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So I went to a question I had an answer for and noticed that the op had already voted an answer as being correct. The particular answer had a list of links.

So I thought to myself, wouldn't it be better to have a more complete correct answer instead of having more smaller answers? In other words, instead of adding a new answer I edited the correct one and added the link there.

I find it better for two main reasons: a) the correct answer would be more complete and b) I am not looking for votes, any votes will go to the guy with the correct answer.

In case it matters, the question was: Getting started with Constraint Programming

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Uhm.... I can't vote up! Hahahaha... Don't have enough rep! :P –  pek Sep 1 '09 at 20:12
    
The question always matters, except in a few rare cases. –  Brad Gilbert Sep 1 '09 at 20:12
    
Are you seriously bringing a Link-Only answer for discussion on meta? The question itself should have been closed as of today's standards. –  user221081 Feb 19 at 12:43
    
@mehow This question is 4,5 years old. –  Stijn Feb 19 at 12:56
    
@Stijn that's why ` The question itself should have been closed as of today's standards.` –  user221081 Feb 19 at 12:59
    
@mehow but why are you having a go at the OP for "seriously bringing this to meta"? This meta discussion is 4,5 years old! –  Stijn Feb 19 at 13:00
    
@Stijn well, yeah I shouldn't have said that really. But on the other hand it reminds others what actions are there to be taken against the linked question and answer. –  user221081 Feb 19 at 13:12

6 Answers 6

up vote 17 down vote accepted

It's not only OK, I think it's encouraged -- as long as you're not abusing the privilege of editing by changing the meaning of the answer. The idea is that the highest-voted or accepted answers are the most correct, and therefore editing someone else's answer to make it more complete is actually a truly selfless (you get no rep; original answerer does) means of acting in the best interests of the S[OFU] sites.

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loved the "S[OFU]" :P –  pek Sep 1 '09 at 20:09
    
Sorry, but recent experiences suggest that this is actually discouraged! See comments on 190637. –  ADTC Jul 27 '13 at 7:40
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@ADTC there is a big difference between "editing" which this post is discussing, and suggested editing which is what you are experiencing. I think this does still apply to users with full edit privledges. –  psubsee2003 Jul 27 '13 at 8:31
    
Cannot agree more. If you add your own answer, a highly popular post that fails to mention critical information will stay popular, and wrong. I prefer to edit the popular post, which will keep getting upvotes, instead of adding yet another obscure answer. Example - Datejs not being updated since 2007, Example - years-old obsolete information about how to install npm –  Dan Dascalescu Feb 19 at 7:14

I think it's generally frowned upon to edit someone else's post, significantly changing the meaning.

So if someone is just plain wrong, generally you'll find people will post their own answer. But if the poster just made some trivial errors or didn't word something very well when the intent is clear then you'll generally fine it'll be edited instead.

And of course improving the formatting is a common reason to edit other posts.

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Problem is that a highly popular post which fails to mention critical information will stay popular, if I merely add that critical information in an answer of mine. I prefer to edit the popular post, which will keep getting upvotes, instead of adding yet another obscure answer. Example - Datejs not being updated since 2007, Example - years-old obsolete information about how to install npm –  Dan Dascalescu Feb 19 at 7:12

What you find in some cases like the one you referenced, where links to tutorials and books are requested, one selfless user will post an answer aggregating all of the links into one thorough response. This poster will tick the community wiki checkbox, so as not to gain rep or appear to be stealing answers from others. A note as to your intentions can be made in the post.

This topic has been covered in a bunch of different posts. Here are two:

  1. On editing in links
  2. One with the extra weight of Joel's perspective
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Yes, 100% it is helpful and I believe its also a sportsman spirit as well as it represents your good nature. I think its more important to help a person rather than our own reputation. It feels more comfortable to stay on such sites when people think in this way.

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I would also highly encourage editing the popular answers, because those are the most read ones, and the majority of casual visitors will stop after the first (or at most second) answer. If such an answer has incorrect information, by all means go and edit it. Some good examples:

In other cases, an answer may fail to mention critical details. Here's an example:

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Yes, it's ok, just put an 'Edit:' note or something like that in it.

And by 'Edit:' note, I mean a note in the answer itself, so all future viewers will know it wasn't the original answer.


Added by Ian Ringrose

I sometime add a line, and then put addtional information below it makeing it clear that it is information I added.

Most often, this is when the answer did not work for me, but provided 90% of what was needed, so I add the missing step.

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I personally add a comment that says just that. –  pek Sep 1 '09 at 20:10
    
Yep, that works also. I just want to be very careful (and am) if I edit another user's answer. I want my edit to stand out in case I missed his meaning (or am just plain wrong). –  Lance Roberts Sep 1 '09 at 20:17
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Please don't clutter up the answer unless you really need to. Revision comments combined with the "last edited" indicator are enough in most cases; if you're gonna edit something of mine, i'd much rather you strive to preserve the style that existed when you found it - even if you're re-writing major portions - than demarcate every addition or removal. FWIW, i hate it when people do that in code as well... ugly, ugly, ugly... –  Shogging through the snow Sep 1 '09 at 23:48
    
@Shog9, there is nothing stopping you going back to refactor the answer, so as to combine the addations into your style of wording. –  Ian Ringrose Feb 19 at 12:42

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