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I know this user was argumentative and seemed to be not-so-subtly trolling the site in many ways but his profile says he was suspended for "voting irregularities". What does that mean? Does that mean he created sock puppet accounts and upvoted himself? Or perhaps it means that he serially downvoted particularly uses. Or both? Kind of curious what's going on here and how one can avoid a similar fate. Thanks!

migrated from academia.stackexchange.com Jan 2 '18 at 6:56

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  • @FedericoPoloni Are you, why_was_he_suspended, and Leon Meier one and the same user? – user77515 Jan 7 '18 at 21:05
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    @MarkMcGregor: No, they're not. I don't think I'm violating any confidentiality to say that. – aeismail Jan 7 '18 at 22:36
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    @MarkMcGregor No, I only use this account. This may come as a shock to some of you, but I am a real person with a real name. :) The reason why I was so vocal is that I find Leon Meier's past contributions to this website somewhat useful, I have no idea why he was banned, and I am curious to find out more. But if he did something like this crap that is going on recently with multiple accounts popping up from nowhere, it looks like the mods did perfectly well when they banned him. Question answered (and thanks to the mods for having handled all this.) – Federico Poloni Jan 7 '18 at 22:42
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As a rule, suspensions are a private matter between the user that is suspended, the moderators, and the SE team. We don't give out information to other users, other than the brief canned message shown on the profile page of the suspended user. (And I wouldn't bother reading too much into that canned message; there are only a few and not all suspensions fit neatly into one of them.)

In general, one avoids "voting irregularities" by voting for posts, not targeting specific people. That means:

  • Don't take any action to specifically vote in favor of yourself or any other user. (For example, the following behavior is not allowed: Paula is friends with Katherine. They don't vote much on SE but they make sure to vote up one another's posts when they see them and like them, to help out a friend.)
  • Don't take any action to specifically vote against any user. (For example, the following behavior is not allowed: Joe is convinced that Alex downvoted his post. Joe visits Alex's profile page, looks through it until he finds a post he doesn't like, and downvotes it.)
  • Don't take any steps to give yourself more than one vote per post, or other votes that you wouldn't normally be entitled to. (For example, the following behavior is not allowed: Pat creates a second account to post an embarrassing question that she doesn't want to have linked to her main account. Pat then visits the question from her main account and votes it up, even though normally you can't vote on your own post.)

Also see: What is serial voting and how does it affect me? and When should sockpuppets be considered a problem?

The list above is not exhaustive. If you're not sure about a particular behavior, please start a new meta post to ask about it.

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    If you need to ask if a particular behavior is OK, chances are it’s not such a good idea. – aeismail Jan 2 '18 at 17:37
  • Have you considered the possibility that OP is the banned user himself asking for a more detailed explanation? Maybe you have already ruled it out because of personal communications, but if that may be the case then a more detailed answer would be helpful to OP. – Federico Poloni Jan 3 '18 at 10:27
  • Also, when you write "as a rule", you mean that it is an indication from the Stack Exchange network, or a personal guideline that you moderators have given yourselves? – Federico Poloni Jan 3 '18 at 10:28
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    @FedericoPoloni Obviously the mods cannot discuss the ban story of Leon Meier in public on the weak suspicion that he may be the OP asking for it, and hence implicitly agreeing to public discussion. – xLeitix Jan 3 '18 at 12:56
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    @Federico this rule is indicated by the SE network in their (not public) guidance to moderators. – ff524 Jan 3 '18 at 12:57
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    @xLeitix From my personal experience in moderating other sites, this seems a strong suspicion rather than a weak one. Why would a third person create an anonymous account (with that username) just to discuss this matter? Also, from what I understand (I have never used this moderation system nor been banned), creating an anonymous account may be Leon Meyer's only option to contact the mods. If I understand correctly, there is a baroque system in place that allows him only one private answer to the moderators in reply to its ban, and creating a new account while disclosing his identity (cont) – Federico Poloni Jan 4 '18 at 10:25
  • would be another infraction that may make his ban longer. – Federico Poloni Jan 4 '18 at 10:25
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    Reference to the 'baroque system': meta.stackexchange.com/a/293444/243091: "Note you can only reply once, so make it count." – Federico Poloni Jan 4 '18 at 10:29
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    Also, if OP is Leon himself and self-assesses that he "seemed to be not-so-subtly trolling the site in many ways", then the reason why he was banned should be fairly clear to him. – xLeitix Jan 4 '18 at 10:44
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    @xLeitix The SE team does not prohibit people from discussing their ban in public in meta, also with the moderators, if they wish. Reference: end of this post. – Federico Poloni Jan 4 '18 at 10:51
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    @Federico Note the "Obviously, you can't do this during your suspension" there. A user is welcome to use Academia meta to ask further questions about his suspension after it ends, if he so wishes. – ff524 Jan 4 '18 at 14:55
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    The second (of the three) behaviors mentioned above involves a motive that could not be known to the moderators ("Joe is convinced that Alex downvoted his post"). I'm surprised and concerned to hear that SE rules involve making judgments based on imagined motives. Obviously in practice the determination to ban must be made on some quantitative measures rather than guessing a motive; it would be nice if this were stated explicitly. Probably, the sentence in question should just be removed from that paragraph. – David Ketcheson Jan 8 '18 at 4:14
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    The first behavior also seems to involve something the moderators would not know; namely, which users are friends. If the users are not friends, is it okay to engage in this behavior? For instance, if one of them is paying the other? The answer is obviously "no", so could you please replace what is written above with what evidence you actually base a decision on? – David Ketcheson Jan 8 '18 at 4:15
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    @David I'm afraid I can't get into the details of how moderators detect vote fraud here. This post is meant to describe some types of voting fraud that users should avoid, and one example (certainly not the only example) of each - that's all. (Not necessarily things that moderators look for.) – ff524 Jan 8 '18 at 4:52
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    @DavidKetcheson another meta post on MSE that explains on how to not get suspended for voting irregularities. – Andrew T. Jan 10 '18 at 9:19
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The question should be posed differently:

Why did the mods kill Leon Meier or on the importance of being revengeful.

When you take a look at Leon Meier's last comments in the days preceding his death, you find that, on the one hand, his comments were criticizing. On the other hand, some folks also bullied the user, saying one of his posts could be a rant. I guess, it was easy to provoke the user into critical comments against anyone's content - and then the mods probably did their utmost best to allow the others to take revenge on him. (Of course, this is my guess: in reality, I don't know.) Leon's comments I see may be up to the point or not, but they are not bad: it'd say they are business as usual. We see way lower levels on the other SE sites and from other users.

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    The mods stated that he was banned for "voting irregularities" (sock-puppeting I presume?), not for the content of his comments. But if you have reason to think otherwise, you can ask your own question here on meta. The mods cannot discuss his ban, but all other users can (if they have useful information to contribute). – Federico Poloni Jan 7 '18 at 16:07
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    Also, some of his comments may have been deleted; so it is possible that there was more inflammatory material. We have no way to know: comment deletion leaves no trace, and there is no way to recover their content (inside the SE system, at least). – Federico Poloni Jan 7 '18 at 16:09

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