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EDIT:

This Vulnerability has been fixed! THANK YOU!

Peoples minds change. Sometimes you misunderstand the answer or question you gave out a needless -1s. To fix the situation I am forced to edit their post so that I can take back my -1. Maybe I'll just add a punctuation mark or some white space, after all I don't want to affect their meaning. After that I can change my vote. So why make an arbitrary rule that is trivial to bypass?

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This is a dupe, so I'll keep it short: Now it is trackable who did it, because your edit shows up in the edit history of the post. Thus, you cannot downvote others without notice to make your own vote shiny, and then change your vote a few hours later when you gained rep. –  Ladybug Killer Jul 25 '10 at 7:52
    
@ladybug killer so then you aren't going to patch it. –  Rook Jul 25 '10 at 17:35
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"sometimes I'm having a bad day and I get upset and give people needless -1s" This should cost you a significant amount of rep so that you stop doing it. –  endolith Nov 18 '11 at 15:51
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3 Answers

Most people don't have edit capabilities, I am afraid.

And I'm also sure that the behavior you described, while certainly imagined by the developers of the system, is not exactly wanted behavior for someone with the capability to edit.

Surely, this behavior is (possibly mild) abuse of edit capability?

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Or maybe the person who built it doesn't have the twisted mind needed for security. –  Rook Jul 25 '10 at 17:43
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I noticed when you first downvoted my answer while simultaneously copying a large section of it into your own, although I hadn't realized until now you took it back after you finished editing your answer and it was well ahead in votes. I almost posted something on meta originally, I even got to the ask question page, but decided it wasn't worth getting in a fight about it. But since you brought it up -- not cool

As to your actual question, it's considered the accepted way to get around the downvote restriction when you've legitimately made a mistake, although I think it's hoped that by the time people have sufficient rep to edit posts (let alone being close to moderator tools) they've gotten past silliness like strategic downvoting

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I think we figured it out independently, at the time i thought you copied it from me and thats why i down voted you. In all honesty it was a really simple puzzle, i just took it a little further. –  Rook Jul 25 '10 at 17:22
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@The I'm well aware you were the first to post, the timeline view is helpful here. You posted "I suspect that this is a backdoor, and you should remove it immediately.", with no explanation of how it worked. I answered 5 minutes later, because I took time to actually answer the question asked. You started editing 10 minutes after that, and incorporated the explanation of how the backdoor actually worked (which included my entire answer, whether you did the work yourself or copied it) a full 17 minutes after me, so I clearly didn't copy yours –  Michael Mrozek Jul 25 '10 at 17:59
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@The In short, you did (inadvertently or not) everything I dislike when answering a question -- you posted a weak answer quickly so you'd be in "first", downvoted a competing answer, edited your answer long afterwards to include things from that answer, and then took your downvote back later after you had more upvotes. Whether or not that was malicious and intentional can't be determined from my end, but it certainly seemed like it. Pretending here like your initial answer included the details from mine when you actually edited it in far later just makes it more likely you did this on purpose –  Michael Mrozek Jul 25 '10 at 18:01
    
I have no interest in fighting with you. In that 17 min I was working on running the backdoor on my machine and then cropping the screen shot. You can think whatever you want, but I figured out this VERY simple problem on my own. If enjoy this type of problem and you want something more complex you should check out my whitebox project (code.google.com/p/thewhitebox), In the crypto challenges there is some obfuscated php malware which i found in the wild which is more complex. –  Rook Jul 25 '10 at 18:49
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Yes, people change their minds or make mistakes, and this is why we should always be able to change votes. Locking votes prevents this, and leaves good answers with downvotes they don't deserve, hurting the answerer and the readers.

Unfortunately, some people are dicks and give people needless downvotes because they're having a bad day, or because they want to promote their own answer even though the other answers are correct. This also leaves good answers with downvotes they don't deserve, hurting the answerers and the readers. This doesn't happen very often, because most people are decent, but it does happen sometimes and should be strongly discouraged. Locking votes does little to discourage this behavior. People can still downvote competing answers to make their own look good, and gain more points in upvotes than they lost in making downvotes. Locking votes doesn't prevent them from doing wrong; it just prevents them from undoing the damage later. The net effect is worse than if votes were not locked.

The solution is not to lock votes, but to incur a rep penalty for bad behavior. When you downvote a competing answer and then change it back to an upvote later, you should permanently lose rep, enough that there's no incentive to maliciously downvote others.

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A person who knows a subject well can often provide a correct answer and downvote an incorrect one. This is desired behaviour for this site. They might retract that downvote after an edit or after reading comments. In the meantime their correct answer might get upvotes. All of this is good behaviour. No software (and quite possibly no human) can tell whether a particular pattern of votes is the "bad behaviour" you describe in your answer, or good behaviour. I feel the good is more common, and the system's rules seem to be written from that perspective. –  Kate Gregory Nov 18 '11 at 16:12
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At some point you have to rely on people being civil, rather than just imposing more rules, especially automated ones. For those people who can't seem to control themselves, we still have the penalty box. –  Robert Harvey Nov 18 '11 at 16:13
    
@KateGregory: Downvoting a wrong answer is a good thing, and should not incur a rep penalty. Downvoting a correct answer to compete with it, and then changing it back later, should incur a rep penalty. Of course the software can't determine with 100% accuracy whether something is malicious, but locking votes doesn't solve this problem, and does far more collateral damage than a vote-changing rep penalty would. –  endolith Nov 18 '11 at 16:21
    
@RobertHarvey: Agreed. The vote-locking rule is too dumb and broad and needs to be removed. Patterns of egregious abuse should be dealt with by suspension of accounts, not by imposing rules that hurt everyone. –  endolith Nov 18 '11 at 16:23
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@endolith I am saying that the current algorithm (assume the downvote and later reverse [reverse being allowed only after an edit] is always good behaviour, no heuristics) is more accurate, closer to reality, than the proposed algorithm (assume a downvote and later reverse is always bad behaviour) or any algorithm between the two you can invent. Partly because I think good behaviour far outweighs bad and partly because I feel these heuristics would still be gameable (false negatives) while triggering false positives. –  Kate Gregory Nov 18 '11 at 16:24
    
@KateGregory: I didn't propose a specific algorithm, but preventing people from changing votes does more damage than any rep penalty algorithm would. The vote-locking does nothing to stop the problem and is already gameable anyway, as evidenced by this very question. –  endolith Nov 18 '11 at 16:28
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