Once in a while, the moderators will find out that something like the following happened:
- Someone posted an update from their organization, and shared it on Slack or social media, asking coworkers and friends to go upvote it for increased visibility.
- Someone saw something they didn’t like on the Forum — maybe comments criticizing a friend, or a point of view they disagree with — and encouraged everyone in some discussion space to go downvote it.
Please don’t do it. We might ban you for it.
If you’re worried that someone else (or some other group) is engaging in vote brigading, bring it up to the moderators instead of trying to correct for it.
Why is it bad?
- Karma is meant to provide a signal of what Forum users will find useful to engage with. Vote brigading turns karma into a popularity contest.
- Voting should be based on readers’ opinions of the content they’re voting on. If someone convinces you that a post is terrible — or great — it’s fine to downvote or upvote it as a result of that, but you should actually believe that.
- We should resolve disagreements by discussing them, not by comparing the sizes of the groups who agree with each position.
- If people try to hide criticism by downvoting it just because they feel an affinity to the group(s) criticized, the Forum will become predictably biased. We won’t have important conversations, we won’t learn from each others’ mistakes, etc.
What actions should we avoid? (What counts as vote brigading?)
If you’re sharing content:
- Don’t encourage people to all go upvote or downvote something (“everyone go upvote this!”) — especially when you have power over the people you’re talking to.
- It’s more ok to say “go upvote this if you think it’s good,” but it’s still borderline, and you should be careful to make sure that it doesn’t feel like pressure on people.
- Be careful with bias: if the content is criticizing your work, or your friend’s work, or something you feel an affinity towards — be suspicious of your ability to objectively engage with it.
- Consider letting other Forum users sort it out or leaving a comment explaining your point of view.
If you’re voting:
- Please make sure you’re really voting because you think this content is good.
- If your friends or coworker shared their content and that’s the only thing you really engage with and vote on, interrogate your heart or mind about whether you might be biased.
- Please report attempts at vote brigading to us.
There are many borderline cases. Here are some examples, sorted by how fine/bad the action of person sharing the content is:
|The action||Is it ok to do?|
|You share a post (and maybe what you like or dislike about it), without explicitly asking people to upvote or downvote.||It’s fine (I’m very happy for people to straightforwardly share posts with people who might find them interesting)|
|You share a post and what you like about it, and say something like “upvote the post if you like it”|
Iffy, but mostly ok. The problem is that people might vote reflexively as a result (or follow this like an order, if you’re in a leadership role), so I think that’s the main thing to be wary of.
I think the situation is worse for downvoting than for upvoting, here (coordination on downvoting can suppress a post) — see below.
|You share a post that criticizes your work, and write something like “downvote the post if you think it should have less visibility”||Not ok — even though there’s an “if…”. Don’t do this, especially if you’re in a leadership role.|
|You share a post and say something like “Everyone: go upvote the post!”||Not ok. Once again, it’s even worse if you’re in a leadership role with respect to the people you’re sharing the post with.|
|On a call with other people, and you say, “there’s this post I don’t like / a post that’s criticizing me/us. Could you all upvote / downvote it?”||Extremely not ok. This has the added harm of making it easy for the asker to see if the other people on the call downvoted the post.|
Other voting norms
You can see the full voting norms here. Most importantly, don't do the following:
- “Mass voting” on many instances of a user’s content simply because it belongs to that user
- Using multiple accounts to vote on the same post or comment