I see a lot of programming questions here. I remind people that programming questions are off-topic here, that they could be useful for Stack Overflow, and that the requirements are a minimal working example and a description of desired output. 3 or 4 times now, I presume these people are terribly irate about this and serial downvote all my questions and answers, even across different SE networks. I try not to be rude when I comment, but clear enough so that their question can be fleshed out and get useful answers somewhere else.

I presume they're trying to get my account locked. Do I keep out of it? Do I just cast a close vote and move on? What have others done?

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Your account would not be locked by any number of downvotes. Voting issues of this nature are best raised with the mods through flagging. We would have to consult with mods on those other sites in order to investigate the kind of pattern you suspect. It would help if you could forward us the details. If you want to engage in this way, then we can either (a) set up a private chat room or (b) send you an official "mod message," which sets up a private e-mail thread you can use (which is recorded and monitored by the SE team). The first is less formal and a bit more flexible. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    May 2, 2019 at 21:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @whuber I see. I tried to read about serial downvoting and came across something about an account lock--perhaps an ancient feature of SE. Anyway, I have no ax to grind, and I don't care about the reputation, although I find it an even mixture of funny and irritating, it's bad behavior especially if it's being imposed on other users. Mod mail is the way to go, I can just send you the links to the questions that were downvoted I supposed? $\endgroup$
    – AdamO
    May 2, 2019 at 22:52
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ What's especially disappointing about this report is the impression that the culprits have enough reputation to vote in different places, but nevertheless don't get how SE works, mostly through sites having policies on what's on- and off-topic and then policing themselves. It's less surprising if there's flak from people new to CV who don't like their questions being put on hold or closed and haven't grasped the idea that we are not a helpline with an entitlement to getting an answer. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    May 3, 2019 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


To clarify: programming questions are not automatically off-topic here.

Instead, they are off-topic if they don't need "statistical expertise to understand or answer"; as we see under Programming in the help/on-topic:

if it needs statistical expertise to understand or answer, ask it here

I am not criticizing or challenging your response to programming questions but seek to clarify for any other readers what the actual situation is with regard to programming questions (because sometimes close-voters seem to miss this important exception).

[I haven't checked whether any of the questions you have responded to could actually be on topic under the above criteria -- I presume you're already well aware of this and have always been doing it correctly.]

I presume these people are terribly irate about this and serial downvote all my questions and answers, even across different SE networks

Typically they can only downvote in a very limited way before it gets detected as serial downvoting and is automatically reversed.

Unless they're determined enough to do it every day for many days (and know the approximate borderlines on voting behavior that the system checks for) it shouldn't make much difference to you, but if you think it's happening longer term (where it could start to bite into reputation in a more serious fashion), contact the mods and let us know, we can make some basic checks (though we don't see who voted on which questions; that's not a privilege available to mods).

If they're rude, flag the comment for mods.

I presume they're trying to get my account locked.

If that's their aim it won't work.

Do I keep out of it?

Comments are important for explaining the way things work to new users. You should continue to use them whenever you see fit to do so.

Do I just cast a close vote and move on?

When you think that's the best course, that's fine.

What have others done?

I comment a lot for a variety of reasons. I try to always be civil. Sometimes the responses are rude; if they're very rude a mod will remove them. Sometimes I get a few downvotes. Once you pass the highest rep level (as you have done already) what difference could a handful of downvotes make?


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .