On several occasions, I have up-voted an answer that seemed valid, but upon closer inspection (or upon reading other users comments), later realized was invalid, or not the best solution. If the allotted time has passed (currently 5 minutes), I am unable to remove my upvote without first editing the question (which, IMO, is a hack, as then I'm just editing to remove my vote, rather than to improve the content).

I understand the need to lock in down votes is because of tactical downvoting. There are a dozen or more questions on meta about reasons for removing vote locking entirely, or proposing solutions to tactical downvoting. However, when asked why upvotes should be locked, nobody could come up with a significant answer.

Please do not lock upvotes or please provide an explanation of why it's necessary.

  • 1
    Downvoters, please explain why you disagree.
    – n00b
    Dec 18 '13 at 22:55
  • 7
    You know it's possible to up-vote tactically too...
    – Shog9
    Dec 18 '13 at 22:55
  • 2
    Please explain then.
    – n00b
    Dec 18 '13 at 22:56
  • 11
    I've never really bought into the "prevents tactical downvoting" argument either TBH. If someone wants to tactically downvote will locking the vote really stop them? Dec 18 '13 at 22:56
  • 3
    @noob downvoters disagree Dec 18 '13 at 22:56
  • @MartinSmith I'm not asking that the lock on downvotes be removed. Just upvotes.
    – n00b
    Dec 18 '13 at 22:57
  • Yes I know. Hence my use of "either". Just a passing comment! Dec 18 '13 at 22:58
  • 8
    @Shog9 - How would you upvote tactically and why would it then benefit you to remove it later such that the lock becomes a disincentive to the tactic? Dec 18 '13 at 23:02

The tactical downvote protection seems weak at best.

To put myself in the position of such a person who would tacticaly downvote, if only one out of 10 tactical downvotes earns me an upvote then it's worth it. This is because a downvote costs me 1 but an upvote gets me 10. If tactical downvoting doesn't achieve even this then I'm not sure why people are even bothering.

As such I would support removing this restriction for both up and downvotes.

  • 3
    Not the question but +1 anyway. Plus factor it in that 50% of the time the answer will be edited anyway organically unlocking the vote so make it one out of 20. Dec 18 '13 at 23:04

First off, I don't really buy the idea that "tactical" voting was such a problem that it needed this locking mechanism to prevent it. Not that it didn't happen (or still doesn't), but that it's really worth worrying about. IMHO, it falls into the same category of problems as "someone else found out the solution from my answer and then re-posted it using different words!"

That said... Vote locking is still useful. Why? Because you wouldn't want someone to go back and retract (or reverse) their votes just because they had a bad day and decided that making a nuisance of themselves was the way to feel better. And yes, people would do this (and have done it).

I'm sure you can imagine this happening on a smaller scale as well, which is harder to detect but no less annoying. A system that discourages griefing is a good thing to have... Although this may not have been the best implementation, at least it's fairly easy to understand.

One more thing: you asked about "tactical" up-voting. If that's not obvious, then imagine a post with two answers, one which is obviously much better than the other one but which are close in score. Now, up-vote the mediocre one, causing it to sort above the other (or at least sort equally, since that'll mean it ends up first on the page randomly until the scores change). Folks might down-vote it, but generally-speaking people are more likely to up-vote than to down-vote... So your answer gets at least one more up-vote this way. Then you remove the up-vote from the mediocre answer and watch it sink away... Why remove it? Because there's always a chance that the author will actually improve his post to the point where it might legitimately compete with your own (or at least seem like a reasonable answer to folks who didn't scroll) - in which case you'd want folks to see yours first, and would need to get that up-vote removed as quickly as possible.

  • 1
    I do recall instances on MSO where someone who had a bad day went through and unaccepted all of the answers were previously accepted for his questions... and retracted what upvotes could be done (because of edits after the vote was cast). The bad day disruption that can cause can be substantial, especially in smaller communities.
    – user213963
    Dec 18 '13 at 23:38
  • 3
    Preventing changing votes causes more harm than the occasional bad day retribution. A much better solution would be to always allow changing votes, but cost some rep to do it.
    – endolith
    Oct 25 '17 at 14:11
  • 1
    I don’t see how upvote locking is relevant to the outlined “tactical upvoting” scenario: if/when “the author will actually improve his post to the point where it might legitimately compete with your own”, their edit empowers you to remove the upvote anyway. Sep 16 at 15:20
  • 1
    Sure, @emil - but unless you're sitting there watching the post, you won't know that the vote even happened. Granted, this is an obscure scenario, hardly more of a justification for locking than the equivalent downvote case.
    – Shog9
    Sep 16 at 18:44

Given the fact that Stack Exchange is currently trying to solve the problem of outdated answers, I think that this feature request should be reconsidered.

There are cases where I have upvoted an answer several years ago, but the answer is outdated now and I prefer to remove my upvote so that more up-to-date answers can rise up the rankings. Unfortunately, I cannot remove my upvote.

  • 3
    If an answer is outdated, why don't you edit it saying that it worked for version X of the software, but that it is deprecated in version Z? Doing such an edit also makes you able to retract your upvote.
    – Luuklag
    Sep 16 at 14:23
  • 1
    Silently retracting your vote doesn't bump the post. If you've noticed that a post is outdated, editing it to explain that so you can change your vote also increases the visibility of that post so that others in the community who may have voted on it can adjust their votes if necessary, pings the author (if they're still active) that their post might need some attention, and provides more information to future readers than a score that is one less than it was before. If someone else has already edited the post, you get a "free" vote change. Everyone wins.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 16 at 14:50
  • @Luuklag At my reputation, my edit has to be reviewed, and reviewers who are not familiar with these types of edits might reject it.
    – hb20007
    Sep 17 at 21:11
  • @ColleenV Also, I might want to retract the vote because I believe the answer is outdated, while not being sure enough that I'd edit it.
    – hb20007
    Sep 17 at 21:14

I don't really see why we would need to be able to reverse either; votes are not supposed to be super quick things done without looking at all, so if you voted something up based on a first glance, you're doing it wrong. If you're going to vote for something, make sure that you won't have a problem with it later, unless it is edited in which case you'll be able to downvote or remove your vote later. Also, tactical upvoting is a thing, e.g. boosting worse answers that will get downvoted, or upvoting sockpuppets.

I believe that votes should be locked unless the post has been commented upon, not just edited, because often questions that look like bad questions can be good questions upon comments.

  • It's more prevalent on meta but you can be convinced the answer is correct following a brief exchange of comments Dec 18 '13 at 23:15
  • @RichardTingle I forgot to add in comments in my answer, take another look
    – scrblnrd3
    Dec 18 '13 at 23:18
  • Comments seems fair. But thats such a weak lock that it might as well not exist at all Dec 18 '13 at 23:22
  • True, but something has to protect against tactical voting
    – scrblnrd3
    Dec 18 '13 at 23:24
  • 3
    Even if you're perfectly careful and are completely correct about your vote, it can become incorrect later when the outside world changes. There is no legitimate reason to lock in votes.
    – endolith
    Jun 6 '14 at 23:58

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