TL;DR: users should be allowed to edit their existing area51 votes in-place when they cast a 6th on-topic or off-topic vote.

I'm a big fan of being limited to 5 on and 5 off topic votes per proposal. With that said, I feel the current UI is not optimized for changing your mind.

Perhaps it is cumbersome on purpose, trying to encourage users to think a bit more before casting their initial votes. If so, the topic of how to best encourage thoughtful vote casting is for another thread.

However, I often find myself voting for 5 on topic questions only to find a better example a bit later on. To get around this limitation, I either have to read all the questions first, then vote (infeasible and cumbersome), or I have to find the votes I already cast and remove one (time-consuming).

A proposed solution: when a user attempts to cast a vote when over the limit, instead of prompting them with text to remove some old votes, we present them with their current votes with the option to replace the new vote for the old one?

In this way, users can easily change their mind when they find better examples. This may actually encourage even better results, as I often find myself reluctant to change my votes once cast, even when I find a better example.


1 Answer 1


One of the sorting options, if my memory hasn't failed me, is called "My Votes" and sorts all questions that you have voted on to the top (if not filtering the list to just those 0-10). My strategy has been to open that in a separate tab while browsing through a proposal. If I see a question I want to vote o-topic, then I'll check that tab to see my list and unmark one appropriately. It requires two tabs, sure, but it's a lot better than surfing through the proposal every time. After you change your votes, just refresh that tab.

This kind of method basically replicates what your proposed solution would allow (with a mixture of initial roadblocking) without needing to add a new interface to the system. So while it would be useful, I'm not sure that the benefit is worth the cost of developing the interface when most of its benefit is already possible with some creative user action. As pointed out in the comments, this solution isn't viable if you don't have a method to open new windows or new tabs. But for those who can, it's at least a workaround.

  • 1
    That's a pretty good solution. I appreciate the quick, thoughtful response. However, I feel that the proper UI is critical to the success of area51. If we are not encouraging the desired user behavior, we will get less than desirable results. Also, I do a lot of my voting on my iPhone, and mobile safari has no tabs. I wonder how many others access area51 on their mobile devices. Jun 11, 2010 at 12:37
  • Ooh, you have a strong point there, @Mike . Taking that into consideration, maybe it is a good idea. I'm going to leave my answer here to explain the possible workaround that some users can use.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jun 11, 2010 at 12:40
  • yes, please leave it up. I'm curious to see if most people agree with your solution. Jun 11, 2010 at 12:42

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