Vote manipulation to me means any method of changing the vote count on a post other than a legitimate user having an opinion on a post and voting accordingly.
This can be done in any direction, up or down.
By preventing people from clicking the downvote button in subreddits with CSS, you are causing some people to not vote because they do not want to upvote,
and they can't downvote due to the button missing. This is clearly changing the vote count and therefore is vote manipulation in the positive direction, but still vote manipulation.
I'm sure some people will say "but they can disable CSS or user mobile!". This is true and I will admit it is a solution, but to me it's not good enough.
I'm sure a certain amount of people (myself included) disable CSS on subreddits simply for the ability to downvote.
But since a large amount of people don't want to lose CSS permanently, a large amount of would-be downvotes are lost.
It just seems unethical and almost "safe space"-esque to disable the downvote button in any way. What, if any, legitimate reason could a subreddit have for disabling the downvote button?
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