5

A question regarding mounting in Linux was asked. I answered it addressing the question as the user formulated it. I think this was a mistake on my part, because the question, as it stands, already has an answer elsewhere. Anyhow, I did answer them and their comments, then, after exchanging more information using the comments, it was clear that their problem didn't have that much to do with his question.

Finally, they accepted my original answer for their original question, which had nothing to do with their actual dilema.

So, I'm in doubt. Can I edit their question and my answer to reflect the actual problem that they had? Should I?


Regarding the comments. I'm new so I didn't think of using a chat room to clarify the question. Maybe I abused the comments system, because essentially we were chatting using the comments. I'm sorry about that.

9

In most cases, if the question and answer are OK as they are, and especially if they already have some upvotes, I would just ask the user to open a new question with their real problem. Here the answer has even been accepted as it is (and upvoted too) and I definitely think the whole post should be left as is. The question as written is valid (in fact a duplicate of a much upvoted question) and the answer is fine and may help others. It's not just about the OP and their problem, but about other readers finding help in future on the site.

On the other hand, if it emerges early in discussion that the OP has formulated their question in a way that doesn't help to address their real problem, then editing is usually the best action, in my opinion.

PS, the long comment conversation is not your fault - the user does not have enough reputation to chat. If this happens, you can ask a mod to make a chat room for you and grant access to the user, but that's not always expedient. Comments can be cleaned up later, so don't worry about making a temporary mess if it helps figure out the problem in the meantime :)

1

Yes, you are welcome to edit a question to improve it on behalf of the person asking.

However, I'd keep in mind these things.

DON'T

  • Don't edit the question because you believe the person asked the wrong question, or has chosen the wrong way to try and solve a problem. Your edit should help to improve the question they actually intended to ask, not to change it to something they didn't intend to ask.

    Occasionally someone changes their mind about what they intend to ask after they've written the question. Ideally, they should ask it as a separate question. However, if they already have answers and have commented about their altered question, then this is no fault of yours and for the benefit of others I would not be against adding this information within the question body, since you are still technically helping them ask the question they now intend to ask. You can also flag for moderator intervention if you think it's warranted (eg, if you think others will be confused).

  • Don't edit the question to add the answer or solution - this must be added as an answer.

  • Don't make trivial edits that won't help them get any better answers.

DO

  • Interpret their question and try to more clearly convey what they intended to ask.

  • Add important information that the question asker failed to provide, but which became apparent later (eg in comments).

  • Fix formatting or terminology that might make it difficult for others to understand their question.

Ultimately what you do in your edit is up to you, and if the person asking the question doesn't like the edit, they can reject and/or reverse it (or it can be reversed by someone else). But these tips can help reduce the chances that someone takes issue with your edit.

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