2

A while ago I wrote an answer about a mechanical detail of a game. The answer got a lot of up-votes and got accepted.

But then came the next version of the game, and that game mechanic was completely changed. My answer was now practically useless for the current state of the game. The only value it still had was now historical in nature. There was literally not a word of the old answer which could be used and I had to rewrite it from scratch.

What should I now have done in that situation? My options were:

  1. Edit my old answer by completely replacing it with the new one
  2. Create a new answer while leaving the old one

I believe that the general Stackexchange idea would have been option 1: Outdated answers should be updated. But it felt immoral for me to keep those upvotes on the answer when those people who gave them were voting on a completely different answer. The voters would have had their upvotes on an answer they didn't even read. Maybe my new answer would have been much worse in their eyes and not worthy of upvoting, maybe even downvoting?

So I first picked option 2 and wrote a completely new answer. I expected the community to rate my new answer on its own merit and the asker to unaccept the old answer and accept the new one. But unfortunately my new answer got completely ignored by the asker and by the community. My now completely worthless answer was on top with accepted-tick and lots of upvotes, while the correct answer below had 0 votes. And I can hardly force the asker to redact his acception.

So I decided to change my opinion and pick option 1. I deleted my new answer and edited the old. But it still didn't feel right.

  • That's the question/answer I am talking about, in case anyone is curiose: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/143099/… – Philipp Feb 2 '14 at 22:07
  • Yeah, don't rewrite others answer, especially when they've already updated them! – MBraedley Feb 2 '14 at 22:14
  • 2
    editing a post allows people who've previous voted on it to change their vote. This scenario is already catered for by the system. You can always post a new answer though, while updating the old one to clearly state it's only relevant for specific versions – kalina Feb 2 '14 at 22:14
  • @kalina But how do they know that the answer was edited? The system doesn't inform them about that. And I don't know about your usage habity, but I certainly don't periodically re-read every single question and answer I ever voted on. – Philipp Feb 2 '14 at 22:16
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    edits bump the post back up to the top of the front page, the opportunity is there to re-evaluate the edit if the people involved want to. Additionally, it's better to have a correct and current answer than an outdated and currently useless answer – kalina Feb 2 '14 at 22:17
  • @MBraedley I believe he's talking about rewriting his own answer, not someone else's. – David M Feb 3 '14 at 20:00
  • @DavidM: He rewrote my answer. Check the revision history. – MBraedley Feb 3 '14 at 21:43
  • @MBraedley Sorry, I was going by the text here not the actual post in question. – David M Feb 4 '14 at 0:09
5

If I own the answer, and it is completely out of date, generally what I do is edit it, and add the completely new answer to the top, make a little line, and then leave the original answer below.

That way, the new data is first, but the old historical data is still around in case someone's playing the old version of the game, or the info/answer methodology is useful for whatever other reason.

If the answer isn't mine, I'll tend to add a new one, plus add a comment on the old one noting that it is out of date. That way, the answer poster has a chance to review their work and see if they agree with the statement I made, and people reading the answer can know that I believe it to be outdated.

I think, in general, that the community is best served when we collaborate on answers via editing, but there are several issues with this approach:

One is that the "new answer" now immediately assumes the same level of trust as the old answer. What if I was wrong?

The other is that ownership/responsibility/credit for the answer is still owned by the original poster. Even beyond the selfish desire for rep, if you edited the answer and it needs updating later, it's likely that the original owner would get pinged if a "please update this" comment was left.

I've also had people react aggressively or defensively when I've added additional data to their answers in the past, which further reinforces what I believe to be the desire of the community to have some level of ownership of their own posts. I personally don't mind if my answers are edited to add additional detail or correct a mistake, though, and I tend to urge people to realize that things posted on the site become the property of the community.

  • I also don't mind if my answer is edited to improve it in some way (correct a minor mistake, add some clarification, etc.), but what I do mind is if 90% of my answer is changed, even if the change says basically the same thing. – MBraedley Feb 2 '14 at 22:37
4

I've seen this several times in Ask Ubuntu. What we do is either, nug the OP to update his answer, OP updates and everyone happy. Or we add a notice saying that the answer is obsolete in the top of it and hope that everyone reads it. Or we ask a new question saying that the other answer doesn't work due reasons that weren't in the original question.... mm... that is essentially.

Forgot the one more important of all: BOUNTY!

Current answers are outdated

The current answer(s) are out-of-date and require revision given recent changes.

-4

A completely new answer should be, well, new. If your previous answer is now wrong, you would do well to delete it and keep the site useful for the majority of people who will update with you. If the entire premise of the question is now irrelevant, the question should be closed and deleted.

You will keep reputation from a deleted answer if it's 6+ months old with score 5 or better (IIRC) and even if you don't qualify, you are probably going to make up for it from upvotes on your new answer.

  • I tried to verify this by deleting an old answer of mine on stackoverflow (accepted and +1 votes), and got the error message "You can not delete this accepted answer". – Philipp Feb 3 '14 at 9:52
  • @Philipp in that case I guess the responsible thing to do is rewrite your answer in place. – badp Feb 3 '14 at 10:46

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