My vote was only seconds old, minutes at the most.

Didn't it occur to SO coders that sometimes, on a second read, you realize that the answer is actually wrong (perhaps when you read the right one a few answers down)?

Come ON, at least make it a day!

  • 2
    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!!!! Aug 18, 2010 at 19:27
  • Cross posting from: meta.stackexchange.com/a/287520/146097 I who depend utterly on this feature due to an accessibility bug say the timer is too short.
    – Joshua
    Nov 29, 2016 at 17:15

3 Answers 3


This is arguably a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I think the window is a little too short but I'm not too fussed about that I guess. I only have one real concern. Now I haven't tested this but I've seen it reported elsewhere. It seems that if you vote on something and then retract your vote the timer starts so you still have a narrow window to pick something and then it's locked.

If it works like that then I think that needs to be changed. I guess it could be argued that someone will sit there and click down (pause) retract down repeatedly to effectively game the system but... seriously?

Actually I thought of another problem and this one has happened to me: when you post or edit you have a 5 minute window to edit that and it counts as the original edit. I've had and given downvotes for a problem on something that's still being edited in that window but after the short window where edits can still happen after you then can't change the vote.

I'm just not convinced alleged vote gaming is worth these problems even if they aren't major.

  • Timer does start from the very first vote action. Even a retraction keeps on the same ticker with no reset.
    – random
    Oct 9, 2009 at 2:27
  • 2
    when you post or edit you have a 5 minute window to edit that and it counts as the original edit -- which, I assume, was meant to fix small typos, not for major edits?
    – Arjan
    Oct 11, 2009 at 11:17
  • This is no longer the case, you can now vote from the neutral state with no timer.
    – user154510
    Sep 3, 2011 at 22:20

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.

  • People are still going to complain. The fact that currently they haven't voted up or down signifies to them that they have not voted. No matter what you put in the tool tip. Apr 30, 2010 at 2:36
  • I can see it now: "Tooltip incorrectly tells me I have voted on a Question/Answer" Apr 30, 2010 at 2:41
  • @cha complaining is the universal constant in the universe.. Apr 30, 2010 at 6:16
  • Confusion about the error message could be easily fixed by removing vote-locking altogether...
    – endolith
    Aug 26, 2020 at 20:30

This has been discussed at great length. The problem this solves is that of fraudulent/gaming votes.

The basic concept behind voting now is: Be sure you want to vote, and how you want to vote, when you vote. It's a few seconds in case you accidentally click the button, not in case you re-read the answer and change your mind.

As tvanfosson mentions, there is a special case workaround for this: If you have enough rep, edit the post, then you can change your vote. There are potentially ethical issues around that, IMHO, but it's a viable option. (You could always make a trivial edit -- punctuation, capitalization, something small that poses no ethical issue.)

  • 4
    Except that if you have enough rep you can edit the question, then undo your vote since you can change your vote once an edit has been done.
    – tvanfosson
    Oct 8, 2009 at 21:20
  • Good point; I've updated to reflect that.
    – John Rudy
    Oct 8, 2009 at 21:23
  • 3
    ... and provide a giant audit trail for everyone to see, removing the primary complaint about invisible vote undos. Oct 8, 2009 at 21:23
  • 6
    "The problem this solves is that of fraudulent/gaming votes" at the cost of having bringing the WRONG ANSWER to the top. This really seems like the #1 priority of SO, not whether or not someone games the system for almost useless points and badges. Really, isn't this all about the knowledge, not the points?
    – Thomas
    Oct 9, 2009 at 5:42
  • Have you had a chance to read all the links? The fraudulent voting patterns this solves also brought the wrong answer to the top. The correct course of action at this stage is to not vote until you are certain that you are voting the way you want to vote for the given answer. Again, don't vote until you've read and fully understand the answer, and feel your vote is valid.
    – John Rudy
    Oct 9, 2009 at 11:56
  • 7
    I have, and I still say the implemented "fix" is horrible.
    – Thomas
    Oct 10, 2009 at 20:53
  • Well, I can't convince you otherwise, so all I can say is to each his own.
    – John Rudy
    Oct 10, 2009 at 21:17
  • 2
    @Jeff Atwood -- why isn't there a "giant audit" trail simply for voting so we can get back to a better interface design and you can detect fraudulent voting patterns from the audit trail? People shouldn't have to jump through hoops to do normal things.
    – tvanfosson
    Oct 11, 2009 at 12:02
  • 1
    @JohnRudy: "The correct course of action at this stage is to not vote until you are certain that you are voting the way you want to vote for the given answer." So if we make a mistake, readers of the site should suffer for it? What if we don't make a mistake and the answer just becomes wrong on its own because the outside world changes? Locking in votes is a cure that's worse than the disease.
    – endolith
    Jun 6, 2014 at 23:37
  • @endolith I think it's a good system, but it is not perfect; there is the edge case of reading an answer, casting a vote, and then reading another answer (or multiple) and eventually realizing the first answer is not right, where you also don't have 2,000 reputation yet. Any change to the system would be a trade off in concerns, of course. However, I do think it would be worthwhile to trade a little more time for potentially a little more vote 'strategery'. I think 10 to 15 minutes would still limit "tactical voting" well enough while allowing enough time to abate the edge case above.
    – TylerH
    Aug 26, 2020 at 18:09
  • @TylerH Locking in votes doesn't even fix tactical voting; it just makes it worse. There should be no time limit. I've changed my mind about the truth of an answer years after voting on it.
    – endolith
    Aug 26, 2020 at 20:28
  • @endolith As have I, but in such extreme cases it is either not worth changing or you should be able to make an edit (or an edit has already been made).
    – TylerH
    Aug 26, 2020 at 20:31
  • @TylerH It is always worth changing incorrect things to correct things. What edit would you make if there is nothing about the answer that needs changing? What if you don't have editing rights?
    – endolith
    Aug 26, 2020 at 20:33
  • @endolith If the realization is made years afterward, either the question has moved into the depths of history never to be seen again, or it's a very popular post where your vote will be outweighed by the (by then) numerous other votes. Ideally, after years of participation, you will have earned 2,000 reputation, or someone will have edited the post (again if it's that popular, it's likely to have received an edit, even if only by the Community user for some automated system-wide update). Like I said, it's an extreme edge case... not something they're likely to tweak the feature for.
    – TylerH
    Aug 26, 2020 at 20:40
  • @TylerH Questions don't become irrelevant just because they're old. Millions of people find them in search engine results every day. It's not an extreme edge case. There is no reason to lock votes.
    – endolith
    Aug 26, 2020 at 23:07

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