Proposal: Home Automation

I notice that every week or two this happens. They never vote down the +20 or +16, and my intuition tells me that it's doubtful that this is because those two are just so awesome. If there aren't enough +10 questions, they'll nail whichever happens to be +9 at that time.

This is always designed to try to nail 5 questions that are moving us to our goal, we only needed 18 when I checked yesterday, now we need 23.

These can't be targeting the question's content (which might be valid), but always those questions just barely over the threshold. If these people wanted to guide the definition of the SE, that seems doubtful too... there are never more questions entered even though they can write up five of their own.

They might be unassociated, or even the same guy who manages to create a new account every week. I have no way of telling.

I'm not condoning strategic positive voting either, but it will take at least one more supporter's worth of upvotes just to counter-act this... if we only get one or two of those per week, they could keep it from going to the next stage indefinitely... which seems like it might be happening, we've long since had the requisite number of followers.

  • possible duplicate of Is a mass down vote vandalism
    – JohnB
    Feb 21, 2014 at 18:27
  • 1
    @JohnB I'm referring to specific mass downvotes, not generic ones.
    – John O
    Feb 21, 2014 at 20:51
  • understood, but I think the response will be the same regardless of how the votes are directed. If you suspect fishy or illegitimate behavior, you can always flag the proposal for moderator attention and ask them to look into it
    – JohnB
    Feb 21, 2014 at 20:54
  • 1
    On reddit.com/r/homeautomation, there is one particular user who tries to discourage everyone from using that forum instead of Cocoontech (or whatever it is). I suspect he is involved in the other website, and tries to use reddit to drive traffic... an SE on the topic might hurt his advertising revenue. I wouldn't be shocked if the same were occurring here. The behavior isn't designed to improve the proposal, but to cause it to linger long enough to be killed for lack of interest.
    – John O
    Feb 21, 2014 at 21:39
  • Is there a way to find out if it is allways a new user? And would it be legal to list theses useres here?
    – smartmeta
    Feb 26, 2014 at 10:00
  • It's always a new user account, they get 5 more votes that way. Whether this means it's a new user... dunno.
    – John O
    Feb 26, 2014 at 13:13
  • 1
    I think the question is very relevant, but I would rather ask what we can do about such behaviour. I wonder if the SE admins could comment on it.
    – texnic
    Feb 26, 2014 at 16:04
  • Since I last checked, now we need 24 questions. The jackasses keep this up, and I suspect that it is either one person or a small group of people responsible.
    – John O
    Mar 4, 2014 at 21:31

3 Answers 3


Actually, it's unfortunatelly by-design.

The problem is not a single user being able to downvote everything (the same applies to every site with little activity), but the fact that downvoting everything is possible, while upvoting everything not.

The number of downvotes should be equal to the number of upvotes, in order to prevent such situations. Or the voting concept should be redefined.

  • They actually get more than 5 downvotes?
    – John O
    Mar 4, 2014 at 21:31
  • 3
    Yes, I tried it on an other proposal page. You can downvote as manay as you like. On that page they needed 15 questions, after my edit they needed 25. But sure, I removed my downvotes at the end. That means that 10 interested guys can upvote 50 (5 each) points altogether, but one bad guy can downvote 50 points (having 50 questions). That is not fair.
    – smartmeta
    Mar 5, 2014 at 22:53
  • We always seem to lose 5 questions at a time... I'm wondering if the bad guy knows he has more. I considered not even making this comment, but if we suddenly lose a bunch of questions at once, perhaps we could convince the mods to intervene.
    – John O
    Mar 6, 2014 at 14:35

The FAQ points out:

If a proposal loses momentum, it may be re-evaluated or merged with similar proposals. Inactive proposals that do not receive any activity for one month may be deleted. Deleted proposals can be re-proposed anew by users with renewed energy and, hopefully, better resources to bring it to commitment.

It turns out the vast majority of proposals fail due to disinterest. Every month we close dozens of proposals with just one follower: the proposer. Proposals that languish in Definition for a year are closed and they tend to fall short because of lack of followers.

The pattern continues. In general:

  • Proposals in commitment fail because not enough people show up.
  • Private betas fail because not enough committers follow through.
  • Public betas fail because participants lose interest.

At the end of the day Soylent Green Stack Exchange is people.

There are some games people play with example questions and to a degree strategic voting (both up and down) violates the spirit of the process. Downvoting questions with scores just short of 10 is the most effective way for one person to slow down the definition stage. But the tactic rarely stops it short because proposals that go on to be successful sites have an abundance of followers to counteract with upvotes.

As a matter of fact, the Home Automation site only needs 18 questions again. At this rate, it will be in commitment in 4 weeks or so. That will give the proposal even more followers ready to push it through commitment:

Home Automation followers as of Feb. 28


The number of people voting (up or down) is always a tiny fraction of people reading a topic.

So, if a organized group of people decides to methodically vote for something, there is a real chance their bullying could skew the results.

Mind, if it's just a single person with a grudge, then it's not going to be a problem.

I'd like to make a distinction

  • it's not a problem if a single person is showing disapproval, even in a "tricky" way
  • it should be "illegal" if a group of people is trying to push its own agenda, as they can in fact deal true damage to the community

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