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After casting a vote on an answer, you can change your vote during a small time window, but afterwards the change is blocked by the error:

Vote too old to be changed, unless this answer is edited
(click on this box to dismiss)

Sometimes my past votes are clearly wrong, and I'd like to correct them. If I understand the other Meta questions correctly, vote changing was disabled due to concerns about cheating or tactical voting.

Would it be an option to allow changing your vote at a cost to your own reputation? I'm not sure about the exact nature of the tactical votes, but it seems to me that the cost of reputation could outweigh the advantage of tactical voting.

For me, I don't care greatly about reputation, but I do care about my old wrong votes permanently affixed to an answer.

P.S. Apparently I can change my vote by editing the answer, but that feels wrong (the answer gets a later timestamp), and might not be available to every user.

P.S.2. One of my best experiences in Stackoverflow was when I posted an answer, and instantly got downvoted to -5. Then someone with high rep upvoted me and commented "hey this is actually correct". Many people changed their votes and my answer was eventually accepted. Such an experience would be impossible now.

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Interesting idea. –  ChrisF Oct 14 '09 at 11:14
    
Interesting idea, yes, but IMHO it's trying to work around something which should be solved directly. Your PS2 sums it up. There must be a better fix for "tactical downvoting" than what is in place now. –  Craig Stuntz Oct 14 '09 at 12:34
    
How does "tactical voting" even work? How does restricting people from changing votes do anything to prevent it? –  endolith Oct 14 '09 at 19:20
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I saw this before I left for work this morning, and decided to think about it before responding. And you know what? I think it's a novel approach that has potential.

The only issue I have with it is that if it costs less than 4 rep to change your vote outside the window, it probably wouldn't be enough of a disincentive to strategic downvoters (who potentially would still be able to make that up by being higher on the page).

Also, I can see others who change their vote and suddenly drop x rep freaking out here on meta -- "Why did I lose 4 rep for voting? What the --?!"

That said, it's a novel approach, and it might be a best of both worlds scenario. Until/unless then (and it sounds like Jeff disagrees) we have to learn to use the system as-is. And that means an edit to undo/change your vote.

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Thanks for the comment. Paying reputation needs a confirmation box I'd think. Editing is a workaround for those with high reputation only. –  Andomar Oct 14 '09 at 14:55
    
I'd agree with the confirmation box, I think. –  John Rudy Oct 14 '09 at 17:45
    
What are "strategic downvoters"? How big of a problem are they? How does preventing people from changing their votes solve this problem? Isn't it important that the site provide reliable, up-to-date information? –  endolith Mar 17 '10 at 16:43
    
@andomar another problem with this, we'd have to explain it, it might need a warning on click, and then deal with the meta complaints of "I changed my vote and I lost rep, why?!?!" –  Jeff Atwood Nov 7 '12 at 18:44
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Since there's already a workaround (edit the post, if you feel so strongly) it is unlikely we'll add any more complexity here.

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7  
Being able to correct your own mistakes, and improve yourself, is one of the core attributes of a good programmer. I think it's behaviour that should be encouraged and made easy. Three years from now, would you like Stackoverflow to represent the state of knowledge per 2009 or per 2012? If the second, allowing people to correct themselves seems a must. –  Andomar Oct 14 '09 at 12:11
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Editing other people's posts just to change your vote is a hack, not a solution, and it's not possible unless you have 2000 rep. I don't see any logical reason why you shouldn't be able to change your votes in the first place. –  endolith Oct 14 '09 at 19:21
    
I kinda agree... It's possible to do it somehow and, c'mon, votes are not all that important anyway. And if they were so important, we should be more careful about them. It's a vote after all, not something you should keep changing and if it was a miss-click or something, it's not voting to president and it doesn't matter all that much to fix it, most of the times. –  Cawas Mar 11 '10 at 23:28
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Votes are very important. They show visitors to the site which answers are helpful and correct, and which are unhelpful or erroneous. If I upvote an answer because it seems correct, but then someone else's answer shows that it is not (or an update to the question makes the answer invalid), I should be able to change my votes. Period. There is no logical reason why there should be a time limit on changing votes. –  endolith Mar 17 '10 at 16:41
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This hack does not work: I tried to edit a post just to cancel a down-vote I've done mistakenly with my phone (I even didn't know I had down voted until I saw it in my profile...) but I had a message saying that at least 6 non white spaces are needed. I had to upvote another answer of the same guy to make it fair but it's wrong. –  Alain R. Nov 7 '12 at 16:31
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