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Searched, no duplicates I could find on this proposal. The editing an answer without showing that the question was 'edited' is a nice feature of SO. Unfortunately, sometimes answers are written incomplete either intentionally or unintentionally. Therefore, the answerer goes out obtains more information and completes the question fully. Meanwhile, the answer has been downvoted. Sometimes there is a comment that the answer is missing something, which the answerer already noticed and yet it is downvoted. Even after editing and the problem is fixed, the original downvoter does not go back and re-up the vote.

So, is there any interest in preventing upvoting/downvoting for at least the first five minutes? (edit grace period)

Edit1: Everyone thinks this is a FGITW problem.. it's not.

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FGITW is no game for whiners. – Ladybug Killer Dec 20 '09 at 14:54
up vote 3 down vote accepted

No. Even if one's answer is incomplete, it can still be correct, even if it doesn't have citations, code examples etc to back it up yet, and so deserves that upvote. I very often post a very terse abbreviated answer as my initial response (if it's an active time of the day and I'm in the mood to play FGITW). Likewise, if my initial answer is wrong it deserves to get downvoted immediately.

However, your suggestion does have merits for one reason: the edit window (for the initial edit) is longer than the vote-change window, so if someone downvotes my answer for being incomplete or unsatisfying in some other way, and then within 5 minutes I follow up with improvements, they then cannot remove their downvote or change to an upvote. (See here and here for more discussion of this issue.) This needs to be fixed.

Your suggestion also made me start thinking about disallowing the OP from accepting an answer right away. A few times lately I have answered a question that was posted quite recently (say within an hour or two) which already has an answer on it that has been accepted, although that answer is incomplete or not as complete as an answer I can give. Sometimes the OP comes back to revisit the question and upvotes me and accepts my better answer, but usually not. Accepting an answer too soon discourages future answers, so we should at least warn the OP about this, or outright prohibit accepting answers too soon.

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A "voting grace period" is the period of time the author should spend in the editor composing a well-thought-out answer answer, editing, researching, and revising. Not after they hit the Post button.

If an answer contains wrong or harmful information, it needs to be down-voted as quickly as possible. Questions and answers have the most visibility in the first few minutes of the question. That is when they are most vulnerable to causing harm. The vetting of answers is a vital part of Stack Overflow. Withholding that information would be a horrible idea.

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The problem with this is that it would be changing the system for every answer, just to fix a problem that only exists for a small proportion of answers. If someone leaves a really good or bad answer in the first 5 minutes, you want to vote on it immediately.

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If someone wants to post a place holder as a visible and voteable answer, just so they can be first, let the downvotes come flooding in.

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It's not an issue of being first.. it's an issue of an unintentionally incomplete answer by even the second or third answerer. – Brian Dec 20 '09 at 14:59
If it is unintentional, then how will the author know it is incomplete if it doesn't receive down-votes? They'll have no indication that it is not being received well. – Robert Cartaino Dec 20 '09 at 15:05
By the comments?! – Brian Dec 20 '09 at 15:09
So comments of approval/disapproval will replace voting when voting is disabled. Voting is the intended function of expressing approval/disapproval of a post. Comments are an adjunct. – Robert Cartaino Dec 20 '09 at 15:16
If it's not about being first, then why do they need to be saved for five minutes when they can write it up properly in that time before posting? – random Dec 20 '09 at 15:39
@random: Because everyone makes mistakes – Brian Dec 20 '09 at 16:06

Bad answers are poisonous, because they can mislead some. Lacking the option to vote just diverts some users' attention. Do you honestly think that all bad answers are edited within those 5 minutes to correct them?

Good answers can help the community; if I can simply upvote an answer and give my stamp of approval, why not do it? I don't want to write a comment, I don't want to write an answer that says "do what X wrote", I just want to upvote. Good answers are even better if they're fast.

I would think that answering a question fast and being able to vote on the validity of the answer is a feature, not a bug that needs correcting.

Your proposed solution will lead to abuse of the system. You've got 5 minutes in which your answer is shielded from downvotes. This is just a recipe for disaster: I can write anything during that time without fear or reprisal. Why not either:

  • think it through before submitting or
  • delete, edit and undelete if you see your mistake.

Both these options save you from downvotes, save us from being angered by the inability to downvote and save the developers' time.

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Ok fair enough - but deleting does not recover rep – Brian Dec 20 '09 at 17:10
@Roboto: Deleting does recover rep, you just have to request a rep recalc. Flag any of your questions or answers for moderator attention and ask for a recalc in the message. – Bill the Lizard Dec 20 '09 at 18:58
@Bill: I just looked at a deleted answer here:… and there is no flag link – Brian Dec 20 '09 at 19:22
@Roboto: You can flag any question or answer to request a recalc, it doesn't have to be deleted. It doesn't even have to be your own. (I'm not sure where that flag link goes, though, or why it disappears.) – Bill the Lizard Dec 24 '09 at 17:15
@Bill: Gotcha. I sent an email to the SO team and got a recalc – Brian Dec 29 '09 at 15:07

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