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I suddenly noticed a single upvote on a lot of my old questions and answers. I know serial downvoting can be punished, so I am curious how this works?

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StackExchange's automated systems do watch for serial upvoting over both the short and long term, and they will revert the votes if they detect what looks like misuse of the system - ie. someone voting up a user's content because of who posted it, rather than for the quality of the content itself.

I've had it happen to me a few times, where I'll get a surprising jump in rep from votes on old posts, and then the next day my reputation tracker will look like:

  • -80: Serial upvoting reversed
  • +10: upvote
  • +10: upvote
  • +10: upvote
  • +10: upvote
  • +10: upvote
  • +10: upvote
  • +10: upvote
  • +10: upvote

It's a little disappointing, but I wouldn't call it a "punishment" per se, since nobody loses reputation overall - you're just back where you were before your new fan got carried away. I'm not aware of any automated penalties that apply to the voter either, though if the pattern of behaviour repeats they might get flagged as a potential sock puppet or rep farming account for human review.

You can see previous discussion of this on other Meta sites in the network:

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