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Dear PG: Make up/down voting reversible
75 points by vishaldpatel on May 17, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments
I think I just down-voted someone by mistake, I think. It was by mistake - a misclick. I didn't mean to downvote or upvote the entry. Surely I'm not the only one.

It'd be nice if voting was un-doable.

People saying statistics filters out the few errors, I don't think this is true for the single news. User X posts a news that gets 2 points in a few minutes. With point 3 the news would stay a few seconds in the home page, enough if it is interesting for other users to be upvoted and end stable in the home page. If the third vote is down for error maybe this will never happen again since now even another upvote will not be enough, and goodbye. Moreover every news site out there has the ability to undo votes and is unlikely that everybody is wrong but HN.

HN has submissions and comments.

Submissions can be upvoted, or they can be flagged. They can't be downvoted. No one confused the upvote button for the flag button.

Comments can be upvoted, or downvoted, or flagged. People sometimes mistake the up and downvote buttons.

> User X posts a news that gets 2 points in a few minutes. With point 3 the news would stay a few seconds in the home page, enough if it is interesting for other users to be upvoted and end stable in the home page.

This doesn't happen. People can't downvote submissions. Comments don't get ranked like that on /newcomments.

You are right, flagging is reversible, so what I said only applies to comments. Still I can't see good reasons for not making users able to undo their votes.

It's just not that important. Accidents happen but cancel each other out due to statistical noise in busy threads. No single vote is going to doom a worthy comment to undeserved obscurity, or a crappy comment to endless notoriety.

The problem is the visibility of comments changes their potential for future upvotes or downvotes. If you have a comment sitting on top of a thread, it will get much more visibility and opportunities for a statistically good sample of upvotes and downvotes. But if you downvote a comment and relegate it to the bottom (or gasp, the faded out text), then it can be very difficult for it to recover.

A more out-of-the-box solution to all of these problems is to have both comment order and story order be probabilistic rather than absolute, which could help guarantee everything enough visibility to get the fair compliment of upvotes/downvotes. But then again that is much more complicated than other potential solutions (assuming the problem is even large enough to care to fix).

It would be nice, especially for mobile users, but as a "cost of doing business", it's not worth a lot of effort. A better strategy: think of comment scores along a log scale, something goofy like log3.

It's not 'pg anymore, BTW: it's 'dang and his team now.

This can be used to justify basically any missing feature though. Not incorrectly, per se - the site clearly works well enough in the exact state it is today - but it would be unfortunate if random papercuts (that could probably be fixed pretty easily) stayed around forever because fixing them was a "cost of doing business".

Sure. I guess the subtext here is: this has been a complaint for years and years, so presumably, it's not all that straightforward to fix.

It would be better to eliminate karma altogether.

>this has been a complaint for years and years, so presumably, it's not all that straightforward to fix.

If only there were some pool of talented programmers with obvious time to kill who would be willing to take a crack at it, almost certainly for free ...

That would be tricky, because YC has business processes (applications, IIRC) that run through the same code.

Plenty of other sites manage to use open source code and even take pull requests without spilling their business secrets.

Then again, those sites are built on frameworks designed with modularity and separation of concerns in mind, while HN may not have been, so fair enough.

Can't happen since that would let people more easily circumvent bans and further reveal any behind-the-scenes mechanisms to promote YC compliant statements and suppress opposing views.

There's really no call to be a jerk about this. Keeping this site running is a galactically annoying job, and Dan and his team --- who have repeatedly said that nothing like this happens --- do it for us round the clock, for free.

I just upvoted comex but since the arrows are so small I'm afraid I actually downvoted comex :(

I'd honestly rather they just fix the UI for it so it's not so incredibly easy to vote the wrong way on mobile, because that's really the only place I have this problem.

Even worse, once you vote the UI doesn't even show which way you voted. Half the time I vote on mobile I don't even know if I voted the right way.

One other good reason for fixing it is that upvoting comments now has the dual function of both expressing agreement and logging them in your profile (which, as you know, is now in parity with how upvoting stories works).

It's too bad that accidentally downvoting a comment means that you cannot ever save it in your profile.

Why would you want to save the comments you downvoted?

Upvoting comments has the side-effect of logging them to your profile. Sometimes I specifically upvote an item just to log it.

But, when you accidentally downvote something (meaning that you meant to upvote it), then you can never save that comment because you cannot undue a downvote.

This comment appears to hint that PG is onboard with this feature https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4984221 It's in reply to this https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4982388 which, among other things, asks about an undo function. I can't seem to find anything on search about PG saying anything though.

Yes, but the timeout should be very short.

Aw, crap! I didn't mean to upvote this.

Immutable votes.

Or just move the freaking down vote button. Change the row layout from

   up/down user time

   up user time down
That will make it a lot harder to hit the wrong button.

This could be done without changing anything on the site. Just create a new page that can be accessed via options which lists the last 10 votes and a delete button.

Accidents happen. For every person that makes a mistake, I am sure there are many who will correct it. I don't think being able to change a vote is an important piece of functionality.

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