The occasion

Luckily not often, but I do remember a few occasions that I answered a question, and the poster decided afterwards he or she actually meant to ask another question.

While the posted answer actually was an appropriate answer to the original question, it looks foolish on the editied version, and you may doubt if you would have answered the question in the first place, or the answer would at least be quite different.

Th direct reason is this question, originally named:

Which file(s) generate window titles?

Which files are involved in generating the window title? Fx. if you open Rhythmbox, you see that as a title. But it's not generated by the .desktop file. Does anyone know which file(s) I need to edit so I can add text to the title of an application?

This is quite different from:

How do I permanently change window titles?

In the original question was no sign whatsoever OP meant to interfere in a permanent way on the window name on a specific application. Adding text seems an occasional thing to do, and I answered accordingly.
After some edits however, the poster changed the meaning of the question, making the original answer look misplaced.

The question

Is it acceptable to drastically change the title / meaning of a question after answer(s) have been posted?

I would say we shouldn't. It makes you feel awkward. Not only early posted answers will possibly (and likely) look foolish, but the findability of those answers will be decreased (in general, not specifically this occasion). A better option for OP would IMO be to accept the answer that works for him or her and motivate why it works in the specific situation.

What is the generasl idea/opinion?

3 Answers 3


Questions are often iteratively fleshed out and I think this is one of those cases. It was clear to the OP they wanted to permanently make the change, they just didn't expect other people to not understand that.

And if you consider they don't know about runtime alteration (your answer), in their mind maybe permanent alteration is the only option. If it's the only option, why spell it out?

They also originally mentioned editing files. On a different day you might have read that as wanting to make an alteration to a launcher or source to change the title permanently.

I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. They aren't trying to make life hard on you, they just didn't make it clear enough for you first time around.

If you want to spin out a separate question to preserve your answer, I'd suggest doing that... But their question is about their problem.

  • Also true, I just felt awkward having a "normal" answer, turned into a weird answer on the question. It happens more often. May 21, 2015 at 17:37
  • This problem is more frequent than it seems and in my experience, "the benefit of the doubt" rarely applies. Aug 6, 2015 at 6:15
  • @LuísdeSousa That's not my experience. Most people who ask a question need to ask because they don't know the words to search for. Or they don't understand exactly what they need. Or they don't appreciate that their original logic wasn't the only way of doing something. This is the simple flaw in communication. We and our biological ancestors have been getting this unintentionally wrong for millions of years. It's wrong to assume that it's being done maliciously here just because it affects you.
    – Oli Mod
    Aug 6, 2015 at 7:20
  • Not maliciously, simply not following the etiquette of this site. Aug 6, 2015 at 8:01

Maybe you should comment and ask the OP to rollback his question to the previous state, but ask the new question version (which has to have enough differences not to be duped on the first version) as a different question.
Then he/she should also crosslink the two questions either with edits or in comments.

  • That sounds like a good idea! May 21, 2015 at 17:28

What I do is interact with the OP and tell them their original question is now answered and that they should ask a new question as they really, positively don't have to pay any extra money if they ask a new question!

It's been successful for me so far... (Meaning: I've never had to roll back their edits, which is the next thing I would do, but then I'm a curmudgeoning old fart)

  • (Great answer BTW: upvoted)
    – Fabby
    May 21, 2015 at 17:52
  • Thanks! A good suggestion as well :) May 21, 2015 at 18:17
  • Indeed this is the most sensible answer, it should be this one to get accepted. Aug 6, 2015 at 6:15

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