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I've just answered a question incorrectly! Oh, the shame of it. It was my fault -- I didn't read the question properly. By the time I'd noticed I was downvoted three times (6 points of my valuable rep -- I'm new, I need my rep above a certain limit otherwise I can't effectively participate, and this is a significant percentage of my rep).

When I looked I found a comment explaining what I'd done wrong, and I replied Mia Culpa (only in English). Since then there have been more downvotes on my answer. I need this to be limited -- I don't deserve to have my answer downvoted that far. True, the answer didn't apply to the details of the question being asked, and for that I should be eternally sorry -- my rep is gone forever and I'll have to work hard to redeem myself -- but the answer wasn't far off topic, and based on the title other people may look at the question and find my answer useful (because, it's not totally wrong, it just missed a detail of the code as presented).

Now, I'm not asking for anyone to check out the specific question/answer and fix things for me. The harm wasn't that bad. But, I'm trying to get my rep up so that I can become a more useful member of a community I've benefitted from professionally. The existential shock of being voted down is only just tolerable, but being voted down further once I'd accepted that I was wrong?

Of course, I could just delete my answer, but the comments as to why it was wrong may be of benefit to the community too, so I feel bad deleting it just to protect my own reputation.

So, how about a feature allowing the closing of an individual answer to any more downvotes? Or, perhaps, an explanation as to what I've got wrong (again ;).

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    You can delete an incorrect answer which gets the Rep back and even a badge the first time. Or you could edit to fix in some circumstances. – Flexo Jun 9 '13 at 6:05
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    Yeah, I said that in the penultimate paragraph, but thanks for demonstrating that I'm not the only one who doesn't read a whole question :-p – Engineer Dollery Jun 9 '13 at 6:12
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    Well the edit option seems attractive then if you don't want to delete. Explain why the obvious answer is incorrect and how to do it correctly. I'd rather not have outright wrong answers lurking around even if there are comments. Comments are meant to be ephemeral suggestions of things to fix not permanent record and not a prerequisite to understanding an answer. – Flexo Jun 9 '13 at 6:17
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    +1 for using the word 'penultimate' properly. Although, I don't agree with this feature request. – Andrew Barber Jun 9 '13 at 12:14
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There is a way to limit downvoting, it's called deletion.

my rep is gone forever and I'll have to work hard to redeem myself

Delete it, you get the rep back (as you noted later)

Of course, I could just delete my answer, but the comments as to why it was wrong may be of benefit to the community too, so I feel bad deleting it just to protect my own reputation.

Such things ("possible pitfalls") don't belong in answers. Leave a comment on the question to that effect (you can pastebin the code in your answer if you want)

The point of downvoting wrong answers is to eventually get them removed. Temporarily, it helps keep the sorting sane, but if you delete it, that's even better.

  • Yeah, that's the point right now, but I think you're wrong. Wrong answers add a lot of value too. That's why I'm asking for a new feature whereby I can leave valuable wrong answers in place. My answer wasn't a possible pitfall, it was answering the same question (the words of the question) as applied to a slightly different (and much more common) situation. In my opinion it has value, but I'm left with no choice but delete it -- which is why I want a feature to allow me to respect my dead. – Engineer Dollery Jun 9 '13 at 6:21
  • Should I delete my downvoted questions too? – Engineer Dollery Jun 9 '13 at 6:22
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    @EngineerDollery wikipedia (and encyclopedias or reference books in general) don't have a "wrong information" or "things the author once thought" section. Edit it to make it a correct answer with coverage of the background to it and it'll be a great answer. Leave it as it is and nothing changes the fact that it's wrong. With downvoted questions fix them too! Add the missing details, limit the scope of the broad ones, or if it really is unsalvageable yes, delete it. – Flexo Jun 9 '13 at 6:23
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    You misread the question, and want to leave the answer? Sorry, that doesn't make any sense. Delete it. As for questions, that's up to you; i'd not say it's as important as answers. – Joe Jun 9 '13 at 6:24
  • Ok, thanks for the advice -- I will follow it. – Engineer Dollery Jun 9 '13 at 6:24
  • @EngineerDollery: Value that doesn't answer the question belongs in a comment. (that's not the exact purpose of comments) – Manishearth Jun 9 '13 at 6:26
  • OMG! Y'all awarded me a 'Peer Pressure' badge for deleting my wrong answer. Couldn't you think of a more insulting badge to use? – Engineer Dollery Jun 9 '13 at 6:35
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    @EngineerDollery Yes, that's to encourage the correct behavior. – vascowhite Jun 9 '13 at 6:54

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