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What are the best practices when editing your own answer (for whatever reason, the question became clearer, a comment made you realize a mistake, you had a new idea, did some testing, etc). Here are some options

  • Delete the old and now invalid prior answer
  • Add a new or edited section along with a prior section
  • Re-edit the answer without any indication it changed.
  • Others?

What do people think is the clearest way to make a revision to an answer. Also, does it make sense to add a comment (if there is a comment thread) pointing out you edited the answer.

I've engaged in all of these and I still feel uncomfortable about them. It would be nice if there was a community standard.

Edit: side-issue

If you do put an edit section in (as I did here) where should it go -- at the start of the message or at the end?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Generally I edit out any irrelevant information, which includes "was, edit" and other time based markers. In 20 years no one will care that the question changed, and if they're really interested they have the edit history at their fingertips.

Edit the answer so it fits the question at the time you edit, and you'll be fine.

I make exceptions to questions which are obviously discussions, but those are very, very rare on SO, and it really doesn't matter how or if you edit your questions on MSO.

If you do decide to leave an "edit" section, make sure the most relevant/complete/up-to-date information is listed first, so people interested in the question as it currently stands see your relevant answer before all the previous discussion.

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It depends on the answer and why I edited it. If it is to correct a grammar error, I put nothing. If I change it to reflect new information, I'll put an "edit: [reason]."

edit: typo.

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You shouldn't have multiple answers that overlap substantially. Deleteing an old answer and writing a new makes sense if the old is without merit and you do have something different and useful to say.

I generally write postscripts to answers if the new content is substantial: this is easier to see what is worth reading for those who have seen my old answer already. Otherwise, I don't worry about putting an edit sentence at the end of the answer: it is clear the answer has been edited, and the edit history is there for inspection.

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