I have a question about editing practices:

Does it look good to edit a question you have just answered?

For example: say I had just answered a question, then saw that the question had some minor formatting issues. Should I edit it? Does it turn up voters off when they see that I am answering a question I changed, possibly to better suit my answer?

  • 11
    That you have posted an answer shouldn't change the way you edit. Even if you don't post an answer you shouldn't change a question's original meaning.
    – user102937
    Apr 12, 2013 at 0:10
  • @RobertHarvey Yes, I know (1300 rep :)) I'm asking how it looks to those just 'passing through'.
    – Undo
    Apr 12, 2013 at 0:11
  • 6
    You ask if it looks good, then your question asks if it looks bad. Should I edit that and then give my answer?
    – Cole Tobin
    Apr 12, 2013 at 0:23
  • @ColeJohnson Sure, if you want to.
    – Undo
    Apr 12, 2013 at 0:24
  • Double comments are doubled.
    – Cole Tobin
    Apr 12, 2013 at 21:10
  • 1
    After this question was asked, a new set of badges was introduced to encourage people to edit questions they have answered: New three-tiered badge idea: Explainer →Refiner → Illuminator
    – toolic
    Feb 4, 2023 at 15:33

6 Answers 6


Your edits are public so we can all see what you've changed. If you see an edit that was clearly made only to suit better the editor's answer just point it out. I don't think there is anything wrong about editing a question to which you've answered I do it all the time.

If someone is turned off by seeing the same name in the edit and the answer section I sure hope he at least take the time to look at the edit history... (This is kind of why there are traces of the edits)

  • 1
    Yes, but who actually checks edit history? I'm asking if it turns off voters just passing through
    – Undo
    Apr 12, 2013 at 0:10
  • 10
    @ErwaySoftware I check edit history all the time. I wouldn't -1 if someone answedited (I highly doubt that is a word :P) and I do it often.
    – Doorknob
    Apr 12, 2013 at 0:40
  • 1
    I check edit history all the time. Sometimes I'll see a question that later changes, and so I look to see what the change was and whether it was beneficial (if it wasn't, I roll the edit back with a note as to why). I have no issue with valid edits being made to posts you're answering; I've done it at times myself. Just be careful when you do them not to introduce bias toward the answer you've posted. :-)
    – Ken White
    Apr 12, 2013 at 3:17

Editing a question to change the content or meaning is wrong whether or not you are answering the question. Editing to fix grammatical or formatting errors is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged.

Do note that you should never fix mistakes not related to grammar or formatting (and especially not in code), since this might end up changing the nature of the question. If you think the OP has made a typo when referring to a variable, for example, post a comment asking for clarification.

If you think your edit might be misinterpreted, leave an edit summary that explains what you are fixing and why.


It's always good to improve the quality of Stack Overflow. And editing is a big part in improving the quality of the site. Not everybody knows how to format code properly, not everybody has English for its first language.

The fact that it is a question you want to answer is, to me, completely irrelevant.

Though be sure that you don't change the meaning of the question! That would be weird. If your edit is one that was needed well GO FOR IT, absolutely.

In fact it might give you more vote since it will look like you cared about the question and took time to improve its overall quality; to make sure it was easily understandable and clear.


I often get intrigued by a question's title, read it, see some problems to fix, and then answer once I understand it correctly.

(Yes, formatting/writing problems do irritate me a lot... "Serial editor" is my nickname.)


As long as it doesn't change the original intent of the question ("Radical Change"), then it should be fine. That's the reason behind having a history.

Editing (wiki) is one of the original ideas behind StackOverflow:

grafics r fan
(source: typepad.com)


Whether or not it looks good and/or turns-off potential upvoters are really very subjective questions.

However, whether or not it should be encouraged is something I can answer: Yes, it is encouraged! Why else would there be badges awarded for editing and answering (the same) questions:

  • Explainer (Bronze)Edit and answer 1 question (both actions within 12 hours, answer score > 0).
  • Refiner (Silver)Edit and answer 50 questions (both actions within 12 hours, answer score > 0).
  • Illuminator (Gold)Edit and answer 500 questions (both actions within 12 hours, answer score > 0).

But I would reiterate the points made in other answers: such edits should: (a) not change the meaning/intent of the question; and (b) such edits should not be completely trivial.

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