After posting an answer I received good comments highlighting an error in my understanding. To correct it would be a major edit, drastically and conceptually changing around half the text of my answer. But when I go to edit it, I am presented with a text box telling me to

► fix grammatical or spelling errors
► clarify meaning without changing it
► correct minor mistakes
► add related resources or links
► always respect the original author.

This doesn't seem to allow the major revision that I want to make. This accepted answer says that "Edits that turn an incorrect answer into a correct one is a drastic change and should not be done by anyone". Does "anyone" include the original author? Should I post a completely new answer instead? In that case, what should I do with the old, partially incorrect answer?

To me it feels the most natural to just edit the old answer and mention the edit in the corrected version. But I want to know for sure whether that is the best practice.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ All the guidance you mentioned is meant for people editing other people's posts, not for when you edit your own post. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Aug 10, 2016 at 6:05

2 Answers 2


Generally, I don't think it's a problem if the OP introduces rather dramatic fixes. If the answer is highly upvoted (I'd put the line at around +5, maybe?) then it's worth putting in a note that says that the current version supersedes a previous one that was incorrect because this-or-that, as a courtesy to previous readers who go back and may be confused. (For example, I did that here.) It's better to switch out content on people who had already voted for it than to leave incorrect content up.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ How about a second independent answer? $\endgroup$
    – innisfree
    Aug 15, 2016 at 23:09

How I tackle the problem is to leave the original answer intact, headed "Original Answer", and put my new answer at the top of the text box, headed "Revised Answer". Usually I also state why I am revising my answer.

It might actually be neater to post the revised answer in a separate text box as a new answer. Then it is clearer which version is being addressed by new comments, and which version is being up- or down-voted. So I would recommend this as best practice for any fundamental revision of an answer.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not a fan of this. Historical records of how answers used to look is sort of orthogonal to the mission of SE sites. We're supposedly here to create high quality content, full stop. I think if substantial changes are introduced, a new answer ought to be written. $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Aug 19, 2016 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielSank : I agree with your last sentence; I made the same suggestion in my last paragraph. $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2016 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. I still disagree with the first part of this answer: I find it distracting and unhelpful for an answer's text to contain a change log. The edit history is there anyway. $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Aug 19, 2016 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielSank : I did not discover the editing log until about 4 months after becoming a regular user; I guess many casual users will not be aware of it either. I don't see any harm in alerting a substantial change in the answer while keeping the earlier version in view. I'm not talking about additions, elaborations, improved formatting etc but an alert to a change to the substance of the answer esp. where it invalidates pertinent comments - but which doesn't justify posting a new answer. $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2016 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ Note that comments can be flagged as "obsolete". Use this feature as appropriate. $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Aug 19, 2016 at 18:41

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