Though many questions on Meta Stack Overflow seem to come very close, I can't seem to find my question:

Should I (or can I) edit another person's answer to another person's question that has been accepted and upvoted by a majority of voters, when I consider it to be an incomplete answer?

On this question: Create ArrayList from array, I feel the accepted answer is only a partial answer. The question asks specifically how to CONVERT an array, and while most people are not intensely concerned with performance, the answer is ultimately a COPY action (which creates a more flexible object, but takes a teeny bit more processing). Comments left before my comment in addition to other answers address this difference, but were not accepted.

My concern is that the accepted answer is simple enough (and accepted and fairly highly rated enough) that many viewers are likely to never look at any comments or other answers. I am tempted to change the accepted answer to something like the following:


To copy the data into a new ArrayList newArrayList, use:

newArrayList = new ArrayList<Element>(Arrays.asList(array));

However, to truly convert the array, simply use:

newArrayList = Array.asList(array);

This will create a fixed-size version of the array, which acts as a wrapper to the array, and does not actually copy any data. See Arrays.asList()


Does my desire seems reasonable? Does it violate Stack Overflow rules somehow? Can I even edit an accepted answer?


2 Answers 2


No. Never change the meaning of someone else's post.

Editing is primarily for clarity — spelling and grammar fixes, improved wording and formatting, and so on — apart from Community Wiki posts, where it can be used to add significantly different new information.

Comments are for disagreeing, adding minor notes, and so on.

Post a separate answer if you think you have sufficiently different information to warrant it; otherwise, leave a comment.

The editing page says (emphasis mine):

How to Edit

► fix grammatical or spelling errors
clarify meaning without changing it
► correct minor mistakes
► add related resources or links
► always respect the original author

  • 3
    Correct, my answer was wrong. I hadn't read his edit carefully. +1
    – genesis
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 20:22
  • So, under the fourth bullet point of those quotes in this answer, it might be permissible to add the "see Arrays.asList()" but essentially nothing else? Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 13:31
  • @CodeJockey That would be reasonable. Again, don't be afraid to post a separate answer if you feel you can add something important.
    – user154510
    Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 15:07
  • isn't a separate answer, still being more complete, considered a duplicate posting like here?
    – user141148
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 7:43
  • @CarlosHeuberger I really question the motives of the other answerer, I think he downvoted you just to push his answer ahead of yours.
    – user154510
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 15:43
  • I have been rejecting edits to answers that change referenced links or add alternate approaches for newer releases of the software in question and asking the editor to suggest their changes to the original answerer as comments or by adding a new answer of their own. But it would appear that my approach is incorrect based on the How to Edit points. What I often don't feel comfortable with is the possibility that the modifications may in fact change the answer -- in many cases I'm unqualified to assess the differences for a specific language/framework. Am I clearly violating SO editing rules?
    – eebbesen
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 12:23
  • 1
    @eebbesen It's fine to feel unqualified to review a particular edit, but in that case you should simply skip it and let someone else review it. However, suggesting that "alternate approaches" should be a separate answer is exactly correct, depending on the level of detail -- like Gilles' answer says, if the answer is basically a quick overview of many approaches then an edit adding another should be OK. But otherwise, different approaches and views are exactly why multiple answers are allowed and encouraged.
    – user154510
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 16:49

Feel free to edit an answer if you are unambiguously improving it.

Do not edit an answer to change the poster's style or opinions. (In particular, feel free to write your own answer if you agree with the proposed solution but think it has been very inadequately explained.)

Do edit an answer to correct mistakes that do not form a substantial part of the post. (If there are too many mistakes, downvote, explain what is wrong in a comment, and write your own answer.)

Do edit an answer to illustrate it with examples.

Do edit an answer to add alternatives where the answer already mentions several.

Do not edit an answer to propose completely different solutions. Write your own answer instead.

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