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So I've seen a few questions/answers floating around regarding adding new content to an answer that isn't yours (whether it be code or an original paragraph of text) -- and equally such, that you shouldn't do that (but instead, make your own answer/question).

But, what do you do when you come across someone who has done just this? Do you roll back the changes (even if the edit is a good one)? Do you leave them be?

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Given that the original author of the answer has visited the site since then, perhaps it's safe to assume he saw the edit and has no problem with it? In general, had it been a suggested edit, I would have rejected it. –  Bart Apr 8 '13 at 8:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

It looks like the editor added some information that is new to C++11, and left the bulk of the original answer intact.

Given that Stack Overflow is a community-editable resource (similar to Wikipedia), and the post is four years old, I believe that it is in the best interest of users encountering material like this to keep the information current (assuming the edit was correct).

As Bart pointed out, the editor had enough reputation to edit the post without having to pass through the review queue, and the author of the original post has probably seen it (notification of edits on your posts appear in your inbox).

I wouldn't necessarily approve suggested edits like this; users with editing privileges have earned the right (and the community's trust) to make these kinds of changes.

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Advice that says "don't change someone else's post, create your own" is often meant to prevent people from hijacking questions or changing the meaning of answers. It happens sometimes that a user will edit a post to add something like:

I have the same question, but in my case the frobniz causes a "Frobnitz creation error" as soon as it's called. Can anyone suggest a solution?

That sort of thing takes the question in a new direction, confuses the issue, and possibly invalidates existing answers. In short, it changes the intent behind the post. On the other hand, it's quite reasonable to edit a question to add information relevant to the OP's intent. For example, someone might run the code included in the question and add the output to the question to help others to better understand the issue.

It's the same with answers: edits that change the author's intended meaning should be avoided, but edits that expand on or otherwise improve the answer are usually helpful. In the case you cite, the editor added a fact that wasn't available when the answer was first written.

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