If I made a mistake downvoting or upvoting a post, there's no way for me to fix that unless asking the person to edit its answer.

Let's say I downvote something, then explain in a comment thinking that I'm right and the user's wrong. The user convince me that he was right in the first place and that I should not have downvoted him (everybody make mistakes or it could have been a misundertanding on words... whatever). Then I can't undo my downvote.

I get the point of forbidding removing up/down votes without edit, but in some cases it gets annoying.

Could it become so that one can undo his vote if a comment is left by someone else (to avoid dummy comments just to rollback a vote) ?

EDIT: Added a bounty to get more feedback

  • 20
    Good work, marcgg. I detest the new voting "window rules", and am happy to support any request for relaxing them.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 3, 2009 at 19:58
  • 4
    This exact scenario just happened to me. Its messy that I have to leave another comment asking for the answer to be edited just so I can undo my down vote.
    – Matt Casto
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 16:26
  • 2
    I came across this after 10 months of being a member. I thought it was a new feature. Happened twice with me, once downvoted a question, wanted to undo it. The second time upvoted an answer wanted to undo it.
    – TheTechGuy
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 18:04
  • 2
    I just ended up in a similar situation. There are comments like Sampson's above, but why should a scenario be required at all? What is the reason for not being able to change one's mind even years after voting? One might be tempted to create another account just for correcting mistakes..
    – LGT
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 12:32
  • 2
    Votes should never be locked, period. Even if everyone is perfectly careful and only upvotes things they absolutely know are correct, they can still become incorrect at a later date when the real world changes out from under them. If you want to prevent "tactical voting" then do it with rep penalties, not by locking in incorrect votes forever.
    – endolith
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 23:31
  • My opinion is that if you have a question then you should comment with the question prior to down voting.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 16:40
  • @Blam Yes, but you can not assume quick feedback in general, so it's not feasible to have a full discussion before downvoting. Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 5:07
  • stackoverflow.com/questions/25884761/… is an example of this case
    – Rishi Dua
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 10:41
  • If it really comes down to the post owner losing rep over a mistake that can happen to anyone, you can also upvote just to balance the owner's rep. It may be a bit messy, but it's better than making someone lose rep for nothing.
    – user334844
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 17:14
  • It should be allowed to undo the vote if a comment is left by anyone including yourself if you will explain the reason why you changed your mind meta.stackexchange.com/questions/104998/… Commented May 17, 2021 at 22:05

6 Answers 6


This has bothered me the last couple of days too, but I think you provided a solid case of why we need things to be different. Votes usually do lead to discussions in the comments, and if you get convinced that your vote was in error, you should be able to reverse it.

  • automatically accepted even thought I guess the real answer is Jeff's saying that you need to edit the answer to edit your vote: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19940/…
    – marcgg
    Commented Sep 15, 2009 at 16:42
  • 2
    Note that Jeff's answer is the one that has been downvotes 13 times... Commented Jan 18, 2010 at 3:40
  • 27
    But some of those who downvoted Jeff's answer may have changed their minds...
    – CB Bailey
    Commented Feb 26, 2010 at 20:58

It might be helpful to change the tooltip for the voting buttons from:

This answer is [not] helpful (click again to undo)

to something like:

This answer is [not] helpful (click again really fast to undo)

  • 6
    That would definitively fit how the system works :)
    – marcgg
    Commented Sep 16, 2009 at 15:35
  • 3
    It probably should read: "This answer is [not] helpful (click again to undo (but by undo we don't mean going back to before you voted, what we really mean is that the lock-out time still applies from when you first voted))". I have a feeling that the reputation loss also occurs even if you undo your vote - but I haven't found confirmation of that yet. Commented Oct 8, 2009 at 12:49

I asked for a slightly different solution for the same problem, by letting me neutralise a vote I cast (not rescind it), which got declined. Jeff suggested in a comment to one of the answers:

earn 2k rep, edit the question, then change your vote. – Jeff Atwood♦ Sep 5 at 13:08

so I guess this is something you could do. I personally don't feel comfortable with this approach, but as it comes from Jeff you certainly won't be accused of gaming the system for doing this.

  • 23
    I don't like this approach since I might have to change something random in order to be able to change my vote... That's weird that jeff recommended that
    – marcgg
    Commented Sep 10, 2009 at 19:01

Would this problem not be solved by increasing the time-out value? Five, ten, or fifteen minutes is very short and not reflective of how long people take to write defensive comments.

If we made it 24 hours, most reasonable votes changes could occur and yet naughty behaviour on old questions is blocked.


This particular solution wouldn't work because it would effectively allow the "too old" vote detection to be bypassed. Just comment, reverse your vote, and you could then even delete your comment.

Vote reversals should be addressed by adjusting the time window where reversals are allowed, not by tying them to a user's comment activity.

  • 1
    Only if the comment is not yours then. I'll update the question
    – marcgg
    Commented Sep 3, 2009 at 17:23
  • updated. I guess that addresses your answer
    – marcgg
    Commented Sep 3, 2009 at 17:24
  • I still don't think it's necessarily that useful, because all you have to do is wait for someone else to make a comment, any comment, and the time window is completely removed. It opens far too wide a window on the restriction, you might as well remove the window completely, or as I suggested, change it back to a less strict timeframe. Tying a "free pass" on changing your votes to other people's comment activity seems strange and unintuitive to me. Commented Sep 8, 2009 at 14:42
  • 7
    @Adam: The basic issue is that the vote lock is fundamentally broken as a solution to people gaming the system. Yes, it fixes that problem, but it raises a whole different set. To restrict people gaming the system, it also restricts people who want to do right by the system. Are you arguing that macgg's scenario isn't valid, or that macgg's solution re-opens opportunities for gaming?
    – nagul
    Commented Sep 10, 2009 at 18:24
  • @nagul: That is a false dilemma. The scenario is valid, but the means proposed to deal with it are not appealing to me. Personally, I don't find that gaming is a significant issue, no. But if we accept that, then it makes more sense to deal with the scenario by allowing votes to be rescinded for a decent period of time regardless of whether or not edits take place. Commented Sep 10, 2009 at 18:42
  • @nagul: And by edits, I mean comments. Oops. Commented Sep 10, 2009 at 18:43
  • @Unknown Yahoo: You must have missed my next comment, so I repeat: I think it makes more sense to deal with the scenario by allowing votes to be rescinded for a decent period of time regardless of whether or not edits take place. Or to answer you more directly, I think basing it on edits is equally weird. Just because the system is, to some, arguably broken now doesn't mean that this is a good idea. In my view, it would just make it more broken. Commented Jan 19, 2010 at 0:19
  • 2
    it makes total sense to allow vote changes on edit; if someone edits their answer from "you should do {foo}" to "you should do {bar}" the answer is fundamentally different and thus eligible for re-voting on that basis. Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 1:20

If you have doubts, reserve your vote.

If you feel so strongly that you've made a terrible mistake with your vote, earn 2k rep, edit the post, then change your vote.

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.

  • 51
    What if the post doesn't need editing? And is it good to have all users with <2000 rep not able to fix a bad vote? Commented Sep 15, 2009 at 2:55
  • 28
    If enough people do that the post becomes a wiki, IIUC, and that's hardly the intention... Commented Sep 15, 2009 at 5:06
  • 28
    Agree with above comments; editing someone's post to be able to change your vote is just silly. See also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/23701/…
    – Jonik
    Commented Sep 29, 2009 at 10:19
  • 19
    Just had to edit a post to revoke a downcast which was unwarranted, after the question was clarified. That is not a good solution for this scenario. -1. Commented Dec 3, 2009 at 12:26
  • 16
    I have sufficient rep to edit and have just applied this tactic to undo a downvote, but having to edit a post that doesn't need editing just to allow yourself to change your mind is stupid, and retracting a vote should be possible without any rep.
    – donroby
    Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 15:14

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