So this question is currently being looked at for various reasons, but I note the following (I assume Mod) comment:

Hey, guys, voting to close and downvoting don't have to go hand-in-hand. VTC as unclear, and hold off on the downvotes unless you actually think there's something bad or not useful about this question. It doesn't seem to warrant a -3 score to me, at least.

Here are the guidelines on downvoting:

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.

Here is the offending post at time of posting this:

So I'm making a campaign that involves a half-elf named Ebveron being captured by half-ling followers of Nerva and being turned into a lich against his own will & used as a high-level assassin. Until he (finally) after 5 years musters up the courage to escape (WITH HIS PHYLACTERY). Unfortunately this whole "killing people and using their souls" crap doesn't exactly work with him (keep in mind he's a calligrapher/sage & a pacifist) so in complete desperation he make a deal with a grandmother hag and is tricked into staying in a mountain for 35, only breaking out when the party (including his daughter Phina[PC]) kills the hag, and in the process sees him reform in front of his phylactery (i've shortened the time to reform but the mountain is a week away from the nearest town) in turn breaking his illusion spell.


Other facts: at the time of posting this is currently at a stable "0" equilibrium of votes. Last night it was at least at -3. My "downvote" is still highlighted red.

Putting this all together, it seems that the Mods stepped in and removed downvotes on a post that people are voting down because it clearly fits the guidelines of what to vote down:

  • The post is "egregiously sloppy." It includes vast amounts of unnecessary information (such as character names), is an incoherent ramble of a storyboard, and the question itself makes no sense

  • The post is low-effort. It has poor punctuation, poor idea separation, a poorly formed question, poor formatting (E.G. "IS THIS OK!?"), etc

So getting to the final point of the question: Did mods actually remove votes on this question and/or why is it acceptable for mods to remove votes? Why is that even a feature?

Should we consider designing a system to:

  • See how many votes have actually been cast thus far
  • Be able to validate that those votes are real so that someone like myself can ask this question is a less conspiratorial manner

I get that I have some tinfoil going here, but the correlation of the downvotes getting cancelled out and someone saying "hey we shouldn't be downvoting this" is obvious and seems to show that the voting system has been subverted. I have a hard time believing people upvoted this question.

Apologies if the tinfoil is unwarranted here.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ As for your last line: there's no need to apologize. Meta is exactly the right place to bring this sort of good-faith concern/observation. Not only did you get an explanation, but in the future hundreds of other users may learn something from this Q&A. Like me! Today I Learned (prompted by this) that the default showing of only net score is a performance-based choice. With that in mind I assume the 1000-rep level for the "privilege" to see totals was decided based on traffic/number of DB calls SE wanted to "allow." \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Aug 27, 2018 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


Mods can’t and didn’t cancel any votes here

No worries, mods are unable to affect votes. That’s not a feature or power we have. Votes are sacrosanct at RPG.se and people can vote however their consciences are called to.

(Only Staff — Stack Exchange employees who rank above the volunteer mods — can invalidate votes, and then only when revenge voting or similar serious abuses of voting privileges are absolutely confirmed. This is rare enough that I can’t remember when the last time I saw it happen at RPG.se was. Mods don’t have this vote correction power.)

Aside, the user who commented isn’t a mod. You can tell us by the diamond after the name, and there’s a full list of us found by following the link at the end of the help article “Who are the site moderators, and what is their role here?

(Aside to the aside, because voting is sacrosanct here, we’re not fond of seeing anyone on the main site telling people how to vote. I’ve deleted that comment. How to best use votes does get discussed here on meta, but on main it’s rarely appropriate to tell others how to vote.)

Yes, people did upvote it

What happened here is others have upvoted. The score shows the total of up- and downvotes, so at a score of zero you’re seeing an equal number of upvotes and downvotes. Currently that question is sitting at +3/−3 for a net Post Score of 0:

A close-up screenshot of the vote buttons and score beside the question under discussion. The score has been clicked, so instead of showing “0” between the two vote buttons, it shows a green “+3” and a red “−3”.

With 1,000 reputation, you’ll unlock the “Established User” privilege and be able to see the actual vote totals split out by direction like that.

But why are there any upvotes?

Why would anyone upvote though? I can only guess, but I’ve seen enough around here to offer a reasonable guess: they objecte to the downvotes and wanted to balance them out.

Is this a good reason? I don’t think so, but it’s their vote, so they can vote that way if they want. Personally, I think it’s a bad idea because it’s not neutral to cancel votes this way: a downvote plus an upvote may cancel out in the score, but they’re asymmetrical in reputation: a downvote is −2 at most (and −0 when they’re still at 1 rep) but an upvote is +5 on a question, leaving this asker with (what I think is) an unearned +15 reputation. Sure, they can’t do much with 16 rep and they’re unlikely to get anywhere near important privileges without turning out to be a good community member, but it does personally irk me to see that side effect of people voting to balance downvotes on what I think is a pretty downvote-worthy question regardless of whether it’s hold-worthy.

Other may not have thought about that effect, or they may (with some truth) deem that side effect small or unimportant enough to not matter. This is why I stress “personal” in my view in the previous paragraph: again, votes are sacrosanct and I can’t assume that those voters are voting badly, just that I disagree with their valid votes — and if I wish, I can vote my conscience. ;)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Many thanks! I'm glad to see that the actual votes get shown eventually. Strange that it's locked behind 1000; but that's encouraging. Thank you for the additional tidbits of information that led to my posting \$\endgroup\$
    – blurry
    Aug 27, 2018 at 18:30
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @blurry Apparently, for whatever reason, it’s relatively expensive (as in, not really but then multiply by the amount of activity on the Stack Exchange network and it adds up) to display the vote breakdown. Something to do with how each is stored in the database. Anyway, the solution here was just to gate that behind 1,000 rep so that only whatever-percent of users could actually use it. It’s purely a technical concern. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 28, 2018 at 3:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan IIRC the post score is a single pre-computed column of the question record (easy to retrieve directly), while the individual votes are spread across their own vote records (have to be all retrieved and the split totals recalculated on demand, possibly with some caching). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2018 at 5:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ That’s the real problem with democracy - while you and I are mature, rational and insightful, other voters are idiots. How can I tell, because they have the same opinion about me! :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Dec 7, 2018 at 10:35

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