This question has got abnormally large number of votes in just two days. The question is favorited by many 'members' who have joined in the last few days. Many of the accounts look funny since they show no activity except favoriting the question.

It looks like the site has been tampered with. Perhaps the moderators are already aware of this but I thought I'll bring it up anyway.

Here is a sample of the accounts:

















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    $\begingroup$ Maybe they seek enlightenment. This could be a clue to effective marketing of TCS. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 18:23

3 Answers 3


I did notice it. The question has given a huge spike in the number of visits to csthoery for one day.

I believe the explanation is simple: someone shared a link to the question on a popular site (Hacker News in this case) which caused a huge temporary spike in the number of visitors. It seems that the question is interesting for general CS audience who may not be researchers in TCS. We have had a number of famous questions with relatively huge number of viewers, this one is not that different.

I don't think it is that useful regarding marketing the site to our target community though. However it is a nice example of a question that can be used for outreach to people outside theory.

Note that regular users from other SE sites get enough reputation to vote on the question, so the total number of votes does not necessarily reflect the quality of the question relative to other questions according to regular cstheory users. (This is one of the issues that I think MO negotiated with SE when they decided to migrate to SE2.0 to make sure it won't happen on MO after it migrates to SE2.0).

This happens also on other SE sites like Math.SE, e.g. the batman equation question. It will happen from time to time, I don't think it is not a big deal as long as it is not causing a problem. If we see that the question starts to cause problem we can make it protected or even lock it (as is common practice on other SE sites).

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    $\begingroup$ Aha: that explains it. news.yc is the new /., in terms of its effect on traffic. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ This also explains why the number of "favorited" is higher than the number of upvotes. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ Nice question and I'm glad to see the answer. I was a bit mystified by the number of views and points as well - especially since I feel there have been very similar questions and answers in the past. Maybe automata theory is special in triggering such questions and is easy for all computer scientists to understand. $\endgroup$
    – Vijay D
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 9:35

Interesting. Some of the accounts listed appear to be linked to real people, but there are many others that are hard to distinguish. At least one profile has been around for 30 days.


am very curious about this question also. it is highly atypical. it now has 80 upvotes which is extremely rare and hasnt happened in over something like a year on any question on the site. it seems like very popular questions reach max about 20 votes nowadays (as mod SV mentioned in a recent post on the charter, there is less upvoting than early in the group life due to site usage patterns) & even that is reached only a few times per year. some older questions have large upvotes but they've been around a long time and accumulate the upvotes slowly over time or mostly earlier in their lifetime when the site was younger & there was more upvoting.

the question also has a phenomenal [currently] 27Kviews which is maybe something like more than ~50x average. so the views are uncharacteristic also. the question, if it hasnt been tampered with, is what might be called "viral". not sure of site traffic tools but if they are good it should be possible for someone [mods, or possibly SE mgt only] to look at the referrers to that page to discern what pattern is happening from incoming traffic to that page.

its possible the url was posted in some very high-traffic location (eg major referrer sites like say slashdot or something similar) and has drawn in large traffic. but people signing up just to upvote/and/or favorite a question seems highly irregular. another possibility is that "Phd" the poster has some large audience/fans via say a blog who follow his directions, but again this is atypical and unlikely...


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