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Something i've been noticing more recently that has piqued my interest is the voting and editing system.

They don't seem to work hand in hand nor do they seem like complimentary systems.

For example, lets say an answer is posted, of very poor quality, that attracts 10 down votes.

The poster sees this feedback and decides to update their answer. Now the answer is of much higher quality and had attracted a few up votes, and perhaps one or two of the observant down voters have spotted the edit and retracted their downvotes.

This is where the system works well with pursuing continuous improvement and a positive feedback cycle.

The issue is with the 8 other downvoters. The ones who didn't follow the question and who haven't seen the edit.

The person who made the answer is now seemingly punished with these votes despite their efforts to improve upon their errors.

I see a few potential solutions to this.

Ping a message to the inbox of downvoters when an edit occurs

This would basically mean that if you downvote an answer, or question, and it gets edited, you will get an automated message in the inbox to tell you that an edit has occurred and that you should review your down votes

@downvoters gets attention

A similar system, though i think this one is slightly worse as it could be easily abused. This basically means that @downvoters pings them all to the comment, alerting them of a change if the poster thinks it is significant enough to warrant change.

Probably not a viable or good solution, but i included it for the sake of covering all bases.

Clear votes when edited

Essentially an edit would wipe the slate, new content new votes as it were. I also see many flaws in this solution as it doesn't actually encourage anyone to return and re-vote and you have the issue of rep fluctuation etc.

Therefore would it be at all viable to implement a system wherein downvoters are pinged when an edit occurs. I don't see how this could be abused and i think it could be a valuble tool in the SE toolbelt to encourage editing and re-voting of those who might not otherwise notice.

What do you all think?

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  • I find the best solution right now is to be sure to leave a comment that you made a significant edit so users know the post has changed (or if you didn't make the edit, leave a comment pointing out that a change was made to greatly improve the post, like "+1 for your revised answer, it's a huge improvement on the original"). I find comments that point out a significant edit typically get upvotes so they float to the top, and other voters can easily understand the post's past history and judge it accordingly. – Rachel Apr 17 '13 at 14:19
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    @Rachel but the poeple who dont come back to the questions, the ones who downvote and leave, who never come back to check comments or edits or votes, will always have that downvote tarnishing what is now a good answer. Especially when there is only a small window after an edit where your votes can be changed – Rhys Apr 17 '13 at 14:23
  • I support the downvoter message system. – acolyte Apr 17 '13 at 16:45
  • @RhysW Why is it important for the same people to come back to the question? The edit (if it's any good) will most probably bring new attention to the post and perhaps some upvotes. Why does it matter where the upvotes come from? Also, the small window you refer to is 5 minutes after you (up/down)voted, and it's there mostly just in case you made a mistake (quite easy to make such mistakes in a tiny mobile screen, for example). If there's an edit after you voted, there are no time restrictions on changing your vote, you can change it at any time. – yannis Apr 18 '13 at 5:09
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    @Yannis because 8 downvotes and 4 upvotes still leaves negative 4. I would like to encourage the same people back so that we have an accurate representation of the level of expertise portrayed by the answer. +10 - 5 leaves it overall of 5, which is no longer accurate if the -5 would have reversed their vote if they knew it was edited. – Rhys Apr 18 '13 at 9:00
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The good news is that a lot of great minds have had these same thoughts.

The bad news is they've been declined at Meta Stack Overflow already:

Ping a message to the inbox of downvoters when an edit occurs

Allow an edit to notify downvoters: "I think I've fixed the issue now - please check"

I do think this is by far the best suggestion, although could produce too much noise. It's clearly a popular suggestion, with 273/-13 at Meta SO. Perhaps you could revive it with a MSO bounty? (I wouldn't say that chances are good, but if you do want to put some attention on this issue, Meta Stack Overflow is the place.)

@downvoters gets attention

@Downvoter sends a notification to all downvoters for your post

Clear votes when edited

Although I couldn't find any record of this suggestion, I'm sure you can see the many ways this could be gamed without a significantly more complicated implementation.


Although there is no current way to bring downvoters back to undo their votes, edits are a primary cog in the Stack Exchange system and there are already mechanisms to encourage attention to edited posts (such as bumping the question to the top).

If the original answer was really bad and got a lot of downvotes, the answerer can always delete their answer and try again. This would obviously bump the question too.

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    That's unfortunate that it's been rejected, thanks for the useful links – Rhys Apr 18 '13 at 7:53
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Post questions you feel are unfairly still down-voted to meta here.

They will get attention and (if the question is good) probably upvoted by others who - at the very least - feel they have received downvotes which should be removed.

I dislike this problem too, but this is a solution I've found pretty effective (same with closed questions post-edit, though we have some people who LOVE clearing out the review queue).

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  • That is a good point, i will endeavor to use meta more where needed. I try to keep track of most of the active questions while i can – Rhys Apr 18 '13 at 15:37
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    Just make sure you don't abuse the system. If people think you're posting on meta just to beg for upvotes, the opposite may happen, and more downvotes may result. If you post on meta, make sure you're legitimately asking for help; you want positive attention on your post, not just any attention. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Apr 19 '13 at 6:00
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    hence "if the question is good" ;) – enderland Apr 19 '13 at 11:00

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