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A few days ago I noticed that 50 reputation points vanished overnight from my total. This was particularly galling since I had just crossed the 2,000 mark and the difference left me back in the 1900s. Has anyone else had this happen to them and does anyone know of an explanation?

I've seen the threads on SO and the SE blog which discuss the mechanisms for "correcting" anomalous voting patterns and such. However, in the absence of any formal notification or transparency in this correction process, such a change is disturbing to say the least.

Of course, if I inexplicably lost points some others might have inexplicably gained, possibly some because of the same underlying voodoo. However you should also be concerned. Tomorrow you could be on the receiving end.

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    $\begingroup$ The same thing happened to me sometime in the first couple of weeks of the site. $\endgroup$ – David Z Feb 7 '11 at 4:37
  • $\begingroup$ @David - Thank you! And were you engaging in "sock-puppetry" at the time? It seems that is what these "anomalous voting" patterns are supposed to detect. $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 7 '11 at 8:00
  • $\begingroup$ @space_cadet: no, actually this happens when others are (or appear to be) engaging in "sock-puppetry" against you. The account casting the votes doesn't gain any rep from them, so they're not the ones who get their reputation reset. $\endgroup$ – David Z Feb 7 '11 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ @David I'm not sure I understand. Can you explain with an example with say "Bob" and "Alice"? Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 7 '11 at 8:37
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    $\begingroup$ @space_cadet: well I'm not sure I understand what you're confused about, exactly, but if it helps, here's a situation in which the automated scripts might apply: Alice has 1900 reputation. Bob upvotes 20 of Alice's posts in quick succession, raising her reputation to 2100. When the script runs, it detects and removes this suspicious voting pattern from Bob, resetting Alice's reputation to 1900. $\endgroup$ – David Z Feb 7 '11 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ @David. Ok I see. But how would this voting pattern be suspicious? This is how new users, for instance, very often behave. When I joined up I saw great posts by someone and I go and read their answers and upvote accordingly. I think something similar might have happened with my answers. $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 7 '11 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ @space_cadet: of course I assume the actual algorithm is more sophisticated than just looking for a large number of votes all by one user for another user. I couldn't give you a more realistic example of a suspicious voting pattern since the exact details of what constitutes "suspicious" are known only to the SE team. $\endgroup$ – David Z Feb 7 '11 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. Thanks @David. You have been very helpful! $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 7 '11 at 15:22
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Not sure about the technicalities, but you might take comfort in the realization these numbers have no implications out there in the real world (and not much here, either).

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    $\begingroup$ Sure they do @Moshe. I've seen this airy-fairy viewpoint bandied about in discussions of this sort and it always sounds strange. If that is the case, then what are you doing on this site answering questions? Why are we writing papers and grading homework and tests? Sure, at the end of the day, everything in this material world is illusion or "maya". But even illusions needs to have some measure of self-consistency. I have plenty of other things to keep me distracted. Sure this is a game. Win or lose I don't care. But I'd still like the scorecard to make sense. $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 7 '11 at 7:48
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    $\begingroup$ Just lighten up is all I am saying. This is purely for fun, it has no consequence either way (unlike your grades in schools, citations for your papers etc.). One way it loses it‘s charm is when people get too competitive, I really wish this site didn’t have this silly ranking system. It is unreliable as a way to direct readers to good answers, it attracts the wrong crowd. $\endgroup$ – user566 Feb 7 '11 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah. I suppose you're right. Here's to keeping it real. Cheers! $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 7 '11 at 14:36
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Did you go to https://physics.stackexchange.com/reputation ? I recommend starting there.

It looks like there were some invalid votes on your account that got cleaned up by the daily vote anomaly process on Feb 2 UTC.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi @Jeff I have seen page. My question is what exactly is this "vote anomaly process". I would like to know how it works and also a notification when this process affects my account. What is an invalid vote? How is this decision made? Does this mean that votes cast by individuals can be deleted? etc. etc. $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 6 '11 at 11:02
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    $\begingroup$ @space: The detains of what the voting anomaly script looks for are not public knowledge lest people who are cheating tune their method to avoid it. It is known that it searches for pairs of accounts cross-voting and for accounts voting in synch. It seems to work well on the big sites. @Jeff, have you collected any statistics on voting patterns on sites with small user bases to insure that the parameters don't need tweeking? $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 6 '11 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ @dmckee there is no substitute for transparency on what is supposed to be a community website. If there is any mechanism which reverses users' votes for any reason whatsoever, then its existence and functioning needs to be public. There is no technology whose robustness is helped by secrecy. Microsoft Windows being the canonical example. In fact if someone did game the system there would be no way to know of it in the absence of transparency. So secrecy runs counter to the desire for security. In any case my question was for @Jeff. $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 6 '11 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ @space If you hunt around on the mother meta you can find descriptions in English of a least some of the tests. What you can't find it authoritative lists of the thresholds of the actual SQL queries used. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 6 '11 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ From looking at Jeff's link (but for my own account), it appears that you can figure out which posts got the numbers removed. For those of us curious about these sorts of things, can you tell us which questions were responsible? And by the way, how come you've only had 54 votes? $\endgroup$ – Carl Brannen Feb 7 '11 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ Some links: On revenge: blog.stackoverflow.com/2008/12/vote-fraud-and-you More voting anomalies: blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/03/more-voting-anomalies $\endgroup$ – Carl Brannen Feb 7 '11 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Carl I have seen those links before and they don't help shed any more light on the situation. I also looked the reputation page and I can't see any way to determine which questions had their vote counts changed. $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Feb 7 '11 at 7:59

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