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What to do when the correct answer to a question changes over time?

I was looking at a question (regarding downloading youtube videos), the accepted answer, I called the attention of the author to this fact... but he said: "Yeah, this answer is quite old. I wouldn't be surprised if the method has changed."

I thought one of the purposes of StackOverflow is to endeavour to have up-to-date answers to its questions (so when we find them from a Google search they work!). How are these updated in practice? What incentives are there to update a question/answer?

It seems unfair remove the 15 points the answerer received but un-accepting the (previously correct) answer... is this the only thing that can be done?


3 Answers 3


An answer being marked as "accepted" is the opinion of only one person - the original poster. A much better way to identify the "best" answer would be to look at the highest community voted answer. There is not much that can be done about a wrong or incomplete answer getting a green check mark. You have already listed one option - leave a comment for the OP explaining why the accepted answer is wrong...

If you stumble across a post containing one of these types of answers the only real other thing you can do is downvote. Hopefully, if people see an accepted answer with a negative score, they'll prefer to take the post that the community deemed "best". The highest community voted answer will appear directly below the accepted answer (if you sort by votes).


If you think the accepted answer is obsolete you can answer again clarifying that things have changed and now the right answer is the one you are giving. Then it is up to the asker to accept your new answer or leave the old one.

I have done this once and I wasn't accepted, but I was voted up (probably by the asker), so at least the updated information is in the post and then users can decide if they find it useful by voting up.


Things do change over time and accepted answers do become obsolete. If an answer was accepted then it should not be 'un-accepted' by anyone other than the OP. Now to the issue of up-to-date answers, users can post new answer anytime. When the question comes up in search then answers can be sorted by 'active' tab (answers with the latest activity first). If the newer answer works for you then upvote it, downvote the other answer, and add a comment to the downvoted answer that it does not work anymore. Incentive is that the new answer will receive reps from the future upvotes and maybe get a Necromancer badge for answering a question more than 60 days later with score of 5 or more.

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