4

Sometimes you give an answer and it is accepted and / or upvoted.

After some time, and growing insight, you feel you can make important improvements to some of those answers. However, the edit may include drastical changes, making it in a way quite different from the answer that was accepted or upvoted in the first place.

Writing a second answer is kind of "ugly", especially when you consider the last (version of) the answer a better one, and the second answer could be suspected to be another version of the first one.

So: what is the general idea on making extensive changes to already accepted and / or upvoted answers?

  • 4
    This is often okay, at least when it doesn't involving removing a significant portion of the answer that people may have found useful. But I think it's necessary to look at each individual instance to decide. If you have a particular answer you're thinking of editing, I recommend editing this meta question to include a link to it (as well as details about how you're thinking of editing it and whatever thoughts you've had so far about the pros and cons of doing so). – Eliah Kagan Aug 14 '14 at 16:00
7

If it's really early in the vetting process (not a lot of activity/voting around your post), it may be acceptable to retract and "fix" your original answer. But long after the fact (after the original material has already been vetted and voted on), I'd have to put that under "not okay."

Edits are designed to improve, correct, or clarify specific issues with a post. But if you are fundamentally changing an answer long after it has already been vetted, you should probably preface your original post with a disclaimer and add another answer.

I know that it's a bit "ugly", but remember that the core purpose of voting is to vet content. By changing the post substantially after-the-fact, you are essentially usurping all the votes used the vet your previous information and saying that your new information is now de facto "vetted" as correct also.

Such activity would be inherently harmful. I'd add another answer to be vetted on its own merits and add a notice on your original answer to indicate how new information came to light. It's the only way to keep the integrity of the entire thread intact.

  • For clarification; the question is about editing my own answers. I would probably never make a major edit to an answer of someone else. – Jacob Vlijm Aug 14 '14 at 20:22
  • @JacobVlijm Ah, yes. I updated my post to reflect that. – Robert Cartaino Aug 14 '14 at 20:29
  • In science, errors are not deleted, just noted in a comment. This is done for reasons of error tracing (find the source of possible errors). – Syborgia Alphas Aug 16 '14 at 20:39
  • Thank you for your answer, and I think you are right. There might be cases "on the edge". – Jacob Vlijm Aug 18 '14 at 7:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .