Anyone seen this one yet?

Vote too old to be changed, unless post is edited

My vote was only a few hours old. Then I realized the answer was wrong. Updated my question and went to remove the vote. Even after updating question I still have the issue.

Small issue, but frustrating.

See also:

Vote undo window drastically reduced

  • 1
    The error message is referring to the post that you have voted upon - if I understand correctly, you asked a question, voted one of its answers up mistakenly, then edited your question. This behavior is by design; I will update the error text to make it less ambiguous. Commented Jul 20, 2009 at 2:50
  • 3
    We will have to discuss the use case you're suggesting - the removal of cast votes on answers when the parent question is edited. Above all, we have to prevent "gaming" of the daily rep system! Commented Jul 20, 2009 at 2:51
  • 14
    I know, its so annoying, just like 5 mins after voting I realize they're wrong, but can't change vote.
    – mk12
    Commented Oct 6, 2009 at 2:04
  • 4
    Just had this happen too. A comment, only a few minutes later, made me realise that the answer I'd voted on was wrong, and I couldn't rescind my vote. :( Commented Apr 27, 2010 at 22:30
  • 8
    "Status -by design" - if the design is not good, it should be changed. Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 20:29
  • @MichaelFreidgeim Read my comments? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/146353 Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 15:22
  • I hope no one will vote me as "too old to be changed" - I'm still young enough to learn new things. ;) Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 21:07
  • 5
    Why can you change the accepted answer, but not a vote?
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 18:15
  • 1
    So considering all the upvoted answers are against this... will it ever be fixed?
    – endolith
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 0:23

17 Answers 17


Its easy to be misled by an incorrect answer that "sounds right" when you just don't know.

Sometimes the early answers that "look right" and sit at the top of the stack get over-voted. When some genius posts a better answer you want to revoke your vote.. but you can't now.

Forget about "gaming". Its about giving the most "points" to the best dadgam answer, and fewer points to the less-great answers.

  • An example of this is here stackoverflow.com/questions/3281384/…
    – IsmailS
    Commented Jul 23, 2010 at 13:13
  • 3
    I upvoted something without testing it. Well, it did not work (and was sloppy come to think of it). I just mislead other people (left a comment at least). Sure leaves a bad taste.
    – bauerMusic
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 3:56

I had the opposite problem on this response. I downvoted the response because it seemed to me (and at least one other commenter) that it answered the wrong question. The original questioner came back and commented that the answer I downvoted actually did address the question he was asking. When I saw that comment the next day, I tried to remove the downvote but got this message. I would like to right the wrong, but can't.

  • 5
    Yes - I have had the same problem with questions. Went to up vote a question I had already up voted, so the up vote was removed! Now I can't put it back - the original up vote that is... Commented Oct 12, 2009 at 22:55
  • 3
    @Stuart Helwig This happened to me too, it is quite distressing. I had to make a senseless change to the post to put my vote back. I guess I will have to pay more attention until this is fixed, as I hope it will be.
    – Remou
    Commented Nov 3, 2009 at 0:09
  • 4
    Yes, I once down-voted mr Skeet and eventually realized that I am an idiot and had misunderstood his response. Unfortunately, there was no way to remove my down-vote.
    – grenade
    Commented Jan 11, 2010 at 17:14
  • Same problem. This seems like a flaw to me.
    – N.J.Evans
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 15:16

Unfortunately, the developers of Stackoverflow use IDEs and Editors that don't let you change code once you've typed it. Also, they never make mistakes or modify anything they've done. The concept is alien to them. So, as much as anyone might want this feature changed, it can't be done.

  • 17
    <irony>The sarcasm tag is deprecated as of Humor Templating Markup Language 5.0 ... please change it.</irony>
    – dreftymac
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 19:46
  • <depression>@dreftymac The <irony></irony> tag has been deprecated since 01/01/2016. Please use <thisisaverylongtagthatyoucantrememberanywaysbutisthenewwayorwritingthenowdeprecatedtagironicallycalledirony></thisisaverylongtagthatyoucantrememberanywaysbutisthenewwayorwritingthenowdeprecatedtagironicallycalledirony></depression>
    – EKons
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 10:14

+1 Change it!

It has just happened to me (again) someone downvoted and wrote a comment which I agree with (I think you should have to write a comment on downvote). I then said why they are wrong and defended my point and they agreed with me, but were unable to upvote.


  • Looks like the OP on that rephrased your answer and scored an upvote.
    – random
    Commented Oct 24, 2009 at 4:20
  • 1
    I guess he will also mark as answer! Annoying but nothing can be done! Commented Oct 24, 2009 at 4:37

Perhaps only downvotes should be locked in quickly, to prevent gaming the system. I do find it annoying that upvotes cannot be retracted after a more thourough review. We all make mistakes. And since people dish out up votes freely, as they cost nothing, it makes more sense to allow for a longer time to lock upvotes in.

  • 14
    Why can't they just detect when people are gaming the system by changing votes and then ban them? Why is there a punishment for "changing vote" when there should only be a punishment for "voting negative when it competes with your answer and then changing back to neutral or positive after your answer has been accepted"?
    – endolith
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 1:10
  • 5
    Sometimes I quite unmaliciously downvote only to later realize my downvote was idiotic, at which point I want to, quite unmaliciously, take my downvote back but I can't. Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 12:54

There's a different case, which is when the question doesn't change, but the environment does. For instance, if I ask a question about, say, VIM, and there's an answer which is helpful for VIM 7.2, I'd like to vote it up. When VIM 8 comes out, this answer may no longer be the best, and a new answer may take the place of the old one. At this point, I may want to remove the previous vote to reflect that the answer is not as good as it used to be.


The exact same thing happened to me this morning when I tried to undo an upvote on an answer. The answer itself was only 30 minutes old. I think something is seriously wonky with that right now.


All explanations (here and here) that I've seen re reason of time limit to change vote decision are about misuse of down-vote.

If there is no reason to limit up-vote, the limit should be removed.

Also, the games with down-vote and subsequent up-vote based on the rule, that if user undo down vote, the reputation point will be restored. To avoid this, the rule can be changed, that after 5 min user can undo down-vote, but the reputation point will not be restored.

These changes will allow users to freely undo their up and down-votes but still will prevent unhonest "gamers" to restore points by undoing down-votes.

  • 4
    As for downvoting abuse: I assume that even a 2 point cost would then not stop folks from doing that, as gaining a single additional upvote totally makes up for that? (I've never understood that people would even think about this tactical downvoting when posting their --late-- answer but apparently the data showed it was happening indeed.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 10:57

I gave vote and then thought I should wait for some better responses and I immediately undid it. Later I didn't got any other answers and many people had only viewed that post. So it meant that the answerer was right. But now I can't give him vote. I can only mark it answered.


What if you reduced the incentive to downvote other answers by increasing your "downvote reputation penalty" if you have an answer in that question?

For example, say the average answer for a small question earns me +30 reputation. If I'm required to pay -10 reputation for downvoting other answers in that question, I probably use my downvotes sparingly.

"I don't care if I lose 10 reputation; he is wrong, and I know it."

  • 1
    Just to be clear, if I don't have an answer in a question, I would only loose the standard -1 reputation, to encourage constructive downvoting.
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 22:36

Could the vote-locking policy be reconsidered?

The purpose of SO is to promote good answers. Honest votes help achieve this.

People make mistakes. The time-frame within which they know enough to realize their mistake may vary greatly. N-minutes (for any N) may not be enough.

Both the the OP question and the top voted answers here make it evident that there's a broad desire to change the current locking policy and allow users to undo their mistaken or accidental votes.

Consider the simple, and common scenario: a voter realizes he made a mistake, and he wants to undo the mistake. Assume he doesn't have an answer on the question (which can be checked) so he's not gaming anything.

why can't he undo his mistake?

Is there a good convincing answer to this question?

  • This doesn't really fit as answer here, and I fear it was already asked many times. One, two, three and probably more. Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 6:31
  • @ShadowWizard; Indeed, it is not an answer. The alternative was to re-write it as an answer: "I feel/think that locking votes is misguided policy that should be fixed" but I felt it was too strong so I rephrased it as a question :) this being 'meta-SO' I felt this may be appropriate. I read the other references, too. I picked this one because the Q had highest number of upvotes. The #1 "justification" of this policy is that the policy is there to prevent gaming the system but I fear this is a fallacy (see above why).
    – arielf
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 23:02

I posted an idea regarding this on this question: Undo an up/down vote after a comment is left


I've had that happen with votes that were a few days old that I tried to change, but I've never tried changing a vote that was just a few hours old. I think maybe they need to extend the time for freezing votes... something like 24 hours after the last edit. If the question itself has been edited and the focus changed, old answers may no longer be valid and users may want to adjust their votes accordingly.

One other problem, which I haven't ever noticed: If the question is edited, can votes on old answers be adjusted, or does the answer have to be edited? If the question is modified, it would make more sense for all the answers to become "vote-modifiable" again.

  • 1
    If the question is modified and revoting reopens, then at least give me a notification that the question was modified so that I have an opportunity to fix it. Once vote modification is locked on an answer, I don't think it should be unlocked unless the answer is edited by the original owner.
    – user102937
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:04

Based on this discussion, I am going to "Favorite" posts I want to remember to vote on later. I don't see any other stackexchange mechanism for easily tracking questions and I'm not yet using the "Favorites" feature.

I am forgetful - but I don't want to forget to vote - and my previous mechanism (voting while uncertain) just failed me: something looked perfect so I upvoted, I tried before the 5 minutes and couldn't get it to work, removed my upvote (not understanding the lock), and now I cannot upvote the answer (perfect, after all).


I don't think you should vote for an answer unless you definitively know it's right. A few hours should be more than enough time to understand if something posted was right or wrong. You should be voting for things you know are correct, or at least correct in their context, don't vote for things you think might be correct.

  • 8
    One issue is that sometimes the question is edited and a previous answer is no longer the most correct, hence you may want to swap your vote to another answer. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:36
  • +1 good point Ian. Put a few hours - maybe 2. Would love to see this as a 24 hr period but they may have their reasons.
    – Tyndall
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:38
  • 12
    Up-votes mean 'This answer is helpful', not 'this answer is correct.' Hover over the vote-up arrow to see this.
    – user102937
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:39
  • There is a time allowance after a user edits a post. I agree that things could be improved so that you can see when something you up voted has changed, but the actual time limit itself isn't too flawed IMO. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:41
  • 2
    @Robert: An answer that no longer addresses a newly edited question probably isn't helpful. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:42
  • 3
    Well an answer clearly isn't helpful if it's incorrect ... Unless somehow your opinion differs from mine in that respect. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:42
  • OK, but how would the original poster know that, if he answered on the basis of the original question? There's your reason for the time limit.
    – user102937
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:43
  • @Robert: Yes, that's the reason for the time limit. But since most people aren't sitting at their computer 24/7, they may not see the new edit for a while. Extending the window for revoting to at least 24 hours after the edit may be helpful. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:46
  • 2
    Is this for revoting on an answer I've already submitted, to which the question has been edited? If that's the case, I don't think it's my job to monitor these questions constantly to find out if my answers need to be fine-tuned. Do I even get notified that the question was changed? If I edit my answer, then I think the revoting window can be reopened for my answer.
    – user102937
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 19:50
  • It may be related to time of day, i.e. the Server's day ended in-between. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:01
  • It's bad enough that I am now going to get downvotes for an answer that no longer matches the question because the author edited it (which I will get a notification for).
    – user102937
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 20:01
  • 1
    "You should be voting for things you know are correct" but isn't that why you're asking the question? Its easy to be misled by an incorrect answer that "sounds right" when you just don't know.
    – bobobobo
    Commented Jul 20, 2009 at 17:48
  • 1
    If you don't know if a posted answer is correct, then test it and see, or don't vote on it. Otherwise you're ruining all value of the vote system. Commented Jul 20, 2009 at 18:37
  • 2
    This happened to me after only a few minutes. I upvoted an answer then read through some other answers which convinced me that the one I upvoted actually was not correct. No I can't undo it.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Aug 27, 2009 at 14:48
  • 1
    @JohnFx, I have voted on questions (one today specifically) that I thought were correct (today I didn't build the requisite sql tables) and then there are comments that are entered that persuaded me that the answer was incorrect. Unable to undo :-( I hadn't even entered an answer on that question, I'm not trying to game the system! Commented Sep 25, 2009 at 15:39

If you ask a question, but the answer does not solve your problem, then the problem is not with the answer. The supplied answers might not help you with your problem, but some other user might have the exact problem you have asked about, and there are good answers to that question.

Instead of changing your question, you need to ask a new one, so that it better reflects your problem.


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.

  • Nice, also when memory fails me and the dialog can tell me when I actually voted!
    – Arjan
    Commented May 1, 2010 at 11:39
  • 16
    The problem isn't in the error message; it's in the vote locking policy.
    – endolith
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 1:13
  • 1
    (And since April 2011, votes that have been undone in time, are no longer locked in.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 17:57

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