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At present, Stack Exchange sites lock in a user's up/down vote, after 5 minutes, unless the post on which the vote is made changes in some way.

There is, however, no similar lock on accept votes. I definitely agree that there shouldn't be a barrier to accepting a new, better answer, but it seems to me that the ability to simply unaccept an answer in favor of nothing, with no other feedback, years after the fact is both not useful and even slightly detrimental to the site - now there's a years-old question without an accepted answer where there once was a question with an answer that was indicated as correct or working.

Given that there is a mechanism to track changes to a thread (the timeline on the question post), it certainly seems to me like there it would not be technically difficult to implement a system that locks accept votes after a grace period, unless a change to the thread occurs (like a new answer, or an edit to an existing answer, or whatever criteria are desired). I would also suggest that the grace period on changing an accept vote should probably be on the order of days (or longer), as it can take some time to verify an answer as the correct solution, but there ought to be one - the other examples of unaccepts-after-the-fact for no ostensible reason don't seem to be to anyone's benefit either.

The particular thread which prompted the question/request is here - after two years, the answer was unaccepted, with no indication as to why, and the only activity in between accepting the answer and unaccepting it was a couple upvotes over a year ago. As I said above, this seems to me like undesirable and completely not-useful behavior.

  • It is rather rare for such an unaccept to happen, though. Have you tried asking the user as to why they unaccepted? – Martijn Pieters Jul 8 '14 at 15:02
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I disagree. What if a user posts an answer which appears to work correctly, but realises later it doesn't work in other cases?

That's a perfectly valid reason to unaccept, though they could at least make a comment to that fact.

  • 3
    A valid concern, and one we currently ignore with regards to up/down votes, for whatever that's worth. Not sure I have an answer to that, other than to say that in case of unaccepts-long-after-the-fact, like in my case, and in the cases cited in the other question I linked, without leaving feedback (and/or bumping the thread back up into the active posts queue), the thread's chances of getting a new, working answer are pretty close to 0 anyway, so only unacceppting seems pretty pointless. I'm not a fan of forcing people to leave feedback, but it might be something to consider on this issue. – HopelessN00b Jul 8 '14 at 14:45
  • @HopelessN00b Pointless, yes, and not very disruptive. Votes are a bit different. An active voter, deciding to rage-quit and going on a targeted un-upvote spree could seriously upset his target. Un-accept spree is much more limited in scope, and since those answers are usually by different users, is easier for everyone to shrug off. – user259867 Jul 8 '14 at 14:52

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