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This question isn't about whether the code of SO actually prevents you from voting after posting an answer, I know that's possible. I've answered many questions correctly only to find a different-but-equally-valid answer posted five minutes later. I upvote such answers, no problem there.

I'm wondering about what happens in the above situation if the "five minutes later answers" are wrong or not-exactly-incorrect-but-problematic-for-some-reason. If I saw that happen, I would want to downvote the other answers, but I would be afraid of setting off whatever mechanism SO uses to detect tactical downvotes (AKA "angering the ATWOOD").

The best solution I can think of is leaving comments indicating what's wrong with the other answers and hoping other people perform the downvotes, but that seems... suboptimal. And it barely works at all if the other answers are already heavily upvoted. Does anyone have a better idea?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

It's absolutely fine (IMO) to downvote other answers in questions that you've answered, assuming your downvote is legitimate. Indeed, often I'll answer a question precisely to counteract the misinformation written in other answers. (Sometimes a comment doesn't give enough details.)

If you have good reason to believe that an answer is misleading or unhelpful, why wouldn't it be reasonable to downvote it?

Remember that the main purpose of the site is to provide accurate information, not feed egos. If your correct answer becomes more prominent and attract more votes partly because you've downvoted an incorrect answer, that's the system working well. No-one benefits from a correct answer being hard to distinguish from an incorrect one because you wanted to be sportsmanlike :)

Of course, this assumes that you're absolutely convinced that the other answer is incorrect. Downvoting another answer because you feel it competes with your answer, so you won't get as much rep, would be entirely inappropriate.

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+1 Agreed (and with your comment on @Neil's answer). The only reason to downvote is if an answer is wrong or unhelpful. Comments are great if an answer can be improved to make it correct. If it's simply wrong and, especially, if it's wrong and has upvotes, a downvote is appropriate regardless of whether you've contributed an answer. In fact, I'd likely contribute an answer if I saw a wrong answer getting upvotes and I hadn't answered already. –  tvanfosson Apr 26 '10 at 14:54
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You can downvote other answers on a question you've answered. I refrain from this normally (if you have the best answer, it should get upvoted above the others, let the community decide), but I've done it before when an answer is just blatantly, horribly wrong. It doesn't anger any of the Gods of Voting. I'll also upvote other answers on the same question, if they're different from mine but still correct.

In other cases I'll just leave a comment. I usually do that anyway instead of downvoting - give people a chance to improve their answers first if they're only sort of wrong.

Actually, SO doesn't block "tactical" voting at all as far as I know, it just blocks mass voting, i.e. if you downvote 10 answers from the same user within 20 minutes. (Note: This should not be interpreted as a factual statement about the actual vote limit - that number is unknown.)

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The Gods of Voting are very very fickle creatures indeed. Sometimes they are not stirred from months of unpiety, and then they suddenly rise to the full force of their wrath and unleash hellfire and doom upon the land. It probably needs more sacrifices. –  Ether Apr 26 '10 at 14:46
    
@Ether: Do I hear a volunteer? –  Aarobot Apr 26 '10 at 19:47
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I think it is poor practice to downvote answers to a question that you have provided an answer to, At best, it seems mean-spirited, and at worst does indeed smack of tactical voting. The only time I actually downvote another answer is when the answer is dangerously wrong, suggesting a course that could cause damage to questioner, in which case I'd also leave a comment.

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@Neil: That's the reason I downvote an answer too... and that criterion is entirely independent of whether you've supplied an answer yourself. –  Jon Skeet Apr 26 '10 at 14:20
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