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The problem pertains to this question, which originally asked about the effects of function execution time on setInterval scheduling.

Three answers were posted to the question (one of them was mine). Shortly afterwards, the OP posted a comment that indicated the perfectly valid question we were answering did not apply to the actual problem they were facing, since they were using AJAX.

It is important to note that this was not missing or additional context; the question was complete and self contained in its original form. In fact, the new information contradicted the original premise of the question (see detail).

Only one of the answers (posted after the comment) covered what was mentioned in the comment. The author of this answer edited the question to reflect the OP's comment.

On the one hand, this invalidates the other two answers, and entirely changes the question. On the other hand, it must be conceded that the new question is the one the OP meant to ask, so any new answers will solve the problem the OP is actually facing IRL.

In general, if it is discovered through comments that a valid, answerable question (again, this does not pertain to situations where necessary context is added through comments) is not applicable to the OP's real world problem, should the question be edited to reflect the OP's actual problem, or should the question be allowed to stand? Should there be a difference in approach when answers are already present vs. when there are no answers?


Details:

To clarify, the original question was about functions that take a certain duration of time to execute (3s in the example provided by the OP). Later, the OP mentioned that the callback does not, in fact, take 3s to execute, but that it contains an AJAX call that takes 3s to execute. Since the function in question now executes instantly, it invalidates the premise of the original question.

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I took a look at the edit you're talking about expecting something major, and all I saw was someone adding the word "asynchronous" to clarify the type of call being made. I would hardly say this is a major change to the question, as all it really did was add some clarifying information regarding the OP's exact situation. Sometimes people have a hard time knowing what information is important and needs to be part of the question. Editing the question to add additional relevant infromation is definitely encouraged instead of just asking a new question. –  Rachel Feb 21 '13 at 20:08
    
@Rachel The reason it is a major change is a bit technical, but the short version is, there is no such thing as an asynchronous JavaScript function that executes for 3 seconds. The introduction to the question now contradicts the rest of it. If a JS function only makes an AJAX call (and the call is indeed asynchronous) the function will take ~0s to execute, not "3s to execute", as in the question. –  Asad Feb 21 '13 at 20:10
    
@Rachel This is pretty major, because the whole point of the question is to ask how setInterval deals with functions that take non-negligible amounts of time to execute. The answer now becomes to reduced to trivially pointing out the self introduced contradiction, i.e. "It doesn't matter how setInterval handles functions that take 3s to process, because a function that just make an AJAX call complete nearly instantly" This isn't the clearest explanation I guess, but I hope you see why the edit is so significant? –  Asad Feb 21 '13 at 20:36

2 Answers 2

I assume you'd be okay with the OP editing his/her own question to add the missing information.

This is really no different.

Comments are, by their nature, impermanent. The question, as originally asked, lacked some key information that changed how it could be answered. Key information shouldn't be in comments, but in the post itself.

Since the OP could have edited the question resulting in invalidating some of the answers just as easily, I don't see how this is different.

So, yes, I'd say not only is it acceptable but in a lot of cases encouraged.

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2  
"I assume you'd be okay with the OP editing his/her own question to add the missing information." Actually, I would not be okay with that. (But you're right: there's no difference.) –  Arjan Feb 21 '13 at 17:54
    
This is why I made the decision to edit .. while I don't want to violate the spirit of Stackoverflow, I think that the goal is to help solve problems rather than be purely academic. I don't think the edit necessarily makes the other answers either, but if those answers were not solving the OP's problem he wouldn't accept them anyway. –  Explosion Pills Feb 21 '13 at 17:54
    
I should also point out that I only edited the question to reflect changes based on the comment because of Asad's own comment that my answer took the comment into account. Ostensibly Asad thinks that comments should not be taken into account for answers -- that is also an interesting discussion in my opinion –  Explosion Pills Feb 21 '13 at 17:56
    
I would totally be okay with anyone, OP or otherwise, adding additional information to the question. Conversely, I am not okay with anyone (OP or otherwise) adding information that directly contradicts information present in the original. That said, I do see the other side of the coin, in that such edits are potentially valuable. I think Explosion Pills sums it up well with "the goal is to help solve problems rather than be purely academic" –  Asad Feb 21 '13 at 18:00

Certainly. No one knows the question better than the asker (in most cases) and people can't be expected to read all the comments.

When a user adds a relevant bit of info in a comment I usually do one of the following:

  • Use a thematic break and introduce the full text of the comment, if it's a long/complicated comment
  • Use a thematic break and add a sumary of what the asker said in comments, like "According to the asker the widget frobs when he foos"
  • Make minor alterations to the body text where appropriate, to add small things like "My program doesn't run" > "My C++ program doesn't run" where you can make inline changes without changing the intent, only clarifying it
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There is a difference between adding information and altering information. In this case there was no missing information, the question was complete and self contained. Later, information was added that contradicted the information present in the original. This is not analogous to adding C++ to the question. –  Asad Feb 21 '13 at 18:03

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