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Currently, votes get locked after a very brief window.

The reason is to avoid tactical downvoting being later removed - which forces a permanent -1 rep for the tactical downvoter (although it doesn't matter on days when the 200 daily rep limit is reached).

However, the disadvantage is that people may later discover they were wrong.

Should the period before votes get locked be lengthened? (as long as the answer is not competing with one of your own answers). This will give people more time to reconsider their vote (as long as they are unable to use it for tactical downvoting purposes).

Note: edited last paragraph to make it clearer.

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Is tactical downvoting even a problem nowadays? Vote-locking was introduced long before I joined SO. And I've never been on the receiving end of tactical downvoting - ever. –  Mysticial Aug 19 '12 at 4:43
    
@Mysticial How do you know? Maybe people tactically downvote you and never un-downvote since they can't –  Michael Mrozek Aug 19 '12 at 5:45
    
@MichaelMrozek True, I don't know for sure. But I get few enough downvotes where I actually try to figure why I got each one. And if I've been hit by tactical downvoting before, it's subtle enough for me to not notice. Most of the downvotes that I get now are late and anonymous downvotes - probably revenge or jealousy downvotes. –  Mysticial Aug 19 '12 at 5:52
    
Just make sure to properly read whatever you vote on. That would minimize the vote by mistake. If something was wrong but gets corrected, you can change your vote already. And for the rare occurrence of a d'oh-vote that's left, well, that's just bad luck. Hopefully the other votes outweigh it. –  Bart Aug 19 '12 at 9:33
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1 Answer

I doubt there are a lot of tactical downvoters hitting the rep cap often. It seems to me that the people who spend a lot of time on here are more respectful of the environment that Stack Exchange continuously tries to encourage. The people who spend a large majority of their time asking and answering questions on Stack Exchange seem more interested in creating great content than downvoting something purely to make him/herself look better.

The people I've encountered who would resort to desperate measures such as what you describe generally have very low rep and struggle to get upvotes because they write very crappy answers. When I write answers, I tend to edit them as much as I can to make them stand out against competing answers; thus, if I ever do get tactically downvoted, it doesn't matter because I know I'll get 5 to 7 upvotes from all the people who actually care about Stack Exchange looking good to people who are legitimately looking for expert answers.

Also, other people who see a great answer get downvoted are more likely to respond in kind and upvote your answer. People love controversy, so a tactical downvote by a lone desperado is likely to work in your favor, as long as your answer really isn't deserving of the downvote, that is!

No, there's no need to shorten/lengthen the lock period; I just don't see this as a huge problem. My suggestion is to focus on great content. Make your answers look better than everybody else's, and one lame downvote won't make a difference in the long-run.

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That's not really answering my question, which is whether we should have a longer time period before the vote gets locked in (as long as the answer is not competing with you). –  ronalchn Aug 19 '12 at 8:30
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@ronalchn - Sorry that wasn't clear. I don't think there needs to be a longer time period. The situation you describe is an outlier -- a boundary case -- and takes away from the scenarios where people legitimately really are still contemplating their vote. Hope this helps! –  jmort253 Aug 19 '12 at 9:02
    
your answer is the wrong way round. I am not proposing the lock period be shortened, I am proposing it is lengthened in certain cases –  ronalchn Aug 19 '12 at 9:19
    
@ronalchn - I apologize yet again! It's past my bedtime. ;) I don't really think it needs to be changed. People should be voting on the content, not the people. While this does occasionally get abused, in general, I think the voting system is well-engineered and works great! :) I do speak from experience. I've been unfairly downvoted before, but in the grand scheme of things, it just doesn't matter. I have far more upvotes than I do downvotes. Just focus on great Q&A and helping people, and you'll do fine! As an old gunnery sergeant used to tell me, don't let the bastards get you down. ;) –  jmort253 Aug 19 '12 at 9:30
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