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I've found many questions here regarding this 'feature' and many answers explaining how it works, but none showing any 'philosophical' concept behind it. i.e., why is it here? Is it helping to make site better?

For example, just now I made a downvote, retracted it to think a bit more, left a comment with explanation and tried to downvote again. No game.
And this is not the only real-life situation when value of this 'feature' is doubtful. There're plenty on this meta.

So, what was the primary reason to introduce it? A flow of people who change all their votes on daily basis?

marked as duplicate by rene discussion Mar 28 '18 at 20:27

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


If I remember correctly it's to prevent people from downvoting competing answers. For example, say I answer an easy question then notice that five other people posted basically the same answer at the same time. I could just downvote them all so my answer is the top one, and slightly more likely to get the first few upvotes. Once I get a comfortable lead of 2-3 votes I can then go back and undo all the downvotes to get my five reputation points back and to cover my tracks. This sort of thing is prevented by vote locking.

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    Correct. From If you just witnessed tactical downvoting, is it a reportable offense?: To help deal with the "tactical downvoting" problem, we have radically reduced the window for undoing votes. – Arjan Jan 19 '11 at 13:47
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    Thanks! Isn't that a bit like curing headache with an axe? We can deal with tactical downvoting without enforcing irrelevant (and sometimes harmful) rule on the whole community. (Not sure if I need to create another question with 'feature-request' tag for that) – Nikita Rybak Jan 19 '11 at 13:52
  • @Nikita: I'm sure alternate suggestions would be welcome (yes, as a separate feature-request post). 99% of all voting interactions are a single click with no take backs, so the locking rule really isn't that impactful. – Bill the Lizard Jan 19 '11 at 13:55
  • That is one neat idea – abel Jan 19 '11 at 14:40
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    "it's to prevent people from downvoting competing answers" But it doesn't. You can still downvote everyone else, lose a little rep, and gain it all back when your answer gets upvotes. All this rule does is makes tactical downvoting more harmful to the victims. – endolith May 9 '12 at 19:59
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    @BilltheLizard: How could someone be suspected of it when votes are anonymous? How would you distinguish between tactical downvoting and downvoting everyone else's answers because they're wrong? If tactical downvoting isn't even a significant problem, why cripple the site over it and lock-in erroneous votes that permanently give subtly wrong answers more prominence than they deserve? – endolith May 10 '12 at 1:31
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    @BilltheLizard: Of course it is. How do you change your vote if the post is never edited, but a comment or another answer shows that your vote was wrong? – endolith May 10 '12 at 1:53
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    @BilltheLizard: I initially upvoted an answer, only to find out that it actually didn't answer the OP's question. So I answered it myself, and wanted NOT TO DOWNVOTE, but to remove my initial upvote. Because of this provision, I can't. If this feature intends to prevent tactical downvotes, then please let me retract my upvote. – Dan Dascalescu Sep 30 '12 at 4:45
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    @BilltheLizard: I just encountered the same situation as explained above by DanDascalescu, I upvoted an answer only to try the solution in the answer myself only find that the answer didn't work. – HeatfanJohn Nov 19 '12 at 2:01
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    If this is to prevent tactical downvoting, then why does it also prohibit the undoing of a downvote? Furthermore I fail to see how it does prevent tactical downvoting: a user is still allowed to downvote answers, but once (s)he does so, is now prevented from undoing that action. – devios1 Nov 28 '12 at 23:44
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    @BilltheLizard Gotcha. I see what it's attempting to solve now. Just off the top of my head, I think a better solution would be not to reward rep points on an undone downvote. – devios1 Nov 28 '12 at 23:58
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    I haven't seen anyone explain @DanDascalescu's comment about undoing an upvote retraction after you have voted an incorrect answer and subsequently answered it yourself. Does it work out the same but in a different direction? Thats the reason I'm ended up searching this thread out anyway. – rtpHarry Aug 14 '13 at 20:01
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    Can't you make it -3 rep to downvote when you have an answer in the same question? – bjb568 Mar 1 '14 at 23:28
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    How would someone cover his/hers tracks if their actions is stored elsewhere as well? It is perfectly possible to store that I upvoted/downvoted a question but retracted the vote. – Anders Lindén Apr 21 '14 at 7:01
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    I accidentally downvoted somebody. I wanted to actually upvote. I don't understand why you don't just prevent changing vote on questions that the voter has also answered. – user3413723 Oct 12 '15 at 15:41

I downvoted an answer and explained the reason why in the comments. The person defended his answer with an argument and I decided, that he is right, and I am wrong. I tried to undo my downvote but it doesn't work. It's locked.

I did not even answer the question myself, so this could be an additional test, to prevent tactical voting.

A second addition could be, to allow one mindchange per day or week. I guess tactical downvoters need many changes per day and won't like to undo their votes in small doses, because then it gets much work.

As fresbend mentions in his comment, not only downvotes are locked, but upvotes too. And for tactical downvotes, a downvoter doesn't need to undo his downvotes. If this idea of tactical downvotes, which has not been shown to be a real world phenomena, is a real world problem, it would only be rational to undo downvotes if you downvote 5 or more competing answers.

From the minority of tactical downvoters, which might exist, a minority might want to undo their downvotes. And only a minority therefrom would abstain from downvoting, if it can't be undone.

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    A workaround is to make a trivial edit to unlock your vote, if you don't have enough rep to edit without review this might not work though unless you can identify something substantive to improve. – Martin Smith Mar 9 '14 at 17:19
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    @MartinSmith: Well, yes, I thought about this, but it is an ugly workaround. I have to disturb the person with another comment to explain my void edit, have to do an useless edit which doesn't appear as an edit. – user unknown Mar 9 '14 at 17:28
  • Yes I agree. Doubt it will be changed though (for reasons a bit different from stated in Bill's answer). This was brought up relatively recently here Don't lock upvotes – Martin Smith Mar 9 '14 at 17:35
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    Another scenario (the reason that brought me here) is that I accidentally downvoted someone, then realized I did, wanted to take it back, and couldn't. – Miguel Mar 30 '14 at 22:20
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    the vote locking is a stupid 'feature'... how do we vote to get rid of it? – Anentropic Nov 18 '15 at 10:36
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    Tactical downvoters need not undo any downvotes. This measure doesn't prevent the practice. It doesn't even make it a little harder. Further, the measure affects upvotes too. If I want to undo an upvote (many legitimate reasons), I cannot. – fredsbend Feb 7 '17 at 20:59
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    @Anentropic Start a fork of Stack Exchange, I guess. They clearly have no intention of ever fixing this bug. – endolith Oct 25 '17 at 14:00

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