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Exit strategies for “chameleon questions”

Quick question about the handling of questions where the OP rewrites the question continually in response to answers that are posted - ie the question creeps from its original meaning.

The background is this question. I'm not posting out of sour grapes or anything (my answer got deleted - I fully get why - was only 20 rep anyhow!). Read on:

The original question had a particular issue, which got answered.

The OP has then amended his question with corrected code and asked about the next thing that was wrong. It looks like that went round a couple of times.

The problem with this is that it removes the original questions and answers, so that it's not there for others with similar issues. It also makes the original answers misleading (which is why they got deleted I guess).

While the original answers were simple in this case, in others those Qs and As might have helped someone else.

Is there a way this can be dealt with? I thought of the following possibilities (but not saying that any are right or wrong necessarily).

  • Encourage the OP to ask a new question?
  • Show some sort of history?
  • An option to flag that the question is creeping so that some other action can be taken?
  • Notify answerers when questions get amended (possibly within a sensible timeframe) so that they have the opportunity to re-answer?
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marked as duplicate by jadarnel27, Al E., Jim, Adam Rackis, Toon Krijthe Aug 16 '12 at 17:37

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
@jadarnel27: That sort of covers how it should be handled as the person answering, but not really how the site itself can deal with problem I think (is more about being polite). –  Jon Egerton Aug 16 '12 at 16:15
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

IMO users should be encouraged to ask new questions for... new questions.

Automagic generation of a Q/A history for morphing questions would be difficult.

Linking back to previous questions generated from an original question would be pretty easy, but is currently manual. A link saying "Create follow up question" would be interesting, and could provide a trail for people following along–I actually kind of like this idea.

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Such a link could lead to the ask page with the page already filled in with something like "continued from [link]". –  Toomai Aug 16 '12 at 16:26
    
I notice you're practicing what you preach! –  Jon Egerton Aug 16 '12 at 16:34
    
@JonEgerton Sort of ;) It happens enough that I've already thought about it, you were a catalyst to actually put some thoughts into words and consider how it might actually work. –  Dave Newton Aug 16 '12 at 16:35
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