I saw what looked like a good answer, and immediately upvoted it.

Then, as a good citizen, I decided to reserve my right to vote until I'd ensured that the answer was valid. So I immediately withdrew my vote. This worked fine. At this point in time I had voted in neither direction.

After following the links in the answer and surveying the other answers provided, I decided that it was indeed a good answer, and I tried to vote it up.

But now I was told I couldn't upvote it, because that would be changing my vote. But I hadn't voted yet.

Hey I know it's a minor case... but it punished good behaviour. So I thought I ought to lodge it.

(similar to, but not a duplicate of, question 6250)

  • 29
    I was just caught by this too. It's very annoying :( IMHO, if the vote is undone within seconds, this shouldn't be counted as a vote. – Johannes Schaub - litb Sep 18 '09 at 18:52
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    Totally agree on this one, and still don't understand why SO adopted this policy. It happens many times to give an upvote to an answer that after reading it again you change your mind, but unfortunately when you try to undo your up vote you get that damn box saying: "You last voted on this answer ... ago, your vote is now locked unless the answer is edited". What the hell, I changed my mind, and I want to UNDO my vote, I'm not tricking or modifying anything just UNDOING!!!! – Marco Demaio Aug 18 '10 at 19:33
  • @Jeff: What exactly is now "completed"? – user541686 Apr 12 '11 at 2:06
  • 1
    @Mehrdad Cancelled votes no longer count. – waiwai933 Apr 12 '11 at 4:23
  • @waiwai: Oh what! GO JEFF!! :D – user541686 Apr 12 '11 at 4:25
  • 3
    This mechanism is basically the same as throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Or using a shotgun to kill a common housefly. There's... 1%? Fewer, far fewer (Jeff's own words). Of people gaming the system (like that or otherwise). But it annoys many more. Net gain: negative. – Jürgen A. Erhard May 15 '11 at 1:17
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    I too don't like this system. I voted up an answer, then realised 20min later it wasn't the best solution. But can't remove my upvote :( – Blackbird Jun 5 '12 at 12:02
  • 1
    It should be possible to change votes forever, at any time. If you're worried about people gaming the system, make it cost rep. Locking-in votes does nothing but degrade the quality of the site by making mistakes permanent. – endolith May 11 '14 at 6:00
  • @Leon Bambrick, I agree it was a bad option with SE and it looks as if i'm one of the victim. The same situation happened to me in SO. Hope it will be rectified. – GIRI May 28 '14 at 3:52

To help curb "tactical-downvoting," up/down voting:

  • has a small window where you may undo a vote
  • locked-in votes can be changed after the post is edited

If you vote and then undo the vote, you can still come back later and cast another up/down vote - only cast votes are locked in.

To be clear, if there is no lit up/down vote arrow on a post, you may vote on it.

Based on all the "vote too old" feedback, I modified the text to make the timed vote locking a bit more clear:

You last voted on this question

Mar 28 at 7:55

Your vote is now locked in

unless this question is edited

Where "question" and "answer" are substitutions.

  • 11
    Keep the lock timer, but only lock votes that are up or down, so you can always vote from a neutral position. – xan Mar 18 '11 at 0:21
  • @xan, my thoughts exactly – mpontillo Mar 26 '11 at 15:33
  • 1
    @xan this has been implemented. – Jarrod Dixon Apr 8 '11 at 18:59
  • @Jarrod: Errrm ... what? I do like this, but didn't Jeff talk about all those possible exploits? Like you answer a question at the same time as two others, downvote their answers and after 4:55 minutes revert your downvotes? Or am I getting something wrong here? – Hendrik Vogt Apr 8 '11 at 19:16
  • Isn't the undo window much shorter, @Hendrik? – Arjan Apr 8 '11 at 19:22
  • 4
    @Hendrik - that was always possible. This fixes the "but I haven't voted" problem where people vote, undo the vote and then try to vote again later. – ChrisF Apr 8 '11 at 19:23
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    Is the following course of actions expected? Downvote post → Vote locked in → Post Edited → Downvote retracted → Vote is kept unlocked until a proper up/down vote. This is the current behavior that I'm seeing, and it can make sense, but I just want to check that this is the expected behavior. – Grace Note Apr 8 '11 at 19:27
  • And: is a vote that has been undone still somehow tracked? If not, then @Hendrik has a point in that, earlier, such tracking might have been the reason to even lock undone votes? (I like the change though!) – Arjan Apr 8 '11 at 19:36
  • @Arjan: As I said, I do like the change, I'm just wondering about what seems like a 180° turn to me. The info about the 5 minutes window comes from Jeff. And in that very post, Jeff talks about how the old behaviour is a measure against possible exploits. – Hendrik Vogt Apr 8 '11 at 19:40
  • (See also Jeff's answer about tactical downvoting.) – Arjan Apr 8 '11 at 19:40
  • 1
    @Grace yes, that's what we're fixing with this change. – Jarrod Dixon Apr 8 '11 at 19:49
  • 1
    Excellent, then, @Jarrod. It seems you also addressed this early report at the same time, care to post a response to that degree? – Grace Note Apr 8 '11 at 19:51
  • 1
    @Grace haha, [status-completed] – Jarrod Dixon Apr 8 '11 at 19:54
  • 1
    @Hendrik we're no longer looking at undone, deleted votes when determining your voting rights - if there is no visual indicator of an up/down state, you can vote on the post. – Jarrod Dixon Apr 8 '11 at 20:43
  • 1
    Votes should not be locked in at all. If we realize our vote was wrong, we should be able to change it. Locking in votes makes mistakes permanent and misleads readers. – endolith May 11 '14 at 6:01

I've encountered the same behavior here today... So far, my guess is that it's due to the recent change to the undo window, but I haven't been able to reproduce it consistently... Until now!

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Downvote a post.
  2. Undo your downvote.
  3. Wait three minutes.
  4. Note that you cannot now cast any vote on that post.
  • 7
    Nice steps. Note that the problem also occurs if you were undoing an Up vote. – Leon Bambrick Aug 28 '09 at 4:14

I've come across something similar:

  • Upvoted a good answer.
  • 1 hour passes.
  • The answer is edited. The vote-lock clock resets.
  • I undo my vote b/c the answer changed and I thought it was now worse.
  • Within a few seconds, I realize it was actually ok, and I upvote but it's intercepted with "Vote too old to be changed".

If nothing else, the error message is inaccurate. The vote was 3 seconds fresh.

  • 4
    Heh... yeah, i've done similar (sadly, when a technical answer is edited, i tend to see at first what i hoped to see - real corrections - rather than what actually was changed). On the bright side, it's prompted me to do more editing of answers, since then i can change my vote! – Shog9 Aug 29 '09 at 20:48
  • Ah, didn't know that workaround, thanks for the tip. – hyperslug Aug 29 '09 at 20:55
  • 2
    I think the message is very confusing...especially if the post does not show as you having voted on it. e.g. voted and withdrawn and then return to the page days later. – Randy supports Monica Oct 8 '09 at 4:03

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