I occasionally use the Stack Exchange app for iOS when reading or answering questions on this site.

I hold the phone in my left hand and scroll with my thumb along the left side of the screen. This detail turns out to be important because I discovered today that my scrolling errantly triggered a vote on an answer. What is worse, it was a downvote on an answer I would normally upvote.

Unfortunately, I discovered the error just under an hour after the vote had been issued. By this time, attempts to change the vote result in an error message stating "You last voted on this answer 52 minutes ago. Your vote is now locked in unless this answer is edited."

Frankly, I find this feature a little disconcerting. While I can imagine the reasons behind the restriction--those reasons are not really important for this question--I am disappointed that I appear to have no anonymous recourse to change my vote.

Do I comment to the answerer an embarrassing: "Sorry, I have fat thumbs. If you'll waste your time making an unimportant edit, I'll remove my errant downvote?"

Do I shrug and sigh "C'est la vis" and hope that the community overthrows my errant vote with a tide of upvotes?

Or do I take it to meta?

Well, here I am. Do I have any reasonable recourse to fix errant votes such as this one?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This should probably be posted to Meta.SE, as it is not a site-specific question. \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2015 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are the locking-of-votes timing and conventions universal across all exchanges? If so, I'll gladly hop the fence to ask. \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2015 at 16:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @kbrimington yes, basically all of the functionality is common here. There's almost no local customization across sites except for on the few biggest ones. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    May 19, 2015 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you. I have restructured my question as a feature request on the appropriate meta. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/256752/…. Cheers! \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2015 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ It looks like it may be a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2015 at 22:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan, I disagree. The question you refer to requests that the vote lock be discontinued. I, instead, offer a specific proposal for consideration in my feature request on Meta.SE. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2015 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


Your only courses of action are to suggest an edit so that you can change your vote or leave a comment asking for a small edit in order to change your vote. There is not an anonymous recourse available.

This is an unfortunate side effect of the vote locking, a system that was put in place to prevent what's called "tactical downvoting" wherein a user downvotes an otherwise good answer because they have a similar competing answer that will attract more upvotes if the other answers are downvoted. Waffles posted some numbers in this answer.

Unfortunately, there is, as of the last time it was raised, little interest in modifying this feature.

With the advent of the mobile site, and the ability to upvote/downvote from mobile and the increased possibility of fat fingers in the mobile interface, it may be time to re-raise the issue. I'm going to leave your post here for the time being (Rather than migrating it to Meta.SE). However, I encourage you to raise it as a feature request there highlighting specifically the issues with the mobile interface that may necessitate a reexamination of this policy.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your remarks. In my feature request on Meta.SE, I provided a specific proposal for resolving this concern without disabling the vote-lock feature. Hopefully, that will generate more interest than previous questions. \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2015 at 23:22

Do I shrug and sigh "C'est la vis" and hope that the community overthrows my errant vote with a tide of upvotes?

Sure. I misvote sometimes. Everyone misvotes occasionally, 'cause they clicked the wrong part of the page without noticing, the wrong button while they were sleepy, they held their phone or tablet wrong, their finger or thumb touched something while they were looking away or shifting their grip, etc. This isn't limited to or caused by the mobile app, it's just a thing that happens.

(Though scrolling with your left thumb on the mobile app would help it happen. Sounds like they could improve interaction with the voting buttons to make doing that by accident less likely.)

All sites have a bit of baseline voting noise, consider yourself to have added a minute amount to it. It's relatively harmless.

Good answers will get a tide of upvotes overriding your single downvote. Likewise bad answers will get downvotes overriding your single upvote. A single vote alone by design has a low amount of impact in this Q&A system, except for borderline or highly contentious material, which will go the way it goes.

If it really bothers you, leave a comment or suggest an edit. I suggest you only let it bother you for the exceptional answers that are really worth the attention.


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