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I was midway through composing an answer to a question when I accidentally submitted the answer. Oops! The partial answer wouldn't make complete sense by itself.

There are a few things I could do here:

  • Edit the answer and complete it as though nothing happened
  • Delete the answer (although I think I can only flag it for deletion, so this is not useful)
  • Post a new answer

I think the first choice of editing the answer is the best way to go about it, but that small amount of time in which the partial answer is out there (and is notified to the owner and the others on the page) can lead to a bad user experience.

Is there a better way to handle this? Perhaps something like an edit, but one that freezes the push of answer update notifications?

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up vote 27 down vote accepted

This has happened to me before (especially when trying to post from a mobile phone), and I typically combine two of your suggested modes of action:

  1. First, I delete the post. This solves the problem of having a "half-answer" hanging out there, subject to confusing users, prompting a barrage of comments seeking clarification, or worse, accruing a bunch of downvotes.

  2. While it's deleted, I edit it to add the rest of my content. I can take as long as I need to do this, because it's as if the answer was never posted. The only people who can see my deleted posts are me and 10k+ users (who don't care).

  3. Once I'm finished editing, I undelete the post. This causes it to show back up on the question, and it even has the original timestamp. For those who know or care about such things, the revision history will still give away that I deleted it, edited it, and undeleted it, but for most users, it'll look as if nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Anecdotally, I've noticed a fair number of other experienced users who do the same thing.

Note that the UI says "vote to delete", and technically it is still a vote, but your own vote is binding to delete one of your own answers (so long as it hasn't been accepted, which is unlikely, considering that it's incomplete!). Clicking the "delete" (or "undelete") link should just work—no moderator flags required.

Definitely don't post a new answer, though. There's just no point in that. The original one can always be edited, even when it's deleted. No reason to clutter things up with multiple answers.

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Can you see your own deleted posts if you're sub-10k? I thought I had that problem in the past – Nick T Apr 18 '12 at 5:42
@Nick: You can't see your own deleted questions, but answers are not a problem. Note that even 10k+ users can't see their own deleted questions in their profile (although they can still see them if they have a link)—only moderators get that privilege. – Cody Gray Apr 18 '12 at 5:43
+1 I do the same! Unless the editing is fast. :P – Alenanno Apr 18 '12 at 9:55

Anything's fine. I prefer delete (for the same bad-ux reason).

You need not flag-to-delete a post, you can always delete your own posts. The post will be visible to only you and mods(if its an answer). Delete it, edit it, and then undelete it.

Alternatively, just hat it with "got posted too early, under construction" or something similar.

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When I did a hover on the delete button, it said "Vote to remove this post". Is this because I do not have enough rep (I have 300)? – Elvis Apr 18 '12 at 5:36
@Elvis That's just what it says, even for me with 25k rep. Ignore it. Delete / edit / undelete is the way to go. – agf Apr 18 '12 at 5:37
No reason to copy the source from a deleted answer and repost a new one—you can just edit the original and undelete it. Posting two answers just clutters up the screen for us 10k+ users. :-) – Cody Gray Apr 18 '12 at 5:44
@TheEstablishment: Oh, didn't know you could edit a deleted post :/ – Manishearth Apr 18 '12 at 5:55

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