Here is one thing that really annoyed me about science-related forums: The constant change of the topic by a person, who is obviously just afraid that he'll/she'll look ignorant, incompetent or lazy if he'd/she'd admit that his/her problem was, in fact, solved. Everything turns into an unpleasant "ego battle" that obviously has nothing constructive and with learning quality approaching zero.

As far as I understand, isn't the "Stack Exchange paradigm" supposed to deal with such a disruptive behavior?

Well, I don't want to point fingers, but my first attempt to participate on this (great, I must admit) site led to exactly the same kind of problems. After my answer, the question was totally changed. Also I was downvoted by the guy who asked -- not to complain, just to note that it is obviously just another "ego issue".

I understand that there are a lot of people who somehow make the site running without facing such issues. So I might conclude that the problem is actually in me, and the only thing that suits me is blogging.

Alternatively, maybe have someone faced a similar situation and thinks that it could be useful to have a restriction on the amount of re-editing of questions?

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    $\begingroup$ By the way, voting is anonymous, so you don't know that it was the asker who downvoted your answer. We'd really appreciate it if you keep that in mind, and don't make assumptions about who is voting on your posts. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Mar 29, 2013 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/43478/…. In short: tell the user not to move goalposts and instead ask in Physics Chat. Revert the edit as well. If they don't listen, flag with a custom flag explaining the situation. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2013 at 6:26
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky, we had an exchange (rather forum-style) in comments, where he admitted that it was his downvote. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2013 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ: Even moderators don't know?! $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2013 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ @DImension10AbhimanyuPS No. Diamond moderators do not have any more access to information about individual votes than unprivileged users. We do have some tools that alert us to patterns of voting between users that involve many votes, but only the Stack Exchange staff can look up individual votes. $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2013 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ There seems to have been a serial downvote on the answerb to that question. $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2013 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ David, if/when you get a chance could you please look at physics.stackexchange.com/q/276251 . My issue is related to the above meta post regarding excessive editing of questions and I have posted a paragraph regarding the problem on my answer. I admire the enthusiasm of the OP and I don't doubt his good intentions but I would appreciate your opinion, I am not asking for any changes though. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – user108787
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @count_to_10 There is a perfectly good answer to this question which you seem not to have used. So why exactly should I get involved? Incidentally, you've made way too many edits to your own answer, and the last couple are actually inappropriate - that comment is not part of the answer and you shouldn't have included it. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Aug 26, 2016 at 5:45

1 Answer 1


The general rule is that you should not edit the question in a way that invalidates the existing answers. Doing that causes a lot of problems and is rather unfair to the early answerers.

There are some exceptions, e.g. if the question would otherwise be closed it can be justified to perform some radical edits even if they invalidate existing answers. Or if the question was too broad in the beginning and the OP provides more information later, this can also invalidate existing answers.

If a user completely changes the question in a fundamental way, just revert the edit. If the user does not accept that, flag for moderator attention.

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    $\begingroup$ I was in the middle of typing up practically the same answer :-) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Mar 29, 2013 at 21:05

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