Suppose that while browsing through old questions, I find that the top answer, while almost certainly correct at the time it was posted, is now incorrect. I add a new answer with the current, correct information. Should the old answer be downvoted?


2 Answers 2



Just as it's appropriate to change the accepted answer to your question that was once correct, it is appropriate to downvote a once-good answer.


Before I do this, I would first comment to why the answer is no longer correct, perhaps with an errata link or some other damning source so that they may be able to edit the answer themselves.

  • \$\begingroup\$ By "before I do this", do you mean to imply you'd delay voting to let them act? Or would you vote and do that? (I wouldn't myself.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 12, 2019 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I would comment first, then wait an amount of time..... a day or two? then vote \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Mar 12, 2019 at 18:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dopplegreener although if you downvoted beforehand it is not a problem as you will be able to upvote the answer after it is edited with the correct information \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Mar 13, 2019 at 8:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Whoops, my comment reads ambiguously. I downvote at the same time as commenting for exactly that reason: if it does get edited the voting will unlock again so I can change my vote, but if it doesn't it keeps the downvote. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 13, 2019 at 10:25


You can vote however you want.

That said, saying that all the site's users should also cast their votes a certain way in certain situations is an overreach. Users aren't ever under any obligation to vote one way or another or even to vote at all. If new information has rendered an answer incorrect, it's up to each user to determine if that answer now deserves further action. A mandate or policy or even a perceived consensus that certain classes of answers should be downvoted all the time no matter what violates users' voting independence, something the site greatly values and respects.

To be clear, if you downvote an answer, that's on you, and you should be acting here according to your own will—that is appropriate. If there's a desire to see users downvote an answer, that can be encouraged, but I suggest that be done with the tools the site already provides—put a bounty the question, add appropriate comments, and cast votes according to conscience—rather than, for instance, a comment on the obsolete answer that says This answer is incorrect in light of rules changes; for why it's been downvoted see this Meta question. It's better for voters to downvote and leave no comment than to have voters downvote and in comments hide behind a bureaucratic shield that absolves them of the responsibility for their votes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "Users aren't ever under any obligation to vote one way... or even to vote at all." While this is factually true, there is an important middle ground between saying users aren't ever told to vote a certain way and saying users should all vote the same way and have detailed philosphical guidelines. In reality cases exist of blatantly misguided voting patterns like OP's or this drama. That's why encouragement to "be nice", voting guidelines, and badges for voting exist. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cody P
    Mar 15, 2019 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CodyP RE: "There is an important middle ground between saying [A] users aren't ever told to vote a certain way and [B] saying users should all vote the same way and have detailed philosphical guidelines." I'm honestly not sure there can be a middle ground. Any middle ground that includes a recommendation like A user should always downvote a question that is X leads to the contrarians saying O, yeah? Or else what? and the thoughtful saying Even in this totally unanticipated corner case? Asking for a blanket policy like this is asking for trouble. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 15, 2019 at 22:00

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