Out of the blue, one or more users downvotes a bunch of my old, dormant, threads.

What is going on here? (note, the issue continues beyond the timeframe shown in the shot below)

enter image description here

  • 5
    How do you know that it was one person? I think that SE developers are the only ones that can tell that, right? I don't believe that mods can even see vote activity of a user.
    – MDMarra
    Oct 16, 2013 at 22:57
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    The fact that the downvotes took place over a period of hours means that they probably weren't all downvoted by the same person. Oct 16, 2013 at 23:19
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    3 of them might have been. Oct 16, 2013 at 23:46
  • @FalconMomot No, if you look at those downvotes on the OP's profile now, the votes were cast yesterday at 22:41, 17:30, 16:45, 16:44. So maybe 2 were cast at the same time by the same person, but that's it. Oct 17, 2013 at 4:07
  • Ok, yes, they probably weren't. Oct 17, 2013 at 5:38
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    This wasn't detected as a case of serial downvoting, so I've reopened the question. Also, mods can see voting activity correlated between users and IP addresses, and there was nothing that stood out here. Oct 17, 2013 at 5:47
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    @MichaelHampton You are correct. It was not detected as serial downvoting. However, if you look at my reputation history over a few months, you can clearly see 6 downvotes on dormant threads that strongly appear to be retaliation for my posts/comments here on meta. Oct 17, 2013 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


Based on the comments and the time the downvotes were cast, it's highly unlikely that it was a single user.

There is no such thing as a settled thread:

  • the Community user randomly pokes old questions so that they show up on the front page
  • people searching with Google will happen on to old questions and add to them
  • people sometimes look at old questions for a given tag or for some other search term


  • When you post something on meta that's not well researched, people will often look at what you've written on the main site to see if what you're saying on meta is backed up by what you've experienced on the main site, or just to see how active you are. (This happens a lot on meta.SO, often with unhappy results.)

In this case, it's certainly possible that you got a bit of unwanted attention, but certainly not to the point that one person has gone wild and downvoted a lot of your posts.

  • Ward, I revised the OP. Oct 17, 2013 at 16:30
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    Whether it's 4 downvotes in one day or 6 over two days, my last point applies: if you call attention to yourself here on meta (as you did, not just with your last couple questions, but with your recent answers and comments on old meta questions), people are likely to look at your posts on the main site to get an idea of who you are. It does seem that the downvotes are connected to your posts here on meta, which sucks a bit, but it's only 12 points. No one's going crazy and downvoted everything they can find that you've ever posted. Oct 17, 2013 at 23:29
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    Ward's point about drawing attention to yourself is correct. Sometimes this works in your favor, and sometimes it doesn't. It wouldn't be entirely true to say that there is no perception bias in play (i.e. they have more/less forbearance based on the original post that they linked in on), but it's business as usual.
    – Andrew B
    Oct 19, 2013 at 5:26

I can answer at least one of them.

I downvoted this one (and none of your other ones, and don't think I ever saw those to be honest):

How to quickly and easily set up and maintain VPN's ? (Have Juniper SSG-140)

Why did it even come up? Someone edited your question and set it to vote close.

I downvoted it after seeing it per the downvote "rules":

This question does not show any research effort...it is unclear or not useful

as well as did my own vote to close...

The reason I voted this way was because reading the question (and being an SME of sorts on Netscreens) I felt the question lacked any research. You didn't post options you were considering such as NSM, etc. You didn't state an Juniper KB articles you found confusing/intimidating (they have full flowcharts and walkthroughs for VPNs, and the GUI on the Netscreens has VPN wizards). It was more of a rant question followed up with an opinion question:

I find setting up new VPN profiles to be a PITA. I have to follow a bunch of steps, test it out, etc etc.

I find running an SSH server is easier as far as new user set up (e.g. the user accounts are in active directory, and there are other easy tings about it.)

Also, your real question was How can I make this easy as pie to administer and manage? which is basically akin to asking a question like "How can I make administering [insert IT tech here] easy as pie to administer and manage?". It became strictly opinion based at that point.

I wouldn't be too concerned about my downvote though...I meant nothing personal against you. It was more along the lines of like Ward states in voting "school" about how/when to vote. It doesn't bother me at all what you've been posting in Meta. I think you have some valid points and some not so much. I would never set out to "get at" someone on the main site or Meta...I have no beef with anyone here and if I did I would address it in chat and not via votes.

  • Thanks for the nice write up. I still get the feeling that the bar on SF is just too high. I am a professional, very experienced sysadmin, but I do very little screenos work. Screenos generally is wonderful. But the vpn setup has always, for me, been tedious. (I have done it maybe ten times, once every several months.) I post a reality check question, got a useful answer. And the community, essentially, thinks I should take my question elsewhere. If only full time screenos admins can post "good" questions on SF, where do the rest of us go? Oct 18, 2013 at 4:21
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    @samsmith - One certainly does not need to be an expert on a topic to formulate a good question on that topic. Asking good questions is a skill like any other, one that can be improved and honed over time. It has nothing at all to do with the subject at hand. I know quite literally nothing about IIS, for instance. If I needed to use it, though, I could come up with any number of well-researched, well-scoped questions about it. This is the standard that professionals should live up to, if not strive for.
    – EEAA
    Oct 18, 2013 at 4:55
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    @samsmith if you spend any time at all browsing the front page for questions to answer you will see that the bar is set very low and sadly many people fail to reach it.
    – user9517
    Oct 18, 2013 at 7:47
  • @samsmith - Honestly, again, the downvote wasn't because you weren't an SME on ScreenOS. The downvote concept for VTC questions is to help remove questions from the archive that aren't really "answerable". The good thing is that nothing is unchangeable. If you want to reword your question so that it isn't looking for opinions and you have specifics...something like "I've looked into NSM but don't want to pay for it, is there a way to grab some ScreenOS cli templates or similar that would allow me to deploy ScreenOS VPNs quicker than going through the GUI screens and trying to remember...
    – TheCleaner
    Oct 18, 2013 at 13:14
  • (continued)...what to put in each field, etc.?" At that point I think you would probably be ok. The way the question was worded IMO was really too open ended. The answer itself didn't answer the question, it was more like "here's how most VPN's go". I digress mate, I've got nothing against you. I think any open discussion here on Meta is worthwhile, and if you believe your stance is right here on Meta stick with it and keep your convictions. My downvote was strictly based on the question as I saw it at the moment I did the downvote. If it hadn't been voted to close I would have...
    – TheCleaner
    Oct 18, 2013 at 13:18
  • (continued) ...never saw it to be honest since it was so old. Why someone found it to begin with and was the first to vote to close it is beyond me...that might be addressed here, not sure.
    – TheCleaner
    Oct 18, 2013 at 13:20
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    OH, btw...fwiw I think the bar is set a little too high as well here, but I also don't make the rules. Shopping questions for instance I think have a place here at times (hence my Area 51 beta). I do get our high rep users take though as well that the more we get deluged with "basic/jr. questions" the more that we end up losing SME's on here as they won't want to participate in just simple questions and won't feel that they can ask questions here and expect an expert high/end answer. It's a conundrum that has been discussed in Meta quite a bit lately, with no great answer/compromise yet.
    – TheCleaner
    Oct 18, 2013 at 13:25

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