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Consider this question:

Were babies found with their heads decapitated in Israel after the Hamas attack?

and specifically, the current top-voted answer. You'll notice it has a number of upvotes and downvotes; and so has the second top-voted answer.

So, that question is about verifying a claim. The answer quotes a newspaper which says it can verify the claim, but itself does not provide evidence, or explain how they verified the claim. There are also links to images which supposedly support the claim, but one link is dead and the second link, AFAICT, does not verify, or even support, the claim.

Still, it got a high number of votes. Other answers describe many other sources which rebut the claim and/or trace its attribution to questionable sources. This, when multiple sources have walked the claim back (including media channels, US President Biden etc).

While I can't know what motivates people to vote this way or that, I have a strong impression that the voting is distributed along political lines, rather than

My question: Can I, or should I, do anything when I believe this is the case?

Note: I am very biased about this situation, since I authored the second-most-upvoted answer, and have spent some time rummaging through various sources to look into the matter. So - maybe an answer to this question should be addressed to someone other than "competitor" answer authors.

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  • Some people believe their favorite newspaper. There's probably not much else to say. Oct 17, 2023 at 22:43

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If the answer is unreferenced or the references are so terrible that it might as well be unreferenced you can flag the answer and a moderator might remove it. But for an answer that does contain references, even bad ones, to be deleted this way the references have to be truly problematic, in most cases we would not act on this.

If an answer meets our referencing standard your only remaining actions are to downvote it and to write competing answers with your viewpoint.

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  • In the general/typical case this is a sound answer. My question is specifically for the case in which there seems to be up and downvoting based on political position/affiliation: "I support Israeli so I'll vote answer X up and Y down" / "I support the Palestinians so I'll vote answer Y up and X down". Of course you could say that I don't know for a fact that this is the cause of the voting pattern I've seen. But - supposing that it is (but one can't prove it) - would you suggest doing nothing other than the above?
    – einpoklum
    Oct 16, 2023 at 21:09
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    @einpoklum People upvote all the time because they agree with the conclusion, not because it's the most convincing answer. We cannot police votes like this, it's not possible to determine voting intent reliably and even if we could we have no way to change votes. I don't see anything we could do here except starting to delete answers if we don't like the votes. But doing that would be a terrible idea.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    Oct 16, 2023 at 21:37
  • I didn't ask for vote policing; I was hoping maybe site veterans would have an idea of something that's non-coercive. But, I'm guessing the answer is "not really".
    – einpoklum
    Oct 16, 2023 at 21:45

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