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I was told there to make a comment under a wrong answer and downvote it and upvote correct answer(s), for dealing with incorrect answers. I present here a case of an answer that was incomplete, leaving a question unanswered. It was accepted and utterly upvoted (16 votes), while a better answer was posted and responded to the full question but had only 9 votes. So I commented under the accepted answer, claiming that it left an unanswered question and that a better answer existed below it.

A day or so later, the same user made a wrong answer and was again utterly upvoted. After a long discussion in the comment section (and a hot chat discussion), the author of the wrong answer realized he was wrong and accordingly corrected his (now absolutely great) answer. However, from this chat disussion, I learned that this user modified the previous question I linked above, changing the question he had left unanswered so now his incomplete answer is complete, and the whole comments I had left below his incomplete answer aren't applying anymore. This is disgusting. How was such an edit even approved? For instance, there's an edit to a answer I suggested an edit to an answer without changing its meaning but it was rejected. Also, during the hot chat discussion I mentioned above, I noticed that one of my answer was downvoted, no reason given. I don't have enough points to know who did that, but if that person was in the chat as I suspect, this is disgusting because I see this as a downvote of vengance/hate directed toward me for ranting (I agree I ranted in the chat. I even wanted to quit PSE due to the above problems I faced). But downvotes shouldn't be given for hating a person, only to make the questions and answers better.

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    $\begingroup$ You need to calm down. In the linked question it's obvious the top two answers are saying the same thing: the inside hole gets bigger because the whole thing expands. The top answer has a nice picture, and people like pictures, so it has more upvotes. If you disagree, spend your downvote and move on. $\endgroup$ – knzhou Apr 9 '18 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't downvote the top answer because it is not wrong. It just doesn't fully address the original question that got erased. I didn't upvote it either. I upvoted the answer below because it addresses the question. And no, the answers aren't equivalent in that the top voted answer doesn't explain why the inner part of the circle has to expand. $\endgroup$ – thermomagnetic condensed boson Apr 9 '18 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest that this might get better reception if you jettisoned all the bits about voting--which is anonymous for many good reasons detailed in many places and that's not going to change--and focused on an after-the-fact edit that changes which existing answers even address a question. Discussion about the balancing act between "getting to a user's real question" and "don't undercut existing answers" are useful. Speculation about who gave you a single downvote isn't. $\endgroup$ – nitsua60 Apr 10 '18 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ "This is disgusting" - no one is forcing (or will force) you to participate here. If this site and its workings disgusts you, it's simply not in your interest to continue to participate. If you wish to change the workings here, be prepared to be patient and spend a lot of time here. If that isn't something you're interested in, I doubt if you'll flourish here. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Apr 11 '18 at 0:44
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Here is the original version of the question:

If I have a metal ring and I heat it up, I will expect thermal expansion.

From my point of view of expansion, the metal will expand to free space. In that case, the inner radius of the ring should be smaller and the outer diameter of the ring should be bigger.

I understand that is not the case, but why the inner radius will become larger?

The edit you're talking about makes one change to this: in the last paragraph, it changes "why the inner radius will become larger?" to "could anyone explain me why?" I don't see how this materially affects what the question is asking. The original version asks why the inner radius will become larger, and the edited version asks us to explain why the inner radius will not become smaller. It's the same thing. So I can't see how this would change a formerly incorrect answer into a correct one, as it seems like you're claiming. (Unless I misunderstood what you're asking?)

In general, you're absolutely right that it is wrong to edit a question in a way that materially changes what it's asking; that includes editing a question such that a wrong answer becomes correct, or vice versa. I just don't see how the post you've linked is an example of that.


On the separate issue of downvotes: you can't assume anything based on a single downvote. However, if you receive several downvotes in a short time period, and they don't get reversed by an automatic script within 24 hours, you should flag one of the affected posts for moderator attention and we'll look into it.

If you suspect a particular site member of having cast those downvotes, it's fine to mention your suspicions in the flag message, but do not share that information in public (meta or chat).

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  • $\begingroup$ No, it is not the same. Not becoming smaller means to become larger or to stay the same size. The answer shows that it has at least to stay the same size. It doesn't explain that it must actually increase its size which was the original question that got wiped out. $\endgroup$ – thermomagnetic condensed boson Apr 9 '18 at 8:57
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    $\begingroup$ OK I see what you mean. I think you are being unreasonably picky; the edit does not make a major change to the question. That being said, I don't think that part of the edit makes the question any better either, so it would be entirely reasonable to make another edit that changes that phrase back (and makes a corresponding change in the title, if one is necessary). $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 9 '18 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ I have cooled down, sincerely : thank you. I am trying not to take it personal, but I have a hard time with that. Anyway I stand my ground that the question that got wiped out in the edit is left unanswered in the accepted answer and that the answer below it is better in that it explains that the inner part of the circle has to expand. Something the accepted answer doesn't explain. $\endgroup$ – thermomagnetic condensed boson Apr 9 '18 at 10:48
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I have actually modified it because after seeing the original question and answering it I immediately understood the root of the problem.

Essentially, Giordano Fearghas was told that the inner radius of the ring is growing, probably on some lecture or so. Then Giordano tried to consider intuitively, why doesn't it shrink? The root of the problem was the wrong intuition that told him that the ring should shrink, not the fact why it grows at all. Explaining "why doesn't it shrink" with the answer "because it grows" wasn't really the solution OP was looking for.

Giordano has proven my assumptions by commenting "I love this answer" a few minutes after I answered and told me that "he will accept it as fast as he can", which, again, has proven me that I have correctly understood the original question (otherwise, Giordano would obviously ask me, "and why does it grow?").

In order to avoid confusion around the actual wording of his post (such as your comment about "you didn't answer OP's question, but the second answer did that, and it is better"), I've decided to edit it. I believe I was right.

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  • $\begingroup$ Fact: A question the asker posted was left unaddressed in your answer, while it was correctly addressed in another answer. You modify the question, wiping out the part that you did not cover in your answer. Your interpretation and the one of the majority of people here: That's totally fine! After all it was only 1 sentence and you got the rest right. My interpretation is more objective than subjective. I stick with facts only. $\endgroup$ – thermomagnetic condensed boson Apr 9 '18 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ More than that. It doesn't matter whether the asker accept the answer or not. Many people accepted wrong answers (yours is not wrong, just incomplete in that it doesn't answer the questions asked), this doesn't prove anything, contrarily to what you write here. The question itself is what matters, it becomes independent of the asker. That's why the questions are public, so anyone with the same question can get it answered by reading the answers. $\endgroup$ – thermomagnetic condensed boson Apr 9 '18 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @no_choice99 Literally every time I've answered a question that got popular I've gotten multiple comments complaining I left something out. The fact is, you can always add more explanation. The only answer nobody can complain about is an answer so long nobody reads it at all. $\endgroup$ – knzhou Apr 9 '18 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @knzhou but in the case we're dealing here the complete answer was given and was very short. The accepted answer (that does not fully addresses the question) contains roughly 86 words (486 characters). The better and complete answer that was less voted and not accepted contains 84 words (466 characters). But are we really to the point of comparing lengths? $\endgroup$ – thermomagnetic condensed boson Apr 9 '18 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ @no_choice99: I do feel you have far too much emotional investment in this issue. Maybe I misconstrue what you write. So far as I can see, nothing terrible has happened. In general if you don't like an answer, post a polite calm comment suggesting an improvement, if the comment is not acted on you have the choice of carefully and respectfully improving the answer, writing your own answer, up-voting a better answer or accepting that the world isn't perfect and moving on to more important things. $\endgroup$ – RedGrittyBrick Apr 10 '18 at 10:03

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