The Monopoly board-game question Do you still pay 10x the dice when getting the chance card that takes you to the nearest utility if the property is mortgaged? is an interesting one, but has an accepted answer that is both bizarre (to my mind) and based wholly on an unsubstantiated generalization from a comparison to one other Chance card.

A recent attempt (by yours truly) to refute this interpretation through deeper analysis of the published Official Rules was recently down-voted in a surprisingly quick manner for a site that gets only moderate activity outside MTG. The up-voted comment to this answer is :

Your answer seems to be based on an implicit assumption that the payment demanded by the card is rent, or that when that rule says "rent" it means "rent or other payments", but it doesn't say that and neither do the rules.

which has little semantic content besides "Rent is an undefined term, and your interpretation is wrong.", which hardly seems to actually advance the conversation.

Even supposing that the answer proposed by yours truly can be proven incorrect, I suggest that a detailed explanation of how the analysis proposed fails would be valuable. The comment made fails to do that.

I admit this is, to the best of my knowledge, an isolated incident. However it seems an inherent danger for any site on the Stack that serves a small self-selected community. How do we protect against such manipulation that is not actually sock-puppetting votes?

  • 4
    This site uses voting as a measure of correctness, so having the wrong answer voted up is an inherent and unavoidable risk. The system essentially invokes the wisdom of the crowd to avoid the problem in the general case. Finally, calling this "manipulation" is presumptuous: people disagree all the time; the fact that they disagree with you does not make them a "cabal" or imply that they are purposely manipulating results.
    – murgatroid99 Mod
    Oct 24, 2015 at 17:12

4 Answers 4


You've mistakenly interpreting the situation. You've started from a basic assumption your answer's totally correct. That's OK, that's where almost all answers start from. The voting community's disagreed, but rather than us being manipulated by sockpuppets or cabals, it's more commonly reasonable that (a) you're wrong, or (b) the voters are misinformed or using poor judgement in this scenario. (Both happen. The first one happens most often.)

Sometimes what we consider to be the popular opinion is not the answer that floats to the top, but lots of people believing it didn't make it correct; sometimes it's surprising but it doesn't follow that it's incorrect; sometimes it's nebulous and weird but that just means you should truthfully analyse what it really says first and if it totally sucks then suggest an alternative (but in doing so you accept the risk of people voting your answer down based on the alternative).

This is just business as usual, and while the vigilance is to be commended, this is a situation to just downvote and move on — there's no evidence of malintent here.

What if there really is sockpuppets and a cabal?

We have defences against voting fraud. Stack Exchange has a lot of mechanisms that detect voting irregularities. We have automatic detection of sock puppets. Lots of these things will result in account mergers or account destruction, and votes being deleted and reversed. You're sort of active on Meta Stack Exchange, but you might've missed out on all the times this got brought up in tags such as sock-puppets or gaming-the-system.

Even if those all fail, the voting community's a pretty big force to overcome without getting detected, so it'll usually fail or succeed only by slim margins. That's why larger voting communities are beneficial. Sometimes we lack large voting communities that understand a particular game, but that probably wasn't the case here.

If something seriously fishy has genuine likelihood of going down, do bring it up, but we'll tell you it's not when it's not.

  • Granted, my wording is probably over the top - it's a bad habit I am prone to. However, my belief is that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. The speed with which a low activity site put my post 3 in the hole seemed suspicious to me, so I flagged it. I further saw a flaw in the wisdom of the crowd assumption when no crowd actually exists, and thought I would raise that question as well. I have been wrong in the past and will be wrong in the future, but I rarely am unable to grasp an analysis of when and why I am wrong. ... Oct 25, 2015 at 14:58
  • In this case I fail to see how a narrow generalization can supercede a deeper analysis of the entirety of the rules. However I enjoy the site and work to defend it. Oct 25, 2015 at 14:58
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    @PieterGeerkens - re "Wisdom of the crowds" I get your point that MtG gets most of the traffic around here, but we've all played Monopoly .. a lot, although perhaps not a ton recently. That makes it easier to cast a vote over the wide swath of games that come up that I haven't ever played.
    – Pat Ludwig Mod
    Oct 26, 2015 at 19:23

Your answer originally relied on this interpretation:

No rent can be collected on mortgaged properties or utilities

... which you interpreted as...

No payment of any kind can be collected on mortgaged properties or utilities

You claim this is unequivocal evidence that your answer is correct. I think the argument is weak. Some agree with me; others agree with you. There is no evidence of a cabal, of sockpuppeting, or of any manipulation whatsoever.

The high quantity of votes is not surprising. The answers are extremely polarized, and everyone has played Monopoly.


The problem with your answer in this case it the assumptions you are making and having nothing to back them up them up then what you think. The question is asking about the results of a Chance card.

Advance token to nearest Utility. If unowned, you may buy it from the Bank. If owned, throw dice and pay owner a total ten times the amount thrown.

Now this card talks about paying the owner and does not mention that the payment is rent. This is important because for other cards they do make that claim.

Advance token to the nearest Railroad and pay owner twice the rental to which he/she {he} is otherwise entitled. If Railroad is unowned, you may buy it from the Bank.

Note there are other cards that do not include rent.

Take a trip to Reading Railroad {Take a ride on the Reading} – If you pass Go, collect $200

Advance to Illinois Ave. - If you pass Go, collect $200

Advance to St. Charles Place

Take a walk on the Boardwalk – Advance token to Boardwalk

Note that none of the above cards tell the user that they need to pay rent or can buy the property if it is unowned. It should also be noted that there is one card that makes you pay more for the rail road and one that doesn't.

Since the card instructing you to move to the utility does not mention rent it can easily be read that you would still need to pay the owner if it wasn't mortgaged. Also since it doesn't mention rent it could be read that you would need to pay rent in addition to what the card has you do as was brought up in your answer on the question.

When you land on property owned by another player, the owner collects rent from you in accordance with the list printed on its Title Deed card.

Note this rule does not say it matters how you got there so it doesn't matter if another card instructed you to go there and pay the owner. This can also be true for the card that instructs you to go to the nearest railroad and pay double the rent owed.

In the end it boils down to you having posted an answer on a question that has 5 similar answers which have all been downvoted (and one deleted) with nothing to back it up then how you think it reads. I am not sure why you expected anything else to happen after looking at the history of that question and answer.


I think anyone who hangs out on SE long enough has That Question — the one where you just know (or think you do) that the accepted or most-voted answers are terribly wrong, about a topic you've researched and care about strongly, but you've had to just shrug and move on.

It's a thing that'll happen in any kind of crowd-sourced knowledge project.

Heck, I've got, like, three of them now. ("RPG.SE IS WRONG ABOUT THE DEFINITION OF A ROLEPLAYING GAME," I will shout at you, if you ask.)

As I see it, your options are rather limited:

  1. Try to improve your answer to make it more persuasive (not just bigger or more argumentative — clear, concise, well-argued, inviting). Like, really really dig into it, far and above the effort you'd normally put in.

  2. Move on. File it away in the back of your mind as "Oh, yeah, That Question." Every now and then, you can drag it out as a little anecdote about how, haha, sometimes Stack Exchange gets it really wrong, you know.

Seems pretty clear that there's no "cabal" here, just a local consensus and a question that gets a bit more attention than most others in its category. (Note the number of answers on it!)

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