Meta regularly gets posts regarding the "vote too old" issue and the general consensus seems to be that most people hate it, but understand the reasons behind it.

The current solution is to edit the post, but some users have issues with editing another user's post just to change the vote and other users feel like it's rude to have their post edited so that another user can change their vote. So I'm proposing a potential solution that would fix this: instead of requiring an edit before changing the vote, warn the user that if they change their vote after its been "locked", the fact that they changed their vote will be visible in the revision history.

This doesn't necessarily mean their vote will show in the revision history, it could just say something like:

Andy E's head changed their vote.

This would have a similar effect to editing the post without actually editing - the action would be logged to highlight vote abuse and it allows Jeff to meet these users in the middle, instead of just saying.

If you feel so strongly that you've made a terrible mistake with your vote, earn 2k rep, edit the post, then change your vote.

(which, clearly, a few people weren't happy about). If this were implemented, think of the much better use we can put our screen life too, rather than closing all those annoying duplicates and editing them to [status-bydesign]. Hell, stick a rep limit on it if you want, at least you're throwing them a frickin' bone.

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    That would mean making it public that you voted on the post – juan Jul 22 '10 at 20:51
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    @Juan, just like it'd be public if you did a fake edit – Lance Roberts Jul 22 '10 at 20:52
  • @Lance, I can change my vote if other person edited the post. Voting information should be private. – juan Jul 22 '10 at 20:57
  • @Juan: the current workaround would stay too, so users over 2k can edit the post if they want to change their vote "privately", though I think it's pretty obvious if someone edits your post and then shortly after a vote is changed. – Andy E Jul 22 '10 at 21:00
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    So, what you're proposing is just a way for people under 2k rep to change their vote by choosing to make it public? – juan Jul 22 '10 at 21:04
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    @Juan, I would think that this would only be implemented for the situation where they would have to edit to vote. So only people in that particular situation would be exposed, just like they would be if they edited the post. – Lance Roberts Jul 22 '10 at 21:10
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    @Juan: no. I'm proposing a way for everyone to change their vote without being required to edit the post. I really don't care if someone knows that I changed my vote - I usually leave a comment with a -1 anyway and sometimes with a +1. I'd personally rather not have to fake edit the post. – Andy E Jul 22 '10 at 21:12
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    But it'd be possible to fake edit it, right? And you can make it look like it's not a fake edit. I just don't see the point of adding a feature that you can workaround so easily... – juan Jul 22 '10 at 21:14
  • @Juan: Like I said before, you can't always make it look like it's not a fake edit, most of the time it's pretty obvious. It's hardly a feature that can be worked around if the "workaround" existed before the feature, but it's obvious that it's a feature that would be worthless to you so I'm not going to try and convince you otherwise. – Andy E Jul 22 '10 at 21:22

I think this solution is still too obtrusive. We'll ignore (for a moment) that the current solution is quite obtrusive too.


StackOverflow is based on voting. It is the very premise of the site. Voting should therefore be the most seamless and easy to use tool on the site. This is mostly the case. (Generally just click on the direction you want.) However, repeated abuses and gaming of the system made it necessary for restrictions to be placed.

The Problem

The scenario that caused the "voting window" to exists in the first place is roughly as follows:

  1. Question is posted
  2. GeniusA answers well.
  3. devinb answers adequately.
  4. devinb downvotes GeniusA so that his own answer will bubble to the top. (what a jerk)
  5. once devinb's answer has gained some upvotes, he removes the downvote on GeniusA

Users were doing this to all answers other than theirs and then removing their downvotes so there would be no evidence.

Your proposed solution

A popup when trying to change the vote, and a public note in the revision history for the post.

Pop-ups are annoying. Users don't like and don't read them. Basically, this is just something that interferes with their attempt to do something perfectly valid (changing a vote).

Broken pop-up consistency Currently there are two kinds of pop-up:

  1. The Box'O'Death, which pops up whenever you can't do something.
  2. "Are you sure you want to navigate away?"

Yours, being a choice and not 'click to dismiss' would have to follow the format of the "Are you sure?" The pop-up is meant to stop you from doing something irreversible. If something is reversible, you shouldn't be stopping people from doing it.

Revision history is about revisions The revision history is for items which affect the post. The post was edited/closed/roll-back'd, whatever. Me, you, GeniusA, our votes don't affect the post in any content sense. (Ignoring sociological factors of course.) So this is the wrong place.

Why should I care that X changed their vote? Originally, Jeff's solution was to prevent the problem. However, it caused all sort of havoc because it prevented valid behaviour as well. This solution allows the problem, and then deputizes (crowd-sources) the detection. But in general, unless I am determined to vigilante the problem, why should I care that someone changed their vote? It is not information that is relevant unless it is my post. So it shouldn't be publicized on a broad level.

No more anonymous voting Suddenly, the fact that I changed my mind means that I no longer have the protection of anonymity. This will greatly encourage revenge voting. HUGELY.

Creating a punishment policy In the original solution to the problem, because the negative actions were prevented, there did not need to be a "what do we do about abusive users" policy, because they had stopped the abusive users. Once you open up the avenue to abuse again, you (they) need to define a resolution/escalation/rehabilitation structure to deal with it. And those are always considered unfair and are usually cause for Meta to boil with impotent rage.

My Solution

Lest you think I'm just going to tear you down without opening myself up, I will propose my own solution.

Let Them Do It. No pop-up, no note in the revision history. From a User Experience UI perspective, they maintain complete control over their votes. Upvoting, downvoting, reversing at will.

BUT, everytime you vote on a post, you leave a 'fingerprint' on it. If you choose to revert, reverse or revisit your vote later, the System (man I wish that was my nickname) will record it.

Then once the user reaches an arbitrary threshold (retouches per month, retouches per question or retouches total. Doesn't really matter) then a moderator flag is raised and an investigation is begun.

We could also create a "Reconsideration Recidivism" list. It could be a 10k tool that lists the most recent vote reversals or removals. Or it could be a 15k tool, moderator tool, or admin only tool. That way there is still a way for those who want to investigate it to do so, but it is not public information.

I would recommend moderator or admin only, because it will contain voting information which, as I noted earlier, should be anonymous.

  • I know the ending is weak, but I really had to get back to work. I'll fix it later. – devinb Jul 23 '10 at 15:17
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    I had initially thought of your points against, I just thought a solution that didn't involve having to perform an action (e.g. editing) would be a good idea. I suppose I don't really care about my own anonymity when it comes to voting and that biases my argument a little. After reading your proposed solution, though, I agree it is much better. – Andy E Jul 30 '10 at 13:05
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    I wish this was already a part of the system. Lets just hope they don't think it too difficult to implement – Dan Hanly Sep 1 '10 at 8:49

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