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As a former moderator on one site that deals with religious texts, a user on the three strictly religious sites, and a participant on religious topics that pop up from time to time on other sites, I've come to appreciate votes that reflect objective quality in a post. I personally think atheists are mistaken, but I was happy to upvote an atheist answer to What would it take in a book to convince a rational person that it had been written by or directly inspired by a god? I disagree with the answer's conclusions, but I find it answer useful, well-argued, and (relative to its own standards) plausable. Other than the fact I disagree with it's conclusion, I see no reason to downvote and every reason to upvote. Therefore, it gets my upvote.

Conversely, votes based on agreement or disagreement with a post's conclusion propel a site in a dangerous direction. You can read up on the core problem at:

In essence, a popularity contest serves nobody very well. Votes should reflect the usefulness, relevance, and self-consistency of posts. That might mean downvoting correct answers.


The inverse of this point was brought up a while ago: Disagreement should not be a basis for down-voting and was answered then:

This, of course, goes the other way too: Don't upvote a post just because you happen to agree with it. All voting should be based on how useful the post is, especially to the person asking the question, not whether (you fully believe) it's fundamentally right.

While it may be a given that in order for a post to be useful, it must also be correct, the opposite is not true: A post that is correct is not necessarily useful.

I'm bringing it up again because recently we noticed a small number of users where voting indiscriminately for answers by particular users, reordering the answers, and even bringing negatively scored posts into positive territory. While it might be that voters in this community missed out on a few hidden gems, most of the upvoted posts had obvious unfixed problems noted in the comments. The evidence leaves no other option but that a few people were coordinating voting on posts for the purpose of promoting a particular theology. That behaviour is destructive to the prime directive of this site.

Clay Shirky once wrote:

[The] group structure is necessary to defend the group from itself. Group structure exists to keep a group on target, on track, on message, on charter, whatever. To keep a group focused on its own sophisticated goals and to keep a group from sliding into these basic patterns. Group structure defends the group from the action of its own members.

And in that spirit, I urge you to base your votes on the quality of posts and not on whether you agree with them.

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I have gone through pages and pages reviewing these suspect votes, and not only finding posts which didn't really deserve to be so heavily upvoted compared to the alternatives, but also didn't really deserve to be on the site at all. There were closed questions, link-only answers, answers which the questioner explicitly stated did not answer his question, answers which I could barely even understand because they were so poorly written, the list goes on. Many of these going back to the earliest days of the site and providing little to no value of any sort.

And now, all of a sudden, these posts are all among the top-voted posts available.

If anybody wanted an example of why site curation is so important, I don't think we could craft a better example if we tried. Despite having over three thousand users on the site, and many of these posts being on the site for over a year, these posts had zero flags and zero downvotes. Yet thanks to the concentrated efforts of a small group of users who decided they wanted to push their own agenda, these posts are now representative of the site.

First impressions are notoriously difficult to overcome, and if an expert were to visit this site and the first thing he sees is, quite frankly, garbage — not only being visible, but being promoted and accepted — do you honestly think he'll have any interest in sticking around?

And the worst thing about this whole situation is that it could so easily have been prevented by simply using the tools everyone has at their disposal. A group of four users aren't going to have much luck pushing their agenda if the post they're voting on already has has a score of -5. But when it only has a score of 0 or -1, suddenly a useless post can look far more appealing.

And if the post is already deleted off the site, they can't do anything at all.

I myself am partly to blame for this. I often see posts that I feel should be purged from the site because they either show such a lack of expertise as to be useless, or fundamentally don't even try to answer the question. Yet I have often simply downvote these and leave them, choosing to let the community cast their own votes on the situation: The community can only learn how to self-moderate the site if there's something on the site that actually needs self-moderating, after all.

Since the authors targetted were in most if not all cases non-complacent with (and often wholly unaware of) the voting irregularities, we have chosen not to have the suspect votes invalidated. However, I have already started going through the suspicious vote history and purging any posts which I feel don't belong on the site at all, taking with them any reputation gains (be they suspect or valid) they may have accrued.

Many users will see their reputation fluctuate drastically in the near future if they haven't seen it already, and unfortunately due to the targetted nature of the voting irregularities, many of those users will be Shi'ites; I am sorry about that. But this is something that needs to be done, and which has gone undone for far too long.

I too am a member of this community, and as of now I too will take the same advice to heart: Base your votes on the quality of posts. Despite tying back my own hands I was already the most prolific voter (seriously, I have cast more downvotes alone than any other user has cast total votes) on the site, and that was obviously still not sufficient to ensure the site runs smoothly. Now if I come across a post that I feel needs to be closed or even deleted, I will cast my own vote accordingly exactly like any other member of this community. I for one will not allow a situation like this to happen again, if I can have any control over it.

And I highly recommend each and every other user on this site does exactly the same.

  • I disagree about the garbage part you said. perhaps it is your personal view that is not necessarily correct. there are other users that have praised this site. the moderation of this site needs more tolerance. also if you deleted a post mention the reason to user can improve it and flag it for undelete. I have seen posts deleted by you without mentioning any reason. voting is the right of any user. although some aspects of voting is related to defined qualities of site but still some aspects of a vote depends on personal knowledge of each user. so it is not easy to judge a vote is wrong. – Battle of Karbala Apr 4 '14 at 8:09
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    @BattleofKarbala I will comment if I feel it necessary, but I have frankly had too many users either ignore my comments entirely or take them as an excuse to argue, and few if any actually pay any attention to them. Many of the posts I've already deleted already involved comments from other users offering criticism, advice, and/or warning, which went entirely unactioned for over a year. Many more were for users which had previously been criticised, advised, and/or warned on other posts, which again went unheeded. – goldPseudo Apr 4 '14 at 8:15
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    OK. but still I have seen posts deleted by you without absolutely no comment and no reason for delete. reason for delete is needed to any other user can improve it. not only the original author. specially new users should be treated with more tolerance and they should be helped to learn the tons of rules of this site. and not be treated as an enemy. – Battle of Karbala Apr 4 '14 at 8:20

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