With the amount of sock puppet activity on the site, and the apparent inability for the community managers and moderators to control it (though I'm sure they're trying hard!), I don't see how the elections can be fair.

Comments I make on my nomination post continue to get flagged for removal by sock puppets, as well as comments of other users supporting me. I've also seen evidence of more sock puppets being created, so the problem only appears to be getting worse.

Clearly someone has it out for me, and I have no doubt the full sock puppet force will be voting in the election.

How can the we possibly have a fair election if the votes can be so easily fabricated?

I'm aware that a user needs at least 150 rep to vote in the election, but I fail to see that being an issue with the apparent free time this person has.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the answer is "they can't" :( \$\endgroup\$ – Almo Jun 16 '13 at 3:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Almo Luckily for everyone else running, I think it'll only affect me :) \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Jun 16 '13 at 4:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course they can. Mods don't just edit posts and announce elections. They remove sock puppets, protect us from bad things and make rainbows! Or unicorns do that? \$\endgroup\$ – sm4 Jun 16 '13 at 4:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ The moderators have done an excellent job of cleaning up. Hopefully this won't be an issue (knock on silicon). \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Jun 17 '13 at 16:29

Disclaimer: community manager here.

There aren't any rings on the site right now that are capable of seriously skewing the voting in the election. Getting 150 reputation on enough accounts to be able to seriously affect an election is not trivial, especially on a site the size of Game Development.

The fact that a few people/accounts colluded on removing comments and just generally misbehaving during an election is certainly unfortunate, but I don't think there's much to be done here beyond monitoring the situation and catching these accounts. From experience with past elections, I doubt that having your comments removed would have a strong effect on the outcome of the election. Plus comments are easy to replace.

Our best defense is and continues to be to monitor voting patterns and interactions on the site. We always pay closer attention to sites when an election is in progress, so we should be able to stay on top of this easily enough and ensure as fair a process as possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Anna. This is the response I was looking for. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Jun 17 '13 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56 Any time. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Lear Jun 17 '13 at 21:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is encouraging :) \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Jun 17 '13 at 22:03

As raised on Meta SO, attempts to cause noise during this process have been mitigated, and will continue to be mitigated if they persist. However, that's all someone determined to be a pain can do here - make noise that quickly vanishes without much of a trace.

They will get bored, or the election will conclude uneventfully, whichever comes first. As Anna noted, sometimes all we can do is closely monitor things, and that's what we're doing. This is when having close to 24 hour coverage really comes in handy.

I'm hoping that it just becomes obvious that time spent like this is simply wasted, but we'll of course continue to deal with it while it continues.


Elections can be:

  • online
  • secret
  • fair

pick two, you can't have all three.

Stack exchange community it all for secrecy (vs. transparency), so elections will never be fair, and nothing can fix that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ All for secrecy? I don't think so. That may apply to votes, but not accounts, questions, answers, comment history, review history, edits, etc. The key one here being accounts. With better enforcement of one account per person, you could easily have all three. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Jun 17 '13 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56: The point he's making is that you won't ever be able to prove that an election was fair if the ballet is secret and it's done online. There's always a chance that someone hacked the system. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jun 17 '13 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I can agree with that. I think the likelihood of the voting system being hacked is far lower than the system being gamed by sock puppets. So, with proper steps, the chance of a fair election goes way up. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Jun 17 '13 at 16:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also you can't prove that there are no sockpuppets, while if votes weren't secret, you could have much more chances at least of detecting suspects. \$\endgroup\$ – o0'. Jun 17 '13 at 18:25

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