Does heavy flagging of the post alone mean that it is not a valid answer? Of course respect of POV (Point Of View) is mandatory, but stating our POV should not be viewed as Attack: The fact that it was deleted first for plagiarism in spite of clear attribution on the first line itself and then it was undeleted after doing some fancy quoting. Then this answer was heavily viewed , no one gave the reasons like "this answer does not answer the question". And after some time it was AGAIN deleted for flimsy reason of "this answer does not answer the question".

A valid answer which was heavily viewed and spawned three other questions was deleted:

How can Shi'a Muslims know which Imam to follow?

regarding flagging i came to know it is possible to flag a good answer of opposite sect by a closely knit nexus of preachers, resulting heavy flagging will cause it to change the perceptions of moderator causing him to delete the post. The net effect would be a small group of well knit partisan users can influence the perceptions of moderator and thus influence the content on this site to reflect the POV of this fringe group. How can this be controlled in such a site?

A partisan group can be found utilizing following features :

  • Identify users who have high frequency of upvoting on each others posts
  • Partisan Users who Flag the same posts have a higher proportion of such flags compared to non partisan groups
  • Identify Question followed by an answer by the same user or between two high rep users

1 Answer 1


Moderators have a number of tools at their disposal for finding voting rings such as you are describing. When suspicious behavior is brought to our attention, it is looked into and, when necessary, action is taken against the users involved. Such behavior is considered abusive and not taken lightly.

However, it must be stated that not all apparent "partisan" voting is in fact a problem. I can't speak for other users, but I personally am more likely to cast my votes on those topics (questions and answers) that I actually know. Similarly, Sunni users will tend to vote for Sunni posts, while Shi'a users will tend to vote for Shi'a posts. When dealing with any minority group, this inevitably results in a small group of people sharing a large portion of their votes (and other activity) amongst each other.

The issue of flagging is much the same, and a post that is in no way offensive to a Sunni user can still be seen as offensive to a Shi'a user, or vice-versa. On a site like this, with such potentially volatile differences of opinion, one needs to walk a fine line between being too politically correct, and still being constructive. Exactly where this line is is still vague, but that's part of why we're still in beta. Establishing such policy is what meta discussions are for.

Even if there is unacceptable (and undetected) partisan activity going on, we're still a community-driven site. The power any partisan group has over the site is directly (and inversely) correlated to how much voting everyone else does. The more the community at large votes for what it wants, the less able any small group has of changing the course of the site.

Remember that all moderators are fully accountable for their actions; even if one moderator ends up unfairly influenced or makes a wrong decision, there is very little that he can do that can't be undone by any other moderator. And if any moderator is found to be abusing their powers, they are still accountable to the Stack Exchange team themselves and can be suspended.

Know also that most moderator abilities are the same abilities that are available to any and all high-reputation users. This includes, but is not limited to, deleting (and undeleting) any question or answer. Once the site builds enough high-reputation users to consistently moderate itself without direct moderator intervention, the chances of anybody influencing enough flag-handlers to break the site is significantly reduced.

  • well explained, to prevent such partisan activity one can make the voting rings public at least partially?
    – Islam
    Jan 24, 2013 at 4:52
  • @aliabbas if the moderators feel that making the information public is necessary, we'll announce it (God willing), but this is handled on a case-by-case basis. the anonymity of the voting system is by design.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Jan 24, 2013 at 14:40
  • 2
    Excellent post.
    – Aarthi
    Jan 24, 2013 at 21:49

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