Do we have a troll in our midst?

I have noticed that many times, there are negative votes given to new posts (both questions and answers) that look perfectly fine to me. There is also never an explanation given for why the downvote is given. I know that many people do not do that, but with the shear number of downvotes on new posts, the person acting like the jury should at least say what the criteria are.

Moreover, after sometime, most of these question get both answers, comments and upvotes meaning that I am not alone in thinking that the posts deserve recognition.

For example, this question at the time of posting received two negative posts, no comments describing why the question was wrong and two perfect logical answers that also had a live conversation (people were happy).

My question is whether we could catch this troll and regulate this phenomenon.

• You claim that you have noticed that many times, yet you give only one example - don't feel bad about pointing out questions where this happens - the more, the better; especially when talking/making claims about a trend you're seeing! – dot_Sp0T Jun 26 '18 at 8:33
• Trolling is the art of provoking an outsized response to an action. This is driveby downvoting which is an entirely different matter. – Separatrix Jun 26 '18 at 8:34
• @dot_Sp0T I have noticed this many times, but as I mentioned, I am talking about a phenomenon in which the initial downvotes and very new posts are replaced by some upvotes.The evidence seems to die off. If I catch another example, I will mention this here. – Kavi Vaidya Jun 26 '18 at 10:57
• You might want to make screenshots in addition then – dot_Sp0T Jun 26 '18 at 11:09
• @KaviVaidya Anyone with the established user privilege can see the respective up/down vote counts, in addition to the net votes. On graduated sites, that corresponds to 1,000 rep. – user Jun 26 '18 at 14:09
• Unfortunately when you downvote a question there's no way to provide feedback without attaching your name to it. After being the victim of repeat serial downvoting I never downvote a question and write criticism at the same time. SE could fix this by adding a field in the downvote menu to leave an anonymous critique, but so far they have refused. – SurpriseDog Oct 21 '19 at 19:23

This sort of phenomenon has been referred to as drive-by downvoting, and people have been annoyed by it for years and years.1 It happens across the network, and over time, people have tried to put up barriers to it. It just happens. If you write enough questions and answers, eventually you'll experience it. And it's not coming from a single person.

Why does it happen? shrug. People have different standards for questions and answers; maybe someone thought Question A was poorly written, and maybe someone else thought Question B needed a lot of improvement. Maybe you disagree with them both. That's fine; there's always a degree of subjectivity to voting. We kinda have to learn to accept it. If this was all one person, I'd still be inclined to let them do it. It's not trolling; it's their prerogative to vote how they see fit. It can be annoying, but eh, there's not much we can do.

I do mean that literally: there isn't anything we can do. Votes are designed to be private; even moderators can't see who voted on a certain post. Even if this was all one person, we wouldn't be able to figure it out. Moderators can see large-scale voting trends between users, but beyond that, we can't really see more than the average person.

So for the foreseeable future . . . just write good questions and answers, edit those that need editing, and upvote the ones that deserve upvotes (and the same goes for downvotes).

1 This usually refers to cases where someone didn't explain their reasons for downvoting, for the record. It doesn't mean that the votes weren't justified, or that the downvoter didn't think about things carefully.

• there's also the trend of people giviing upvotes whenever they see downvotes, in order to 'cancel' them. a just as arbitary thing as drive-by downvotes imo – dot_Sp0T Jun 26 '18 at 14:31
• There's also a tendency for people to downvote questions they personally disagree with without actually looking at the quality of the question as a question. I think of it as content voting as opposed to the quality voting we should have. – Ash Jun 27 '18 at 19:26

Looking at the single example you've given and cross-referencing with the help-center post on 'down-voting', this behaviour certainly seems somewhat over the top.

Trying to find a reason for the down-votes and no comments situation, I see that the following part of the help-center post could be applied here:

When should I vote down?

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

Emphasis mine

The referred question is talking about one continent that is regularly flooded under 500 to 1500 feet of water. That is a scott-darn huge amount of water. Even the lower parameter, the 500ft, is taller than most buildings on earth or anywhere where we could get data to do calculations or extrapolations from - thus this could be rated as no effort, or even sloppy.

Another factor would be the frequency of that happening, namely The tides are only extreme once or twice a month. Once or twice a month is definitely not only, at least not for such an extreme event. For such a thing happening, this is quite very often and regular - and someone claiming of wanting to incorporate that into a book should probably be able to do enough preliminary research to understand this (especially when a person such as me can understand this without even wanting to attempt writing full books..)

So no, I do not think we have a troll here. At least not from the evidence given - merely people that do not feel the need to point out the issues they see, because to them they likely are obvious.

• While I agree that the question was not excellent, I always try to leave a comment when downvoting (unless another user has already left a comment that adequately explains the reason for my downvote, in which case another would be simply redundant). I think that comments to improve posts in this way should be encouraged across the site. – Gryphon Jun 26 '18 at 14:16
• @Gryphon what you say is absolutely right and also how the liked article recommends it. i just tried to find, and succeeded in it, a possible reason for the downvotes and absence of comments – dot_Sp0T Jun 26 '18 at 14:25