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. Commented Sep 18, 2009 at 18:52
  • 9
    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!!!! Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 19:33
  • @Jeff: What exactly is now "completed"?
    – user541686
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 2:06
  • 2
    @Mehrdad Cancelled votes no longer count.
    – waiwai933
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 4:23
  • @waiwai: Oh what! GO JEFF!! :D
    – user541686
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 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. Commented May 15, 2011 at 1:17
  • 3
    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
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 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
    Commented May 11, 2014 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
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 3:52

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 13
    Keep the lock timer, but only lock votes that are up or down, so you can always vote from a neutral position.
    – xan
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 0:21
  • @xan, my thoughts exactly
    – mpontillo
    Commented Mar 26, 2011 at 15:33
  • 1
    @xan this has been implemented. Commented Apr 8, 2011 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? Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:16
  • Isn't the undo window much shorter, @Hendrik?
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 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 Mod
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:23
  • 1
    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 StaffMod
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 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
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 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. Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:40
  • (See also Jeff's answer about tactical downvoting.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:40
  • 1
    @Grace yes, that's what we're fixing with this change. Commented Apr 8, 2011 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 StaffMod
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:51
  • 1
    @Grace haha, [status-completed] Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:54
  • 2
    @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. Commented Apr 8, 2011 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
    Commented May 11, 2014 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. Commented Aug 28, 2009 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
    Commented Aug 29, 2009 at 20:48
  • Ah, didn't know that workaround, thanks for the tip.
    – hyperslug
    Commented Aug 29, 2009 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 Levy
    Commented Oct 8, 2009 at 4:03

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