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None of the SE sites I know of adjust their upvote/downvote/favorite and accept answer icons when you hover over them. I believe this could make things clearer.

Especially for the accept answer icon I believe this would help a lot. I find the distinction between the not accepted and accepted icon on Programmers.SE particularly bad. The outlines on StackOverflow indicate a clear difference.

I asked the question on UX.SE as well, as it is particularly relevant there. Perhaps they can add some scientific evidence.

Furthermore, I belief the icons should be at least consistent, which is also not the case on StackOverflow. Up and downvote doesn't have an outline, while favorite and accept answer does. Again, let's see what the UX.SE guys have to tell about it. ;)

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I think the "change on hover" effect can be overused. Not to mention that so many elements on each page have lots of fantastic tooltips that should be displayed on hover already that serve the exact purpose of what you want.

Tooltips on up/downvote:

This question is useful and clear (click again to undo)

This question is unclear or not useful (click again to undo)

Tooltip on accept checkmark (with last part only on accepted answers):

Click to set this answer as your accepted answer; click again to toggle. Accepted N min/hours/days ago

And there are tooltips on just about every time string on the page and every user, etc. This text is far clearer to me than any icon state change would be.

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The tooltips are useful, but unfortunately only show up after a while. They could be made more useful when made dynamic, so they show the correct message based on the current action that would be performed. – Steven Jeuris Apr 30 '11 at 0:32
@Steven they show up damn near instantly for me, and they are dynamic - see what said about the accept button? – Daniel DiPaolo Apr 30 '11 at 0:45

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