I understand the reasons for decreasing the time window on being able to reverse a vote, but I think it ultimately is going to cause more problems than it solves. I addressed this in a comment to one of Jeff's responses to another question on "tactical downvoting", but I think it warrants further discussion.

There are legitimate times when a downvote is warranted based on initial impressions or original content. However, after after additional research (or the question being edited) the downvote is not warranted anymore. By reducing the window it is no longer possible to reverse a warranted downvote for these type of legitimate reasons.

A perfect example of this can be seen by the revision history for this question. Based on the original content of the question, it absolutely warranted a downvote. However, since the question was edited, the downvote is no longer warranted. Unfortunately, having downvoted it initially, I can no longer change my vote (either by removing the downvote or upvoting).

Just to clarify the sequence of events in this particular case, they are:

  1. Original question asked.
  2. I downvoted the question.
  3. I left a comment explaining why I downvoted.
  4. Someone else downvoted the question (resulting in a -2 vote score).
  5. Someone other than the questioner or myself edited the question.
  6. I revisted the question and felt that the downvote was no longer warranted.
  7. I removed my comment.
  8. I attempted to undo my downvote and recieved the message telling me I was outside the time limit window. (I tried to undo by clicking the downvote again and also by clicking the upvote, both resulted in the same message.)
  9. I edited the question.
  10. I was then able to undo my downvote.

Based on my understanding of how this is supposed to work, I should have been successful in step 8 since it was after an edit. I also did not provide an answer to the question so I don't see how any of this could have been construed as trying to game the system to increase rep. In fact, I'm not sure how I see voting/undoing votes on a question can game the system at all; doing this on answers, yes but not on questions.

  • Did you mean "reversals"? Commented Aug 29, 2009 at 22:12
  • @John Saunders: Yes, I did. Corrected the title. Thanks. Commented Aug 29, 2009 at 22:23

4 Answers 4


As I understand it, the voting window should have been reset by Jonathan's edit. If not, I would consider that a bug.

Note that you have enough reputation on Stack Overflow to edit the question, an action that should also give you opportunity to change your vote. Until the bug is fixed, I consider this a valid work-around (I highly doubt such isolated actions will trigger any fraud warnings, but if so the resulting noise should provide sufficient motivation to fix the bug... ;-)

  • 2
    I think there needs to be more clarification on how/when the voting window reset actually works. If Jonathan's edit should have reset the vote window, then it is definately a bug since I'm still not able to reverse the vote. I would consider editing the question to allow myself to reverse the downvote but since I don't have any useful edits to make I don't feel justified doing so. Commented Aug 29, 2009 at 22:26
  • I doubt Jeff wants to be too specific about it, since he's intending for it to be just a bit confusing for the purpose of discouraging gaming. But you can almost always find a reason to edit if you look hard enough - in this case, there are two places where the spacing is off (near the slash and the double--dash), the double--dash should be replaced with an en-dash –, and the tags could be significantly improved.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 29, 2009 at 22:33
  • 2
    Ok...you talked me in to it. I edited the post to clean up the spacing and was then able to remove my downvote. Still seems like a bug since I should have been able to do that after Jonathan's edit. Commented Aug 29, 2009 at 22:36
  • If you can come up with a solid set of steps to reproduce, someone from the team should be able to... explain why it's by design.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 29, 2009 at 22:39

Be aware that if you want to change your vote there are two different ways:

  • cast initial upvote
  • click upvote again to "undo" upvote
  • click downvote

That's 3 votes by our reckoning.

  • cast initial upvote
  • click downvote to convert your upvote to a downvote

That's 2 votes by our reckoning.

Don't be surprised if a) is blocked, while b) is not.

And of course you can always re-vote after an edit, but if you are sloppy in the way you cast your votes (see above), you may be blocked regardless.

  • In this particular case, both were blocked. I initially tried a variant of "option 1" but the sequence was cast an initial downvote, the click downvote again to undo the downvote. This was after an edit, but an edit performed by someone who was not the original questioner or myself. Incidentally, I was unable to undo my vote in any way at all until after I edited the question. Commented Aug 30, 2009 at 14:25
  • Further clarification: I cast the initial downvote and then did not try to undo that vote until after the first edit of the question. It was at that point I was informed that I could not undo the vote because it was past the time window. Commented Aug 30, 2009 at 14:26
  • 23
    Safe to say that this particular sequence violates the principle of least astonishment. It may have saved the programmers a few minutes of coding, but it's not intuitive to expect users to know that if they want to switch to a downvote, they must not undo their upvote first. Commented Sep 16, 2009 at 12:29
  • 5
    What is this designed to prevent? I should be able to change my votes whenever I want. Especially if I just clicked the wrong button... Commented Oct 1, 2009 at 17:14
  • too many gaming exploits with vote undo windows, sadly. Commented Oct 3, 2009 at 8:10
  • 1
    Please, why not fix this. You can make the window to say 10 seconds. I think it's totally non-intuitive to click on upvote when the downvote arrow is still hilighted. I think people first undo a downvote, and then upvote. I was just trapped by this again. If you don't want to allow it, i think you should at least display a warning that asks the user whether he really wants to just unvote, or whether he wants to upvote the same time. Most of the time if you edit the answer, you believe in it and you would want to upvote it afterwards. Commented Jun 28, 2010 at 21:29

I was just bitten by this also. See this question. Nothing wrong with the question as posed. I voted it up. When I returned to the page after a meeting, I saw that an answer to a completely different question from the one posed had been accepted.

No change was made to the question itself. As posed, it does not correspond to the accepted answer (and it does correspond to another answer). (I did not answer the question, myself, having understood it as it was posed. I don't have a horse in the accepted-answer race.)

This is a shame, IMO. A user asks for an alligator, gets a wombat instead, and is happy because s?he really meant "wombat" when s?he said "alligator". The user's question was upvoted as a request for an alligator, and cannot be downvoted once it is understood to really be a request for a wombat.

It makes little sense, I think, that I cannot now change my vote, once I've seen that the question as posed is in fact quite poor, if it was really meant to ask the different, unasked question answered by the accepted answer. I left a comment, instead.

Why the time limit? What difference does it make, whether I change my vote right away or 5 hours later?

Yes, I could edit the question now, but I don't think that is the answer here, to this problem. I should be able to remove my upvote or even change it to a downvote at any time, irregardless of whether the question gets edited. This is a case of the rules getting in the way of what is right, AFAICS.


I am very much annoyed the lock timeout is too short. In my no longer humble opinion after being burnt too many times on casting votes that after discussion in comments were incorrect, the timeout should be increased to 48 hours.

On stackoverflow I can force edit questions, so I edit a bunch of spaces onto the end. As this counts as an edit I can now change my vote. On other sites, the OP is not so lucky.

  • 3
    Maybe your solution is to be a little slower with your votes? If you're unsure about a post, hold off on voting until you're sure that post deserves the vote (or downvote). Making nonsensical edits just so that you can vote again really isn't a good practice.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 18:21
  • 2
    If it really turns out you were too hasty and just outright wrong with your vote the best thing to do is walk away unless you can actually improve the post with an edit. Please don't edit spaces into posts just to toggle your vote. It's not worth the noise. Even if some votes turn out to be cast in error the way the system works is by aggregating all the votes and hopefully some percentage of voters are better informed out of the gate.
    – Caleb
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 18:26
  • @Caleb: I'm the only voter whatsoever on the most recent example.
    – Joshua
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 18:48
  • @Catija: Most of the time when I vote I never expect to open the question again.
    – Joshua
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 18:54
  • @Joshua In that case make the most informed decision you can and move on.
    – Caleb
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 18:57
  • @Caleb: I did. OP contested it. He won.
    – Joshua
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 19:49

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