I recently received a downvote without comment on a question and all of its answers, which are good independent of the value of my question imo. I’ve also had two other questions receive similar singular downvotes with the (good) answer on the latter question also downvoted.

I had written all this off as unfortunate but necessary byproducts of anonymity, however the discussion in the comments here raised my eyebrows — it seems that this recent phenomenon is not isolated to my posts.

I’m not entirely sure what to propose we do about this, if it is one individual or a small group of them. I agree that anonymity in down voting is essential and it would be burdensome to have to put in an explicit reason each time we downvote, but it seems generally discouraging to the spirit fostered on MO to have unexplained (and apparently unjustified) downvotes unchecked and on the rise.

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    $\begingroup$ Moderators and users with 25k+ reputation can have access to site analytics where they can see whether there was an increase in number of downvotes. I have created also two simple SEDE queries which show number of downvotes per month and per day. $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2019 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ When looking at those results, you should keep in mind that the data in SEDE are only updated once a week. Of course, with SEDE one can do also further analysis - if somebody has time to look into that. (For example, it can be checked which users get largest numbers of downvotes, whether there are more downvotes in some tags than others, etc.) $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2019 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ My personal impression is that also number of close votes was recently higher than usual. I don't know a way to count close votes directly, but they are reflected in close vote reviews - here are the numbers per month and per day. Feel free to ping me in chat if some other similar stats might be useful. $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2019 at 11:09
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    $\begingroup$ Well, I certainly have my strong suspicions who is doing the downvoting on the first, and maybe the third question. It's very likely on the basis of a particular tag, which the user is now scouring looking for things to downvote, in a fit of pique. But since this is speculation, that's all I'll say for now. Just know that we're watching... $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Mar 29, 2019 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ This is probably unrelated, but I noticed that this question of Carl Mummert on MSE got five unexplained downvotes. I don't have the slightest idea why, and I find this very perplexing. (Perhaps people who, unlike me, know some logic can guess the reason for the downvotes, but even if this reason exists, I find disturbing that none of the downvoters cared to give an explanation.) $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2019 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ When it seems that some individual or small group has gone on a downvoting spree, my feeling is that the best course of action is to flag one of the downvoted questions or answers for moderator attention, detailing the untoward activity you've spotted. The moderators have the tools to do something about it (if they find merit in your accusations), while there's not much other users can do beyond offering sympathy. $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2019 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ Your vigilance is much appreciated Todd, I think moderators keeping a finger on the pulse of these things and intervening at their own discretion is probably the best solution. Thank you for the suggestion Gerry, I wasn’t aware I had that recourse and will use it moving forwards. $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Mar 30, 2019 at 3:55
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    $\begingroup$ -1. You take an example of serial downvoting with malicious/trolling intent, and then use it to go on a crusade against unexplained downvotes in general. I think that this is a fallacious generalization. The ability to leave downvotes without explanation is on the Stack Exchange network by design. I can understand how you feel, and I am sympathetic, but as it stands, this question is ill-posed. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2019 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Your downvotes statistics probably should be normalized to account for changes in traffic. For instance, the downvotes / upvotes ratio would make more sense as a measure, in my opinion. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2019 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni I’m not sure how we objectively differentiate ‘serial downvoting with malicious/trolling intent’ from giving a bunch of downvotes without explaining them, but I don’t see the above as a ‘crusade’ against either of them. I think anonymous and even unexplained downvotes have a healthy place on MO, but it seems like there’s been a recent negative trend felt by multiple community members so I started this thread as a place to discuss it openly and gain some clarity. $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Mar 31, 2019 at 1:14
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    $\begingroup$ A few days ago I received an unexplained downvote on an old question. This actually inspired me to ask another question in a similar spirit. I promptly received a downvote and a close vote without explanation. All I can say is: if the serial downvoter / close voter is trying to discourage something, I think they'll find their plan backfires. Edit: now I see my situation was already linked in the OP! $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Apr 1, 2019 at 7:38
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with the point of the question, which concerns a multiple number of downvotes, probably by a single user. If one user complains about several downvotes on his own questions, this is a distinct topic, and should be treated separately. Or at least in a separate answer, instead of ten comments here. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Apr 3, 2019 at 11:07
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    $\begingroup$ I would appreciate it if we kept things as civil as possible here; passionate disagreement is natural in any academic discipline, but we’re all mathematicians (a small minority on this rock) — we should circle the wagons and support each other where possible, not weaken ourselves from the inside with insignificant disputes. $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Apr 4, 2019 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ Separating out the pieces that are strictly mathematical and bringing them here is a good practice imo and I look forward to contributions like that, but bringing the whole case here for something that isn't strictly mathematical is generally not (I think) a post that individuals on MO want to spend time reading -- a link to a personal blog in your bio or some such is something I think I've seen on other profiles and is fine, but there's a sharp difference between leaving an avenue open for people to explore your positions and trying to foist your views on other people. $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Apr 9, 2019 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Apr 9, 2019 at 21:43


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