When I talk about Meta here, I mean any meta but this one.

I understand the Idea behind “Your vote is now locked in unless this answer is edited”. However, I don't think this reason applies to meta sites and have some reasons why I think votes on meta sites shouldn't get locked:

Opinions change:
I thought a feature-request was just stupid and I downvoted it. Later on, after reading the answers, I saw the ideas behind it (which weren't included in the question), and wanted to upvote it - but I couldn't. Of course, the question was written badly, but ...

Votes on meta work in a different way,
as they indicate (dis)agreement instead of usefulness. So in my example, the question wasn't really useful as-is, but I did agree, after hearing the ideas behind it.

You don't get reputation on Meta,
so there is no reason to tactically downvote1.


What would you say of disabling the lock-vote feature on meta sites?

And no,
There is no problem with users who go bumping posts by up- and downvoting all the time (as suggested in the comments) since votes don't bump - thanks Hugo and cpast.

Some very clear examples of when you want this

  • Moderator pro tempore elections - what if a nominated user does something stupid and you want to remove your upvote? Nope, too late.

  • Feature-requests can get more useful after a new feature implemented (e.g. when there's a request for changing the footer that you downvoted, and then the team changes the footer in such a way that you want to upvote it instead)

1: as Shog9♦ points out, there still is a reason to tactically downvote: when you've answered a question yourself as well, then downvote the other answers to get your answer shown higher. I don't think this is a real problem with this feature-request, but a problem we have now too and will probably always have.

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    Interesting idea. – Andrew Barber Mar 13 '13 at 16:15
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    That's a very good idea in my opinion. All your points are valid. – Madara's Ghost Mar 13 '13 at 16:51
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    @HugoDozois Does voting affect the 'active' rating? Didn't know that. Hmm, thinking.. this should be resolvable - good point, anyway! – Keelan Mar 13 '13 at 18:12
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    @Hugo Votes do not bump the post. – cpast Mar 13 '13 at 18:24
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    @cpast that seems to be true after research. Camil you can now add that into your arguments! – Hugo Dozois Mar 13 '13 at 18:26
  • @HugoDozois Done, thanks for the link! – Keelan Mar 13 '13 at 18:44
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    I agree, especially for older questions that were never resolved -- you come back to them with fresh eyes, your opinion has become more clear, and unless you make a gratuitious edit, you're stuck with what you thought a year ago. Meta should be allowed to be more flexible. – Monica Cellio Mar 13 '13 at 19:05
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    Wonderful suggestion, Camil, hope it gets the status-completed tag ;) – brasofilo Mar 13 '13 at 22:11
  • (You should edit/bump this post so it get more visibility! It's a good suggestion!) And I have been having this problem lately on some meta...! – Hugo Dozois Apr 9 '13 at 15:06
  • @HugoDozois I've done that some times already, but okay :) – Keelan Apr 9 '13 at 15:07
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    @CamilStaps You should not be making trivial minor edits to bump a post. Only edit if you have something substantial to do that will truly improve it. If you want to give attention to a post you can put a bounty on it if you can't find any way of editing it to really make it better. – Servy Apr 9 '13 at 15:16
  • @Servy that was my fault! So I placed a bounty. – Hugo Dozois Apr 9 '13 at 15:42
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    Can I change my vote? My opinion has changed. Thanks! – user206222 Apr 16 '13 at 7:46
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    Votes should not be locked on any sites meta.stackexchange.com/a/135393/163139 – Michael Freidgeim Apr 20 '13 at 0:07
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    Votes should not be locked on any sites. This hurts the accuracy of the site while helping nothing. – endolith Jun 6 '14 at 23:45

This should be implemented. Sometimes your opinion changes on a question after seeing the comments/answers or just after going away (outside? is that real? Wow the new cry engine is sooo realistic!) and re-thinking about it.

We should not be obliged to wait for an edit to be able to change our voice. Meta is about making the things going on and part of this is being able to express ourselves properly without having to hack an edit to make a vote change.

It happened to me today, where I found a question, that I had downvoted some time ago. After seeing some new answers and comments (which gave more precision) or after realizing that that feature was needed while doing stuff on the network, it made me realize that this could (and should) be implemented, and that it would be a great idea. But the meta did not see the situation in the same way!

Votes are locked after the first 5 minutes.

Sadly, I guess, I am obliged to stay against that idea then... Unless, someone edits that post AND that I stumble on the post again (AND realize it has been edited) AND change my vote.

That's a whole lot of things that have to happen in order for me to be able to change my vote!

I'm not saying that votes on meta should be ephemeral or always changing, but you should be able to change your opinion if someone brings up new facts and ideas in answers or comments, without someone editing the question.

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    It's just so sad you cannot give yourself the bounty... ;) – Keelan Apr 15 '13 at 20:23
  • @CamilStaps Haha I know!Though, I do consider giving it to djechlin because he is the only one who took a stand and answered, even though he knew he would get downvoted. And he does bring some nice arguments – Hugo Dozois Apr 15 '13 at 20:27
  • It's your choice - it's a sportsmanlike decision, I just hope it wouldn't get interpreted as "I agree with this". But as you added an answer yourself, it probably won't. – Keelan Apr 15 '13 at 20:29
  • I considered expanding my comments into an answer, but you got there first and covered the same territory. – Monica Cellio Apr 15 '13 at 21:16
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    It's should be implemented on all sites meta.stackexchange.com/a/135393/163139 – Michael Freidgeim Apr 20 '13 at 0:08
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    These arguments apply to all the other sites, too. – endolith Jun 7 '14 at 0:00
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    Why not do a trivial edit and upvote it? – Unitato says Reinstate Monica Aug 29 '17 at 1:21
  • @UnitatosaysReinstateMonica, it’s better to change unnecessary restriction than people will cheat to bypass it. Also the cheat is not available for low reputation users. – Michael Freidgeim May 15 at 23:00

This question has 120 upvotes and is two years old. There's only one reply by SE staff, Shog9, and it's not really an answer to the feature request.

Here's where this is most important. If you've been participating on a meta site for several years, the site policy sometimes changes. Never mind my own opinion, the entire site has since superseded an old policy from 2011 with a new policy from 2014. I should be allowed to change my vote on that old 2011 post without having to edit it. It's confusing to new users when they see an old post with tons of upvotes supporting something that I just told them was not allowed. And if that's not enough, we all have the right to change our minds about any topic, for any reason, and hence vote and re-vote accordingly.

I discovered an additional area where it is necessary to let me change my vote: The nomination phase of an election. We had an election on a site recently and I changed my mind about my vote on two candidates nomination. So I edited the posts just to change my vote. And I reserve the right to change my vote anytime for any reason, so I don't want to hear any crap like "you should have thought about it more before voting".

Let's push this through already, or at least get a proper response from the SE staff.


You don't get reputation on Meta, so there is no reason to tactically downvote.

I don't feel strongly one way or the other about this suggestion, but I do want to dispute this particular assertion...

Folks might vote tactically on Meta for the same reason they'd speak tactfully with their local politicians: you want to influence how the place is run. Particularly on smaller metas, where a half-dozen voters might be all you can expect, getting your answer ranked a little better can make your ideas seem that much more popular...

The advantages would tend to be fairly limited - but then, I've never found tactical voting on questions that aren't watercooler nonsense particularly useful either. If the compiler sez you're wrong, down-voting competing answers doesn't help you much.

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    You'll always keep people downvoting other answers, and that's possible on meta now too. So my statement that there is no reason to tactically downvote is invalid, but the point that there is no reason to tactically downvote for the rep is still valid, I believe. – Keelan Apr 16 '13 at 5:31
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    I was never clear on whether folks were supposedly retracting down-votes to regain the rep or just to hide their tracks. The vote-locking implementation would suggest the latter. – Shog9 Apr 16 '13 at 5:32
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    Ah, I see. Yes, that might be a problem - but wouldn't the downvoting be saved in the database/logs somewhere and visible for 10k/mods? – Keelan Apr 16 '13 at 5:34
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    Votes are soft-deleted, so a developer could see them if necessary... But they're not exactly obvious to your average reader, who would presumably be the target for such shenanigans. Pulling a dev in to investigate every suspected instance of such gaming isn't really feasible. – Shog9 Apr 16 '13 at 5:35
  • Hmm. But isn't that a problem now as well? Anyone can go downvoting and remove the votes when other answers have been edited. At least on main sites I've seen that happening. (Perhaps we should just make it impossible to downvote answers when you've answered the same question, but I'm not sure about that, random idea) – Keelan Apr 16 '13 at 5:38
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    Any progress on this feature-request? – Keelan May 3 '13 at 18:19
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    Locking-in votes doesn't prevent you from downvoting competing answers. – endolith Aug 17 '14 at 0:20
  • Strictly-speaking, the "tactical downvoting" this restriction was implemented to prevent involves downvoting all other answers until your own garners enough votes to sit at the top anyway, then retracting your votes, @endolith. – Shog9 Aug 18 '14 at 20:40
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    @shog9 "Tactical downvoting" is when you downvote other answers to make yours rise to the top. Locking in votes does nothing to prevent or discourage this. All it does is make things worse by preventing the downvoter from undoing the damage later. Making the rep penalty for downvoting permanent would have the same effect, without locking-in incorrect information. – endolith Aug 24 '14 at 0:15
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    In my experience, sites that are small enough to have only half a dozen or so regulars are also small enough that all of them read everything, so tactical voting wouldn't push competing answers out of view. – Monica Cellio Jan 16 '15 at 18:12
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    Any chance SE staff will look into this again? – user212646 Feb 7 '17 at 15:20
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    Considering we just had to deal with rage-quit voting shenanigans again yesterday, I'm disinclined to mess with this, @fredsbend. If anything, we probably need stricter rate-limits on top. – Shog9 Feb 7 '17 at 20:14
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    @Shog9 An interesting topic, but I don't see that as more than tangential to this topic. If you want to tighten voting windows or whatever because of the stray rage-quitter, that's a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water. – user212646 Feb 7 '17 at 20:36
  • I don't think we should touch the voting windows, @fredsbend. We have means of combating most of the abuse noted in the other thread, and should probably try to keep it that way. – Shog9 Feb 7 '17 at 20:57
  • The abuse noted in that thread seems specific to being able to alter users reputation. That makes it a complete non-event in the highly requested change of changing votes on meta.. – Gnemlock Feb 7 '17 at 21:15

At 150 upvotes, and almost 4 years old, it is disappointing to see no response to this feature request. It seems obvious that users want this feature. The changes should be implemented, or at least, we should be given an adequate explanation on why it should not be (one that does not simply reflect the Stack Overflow team disagreeing with all of the users that have cared to upvote this question and the corresponding answers).

What about rage-quitters? Well.. we should be handling that pretty well, anyway..

Note that secondary meta sites do not have reputation. As a result, the user reputation issues brought up in the post linked to as a 'reason not to' by Shog9 is a non-event. If a user deletes their profile, remove all of their meta votes, regardless of reputation. There are two reasons we should already be doing this: 1. As mentioned, there is no reputation at stake, so there is no unnecessary penalty to other users. 2. If that user is no longer a member of that community, I would humbly suggest they no longer have a say in meta. Their votes, positive or negative, should be removed to reflect the fact that that user is no longer a part of that community.

It could be said that we don't really know if everyone that voted for this still agrees. That is one of the points we are trying to raise. We want to know what people think now; not 2-4 years ago.

I have run into issues, recently, where a new answer posted to a question I asked in meta convinced me of issues concerning another answer, which I had previously upvoted. On some sites, meta participation1 is almost non-existant. This appears to be the case on GameDev. As such, it would be beneficial to be able to retract or reverse my votes based off a change of opinion.

It has been said that we should be sure of our opinion, but this does not address the fact that as human beings, we are entitle to change our opinion. You can spend a long time in personal contemplation, only to have your view changed through the better explanation of another point of view.

1 We get high views, but nobody ever votes to actually participate.

  • There is a response, just no decision yet. You can ping Shog with a comment, asking if he reached a decision about this request, one way or the other. :) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Feb 7 '17 at 7:56
  • +1 for removing user's votes on meta. – Nathan Tuggy Apr 12 '17 at 0:12
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    +1 but disagree with removing all of a user's votes on meta. This adds the problem that older (but still relevant) discussions would tend towards '0' votes, and clearly established (at the time) community consensus would become muddied as a result. Leave in the already existent date-threshold, where a user's votes after a certain age (can't remember the exact threshold, 6-months?) will remain on the site should they choose to leave. – Robotnik May 2 '17 at 1:28
  • @Robotbik, actually, thats a much better idea. Regardless, I dont see it happening. – Gnemlock May 2 '17 at 3:31

We should encourage users to think through their opinions carefully before voting.

  • If a user receives more information that changes her opinion, then she should edit the answer to include new information, or post the new information as a new answer.
  • If her opinion changes because another answer is better, then more often that one is deserving of an upvote, and while she may "agree" with the original answer - well, this is only partly about whether you agree, it's about whether the answer was good enough to make you agree.
  • If her opinion changes for no reason whatsoever, then what's to stop it for changing for no reason whatsoever again? She should gain more information before locking in a vote, and get in the habit of not voting when it's still highly likely for this to happen.

Anyway, the bottom line point I am making is that it is good to think of a quality answer as one that brings people to agree with it, and bad to measure just by whether you agree with the basic opinion. Of course viewpoints become entrenched and periodically we take votes. But the quality of posts on all meta's is drastically increased by the idea that quality answers bring people to agree with them and build consensus, and this should be espoused.

Ultimately, we went with the SE approach to host meta.SO as well because at the end of the day, our discussions are more productive when they are not driven by flippant opinions, but driven by well-formulated, high-quality, persuasive answers and arguments. And this forum teaches its users that opinions may be formulated soundly and from reason and facts, that really shouldn't change unless the reasons or facts do. This makes meta awesome and we should continue encouraging it.

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    ...and here you have your own counterargument. "...driven by well-formulated, high-quality, persuasive answers and arguments." If you come to a question early, and actually, honestly think, and vote on the question accordingly, and then someone comes along later and posts a particularly persuasive answer, should that answer not be permitted to persuade you, even without an edit to the question? – Ben Barden Apr 9 '13 at 18:16
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    @BenBarden Exactly what I was going to write. If you get persuaded by comments OR another answer you should be able to change your vote on the question. – Hugo Dozois Apr 9 '13 at 18:17
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    "well, this isn't about whether you agree, it's first and foremost about whether it was a quality answer." Voting means something different on a child Meta. – Keelan Apr 9 '13 at 18:18
  • @BenBarden not sure if I'm following. There can be two good answers, one better? – djechlin Apr 9 '13 at 18:41
  • @CamilStaps really? That sounds awful, and like answers really need to have better quality. – djechlin Apr 9 '13 at 18:43
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    Yeah - didn't you read the entire question? "Votes on meta work in a different way, as they indicate (dis)agreement instead of usefulness." – Keelan Apr 9 '13 at 18:43
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    @CamilStaps but everything I wrote applies. Don't disagree until you've thought about the question enough to be reasonably certain the answer did not persuade you. I don't want people voting and not caring because they can change it when or if they get around to thinking about it more. – djechlin Apr 9 '13 at 18:45
  • Neh, your thought I quoted in my first comment is still as wrong as before. – Keelan Apr 9 '13 at 18:46
  • @CamilStaps edited to make it sound less dichotomous. Quality is prerequisite to agreeing here. – djechlin Apr 9 '13 at 18:50
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    I still disagree. My meta-votes purely indicate agreement, not quality. – Keelan Apr 9 '13 at 18:53
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    @djechlin That's true, but not what I was saying. What I was saying is that you can have your opinion on whether or not you agree with the question changed by sufficiently compelling arguments in answers or comments, and that this is a good thing. You should be permitted to change your vote on the question if this occurs. – Ben Barden Apr 9 '13 at 18:54
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    @djechlin, particularly for betas, a lot can change in a year. Things that seemed like a good idea in the first month or two turn out to be terrible ideas, or vice-versa. Short of editing everything (feels abusive) or re-asking old questions, there's no way to recover. I don't want to see people editing posts just to change their votes. Also, doing so removes the anonymity of the vote, for anyone who's paying attention. – Monica Cellio Apr 9 '13 at 18:59
  • @HugoDozois aww that's sweet. But you make it sound like I don't actually agree with my highly-downvoted opinion... – djechlin Apr 16 '13 at 20:58
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    Awarded the bounty because you are the only who stand up with their opinion against the idea and had the bravery to say it out loud! – Hugo Dozois Apr 16 '13 at 21:00
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    This seems to constantly ignore the fact that a - meta votes are intended to imply agreement, not quality, and b - a well thought out opinion can still be changed by elements such as late arguments made by other users and overall change to site policy that directly conflicts with that original opinion. – Gnemlock Feb 7 '17 at 2:16

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