I often see questions edited into this form:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet blah blah blah paragraph paragraph original question.

UPDATE: The Lorem disappeared and left this message: "new information".

I find this format unaesthetic (since Stack Exchange posts are supposed to be useful in the long term and update boundaries are artifacts of the creation rather than the content) and feel that new information should, whenever possible, be incorporated into the original text “as if it had always been that way” if practical, and pointing out an update should be done mostly in comments.

Is this an appropriate writing style, and if so under what circumstances? If not, should it be removed or discouraged?

  • 27
    I would say this is appropriate if/when the "update" invalidates some of the existing answers. Making it clear that the question was updated makes it clear that the answers may not have taken that new information into account. Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 4:17
  • 7
    Even when an edit affects some of the existing answers, I still rather have the question be edited to look like it has always been that way, and adding a note about that. (Hence: make the note refer to the fact that the lorum ipsum was replaced, but let that note not be the edit by itself.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 11:51
  • Very related: What's wrong with putting "EDIT: ..." in the body of a post?
    – V2Blast
    Commented Dec 4, 2022 at 2:50
  • cs.meta.stackexchange.com/q/657/755
    – D.W.
    Commented Feb 19 at 6:41

1 Answer 1


EDIT and UPDATE are rarely needed, nor helpful.

For future readers, posts need to be standalone, without any history. These sites are not forums, but:

We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on each community's area of expertise.

Future readers are not helped by seeing all kind of history.

When people wonder about what changed, they can click the time next to "edited" to see the revision history. And early answerers can be alerted using comments after a question has changed a lot.

For example, the following:

Here's my post, about this and that.

...is much better than:

Here's my post, about something.

Edit: let me add this.
Edit 2: let me replace something with that.

Only in rare occasions, like if editing an (old) question invalidates many existing answers, a warning might need to be added to the post itself, and not be buried into comments. But: only if these are major changes and there's no other way to warn future readers. Like:

Here's my post, about this and that.

(The above has been changed after some posted their answers.)     ⬅ Only if REALLY useful

Alternatively one could warn future readers about major changes by editing it into answers that are now wrong (combined with a comment towards the original author, to allow for updating/deleting it).

Of course, such major updates should not have occurred to start with. Other (less destructive) updates often don't need any notification at all, not even in comments.

So yes, please rewrite to make it look like things have always been there. Future readers will be happy to read it without the burden of any history.

If a post has already been changed a lot (or when some of its answers also refer to things like "your first edit"), then consider just leaving a comment for the original author, to explain a Q&A site is not a personal help forum, and that in future situations it might be better to post a new question rather than changing an existing one so much.

  • 7
    Meh, I don't like (The above has been changed after animuson posted his answer) either. It's just noise. A comment is more appropriate. You can bold it if you want it to stand out.
    – user102937
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 19:05
  • 1
    I feel bolding comments only makes sense if you know for sure the comment is not hidden, @Robert. But I do agree that it should only be in the question itself if there's really no other option to warn future readers. But I guess there are other options to warn such reader, like by editing (or suggesting) such warning into the answer. Would that be better? (That makes it easy for the answerer to remove it if the answer is adjusted.) Of course, such major edits to the question should not happen in the first place, but rolling back to the original question might invalidate later answers...
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 19:53
  • @Arjan I think the link to stackexchange.com/about doesn't display the information it used to display. Anyhow, the link doesn't really provided the information relevant to the statement. Should we remove the link or does anybody have a replacement? I couldn't find anything fitting..
    – Neuron
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 16:13
  • 1
    Good catch, @LonelyNeuron. I've found the original statement in stackexchange.com/tour now, and changed the link.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 9:52
  • For the first time in 2+ years, I've just had one of my answers "tidied up" ("EDIT:" erased). While this has been a painless introduction to this expectation regarding Q's and A's, I'm tickled by the contradiction of the dream of "libraries of high-quality questions and answers" and an abundance of linked Q&A posts that are all much-of-a-muchness on this issue. Ideals of the noble pursuit of "Single instance of singular question and its singular answer", yet all this "Linked (sidebar)" clutter of same-or-almost-the-same hanging around. It seems that "something" is not going to plan.
    – Fe2O3
    Commented Apr 22 at 10:18
  • 1
    @Fe2O3 yeah a lot has changed as for the quality on Stack Exchange, since I wrote my response back in 2012. I myself actually hardly use SO as a one-stop to search for answers anymore, though of course sometimes Google will get me here after all.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 28 at 7:34

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