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The Help Vampire problem
Exit strategies for “chameleon questions”

I just answered a question, and I got a response from the OP along these lines: "I forgot, about X. But there is a new problem with Y now.".

What should be done in cases like this? I suggested to the OP: "If this is unrelated, probably ask a new question". But I'm not really sure if this is the right thing to do. Is it?

On the one hand: The first problem was a clear cut compiler error, the second seems to be something to do with what the program(mer) is trying to achieve.

On the other: It is the same program, which if I can gather correctly, is pretty small/manageable.

Will the community lose from having EDITs overwrite problems in this way?

This is the question itself (who's current form may change since me having asked this question).


1 Answer 1


Having experienced the same issue on a few occasions, it really depends on the situation. I would advise one of the following:

  1. If the change alters the initial question considerably, then I might advise the OP to post a new question instead of editing the initial. This then makes the question/answer available to other users. Plus the new issue might have already been answered in another SO question.
  2. If the change is minor or if they are asking for additional clarification, then I would alter the answer to help.

Another option is to ask the user to join a chat session so you could help them work through the new issue. If you are take it to chat move final solution to the original post if you think others could benefit from it in the future.

  • 2
    If you are taking it to chat - make sure that the final solution is formulated into a post on the original post if you think others could benefit from it in the future... Either you or the OP can do this.
    – Lix
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 19:15
  • 1
    @Lix totally agree, I will update my answer.
    – Taryn
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 19:16
  • @bluefeet - Thanks! I guess I'll keep this in mind for future questions falling in this category. What is your opinion of the current state of the question and its answer? Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 23:08
  • @ArjunShankar I think it looks good, you covered the new answers via the EDIT. It is tough when they start changing the question, starts to get frustrating to continue to help but I think you did a great job.
    – Taryn
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 23:23
  • Neat. Thanks for the review! Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 23:33

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