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Today, I saw a number of close votes. Some seemed to be legitimate, made in good faith (regardless of whether or not I agreed with them).

However, I also saw five close votes with the "proofreading" close reason on questions which clearly had nothing to do with proofreading:

  1. What does “positively ill” mean?
  2. use of the preposition "in" in front of here/there
  3. The meaning of 'becoming brown'
  4. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/30863/230
  5. Do "twice as high xxxxx as" , "twice as high" and "twice higher" mean the same thing?

Of these, one could probably be closed legitimately for another reason, but I can't imagine all of these close votes were in good faith. None of the questions have anything to do with proofreading! Someone making this mistake once is believable, but not five times—I can't imagine it wasn't deliberate.

At the same time, I also noticed an unusually high volume of downvotes. I'm sure some of these votes were legitimate, and I agreed with at least one of them myself. But for the most part I couldn't figure out any reason for them. Most of the downvoted posts seemed fine to me, so I took action by voting the ones I agreed with back up.

The impression I get is that someone is, for whatever reason, not acting in good faith.

I noticed that a certain user was on the weekly top voters list today, and it made me wonder if the close votes and the downvotes were both symptoms of the same problem. Of course, I can only speculate.


EDIT: The one which I said "could probably be closed legitimately for another reason" did end up being closed. The other users picked Unclear What You're Asking, so that's the close reason that shows up. But we can see the first close voter here, and it's exactly who I expected it was.

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    Luckily it takes five votes to close a question. Thanks for bringing this to the community's attention. – J.R. Aug 6 '14 at 22:03
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    @user8153 Yes, as you well know. For example, you created the sock puppet you used to post that comment in order to avoid a suspension. – snailplane Aug 7 '14 at 13:18
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    And if we're thinking of the same "certain user" it's funny that almost everything he writes needs proofing! – CocoPop Aug 7 '14 at 14:12
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    @user08742 By the way, it's interesting that you deleted your comment and changed your user ID from user8153 to user08742 after I posted my comment. – snailplane Aug 8 '14 at 2:55
  • My compunction sorely keeps pricking my soul. I sincerely apologize. However, I sincerely beg your little-deserved patience with me advocating for myself awhile. My questions, which, to my mind, were all legitimate, asking what those sentences meant, with what citations I could give about their sources, all had gotten close-votes. So it is I who thought at first that someone out there was acting in bad faith. Then I acted out my spite on others indiscriminately in this now-being-discussed close-or-down-voting spree. Having said that, I am clearly in the wrong, therefore I apologize:I am sorry. – user8153 Aug 8 '14 at 10:54
  • @CocoPop What do you mean? I haven't asked any proof-reading questions ever since my suspension that I remember. – user8153 Aug 8 '14 at 10:58
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    @user08742 I've already explained why I sometimes down or close vote: (1) I close vote with the "Details, Please!" close reason when your insufficiently cited sources prevent the question from being answered properly; (2) Since you habitually edit quotes without telling anyone and withhold other key information many of your questions become basically unanswerable. We've asked you repeatedly to cite sources properly and indicate when you've edited a quote in comments and chat, but you ignore comments so close votes are all I have left. (I am not the only down voter or close voter, by the way.) – snailplane Aug 8 '14 at 21:06
  • @user08742 By the way, I've also upvoted other questions of yours, including ones which didn't include proper citations but where I didn't think they were necessary to answer the question, for example here. (You can tell I didn't think additional details were necessary to answer the question, because I posted an answer! :-) – snailplane Aug 8 '14 at 21:21
  • @snailplane Then what should I do if I were thinking in English as an exercise and then found myself uncertain about the grammatical validity of those sentences? Needless to say, they have no citations, since they were born of my head. But this is not proof-reading; I think such questions lie within the metes and bounds of the purpose of this community, if furnished with enough context and reasons for the concerns. – user8153 Aug 9 '14 at 2:27
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    @user08742 Then please tell us you've created those sentences. And, since it seems that many of the sentences you ask about are yours but modeled on sentences you've read elsewhere, it would often be quite helpful to see the original sentence so we can compare and understand why you wrote what you did. – snailplane Aug 9 '14 at 3:15
  • Sometimes, but not often. Actually, they ARE from the original, but their books are not available online so hard to cite. – user8153 Aug 9 '14 at 3:26
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    @user08742 - Why does that make them hard to cite? I'll give an example from a book I just pulled off my shelf: "Eagles are for emblems and chicken are for eating." (from The Lazlo Letters, a humorous work by Don Novello, 1977.) Just because they are hard to link to doesn't make them hard to cite. – J.R. Aug 9 '14 at 10:05
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    @user08742 - "What should I do if I were thinking in English as an exercise and then found myself uncertain about the grammatical validity of those sentences?" Good question. Why don't you ask that on meta and see what answers you get? – J.R. Aug 9 '14 at 10:09
  • @user08742 I see you've asked ten questions in the last 24 hours, many of which ask about your original sentences. It's possible that if you don't start the meta discussion J.R. suggested, someone else will. – snailplane Aug 9 '14 at 15:16
  • user08742 Does not appear to be a genuine learner of English. Many of the questions belong on the English Language site, not on ELL. – Kaz Aug 15 '14 at 19:32
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The lesson here, I think, is this: Just because one person has voted for a question to be closed, that doesn't mean the question should be closed. Make sure you've carefully read a question before you vote to close, even when someone else has already voted to close the question. Vote based on your own evaluation and judgment, not as an instinctive reaction to a close vote cast by someone else.

Voting is a privilege that's earned over time. As much as we'd like to think people who are exercising that right aren't abusing it, people are fallible, and sometimes emotions get in the way of good judgment.

I'm glad someone discerned this particular pattern of voting abuse, so that it could be corrected before it became more habitual.

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