In many situations players have either emotionally or tactically self-voted, bringing them closer to a lynch, or self-hammered, casting the final vote to lynch themselves.
This play is seen as highly controversial.
Oftentimes players, believing their lynch to be inevitable, or losing interest in the game, will self-vote in frustration to further their lynch.
Theoretically, furthering one's own lynch as town is a strictly anti-town move. As the player is the only confirmed town they know, lynching anyone else is superior if only for the chance at lynching scum. As such, self-voting as town is often frowned upon.
Similarly, as mafia need more mafia members alive to win, a mafia member voting themselves is anti-scum in most scenarios in which their lynch can be avoided.
Due to the prevalence of townies self-voting in frustration, many scum players have faked frustration and self-voted as an Appeal to Emotion, in order to be read as genuine frustrated town. This tactic has led to self-voting being regarded as a common scumtell.
Fong's Gambit is a strategy in which a town player, recognizing that self-voting is seen as a scumtell, self-votes to evaluate the reactions of other players, and hopefully coax scum into opportunistically voting them. This play was popularized by the IRC Channel #mafia user fong.
While self-voting is generally highly controversial, the practice of tactically self-hammering is seen as beneficial in niche scenarios.
If a scum player strongly believes their lynch to be inevitable, it can be effective to self-hammer in order to sow confusion and send the game into the Night phase. This can:
- Cut off further discussion and information, reducing town Power Roles' abilities to plan for the night.
- Unexpectedly cut off the input of whomever is about to be nightkilled.
- Reduce potential associations between the lynchee and the remaining mafia members.
- Hamper Vote Count Analysis and prevent town's ability to generate reads on what would be another player's hammering vote.
In any case in which another lynch is still possible, it is almost always anti-town to self-hammer. However, if the day's deadline is imminent, a No Lynch would be statistically worse for town, and no other options are available, it can be appropriate for the player to self-hammer, providing the town with some information from that day, and preventing their likely lynch on future days.
In some setups, such as Vote for Town Mafia, the players are voting for someone that they believe to be town, rather than someone that they believe to be scum. In this situation it's common for townies to self-hammer, because they know their own alignment and thus that the vote will be beneficial for them. (In fact, the self-vote is normally taken into account when balancing this sort of setup; late in the game, town might not have the numbers to get a vote through otherwise.)
While this practice is commonly seen as scum-indicative, no data has been compiled on the actual effectiveness of self-voting as a towntell or a scumtell. The lack of strong evidence one way or the other has led some players to believe that voting for self-voters is actually just a Policy Lynch for anti-town behavior.