Is this considered a bad thing? i.e. if someone goes through a specific user's questions and casts a close vote on all (or most) of them?

...'cause I'm pretty sure someone is doing that to "Sandra."

Over the last few days, a lot of this users' questions have shown up in the review queue and it seems likely that most of the initial close votes are cast by one person.

I don't think it matters who it is or why I think it's one person... I agree that many of the questions aren't very good, but I don't think that they're all so bad they need to be closed. Based on the other reviews I can see, other people also think the questions are good enough to leave open.

So I'm wondering if SE has a general policy/viewpoint on this... serial downvoting gets reversed reasonably quickly, does or should serial close-voting?

  • Do keep in mind that many users often visit the site at a particular time of day. The asker/closer could just be using the site at the same times? I know I have closed multiple questions from a single user in the past. This isn't me stalking them, it is just a coincidence of them asking questions I think don't belong here at a time I am looking at the site.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 20:01
  • No, I'm talking about someone who is going back through a particular users old questions and voting to close those. Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 20:07
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    Granted, I'm the one going through and closing the crap from the user, but that's what the review queue is for. If you think the questions should be left open, I encourage you to vote to do so. That's why it takes 5 votes to close. Personally, I think tha user posts crap so frequently that they're abusing the system and many of them should simply be outright deleted.
    – Magellan
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 20:29
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    @Magellan: I absolutely don't understand how you come to this conclusion. That users' question are usually clearly formulated, well formatted and easy to understand, she answers requests for clarification and votes and accepts answers. Granted, some questions are on the noobish side and maybe could be self-solved with a little bit more of google-fu, but I prefer those questions over 99% of the random crap by user0815 any day.
    – Sven
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 21:21
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    @SvW You address one of my issues perfectly. If a question can be solved by a simple Google search with a quoted string, it's too elementary for ServerFault and needs to be punted. 80% of what I flagged I feel falls under the category of n00b question. If you disagree, you ALL are free to disagree and vote accordingly.
    – Magellan
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 22:59
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    @Magellan Your comments here and in chat have pretty much convinced me... I accept that you're voting reasonably even if I vote differently on a fair # of the ones you've voted to close. If you feel like it, you could compile a few of your thoughts into an answer and I'll probably accept it. If you don't want to bother, I'll try to compile something and answer myself. Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 3:04

3 Answers 3


As the alleged Serial Close-voter, I will state this:

The user in question has a history of posting astonishingly lazy, zero-research questions and asking (and perhaps shading into expecting) us to do their work for them.

It was believed by some that I was blindly dropping close votes on all of that user's questions, which is not the case. In fact, those with access to the API would be able to confirm that some of the good ones have received upvotes from me from time to time.

As a concerned user of ServerFault I feel it was my duty to go back and drop close votes on crap questions. I strongly feel that means of finding those questions need not be simply the front page or particular tags, and that serial abusers and Help Vampires should not be allowed to hide their habits through such social restrictions.

That user has asked the better part of 200 questions, and a great many of them are garbage. As stated by Voretaq7, I went through them from newest to oldest and dropped a Close vote on all the crappy ones. Considering that this was less than 3 days worth of close votes, it doesn't remotely reach the level of half of that user's questions.

As I said in the comments, if you feel I'm being too harsh in my judgment of quality or usefulness, you are all not only free to but encouraged to disagree with me.

And if for those of you ardent about this on either side, well, best all y'all get your sad carcasses into the /review queues and VOTE.

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    Wouldn't an unintended side effect of this be question banning the user? The system is nebulous enough that we never know when it'll happen Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 23:25
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    It's possible. I don't know how it works either. Perhaps there needs to be more repercussion for primarily posting questions that more closely resemble a steaming pile.
    – Magellan
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 23:29
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    If one person (M) casts an initial vote to close and then a lot someone's (S) questions do get closed, leading to them being question banned, that's probably a good thing. If a bunch of /Reviewers end up closing enough of S's questions to get S banned, then S should either ask better questions or contribute more answers. Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 16:42

If the only reason for closing the question is "Because it was asked by $USER", this is a bad thing.
I certainly hope nobody is going through a user's profile putting close votes on all their questions just because they were asked by that particular user - that would be grounds for a "review queue time-out".

On the flip side, if the questions do not meet the quality standards for Server Fault they should be closed. If someone is going through a user's old questions marking the truly bad ones, that's perhaps not the best use of their time, but not a Bad Thing either.

As to automated processes - I don't believe there is one for close votes at this time. Since close votes require other users to concur there is a sufficient level of quality assurance that automated measures probably aren't necessary.

Mods do have the ability to ban people from reviews if we see a pattern of abuse (I don't think we've used this yet on Server Fault, and hope the situation never arises where we need to).

  • In this case, it'd have to be a close-vote time-out, not a /Reviewing time-out, since it's the initial close vote that may be serial. Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 19:54
  • @Ward I fail to see how this might present a problem which would be going beyond the inherent shortcomings of the review system and question closures. A single close vote will not have immediate negative impact on a question. Moreover, questions with accepted answers tend to only rarely attract additional answers, so there can't be much harm in getting them closed. The only potential source of trouble seems to be the chance of a question ban for the asker, but as the algorithm for this process is opaque, I would not start discussing the consequences before we really see such a case.
    – the-wabbit
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 23:49
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    @syneticon-dj The potential problem that arises is "pile-on voting" - much like with downvotes, a question that has 2+ close votes attracts more, sometimes regardless of the question's actual quality. There's no problem with closing bad questions, but if a substantial number of good questions get caught up in the frenzy it's bad for both the user (mixed message / harassment) and the site (good questions are closed)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 3:19
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    @voretaq7 this is what I would consider a problem inherent to the current review system. While it certainly needs to be fixed, the workaround would not be to tell people off for casting the first vote.
    – the-wabbit
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 7:04
  • It is a very bad thing. Such a moderator is causing discrimination against the user - effectively, a different standard is applied to him/her than to others. Skewed, partial application of a judicial/evaluative process is recognized as a gross abrogation of individuals' rights.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 10:19
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    @einpiklum sorry but where is there moderator involvement here?
    – MDMarra
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 21:21
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    @einpoklum You don't have the slightest idea what you're spouting off about. Try learning how the Community actually works before slandering others.
    – Magellan
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 22:23
  • @Magellan: I was making a purely abstract point, certainly not slandering anyone.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 8:53

The entire Serverfault community is FAR too trigger happy on Close votes. Yes, there are truly crappy questions. But there seems to be no price to "negativity" and the negative vibes are stronger than they should be (or need to be).

  • 8
    Personally I don't think we're sufficiently trigger happy.This has lead to an archive of google material that now attracts far too many hapless, clueless people who can't bet bothered to read for themselves and hence ask even crappier questions drowning out the (very) occasional good one. If we'd been ruthless at the start perhaps we wouldn't have had this problem.
    – user9517
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 6:16
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    Ahh yes, blame the victim. Sure to make a lot of new friends. (And so welcoming!) Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 14:43
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    We're not trying to make new friends. We're trying to attract people who know what they're talking about. Inviting in all the people who don't know what they're talking about is exactly what drives away knowledgable people who don't want to have to repeat themselves a million times every time a new spoollicker can't be bothered to read what has been written before. Are we helping the "victims", absolutely not - but your "victims" are selfmade.
    – Chris S
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 14:59
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    @samsmith: The knee-jerk "blame the victim" claim is a hallmark of the overly PC 1990s USA. Stating that poverty exists is not the same as calling the poor lazy bastards for not pulling their weight. Similarly, Iain's statement that the site has questions that are misrepresenting the purpose of SF is not the same as calling you an ignorant chump for daring to disagree.
    – Scott Pack
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 15:00
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    Guys - this is starting to collect delete votes. Let's not do that. I disagree with this user's stance, so I have downvoted, but I don't think that means that it should be deleted.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 16:38
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    Agreed. Deletion is a little too much like censorship for my liking; leaving it open maximises the community's opportunity to offer feedback (by voting).
    – MadHatter
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 15:19

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