Has it happened that two people with opposing philosophical views destroyed each others' reputations on Stack Exchange, after a voting war? I mean, one person could have cosmological presuppositions, which form his/her opinions. Another person could have ontological presuppositions, forming his/her opinions. Due to the logically different views, if a cosmological person down votes an ontological person's opinion an ontological person can then decide, well, s/he will also down vote the cosmological person's opinion; because doing to others as they do to selves is a universal law of social contract theory.

  • I can't imagine anyone so petty having the intellect to understand either position. I hope I'm right.
    – user20253
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 16:51
  • 7
    There are tools that attempt to stop this from happening, see this answer and the link provided in it. The short answer is that there is an automated system that looks out for users specifically doing this and reverses the votes and rolls back the reputation changes and the offenders may be banned. And @PeterJ you'd be surprised.
    – Not_Here
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 22:40
  • Oh dear. Really! Around here there's a saying, 'There's nowt stranger than folk'.
    – user20253
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 12:05
  • 2
    If the robot does not detect it in 24 hours one can flag one of the downvoted posts and alert moderators to suspected voting fraud, or email SE support privately. In short, this type of behavior will be detected and dealt with long before it comes to "destroyed reputations".
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 0:01

4 Answers 4


In theory, at least, answers should be judged on formal, (largely) objective criteria: Are they well-formed and clearly expressed? Do they directly address the question asked? Do they cite reputable sources?

In theory, questions that are not susceptible to answers of this type should be closed.

In theory, therefore, one's personal agreement or disagreement with the actual positions described in the answers should not affect your voting. In theory, we are neither expressing nor voting our own positions here, but rather providing information about the field and practice of philosophy, and voting how well others have supported that goal.

In theory...


An upvote is 10 points, a downvote is -2. So if people upvote you and then others downvote you, you still gain points. So the overall reputation score does reflect the odds someone thinks your perspective adds value -- even if others do not -- rather than the balance of votes on your actual posts.

These two 'competitors' could easily both gain from a very contentious exchange that leaves most of the answers with scores of zero. If everyone on one side upvotes and those on the other downvote, the overall gain for the poster is still substantial.

Yes, this happens. But if there are 'leaders' of these contingents it often means that such people are violating the automated 'serial-downvoting rules'. If you are focussed on challenging a specific individual, and are not equally negative toward many others at the same time, a pattern will appear in your votes that will get you punished by having all of those votes against that individual stripped and discarded. So a set of leaders of a contingent that always disagrees with author X, may get their downvotes annulled.

  • I expect scapegoat voting from some, especially from people with cosmological views. Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 4:11
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    And again, I have to object (or rather clarify) the mindset of "Upvote = Agreement". This is not what a vote should primarily reflect imho. If a post correctly describes a position I think to be absolutely nonsensical, that is relevant, and answering the question, it is a good answer. I think especially in the context of what the OP thinks to be the case it is crucial to distinguish between "agreement" in this sense and "agreement" in worldview. Voting solely on the basis of the latter would actually be bad behaviour in any SE (and the reason being for the automatisms).
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 9:21
  • @PhilipKlöcking This post does not presume that, the 'war' could be over proper interpretation. It just describes situations that have actually happened, and their past consequences. It has no moral content.
    – user9166
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 15:36
  • I will edit out the word agreement, but I think that is fussy.
    – user9166
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 15:45

I am not sure if this has happened on Philosophy SE, but I have received down votes on politics SE because people did not like my political views. I have not returned the favor and turned it into a voting war though.

  • 3
    @MarquardDirkPienaar: Downvoting others is something I regularly do. Not out of cosmological views, but because the post is a bad fit for the site. Votes should not express agreement or disagreement, but assess reasoning, structure, objectivity, and references of the posts. I happily upvote posts the gist of which, philosophically, I do not agree with. I may agree contentwise with posts I downvoted just as well.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 20:12

The downvote machine rolls heavily on MathStackExchange and MathOverflow when a critic of set theory is detected. On the other hand you get upvoted when you support it. I would not exclude that meanwhile it happens also here by some hard-core adherents of actual infinity but of course I cannot identify them.


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