# Deleting an answer and posting another one

Still, it bothered me that existing questions were not quite getting the point. So the following day I wrote a completely new answer. Not a minor edit of the previously deleted one - it was as though I was answering a different question.

This got me a comment from QMechanic:

In the future, please edit a downvoted answer rather than deleting and adding a second answer. It may be seen as gaming the reputation system to avoid a downvote.

I thought the point of up/downvotes was to separate the wheat from the chaff. I had clearly misinterpreted the intention of the OP, so I deleted the irrelevant answer. Good riddance. Then I set about writing a better one.

I'd like to hear others' opinions: does one need to keep a bad answer around? Should you delete the entire body of your answer and write the new one "in place of the old one"? Or is what I did OK - just rip up the old one and start again.

Do you consider this "gaming the system"? I hope I don't sound like I'm whining - I just wanted to calibrate myself.

For reference, the timeline:

Nov 1, 20:19 - posted original answer
Nov 2,  1:41 - deleted answer
Nov 3,  2:38 - posted new answer


In case you're interested, here is the link to the deleted answer

• I can't see any difference between your current answer and the answer you've apparently deleted. But nevertheless, I don't consider that to be gaming the system, especially when it's a rare occurrence. Gaming the system is claiming a question is a duplicate to prevent other people from answering it. Or only answering hot metas. Or colluding to downvote. And when somebody answers a whole lot of questions IMHO it's usually fairly obvious that they're one of the good guys. – John Duffield Nov 10 '15 at 14:10
• @JohnDuffield: You can't see the deleted answer because one needs >10k reputation for that. – ACuriousMind Nov 10 '15 at 19:14
• Why would someone downvote this? It's a good question. A user was told by a moderator not to do something which was seemingly positive. We definitely should discuss issues like this. – DanielSank Nov 17 '15 at 7:23

I see nothing wrong with deleting an answer and posting another one that is completely unrelated to it. I mean, one can even post multiple answers to the same question if they are unrelated, so deleting one and posting a different approach is not inherently seen as bad by the system.

If you delete an answer and only post a fleshed out version of it anew, I'd say that's questionable, but if your new answer really hasn't much to do with the one you deleted - as I'd argue is the case here - I don't think it should be considered "gaming the system".

• What does "if they are unrelated" mean in regards to posting multiple answers to the same question (line 2)? – sammy gerbil Jan 29 '18 at 12:25
• @sammygerbil: By unrelated I mean that they are truly different answers instead of one being a modification of the other - e.g if one could potentially be an edit of the other then they are not unrelated. – ACuriousMind Jan 29 '18 at 16:04

Generally speaking, there might be cases, where it is difficult to decide whether a new answer should be considered related or unrelated.

(Moreover, it is a general principle on SE that moderators should not evaluate the physics content of a post. This should be done by user votes and user reviews. In particular, it should be up to the down voter to decide whether to retract his downvote if it is no longer relevant for the edited answer.)

Therefore, to keep the system simple and robust, it is better to not distinguish between related or unrelated answers. Which brings us to the main guideline:

Generally speaking, the guideline is, that one should edit an answer rather than deleting and creating a second answer in the same thread.

Note that the chronology plays a role here. It is allowed to post multiple different/unrelated answers. What is frown upon, is, if one first deletes a downvoted answer, only to later post a new answer, be it related or unrelated.

In the present case, I posted a comment below a deleted answer of Floris (which was meant only for Floris to see, but can also be viewed by 10k+ users, if they scroll down). I had not read Floris's answer (among other things because I didn't bother to open his link), and hence did not check on beforehand if it was related or not. I should stress, that I at no point had disciplinary action in mind with my comment. It was purely meant as an advice.

• I wouldn't go that far. Personally (i.e. not speaking as a moderator), I think deleting an answer to post another one that is completely unrelated should be fine. The issue is, of course, distinguishing between related and unrelated answers - but I would think that much of the time the new answer is obviously unrelated, and in those cases I'd favor just allowing it. I would rather not punish what should be (IMO) a perfectly valid strategy for retracting a bad answer, just because it can be misused to skirt downvotes. – David Z Nov 10 '15 at 5:13
• Thanks @DavidZ. Out of curiosity (and since you said "I would rather not punish") - how would a moderator "punish" in a case that merits it? – Floris Nov 10 '15 at 11:31
• The above meta answer is meant as a guidance to good net etiquette. I should stress that breaking the above guideline does not automatically lead to a suspension. In practice, there would be no suspension for a single incident that stands alone. There has to be repeated pattern or combined with other issues to lead to a suspension. Finally, let me add that a suspension is in practice only issued if all moderators agree with it. – Qmechanic Nov 10 '15 at 11:36
• @Floris you mean a case where someone deletes a downvoted answer and then posts another one with roughly the same content? Off the top of my head, probably delete the new answer and leave a comment advising the poster that they shouldn't do that, and should edit+undelete their original answer instead if they want to keep the content around. – David Z Nov 10 '15 at 11:53
• OK thanks both of you - I think this answer and the associated comments clarify the issue. – Floris Nov 10 '15 at 13:32