Sometimes info in a comment causes me to want to retract a downvote on an answer.

It's not possible to change a vote once its locked in unless the answer is edited, but since I can edit answers, its easy enough to work around this by e.g. adding a dummy HTML comment to the answer.

Some day, my dummy workaround comments will conquer SO.

It seems like, given that nothing actually prevents a person who can edit an answer from harmlessly editing the answer to change their vote, that it would make sense to just allow you to change your vote if you have answer editing privileges.

  • 3
    If you edit to unlock your votes, you leave a trail of evidence in case your voting pattern needs to be punished Nov 8, 2013 at 9:18
  • Not everyone would want to follow that path of editing an answer in order to change their vote. Why code for this not so frequent practice? Nov 8, 2013 at 9:19
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    "Some day, my dummy workaround comments will conquer SO." .... Some day, I will hunt you down and smack you with your own hands while yelling "stop hitting yourself" if you keep doing that .... :)
    – Bart
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:27
  • Well, it doesn't happen as often as I implied. I'd say about once per week. It would be a very slow conquering. I'm an upstanding citizen, I have nothing to hide.
    – Jason C
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:33
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    Once a week? That's a lot. Nov 8, 2013 at 9:38
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    Considering I'm active enough to hit the rep cap on almost every day that I visit, that seems like a reasonable rate for the pattern: Downvote poor/misunderstood answer => clarification/justification in comment changes quality to a 0 instead of -1 => remove downvote. You may be misunderstanding my motivations. My general criteria, fwiw, is downvote misleading/incorrect, novote informative-but-unhelpful, upvote helpful/correct. I would be equally happy if users with edit privileges could simply uncast downvotes.
    – Jason C
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:44
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    @JasonC if the answer is misleading without its comments, perhaps those comments should be incorporated into the answer body. Thus, when I change my mind, normally I have a reason to edit, too. Nov 8, 2013 at 9:46
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    you are voting on the quality of the answer not a comment. If you once decide to downvote an answer then that's the part you're voting on. If you think a comment adds value to the answer then upvote the comment. You can leave a suggestion to the answerer to update his answer but if you do it yourself you expose your identity to the community almost asking for a revenge war... :P
    – user221081
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:47
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    @JanDvorak I would argue that your apparent practice of making radical changes to others' answers based on the comments is more unsavory than my practice of sometimes removing a downvote.
    – Jason C
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:48
  • @mehow That's a good point, although I can't imagine a revenge war starting because I uncast my downvote. Can you?
    – Jason C
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:49
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    @mehow If you mean "exposing my identity as the downvoter" I already do that by explaining my downvotes when I make them. I hope you do the same.
    – Jason C
    Nov 8, 2013 at 9:53
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    I don't always explain my downvotes on questions. But when I do, my comments are always canned (just kidding) Nov 8, 2013 at 9:55
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    I usually explain my answer downvotes or upvote an existing comment. Nov 8, 2013 at 9:56
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    That's not a "revenge war". It's also, if you really think about it, completely inconsequential that a user "serial unupvoted". I'm not sure why they put time into automated protection against it. Why do we care?
    – Jason C
    Nov 8, 2013 at 10:32
  • 1
    If the reviewers end up spending way more time reviewing posts than the editors do suggesting them then the system isn't really serving a purpose; those reviewers could have just gone and spend their time editing posts instead. The entire suggested edit system is only a "win" if the lower rep users end up saving time from the higher rep users.
    – Servy
    Nov 8, 2013 at 18:20

2 Answers 2


Allowing for a change in vote based on whether the post has been edited is to enable the voter to evaluate the updated post. It isn't intended to allow the voter to change their mind. In fact, that's why votes get locked in the first place. I'd consider this abuse.

That said, I did mistakenly downvote a new user without understanding the question. In order to rectify the error, I edited their post then upvoted.


Comments are second class citizens.

You should vote on the answer, without taking into account the comments (possibly with some minor exceptions).

If something said in a comment led to you wanting to retract your downvote (such as a clarification of a misunderstanding, or an elaboration), this should probably be incorporated into the answer, either by you (if it's not a major edit), or by the author.

This edit will allow you to retract your vote.

So no, I don't think this is a good reason to allow retracting of votes.

The workaround also generally isn't particularly appropriate (side note - why not just add a line break somewhere instead of a dummy comment?).

If you would've gone for "sometimes you're just in a bad mood", maybe I would've agreed with that.

General advice to largely avoid the need for this: Comment first, wait a bit, then downvote.

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