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I left an admittedly rude comment on an answer earlier today (requires privilege to see deleted post). I chose quite poor wording and offended the answer poster. While drafting an apology comment, the poster then deleted their answer (at 4:20 UTC). Since SE isn't like a forum and I didn't really have another way to deliver an apology, I felt bad but I had to move on.

Then I noticed I received a spree of 9 rapid-fire down-votes (between 4:27 UTC and 4:30 UTC) on a bunch of my questions and answers over the past couple weeks, including at least one answer that is objectively factual and one answer that involved a lot of research effort.

I'd prefer if these two events are unrelated and that the timing is coincidental... but I doubt it when separated by only 7 minutes. It's infeasible that all 9 of those down-votes were cast in the span of 3 minutes by 9 different users on questions and answers posted on different days. I don't know whether it was retaliatory or not, and the reputation loss isn't substantial, but I'm concerned about the cause and possible repercussions.

What do I do (or what does somebody do) about this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ [Related] What is serial voting and how does it affect me? \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Feb 16 at 5:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ So I shouldn't really have posted this at all or at least not yet. Thank you for the link. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 16 at 6:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's always okay to ask questions about how the site works! At the absolute minimum we now have an RPG meta signpost to the general Stack meta answer. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Feb 16 at 6:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder I'll take full blame. I went on a downvoting spree with the intent to then go back and upvote the questions as a way to calm down and zen. I'm only a month in and was not aware that the votes got locked after a few minutes. Sorry. I hope the downvotes got undone because some of the answers are actually very good. \$\endgroup\$ – Miles Bedinger Feb 16 at 19:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll take the opportunity to share the apology I had typed up, which I saved for later: I am sorry that I offended you with my comment. My wording was definitely rude. Please let me clarify my intent. I downvoted your answer because the first sentence very strongly says that one does not forfeit attacks in 5e, unaware that similar language is in fact used in Commander's Strike. "Disingenuous" was an incorrect word choice. I meant that the answer, as summarized in the first sentence, is "misleadingly absolute," not that you were being insincere or hypocritical with it. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 16 at 19:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ This isn't really the place to argue about that particular question/answer, of course, but there it is anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 16 at 19:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MilesBedinger I would actually suggest you should undelete your answer. It's not a bad answer. I would have retracted my down-vote if revised to use less absolute wording (which is something I could have conveyed clearly with an actionable suggestion rather than being snappy like I was). Your suggestion for how to word the feature is helpful, and SSD deleted our unkind comments, so I think the answer deserves a chance to live. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 16 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ The serial voting has been automatically reversed, so all is well. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 17 at 3:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ The mild irony of this is that the attention very likely netted you more than enough upvotes to makeup for the serial downvotes. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Feb 22 at 19:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 You'd think that, but I actually still only got 2 upvotes total on the high-effort answer and a trickle on the easy/correct answer. But I'm okay with that, because fishing for upvotes certainly wasn't my intention. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 22 at 19:05
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I recognise you've read and checked What is serial voting and how does it affect me? as linked in comments, but I'll leave this here for a general answer as well:

Every night around 03:00 UTC, a voting fraud detection script is run that looks for patterns such as these. It basically looks for users who have voted on another user's posts many times. The threshold number is fairly low within a given amount of time (the exact mechanics are kept secret). When the system detects this pattern, all of the votes cast from that user to the user affected are reversed, and a "voting corrected" event is added to the affected user's reputation history to indicate what has occurred.

In about 17 hours that script will run, check for serial downvotes, and reverse any it finds. If one user has downvoted you a ton, the script will almost certainly reverse them.

If you believe you're a victim of serial downvoting and more than 24 hours later there's no record in your reputation history of the votes having been reversed, please raise a flag (on anything, such as one of your own posts that was downvoted) and let us know and we can reach out to have it investigated and (if there really was serial voting) corrected.

P.S. If I'm ever in a situation where I want to reach out to somebody but their post was deleted, I might do so by leaving a comment on something else they've posted, if possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Worth copying into this answer also the good advice you gave in chat when (this) OP asked about how they might leave an apology-comment? Or maybe that's just conflating too-separate issues. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Feb 16 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60: Just once I want to see the reaction when the serial downvoting algorithm doesn't work. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Feb 16 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Joshua It’s not perfect and I gather that it has rare misses. There’s a standard message template mods can send to CMs to let them know there’s a manual vote invalidation for them to do, so all the bases are covered. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 16 at 16:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Good idea, added. I've also added a note about what SSD said. ^ \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 16 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the post-script. In this case, since the other person posted a comment on this question, I was able to deliver the apology. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 16 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, theoretically, if one were to serial vote, the most inconspicuous way to do it is by spanning the votes across multiple days? interesting interesting. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Feb 22 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know the exact mechanisms, so I can't say it limits its judgment to one day. But it also can't be such that it stops you from downvoting the content of someone who consistently submits crap. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 22 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 Moderators aren't privy to the details, but my understanding is that the script is more sophisticated than that and looks for a variety of patterns in the database. And if someone's putting special effort into downvoting, that won't escape the statistical tools that mods do have to investigate vote fraud—and special effort is an aggravating circumstance that would make an offender's suspension more likely, and likely longer. So the short version: no, that would just be a better way for those people to get in deeper trouble, and still have the votes invalidated. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 22 at 21:53

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