I've read about changing a vote when the post has been edited inside the five minute grace window and adding an indication that it was edited in that span which together might be onto something.

This question especially applies to bad answers and downvotes on active posts, so I will stick with that context.

I usually downvote bad answers immediately, but then within moments the author realizes he's given a terrible or wrong answer and fixes it before the revision history kicks in. Then I can take it back if I'm paying close attention. Maybe the downvote itself is the alarm to the author that something is wrong. Often a good post ends up with a downvote and no one can tell why because they didn't see the original.

The result is often a decent or even good answer sitting there with three or four downvotes, and everyone who came late to the party asking "Why was this downvoted??".

It's not often that a post actually gets worse, and I know how people like to "be first" by providing a half-arsed answer then expanding on it later, so:

Should downvoting be saved for after the five minute editing period has ended, so that other users can see exactly WHY the answer deserved a downvote?


Should the post just get voted on immediately, as soon as it appears?

Is there value in a bad answer? I feel like it's a good way for folks to learn what NOT to do in the given medium (whatever language or context the question is in), and how NOT to answer a question (if the answer itself is OK but poorly communicated). No one can pick up on this if the revision history is unavailable.

Just to clarify, this is a question about best practices.

  • 2
    +1 Since your clarification - no offense, but I would just rewrite the question, it's still a little confusing. It sounds like the main idea you are getting at is, "Is it bad to downvote too quickly?"
    – Nicole
    Apr 29, 2011 at 23:04
  • 1
    "Maybe the downvote itself is the alarm" - and so you would hold back on issuing that alarm? Aug 6, 2013 at 20:48
  • +100000000 for raising a real concern to the blind. Aug 6, 2013 at 20:58
  • 1
    Related: Introduce Timed Downvotes
    – jmac
    Oct 18, 2013 at 0:04
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    I just feel that if you downvote someone, you should also take the time to check back and see if they made the changes that would justify you reversing your downvote. For a newbie, it can be very disheartening to fix a question after it's been down voted but then find that those downvotes stick. If you're not going to come back and check, don't put the downvote on in the first place. Maybe some sort of notification that the post you've voted on has been edited might help remind downvoters to come back?
    – Spudley
    Oct 18, 2013 at 8:44

2 Answers 2


One of the major features of Stack Exchange is the instant community feedback. How will a user know their question is bad if no one can downvote it?

Further, on Stack Overflow, after 5 minutes the question is off the page. People already don't vote enough - by removing the ability to vote on things on the front page and for the first few minutes of the question's life you would only decrease the amount of voting.

Voting is the only method of ranking answers and giving feedback on question appropriateness, so it's critically important, and shouldn't be artificially.

Lastly, when you press submit you are committing your post to the masses. If you suspect you may need to edit it within the first 5 minutes, you should probably edit it before you submit it in the first place.

  • What I'm concerned with is when answers change from terrible to fair within the grace period, after downvotes. Then we have a decent or even good answer sitting there with 3-4 downvotes, and anyone who wasn't there to witness the original is scratching their heads (Why was this downvoted?). I'm picking on answers exclusively because people don't post hasty, incomplete questions in the same fashion as they do with answers. Do you know about this, or is it really not as common as I am seeing?
    – user159834
    Apr 29, 2011 at 20:38
  • 8
    My theory: if they want to be first so badly that they post a bad answer, it deserves two down votes, even after it is fixed. If they were honestly wrong or didn't communicate well, then the down votes will tell them that people feel that way. +1
    – ughoavgfhw
    Apr 29, 2011 at 21:02
  • I agree with you should probably edit it before you submit it in the first place, but it doesn't cover answers that are pointed out to be wrong by the community, then later changed within the grace period.
    – user159834
    Apr 29, 2011 at 21:10
  • The problem with editing before you submit is that you don't know what the problem is sometimes until it is too late. And then, there is no true way to eliminate the negative votes. There should be a way to alert those who voted negatively that the post has been re-worked and that they have the option to remove their negative votes.
    – JoshDM
    Aug 6, 2013 at 20:47
  • " If you suspect you may need to edit it within the first 5 minutes, you should probably edit it before you submit it in the first place." - this is a bit too idealistic: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9731/…
    – BartoszKP
    Oct 17, 2013 at 23:08

In your shoes, I would downvote immediately, and then check back. Then reverse the downvote, or even upvote the post if it has been fixed to your satisfaction. There is something of an "honor system" attached to this procedure.

Sometimes the downvote is the thing that triggers the editing. More to the point, questions flow "quick and fast" on this site, so it is important to get your view in soon enough (less so on some other SE sites). Also, your downvote will push the question off the page faster, thereby discouraging downvotes from other people who DON'T check back and see if the question has been fixed. In this case, the question will go back up to the first page.

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