12:12
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    "I was unlucky that my first response was a downvote, otherwise everything else would have been fine." - do you have any evidence that an initial +1 would have changed anything? Do you see that in your other answers to other questions? – Joe Strazzere Sep 27 '18 at 12:23
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    it works both ways, we also have an issue with gang upvoting... que sera sera.... not worth bothering about. If there is a pattern where you specifically are being targeted that would be different and I'm sure the mods would step in pretty quickly. – Kilisi Sep 27 '18 at 13:08
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    @DoritoStyle not vindictive. The OP is arguing that downvotes are unfair, but since the OP also heavily downvotes I must be missing some additional consideration, hence my request for clarification. Obviously the OP doesn't believe downvotes are bad, so I'm confused by the question. Perhaps the objection is to initial downvotes and the OP only downvotes posts that have been upvoted? I don't know; I'm trying to understand what the question or request here is. – Monica Cellio Sep 27 '18 at 15:35
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    I just went to all the trouble of seeing what the fuss is about and I worked it out. It's the vindictive gamer question. You only got 31 downvotes, some of which may possibly perhaps have been unjustified, but it also got 3 upvotes which are totally unjustified so it evens outs... problem solved... totally different scenario to this excellent answer which somehow got 36 downvotes (probably database error) – Kilisi Sep 27 '18 at 22:49
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    But it is a bad answer in my opinion. Does not matter you think it is excellent. You have a number of bad answers. – paparazzo Sep 28 '18 at 13:53

People downvoted your answer because they think it is a bad answer.

If you want to avoid the "bandwagon effect" don't write an answer which the majority of people who read think is bad advice.

Specifically, this part is just a bad idea (and you do not attempt to explain how the OP should do it nor why it's a good idea):

Consider to send an anonymous "tip-off " (described in the article) to the HR. Add a video of the incident if you have any. Your workmate has a senior position, he needs to take responsibility for his actions.

Some reasons your answer is bad:

  • You do not explain how doing this will not result in negative repercussions for the OP
  • You do not address the OP's actions at all
  • You do not justify why the OP should follow your advice
  • The article you compare it to involves prostitution (including Nazi related stuff) - this is a game and you do not address the drastically different impact on company image that result from the OP's situation and the article you link
  • You specifically call out the OP's coworker as engaging in certain levels of "integrity issues" and ignore how the OP behaved

These are all unrelated but valid reasons for downvoting your answer. Given that it was on the Hot Network Questions list, it's unsurprising many of the other viewers see some of these or perhaps even other reasons to downvote.

This is bad because if my answer was really rubbish, why would the three voters upvoted my answer?

People upvote bad content all the time for a whole manner of different reasons. Sympathy upvotes, clicking the wrong button, etc.

I would not make the assumption that since almost 11% of those that felt compelled to vote on your answer gave it an upvote that it is somehow a good answer.

Answers on Workplace overwhelmingly receive upvotes vs downvotes.

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    Come now, surely you don’t think bad answers are the only reason for bandwagon voting – user30031 Sep 27 '18 at 3:11
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    Perhaps not always. But when an answer very well could get someone fired by following it, without any mention of this, I guess I'm not overly worried about how much people choose to "bandwagon" vs simply voted based on the answer itself. – enderland Sep 27 '18 at 3:35
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    ok. Although, as a mod, i think you should consider if you’ve oversimplified things in order to shame OP here. – user30031 Sep 27 '18 at 3:38
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    What? He wanted to know why his answer is down voted. I explained why. It's possible OP is trolling here, in which case I wasted time answering. But bandwagon as the OP describes very rarely does not happen on answers without major issues, often multiple. – enderland Sep 27 '18 at 3:45
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    When I have to ask a mod to assume good intent, then yeah i think questions like this are a little less surprising. – user30031 Sep 27 '18 at 3:47
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    The fact that I bothered to even write an answer indicates I assumed good intent and that smallchess actually was interested in understanding why their answer was down voted. Unless you're saying that pointing out a strawman argument is somehow not becoming of a mod? – enderland Sep 27 '18 at 3:49
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    Accusing a user of possible trolling really isn’t becoming on a mod in my opinion. Neither is not taking requests for thoughtfulness at face value. – user30031 Sep 27 '18 at 3:51
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    If you feel like there is a better answer for the question raised by the OP, feel free to add your own here. – enderland Sep 27 '18 at 3:52
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    Having mods take us seriously would be a good start, but that seems unlikely right now – user30031 Sep 27 '18 at 4:27
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    @DoritoStyle Three mods so far have spent a fair amount of time to answer and comment on this question in good faith and significant detail. How do you interpret that as "us" not taking "you" seriously? What more do you expect from us? – Lilienthal Sep 27 '18 at 7:37
  • @Lilienthal this was not good faith. – user30031 Sep 27 '18 at 14:10
  • @DoritoStyle I believe we'll have to agree to disagree on that. As always, if you have concerns about the actions of the moderator team that you feel are not or cannot be resolved on meta, please contact the Community Team. – Lilienthal Sep 27 '18 at 15:10
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    @DoritoStyle how would you suggest responding to a question which is based on false assumptions in "good faith?" My assumption is the OP wants to understand why their answer was so heavily downvoted. If they want to make a strawman argument or just troll this site (perhaps they don't actually care why their answer was downvoted, etc) my response would be very different. I am operating under the assumption that the OP's interest in understanding this situation is sincere. If you would prefer, I can change my response here to not assume good intent... (1/2) – enderland Sep 27 '18 at 15:16
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    ..but assuming good intent doesn't mean, "you are absolutely right without question." You seem to think that because I disagree with the OP, that is somehow wronging them or not answering in good faith. It's the same problem that is happening to the OP: they think they are right, self describing their answer as being unfairly downvoted, and asking why it is being "gang downvoted." Unless they are open to their answer actually being considered wrong/a bad idea by most people, they will feel wronged no matter what I type into this box other than, "yes, it happens, you were wronged." (2/2) – enderland Sep 27 '18 at 15:19

There's a numbers thing going on here.

The question for your answer has gained over 30,000 views, and the top three answers share over 1,000 votes between them.

To the majority of people, the answer to this question is relatively straight-forward - what happens outside of the workplace generally stays outside of the workplace. This is about someone yelling at someone they don't know on the internet; it's not about a bank employee committing tax fraud (which is the story of your linked article).

This is basically why you garnered downvotes here - you proposed an answer that people felt was obviously wrong and downvoted accordingly because they felt it was bad advice.

There's also reputation to take into account. People who frequent this site get to know who also frequents the site. People get a reputation for providing thoughtful, high-quality answers, some for being on-target and direct, some for being concise and clear. Unfortunately, the majority of your answers have negative scores and the can predispose people to assume that your answers are going to be low-quality in nature.

Monica pointed out in a comment your voting pattern, where the vast majority of votes you give are downward in nature. You say this isn't relevant, but unfortunately, it is. Even before I was a moderator, I noticed odd single downvotes on otherwise successful questions. When I looked at the answer, I noticed that other answers all had a downvote each. It didn't take a lot to figure out the pattern. If I can work it out, then I'm sure a lot of other people have too.

Although downvotes should only be cast if the voter believes that the answer offers bad advice, people do vote for personal reasons as well.

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    For example, if a particular user has a habit of giving questionable advice.... – Mister Positive Sep 27 '18 at 12:19

For what it's worth I'm one of those 26 people and I can categorically state that I downvoted your answer for no other reason than the fact that I believed it to be a terrible answer that gave extremely poor advice. I'm sorry if you feel unfairly treated by that but all I can say is that I vote on answers based purely on their content, not on the score they already have.

I don't know the motivations of the other 25 downvoters and I'm not going to presume to speak for them.

While I'm sure downvote bandwagons have occurred on this site and will no doubt happen again, looking at the relative rarity of large numbers of downvotes on TWP it doesn't appear to be a huge problem - which is good because I imagine it would be remarkably difficult to stamp out completely.

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    Yup, this ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ – Mister Positive Sep 27 '18 at 17:24
  • I am one of the other 25 downvoters. From his other answers I originally assumed that the OP was being satirical, but no, he's totally serious. I almost never downvote, but this guy and vietnhi phuvan (from a couple years back) attract downvotes to a comical degree. – teego1967 Oct 2 '18 at 0:24
  • FWIW, it's not "a bad answer" as much as just really bizarre and aggressively negative. A bad answer can be explained away as a misunderstanding but not what the OP says. – teego1967 Oct 2 '18 at 0:29

What can we do to discourage the bandwagon effect here?

The design and gamification of the site tend to encourage bandwagon effects. Displaying net points, ordering answers by score, rewarding the first response, badges, chit-chat rooms, etc - all make it easier for folks to jump in quickly with upvotes, downvotes, close votes, comments, etc. Thoughfulness and tempered responses aren't rewarded quite as much.

So if we really wanted to discourage these effects, we wouldn't provide so much visual feedback. We might modify how reputation points are used. We would downplay much of the gamification throughout the site. We might limit comments. We'd work to slow down responses. Lots of possibilities.

But none of those are actually going to happen. Gamification is what this site is all about.

That said, I don't know how much of a real problem we have at The Workplace. I'd like to see someone run a query or two to find out how many answers have been severely downvoted in the first place.

And of course it's hard to prove that "bandwagoning" actually took place for any one question/answer. This particular question attracted a lot of attention ("gamer questions" do that, I suspect), a lot of votes on several answers, a lot of strong comments, and clearly a lot of strong feelings. Thus, it wouldn't be surprising to find one answer attracting a lot of negative votes.

It's hard to label all downvotes as "unfair". And the site has lots of downvotes on lots of answers. This particular question had several answers that were downvoted. I think it's clear that not all the downvotes could possibly be unfair.

In this instance, I'm not sure there is actually a problem that needs to be solved. It seems to me that @Snow 's query bears that out.

  • Agreed. Bad answer = lot's of downvotes. – Mister Positive Sep 27 '18 at 12:40
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    @MisterPositive - well I'd like to see a query run that counts how many answers here have attracted at least 26 downvotes. Any site with lots of members will have lots of bad answers. It's not clear that many bad answers collect this many downvotes. – Joe Strazzere Sep 27 '18 at 12:43
  • In this case, the question got a ton of views which is why I think the votes are what they are. – Mister Positive Sep 27 '18 at 12:45
  • @MisterPositive - that seems likely. – Joe Strazzere Sep 27 '18 at 12:53
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    @JoeStrazzere There's a data query for that. – user44108 Sep 27 '18 at 13:08
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    @snow - thanks. I would have expected more than just 13 answers with at least 26 downvotes. That indicates to me that we don't really have a pervasive problem with "ganging up" in this manner. – Joe Strazzere Sep 27 '18 at 19:53
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    Fundamentally, this is about an unpopular answer on a very popular question. It’s not unreasonable to expect some extreme voting simply because of the amount of viewers. As you’re well aware, there are automatic measures that trap targeted voting patterns. – user44108 Sep 27 '18 at 20:12
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    @Snow - I'm not aware of automatic measures. But I'm simply not seeing a pattern of ganging up with downvotes. If a single initial downvote actually triggered such ganging up, I'd expect a lot more highly-downvoted answers that I see. It might have happened in this particular instance, but I see no evidence that it did. It's fun to speculate, but that shouldn't move us to action. – Joe Strazzere Sep 27 '18 at 20:20
  • Note that as of right now, there are 14 answers with at least 26 down votes, but only 7 of them have a negative score! I made a small modification of the query to see that. – clem steredenn Dec 4 '18 at 14:06

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