I face the same problem raised in this question: Vote too old to be changed, unless post is edited “problem”. I upvoted an answer which I now think shouldn't be promoted as helpful. I'd like to reverse the suggestion I provided via the up-vote.

If I am correct about the history behind this change, it was implemented to hinder those who game the system by down-voting competing answers.

What I would ask is the ability to down-vote the same answer at the cost of my rep so I can neutralise my up-vote. The user who posted the answer can keep the cumulative upvote+downvote rep. If there are concerns about people using this to game the system, can at least upvotes be neutralized by a corresponding down-vote if not the other way around?

To reiterate, I'd like the ability to neutralize any voting action I perform, not revert it.

In this context, I don't think suggesting that I not vote for an answer till I'm definitely sure it's correct, is very helpful. It'll mean that only the cocksure cast their votes, or that most questions go without any votes to distinguish between answers.

  • 8
    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 19:36

6 Answers 6


This site is about tricky questions and complex answers. It makes no sense that I can't revert or reverse my vote later if I notice something in the answer that I didn't at first.

A very common case: someone posts a wrong answer that sounds correct. A few people vote it up. Someone else comes along and explains in a comment why it's wrong. (The opposite is also possible, but less common.) The post keeps its votes, since nobody can fix them.

This behavior simply doesn't make sense.

  • 2
    would you also like the ability to change your vote after the president has been elected? Sorry, but vote undos have historically been our #1 source of gaming and exploits. The window is very limited for a reason, so vote carefully. Commented Sep 5, 2009 at 13:09
  • 35
    Voting for answers is not an election; there's no analogy to be made between them. I can't think of any possible reason that would justify the problems this causes. Commented Sep 5, 2009 at 18:25
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    That should be: "vote carefully or not at all". I'm leaning towards the latter. Is that what you want of your users, Jeff?
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 5:50
  • 23
    Say that I upvote a solution and then try it, and it results in a corrupt database. I'd sure like to revert my vote. By the way, you CAN revote for president, only you have to wait four years. Permanent upvates are as silly as permanent presidents.
    – Andomar
    Commented Oct 14, 2009 at 10:15
  • 2
    Or the API changes, and there is a better, simpler, or (in extreme cases where there are breaking changes) just a different way of doing something. Commented Jan 8, 2010 at 17:13
  • 2
    @Glenn Maynard, +1 Great ANSWER, great example! It's exactly what happens most ot the times!!! I wonder if SO engineers understand this or pretend not to see it has an issue to be fixed. Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 19:36
  • 8
    > This site is about tricky questions and complex answers. It makes no sense that I can't revert or reverse my vote later if I notice something in the answer that I didn't at first. That’s exactly what has happened to me a few times. I read an answer, it seemed correct, so I up-voted it. Later, I tried or tested it or found it to be incorrect/inaccurate/incomplete, but could not remove my vote.
    – Synetech
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 1:34
  • 1
    "Sorry, but vote undos have historically been our #1 source of gaming and exploits." So disincentivize them with rep penalties. Forever locking in votes is harmful and stupid.
    – endolith
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 6:11
  • Not to mention on SO, as a new user I can't vote or comment until I get a certain reputation. I can't get rep because people won't vote. Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 20:40

Think about a situation where a question is asked about a beta/CTP or just rapidly evolving API - A user asks a question about how to perform an action, the community answers, and then a few months later, a better option is found, either because the release version solves an issue, a cleaner API has been developed, etc.

People would be unable to remove their votes to the old (possibly now incorrect) answer if a more up to date answer is supplied.

This isn't that odd an issue - I've seen a number of projects adopt StackOverflow as their "documentation" of choice, along with changes to ASP.NET MVC, etc.


I find the notion of casting an upvote and a downvote on the same post to be bizarre and counterintuitive. Not only would this require clunky one-off checks in the system to permit it to happen in the first place, but it would require all rep calculations to be modified to take into account this special case where an upvote + a downvote = 0 rep, rather than the usual (+10 - 2 = +8).

I think it makes more sense to simply extend the window for changing your vote to be longer again, but since I personally have had no problems with this, my position on that is simple neutrality. For upvote + downvote = zero, I am against.

  • 3
    I didn't ask for upvote + downvote = 0 rep. I wanted to be able to downvote so my net contribution to the vote is zero. I'm all for this resulting in 8 rep for the writer of the post.
    – nagul
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 14:18
  • 2
    @nagul, while that would be easier to implement for the rep calculation, I still don't think it makes any sense. You should either upvote or downvote, not both on the same post. If there is a problem with voting in error, that should be addressed with respect to the rules and time limit for rescinding your votes. Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 14:43
  • @Adam Yes I understand your viewpoint. I raised this as a request to modify the rules to allow a downvote on an upvoted answer so I can even out my vote contribution to an answer. I accept that I cannot revoke the upvote.
    – nagul
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 16:42

Note that you can (suggest an) edit for the problematic question or answer. (You could even admit why you're (suggesting) editing in the Edit Summary!) Then the edited post can have its up/downvote status changed.


The onus should be on the person casting the vote, down or up, to know why they're throwing their hat into that ring one way or the other.

People tossing their votes around without fully understanding the question or checking/knowing if the answer is workable or correct screws up the pooch of responsible voting.

If people weren't so blindly loose with their voting arrows, they wouldn't get that chafing sensation later on.

Remember people, your votes can either grant 10 points of mana for the player you're waving your magic spirit fingers over, or it can drain their 2 vials of blue water health.

You make the call, and make it right. And don't forget to put on the robe and wizard hat.

  • 7
    So your answer is, get it right the first time or forget it? Was that your reaction before this change was implemented, or you've now decided on this attitude to justify the change? Why not turn of editing capabilities and other retrospective changes too while you're at it?
    – nagul
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 10:48
  • 1
    Same stance, less potions. Still in favour of the edit of an answer/question resetting the vote cast window since it could be a vote/game changer. Not a fan of pushing in up or downvotes because of momentum, and try to suss out the validity of an answer before voting. There's only 30 a day to point with.
    – random
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 10:56
  • 4
    Removed reference to "tossing their salad." Don't look that up on Urban Dictionary. Ignorance is bliss.
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 12:08
  • 3
    Actually, read again your magic book, it drains only 2 points of mana (yes, it's a weak spell).
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 12:08
  • @Gnoupi - Good good, 2 points and down.
    – random
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 12:42
  • 5
    @random - What are you on about? I'm not talking of vote resetting due to edits. I'm asking why you think a vote cast has to be set in stone, since you are clearly okay with questions and answers being edited/changed if they can be improved. If you say this is the only way to combat people using votes to game the system, I'll accept that. But saying that people should know their mind when they cast their vote and never change it later - that's utter rubbish. Why should they have to? Is it the entropy increase that bothers you?
    – nagul
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 16:30
  • @nagul: Random doesn't like increased entropy. Go figure. Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 16:55
  • If the vote you cast is good, or bad, let it stand. If they change their post and it's no longer the same, then you should be allowed to recind your initial vote. Why do you change your mind after casting a vote though?
    – random
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 16:56
  • 3
    @random - Because some answers have good and bad parts, and I've changed my mind about the good outweighing the bad. The answer that prompted it is here: superuser.com/questions/31171/…. I left a comment explaining my opinion on the good and bad parts of the answer, but I'd like to neutralize my upvote too. Claiming that there's never a need to do this, and locking a vote is a feature, is disingenous.
    – nagul
    Commented Sep 2, 2009 at 13:42
  • 2
    earn 3,000 rep, edit the question, then change your vote. Commented Sep 5, 2009 at 13:08
  • 8
    @Jeff - I do have 3k rep, and can do what you suggest, but I'd have thought this would be something you discouraged!
    – nagul
    Commented Sep 9, 2009 at 20:09
  • will comment affect active status?
    – jacky chou
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 10:30

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.

Also note that the window for undo was increased to 5 minutes a while back.

  • 7
    The window for undo should be infinite.
    – endolith
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 15:59
  • we used to have that; leads to a lot of exploits. Experience tells us that infinite undo windows are a bad idea. Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 6:17
  • 4
    @JefAtwood: What exploits? Where's the evidence that those exploits are fixed by making erroneous votes permanent?
    – endolith
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 14:17
  • I voted down by mistake and I realised it too late. At least use a counter, like 3 or 4 vote changes.. Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 18:57

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