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If you have upvoted an answer post, it is impossible to downvote it after a grace period, unless it gets edited, no matter how ancient the answer is or the upvote is. This turns out to be counter-productive if the answer was correct at the time, but is now incorrect.

For example, a question might ask: "is it possible to do X", and someone might have posted an answer saying "no, it is not possible". At the time, that answer was correct, so I upvoted it. But years have passed, and now it is possible to do X. That answer is now incorrect. How can I downvote it?

(The problem is exacerbated by accepted out-of-date answers pinned to the top. If the OP is no longer active, an out-of-date incorrect answer might be pinned to the top, and it cannot collect as many downvotes as you might expect, because some users are locked out of downvoting it. All of this misleads users into thinking that answer is useful.)

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    You can comment that the answer is out of date, if that collects enough upvotes it is also clear that the answer is out of date. – Luuklag Jul 14 at 12:45
  • Flag it as outdated – Aryan Beezadhur Jul 14 at 13:01
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    If you suspect the author is no longer active and won't update their answer in response to a comment, you could edit it to include the updated information. This makes it possible for people to retract their up-votes if they want to. At the time this wasn't possible, but as of version 42.3 there's a feature to discombobble the refraginator. – ColleenV Jul 14 at 13:01
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    @AryanBeezadhur I don't think a flag is appropriate. We cannot expect mods to be domain experts, and general network policy is that flags should not be used for matters regarding the technical correctness of an answer. That even applies if an answer promotes a dangerous practice, eg code that has an SQL injection vulnerability. – PM 2Ring Jul 14 at 13:24
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    @ColleenV I don't think it's a good idea to edit answer posts so significantly they could mean the exact opposite of what they used to mean. It makes the votes count meaningless, to start with. – Flimm Jul 14 at 17:29
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    @Flimm I don't see appending a note to an answer explaining that it is outdated as a problem. I do think a full updated answer should be in addition to the outdated answer, not inserted into it. However, don't think a single sentence explaining the situation counts as an updated answer. – ColleenV Jul 14 at 19:56
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It seems to me that simply editing the post to include a disclaimer would be both trivial and useful, something along the lines of

This post was correct at the time it was posted but is no longer valid: Please see blahblah.answer which accounts for recent updates to the library


This not only makes it clear that the answer is outdated without actually going against the original intent of the post, it provides extra value to future visitors for finding the current accepted answer and would allow you to reverse your votes if you still feel it's warranted. Win win.

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    I'm all for pointing out the answer is no longer current with an edit, but pointing towards another answer will just make the edit go out of date eventually too. I'd keep the first sentence and rephrase the second so it's no longer pointing towards a specific answer yet keep the information why it went out of date. – Mast Jul 15 at 6:20
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    I can see a disclaimer being justified in rare cases, but not in general. However, you should never edit somebody's else post to direct it to something else that is correct. (Unless perhaps the original poster has deleted their account.) If you know the correct answer, answer the question yourself. If the correct answer is for a similar question, vote to close the question with the out-of-date answer as a duplicate. – Jason Bassford Jul 15 at 14:01
  • I think my main hesitation with this is that it feels that it is a major edit to the answer post. The owner of that post may not agree with the edit. I would much rather just withdraw my upvote in some cases. – Flimm Jul 17 at 8:14
  • @Flimm The edit would continue to validate the post while also directing users towards more current information. Your preferred solution on the other hand would just penalize the author ten points for a good-faith post that became obsolete through no fault of their own. – goldPseudo Jul 17 at 8:51
  • @goldPseudo If authors want to keep their reputation, they should delete their out-of-date answers, and they will keep the reputation points they earned over the years. However, if they leave bad incorrect out-of-date answers out there, misleading people and wasting people's time, then I don't see why I shouldn't be allowed to withdraw my upvote. Generally, authors with very old posts are not hurting for rep as they had lots of time to accumulate rep passively. – Flimm Jul 17 at 9:00
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It is important to not mislead people with high-voted answers that are out of date, that's for sure.

But removing your upvote will not be the best solution, as the poster of that answer did provide a good answer at that time. If users were advised to remove their upvotes due to answers going out of date, well, that could be discouraging for users who answer questions, as technology upgrades constantly, and things are always changing in society.

It'll be better to edit an UPDATE: statement into the answer, explaining how the answer might no work anymore:

Before:

Before edit


After:

After edit

Another option is to leave a comment explaining the depreciation. The poster of the answer might update it. Even if not, other people will be notified about it being outdated.

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