I wrote an answer to a question on MSE. At first, I messed up and went to the wrong direction. Noticing this, I urgely edited my post, changed my development, added a new picture and my answer is now correct (same result than the other answers with a different approach).

Unfortunately, while I was still editing it my answer was downvoted and went to the bottom of the answers list. I feel like this is a little bit unfair: sure, I would have to have payed more attention about what I wrote instead of editing an initially bad answer several times to make it good. However, this stays a correct answer now, and the downvote should not remain.

That's why I think the downvoter should have a nodification informing him the answer he initially downvoted is now changed, so he can maybe retract his downvote, which is (very probably) no longer relevant. This wouldn't apply for downvotes for questions (just like the $$-1$$ malus only applies for the downvotes on answers).

• Your edit bumps the question and it may attract users for voting. I don't think there is anything unfair in the way the system works. If you wrote an incorrect answer it got some down votes, but then your edit gives another chance for users to upvote (if they think so).
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Dec 20, 2022 at 12:04
• Further note that existing system of voting does create a pressure on users to compose and post answers with some care and caution to avoid mistakes. With your suggested feature this pressure may ease up and may (but not necessarily) lead to answers being posted more casually and with less care and caution.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Dec 20, 2022 at 12:18
• Yes, that's a good point.
– user1107523
Dec 20, 2022 at 12:19
• However I can understand your feeling regarding the whole issue and I think this meta post may give further attention to your answer and may lead to votes.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Dec 20, 2022 at 12:21
• In addition to Paramanand Singh's comments, note that users who downvoted a post can choose to follow the post to receive notifications of (substantial) edits, in case they wish to keep an eye out for improvements. Dec 20, 2022 at 13:22
• Then perhaps upvoters should be notified, because after an edit, they may wish not to have voted up??? Why bother only downvoters with notifications? (Incessant though they may prove to be, with each and every edit.) As it is, after an edit on a question or answer, all voters on the question and/or answer, can reverse their vote. Dec 20, 2022 at 14:14
• amWhy to take the comment of @ParamanandSingh into account we should maybe deliver a pop up messsage "don't forget to follow the answer to be noticed of the edits", just like you have "please explain why the question is unappropriate" when you downvote a question
– user1107523
Dec 20, 2022 at 15:53
• And a pop up for upvoters "don't forget to follow the answer after an edit, to ensure you want to keep your upvote. There is no pop up "please explain why the question is inappropriate" after voting to downvote a question"! Dec 20, 2022 at 17:19
• "malus" – ????? Dec 20, 2022 at 18:03
• the contrary of "bonus" @GerryMyerson
– user1107523
Dec 20, 2022 at 19:12
• @amWhy the exact message is "Please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved."
– user1107523
Dec 21, 2022 at 7:22

I can understand your feelings of unfairness. I too feel that the system can sometimes cause good answers to be inappropriately and unfairly buried at the bottom.

In practice, I occasionally use a workaround when the situation you described happens: if I'm confident my revised answer is correct and truly excellent, I might delete my original flawed answer, and then post a new answer with the correct information. Be cautious, and be sparing about doing this. This could easily be viewed as an abuse of the system if done indiscriminately. If you find yourself doing this more than once a year or so, I suggest carefully considering whether it is possible that you could be more careful before posting answers to ensure that your first post is correct. So in my opinion, this should be a last resort. That said, the benefit this has is that it doesn't require any changes to the Stack Exchange software.

Regarding your specific proposal, the issue seems nuanced, with reasonable arguments on both sides. The existence of a problem doesn't necessarily imply the system should be changed, or that every proposal to fix it is a good idea. One has to evaluate the potential for unintended side effects of any change to the system. Automatic notifications of the sort you describe have the potential to become annoying, and it is possible they might influence the incentives causing people to be less careful in composing their answers, so it is debateable whether your proposal would be better or worse. That requires careful analysis, and haven't done that analysis, so I have no position about that.

Changes to the system would require changes to the software, which would affect behavior across the entire network. Consequently, this is something that would need to be implemented by Stack Exchange the company, and they would have to be persuaded that it is a beneficial change for the entire network. So, this would need to be discussed on the SE-wide Meta, not on the Math Meta.

And if we check the SE-wide Meta, it turns out that this idea has been proposed before by many others. The idea of allowing people to notify downvoters, or of edits automatically notifying downvoters, has been considered extensively, and rejected by the company and/or the community because of the problems doing so would create. See, e.g., Allow an edit to notify downvoters: "I think I've fixed the issue now - please check", Please re-consider allowing edits to notify downvoters, @Downvoter sends a notification to all downvoters for your post. I suggest reviewing those requests and voting on them.

It seems possible that the current system is better than any plausible alternative for "fixing" this unfairness. Every system has some weaknesses, and whenever we consider any solution to a problem, we have to evaluate whether it might cause new problems that are worse than where we currently are.

• Thanks a lot for your answer, it perfectly answers my question. I don't understand why your answer was at -1 when I arrived while Mike's one was at 8.
– user1107523
Dec 21, 2022 at 7:18
• Maybe I have a problem with the way I ask questions on the meta, but it seems like when I make a suggestion about changing something in the system, the post is always badly received. Sometimes, it feels like SE code is a sacred book that can't be changed (or maybe I just have bad ideas :-) ).
– user1107523
Dec 21, 2022 at 7:20
• @AlbertSchrödinberg, Making proposals for system changes on meta can be challenging. Are you familiar with meta.stackexchange.com/a/47635/160917 (e.g., voting indicates agreement/disagreement rather than quality), meta.stackexchange.com/q/44188/160917 (we have a very high bar for proposals for change, and expect evidence and analysis to back it up; anecdotes and personal bad experiences aren't usually enough), meta.stackexchange.com/q/328160/160917 (people don't always agree), meta.stackexchange.com/q/270/160917 (downvotes on meta are different), (continued)
– D.W.
Dec 21, 2022 at 21:58
• and finally and maybe most usefully: meta.stackoverflow.com/a/272617/781723 (advice on how to make a case on meta), and meta.stackexchange.com/q/296339/160917 (more advice on how to be propose a change to the system on meta). I don't know if you are already familiar with the themes articulated there; if you are, I apologize for taking up your time.
– D.W.
Dec 21, 2022 at 21:58
• Thanks a lot @D.W., I'll save the post so I can keep all those usefull links :-)
– user1107523
Dec 22, 2022 at 7:59

Well, "should" in a question implies that this is asking for an opinion. To this I say that my opinion on this is NO, downvoters do not need to be notified.

Thing is, people spend time trying to parse an answer or figure out a question. If a wrong answer or a question that needs to be changed is posted, the time spent by the reader trying to figure out the post or answer the question, is time that the reader will not get back. Not to mention, maybe your revised answer came from reading other answers that were correct. It is just better to be right the first time.

Everyone makes mistakes. I do my best to be correct the first time, but I've posted a wrong answer and have had it downvoted, and the downvotes have stayed even after I corrected. That strikes me as fair. A downvote is not the end of the world, nor is it an indictment of anyone as a person. It is however indication that a post missed the mark, and to do better next time.