This question is inspired by this excellent question. It asks to revisit a feature request that was denied by co-founder Jeff Atwood from 2010. The feature request has a positive score of 142, Jeff Atwood's somewhat cryptic reason for his decision has a negative score of 36.

I propose here to revisit Allow an edit to notify downvoters: "I think I've fixed the issue now - please check" and Jeff Atwood's decision to deny a feature that would allow downvoters to get notified once the downvoted contribution has been edited. All the arguments are in the question and several of the highly upvoted answers. There's various possible implementations, some of which apparently both introduce little noise for users and are easy to implement (like this one).

The proposal has a whopping 774 upvotes, Jeff Atwood's explanation for denying the request has 71 downvotes. Of course this doesn't mean it has to happen, but as far as I can see there's no real technical difficulties to prevent implementing a feature that does what Jon Skeet is asking for:

Jeff Atwood himself calls it "a good idea", and his stance that comment notifications are "close enough" doesn't make a lot of sense to me, since users won't always comment when downvoting, especially when the reason for their downvote has already been stated by another user. (I would just downvote if I agree with the comment without adding another one saying the same thing.)

This would also greatly help users who got question/answer bans and are trying to claw their way out of that - apparently it can be rather tough to get out of one, and I imagine it's not easy to get downvotes to go away when downvoters aren't even aware that the reasons for downvoting have gone away.

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    Just because you see a reconsideration request for a request that was controversially declined by Jeff doesn't mean that you can simply request reconsideration of it. You have to show that you've done enough research to indicate that it's a serious enough problem, in other words the presence of a declined feature request increases the onus on you to prove that should be considered (again). May 14, 2019 at 9:06
  • FYI: I recently asked about this in chat and it has actually been reconsidered, but the main holdup is that the team doesn't want to implement this via the notification system as this will result in too many notifications, and implementing it in a different way would be onerous and time-consuming. So in other words, deferred now. I also did ask if an updated answer could be posted saying so, but that wasn't done. May 14, 2019 at 9:10
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I should have thought that 774 upvotes on a feature request show that it's "a serious enough problem", and I have explained why I think Jeff Atwood's response is unsatisfactory. What sort of "research" or "proof" would you consider "enough"?
    – sgf
    May 14, 2019 at 9:10
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I see. That's interesting, because a moderator commented on the answer I link, stating that it would be "incredibly easy to implement". (Emphasis theirs.)
    – sgf
    May 14, 2019 at 9:11
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    You have to also bring in significant new arguments to having it implemented. In this case, you seem to have done so, but other community members would likely consider them insufficient. Also, the "moderator" you mention actually didn't work for SE at the time they posted that, they were just a normal user at the time; the same user later went on to explain why it actually wouldn't be easy (vote locking status isn't saved, but calculated on the fly). May 14, 2019 at 9:14
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I understand. Well, then feel free to downvote the hell out of my question, at least other people will know it has been tried :)
    – sgf
    May 14, 2019 at 9:16
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    Note that here on Meta Stack Exchange, on questions requesting new features, voting is used to signify agreement or disagreement with a given proposal, so if your question gets downvoted, it may just mean that people disagree with your proposal, not necessarily that your question is bad for the site. People can disagree with your request if it doesn't convince people to support it and the arguments are weak; it's happened with me many times where I've re-posed the same request that was downvoted earlier and it was positively received. May 14, 2019 at 9:16
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog I know. It's hard to gauge over the net, and I frequently forget that, but I wasn't passive-aggressive or sarcastic in my last comment, I was very literal.
    – sgf
    May 14, 2019 at 9:20
  • Not implying that you were so; just linking you to the relevant voting policies here on this site :) May 14, 2019 at 9:28
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    Actually it's totally within his rights to ask for reconsideration - especially if it was a continuous past decision. May 14, 2019 at 11:07
  • @JourneymanGeek Didn't say that this was an invalid reconsideration request. Just that as currently phrased, it's weak. May 14, 2019 at 11:36
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    Just for reference and perspective. You have casted 29 downvotes on your top site so at most that would give 29 inbox messages. I've casted over 11,000 downvotes on my top site. Even if a small percentage gets edited, my inbox would be no fun.
    – rene
    May 14, 2019 at 11:46
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    @sgf I didn't read through the original discussion. Moreover, your post begins with a longish digression on what Jeff Atwood said and how many votes the original proposal had...which I don't really care about. Since you've raised it the onus of persuasive argumentation is on you. I'd suggest including a prototype of the kind of "notification system" you're thinking of, along with some SEDE statistics of how you think it might help i.e. how big the problem really is, whether it is actually worth spending developer time on and a realistic estimate of how much work it might entail.
    – user437611
    May 14, 2019 at 12:16
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    @Blue Well, what Jeff Atwood said is hardly a digression. It's his reason for shooting down the proposal in the first place. But you're right, I'll edit when I have the time.
    – sgf
    May 14, 2019 at 13:04
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    sgf Please do edit and include a persuasive argument about why you believe such a notification system is needed (which doesn't include "because Jeff Atwood thought so, it must be a good idea"), and how what you suggest is be implemented. Also, please suggest how upvoters of a question can also be notified of edits. Don't put the burden of distractions (notifications) only on the downvoters; if an edit is made, upvoters ought also be notified, just as well, if you insist that downvoters be notified.
    – amWhy
    May 16, 2019 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


When it comes to notifications, there are basically 2 kinds of users: those who pay attention to notifications and those who just leave them there. The latter will ignore these notifications just as they would any others. So only the former will pay attention to them.

And that's the problem. Your feature effectively says that, by downvoting the question, I'm taking on the responsibility of making sure that this vote is always correct should the post change. Well... I'm not. After all, it's not like upvoters get notified when a post changes. What if it got worse? Shouldn't they also get a notification to make sure that their vote is correct for the current version of the post?

I don't agree that it is the responsibility of a voter to ensure that their vote is accurate to the current state of the post. Sure, that would be nice. But I didn't sign a contract when I made that downvote to check back should it be changed.

And quite frankly, I don't want my inbox to be notified just because someone corrected capitalization or adds half of an MCVE. If the post has not legitimately become good, I don't want to hear that it.

Since there's no way to know beforehand that an edit actually made the question good, then this feature is highly likely to notify me about things that don't matter. Which means, if I want to keep my inbox clean and not be bothered with trivial nonsense, I will have to reduce the number of times I downvote.

That's bad.

As for more complex ideas that don't use the notification box, like having a page on your profile to show which posts have been edited or whatever, that all sounds like a poor use of SE's time. You're asking for them to build a new system for the sole purpose of better rehabilitating poor questions. I'd rather they spend time on features that help make questions better before they're asked, or improve user experience so that users don't ask bad questions to begin with. Or really, just any number of other features that they've been sitting on for years.

It's just not worth their time.

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    If you have these notifications next to your inbox then you'd be completely free to ignore them. Just getting such a notification does not imply that you're responsible for the questions or answers or the vote on those questions and answers. And yes, getting notifications on upvotes could be considered. I think that it is less likely that an upvoted question gets altered (it is considered correct, after all) so it has less merit for that reason in my opinion. So basically I think this answer hinges on a bad argument: if notified, I'm responsible. That's not the case. May 14, 2019 at 16:03
  • @MaartenBodewes: I think you have my argument backwards. My read of your position is that a downvoter is responsible for making sure their vote is accurate to the current state of the post. Therefore, if the current state of the post changes, we should notify them so that they have the ability to do what they're supposed to do. I'm saying that the responsibility part is wrong, so there's no reason to have the notification part. May 14, 2019 at 16:10
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    And I'm saying that maybe the users want to change their vote if the answer or question is corrected. The notification is there so they can do that. It doesn't require them to do so. That you don't want to do so is fine. May 14, 2019 at 16:18
  • @MaartenBodewes: Personally, I feel a little nervous every time I see that red "1" in my inbox. And then I get a little annoyed when it turns out to be "Please cast your vote in the [random site I barely ever use] moderator elections." This proposal would make that problem a hundred times worse. And for what? Do we know that a significant number of votes will be reversed this way? Or is that just wishful thinking?
    – Kevin
    May 15, 2019 at 4:16
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    Next to your inbox. Where you can find them rather than the other way around. I'm not trying to convince you of anything but the answer needs to be correct, otherwise people will vote for the wrong reasons. As in the question: "There's various possible implementations, some of which apparently both introduce little noise for users and are easy to implement (like this one)". May 15, 2019 at 8:47
  • @MaartenBodewes: And I mention that one at the end, in the second-to-last paragraph. My answer addresses these alternate notification mechanisms. Also, we have plenty of widgets up there as it is with their own notifications. Giving these kinds of things the same prominence as "rep changes/awards" and "notifications" essentially causes the same problem. May 15, 2019 at 13:22

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