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As much as I hate to admit it, it occasionally happens that upon further consideration I must conclude one of my own comments or answers is incorrect or too quickly constructed.

These postings commonly lead to a whole lot of metadiscussion which in some cases amount to nothing more than noise with regards to answering the question.

My question is: "What to do with these postings?". Should I delete them, or just add a 'mea culpa' comment in the thread?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

What I like to do in case of...

  • stupid answers that have not drawn any attention yet: delete them.

  • stupid answers that have drawn extended discussion: delete the answer, then add a comment to the question that I deleted my earlier answer because it was incorrect. That informs users with less than 10k reputation (who can't see deleted content) about what happened, while adding minimal noise.

  • stupid comments that haven't drawn any attention yet: silently delete and act like I never posted them.

  • stupid comments that have drawn extended discussion: admit that I was wrong, for closure. Then, if warranted, flag the entire comment thread for moderator deletion.

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option 1: if within the grace period change the answer to 'Nothing to see here, more right along' to hide your stupidity from 10k+ users. :-P –  Martijn Pieters Oct 1 '12 at 19:15

If on rare occasions you want to delete an answer because it's utterly wrong and can't be corrected or improved in any way, go ahead. Just don't make it a regular thing.

As for a Mea Culpa comment, I wouldn't really do it. It's noise at best. And if you find that a whole block of comments have diverged into off-topic discussions or arguments which add nothing to the question or answer, you might flag it for moderator attention. Explain the problem. Then, at their discretion, they might purge the comments so we're left with valuable content only. Once again, do so sparingly and not just because someone disagrees with you.

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In the case of an answer, please do edit it so that is more correct or more complete (or even just better written). This is highly encouraged. Just be aware that very minor edits should be passed over because any editing will bump the post to the front page. Fixing one typo isn't worth it, but substantially improving an answer is!

In the case of comments, they are generally considered transient. If you come by later and feel it wasn't a great comment to make, just nuke it. You can silently delete comments at any time. This kind of cleanup is encouraged, esp if the relevant post has been improved and the comment is no longer relevant. If you feel like a comment was in error but still needs to be made, delete the first one and add another one. After a 5 minute grace period to fix typos, you cannot edit comments.

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