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I answered a question a while back, but the answer turned out to be wrong.

I can't delete the answer though, because it was accepted.

Is there anything I can/should do besides commenting on the original question, asking the asker to unaccept the answer?

(EDIT: This was the question.)

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  • What you did is probably the correct behavior (making an edit explaining the situation). I wonder why it was accepted in the first place. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 17:05

2 Answers 2

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If you can edit your post so that it is correct, that is always the best solution, but for cases in which you cannot fix your answer, deletion is an option.

First you should try to comment on the question and ask the OP to unaccept your answer, as you have done. Asking the OP first is definitely the best way to go as you might find out why it was accepted. Maybe your answer wasn't as bad as you thought and only needed a minor change to make it correct.

But if he doesn't or refuses, and you still want to delete it, you can flag your post for moderator attention. While you cannot delete an accepted answer, diamond moderators can delete them.

Just click "Flag > Other" and leave a brief explanation of the situation. Make sure it is clear you are the author of the post, that you have found that the answer is completely wrong and you want to delete it but cannot because it is the accepted answer. A moderator is under no obligation to delete the post, but in situations like this, there is usually no reason not to delete it.

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    in the flag message, I'd also point out that asker was requested to unaccept prior to flagging
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 6:08
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Usually the best way to improve answers is to edit them, if any time at a later date you see you could improve it, fix it, etc, then simply edit it as required.

As this one is already an accepted answer and so, one would hope, has helped the OP, maybe leave the original answer there and put an obvious "EDIT" in the answer to show the new answer text.

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    It's better to replace a wrong answer with a working one than to have a wrong answer with an addendum at the end saying it's wrong. Some readers won't read far enough to see that it is stated to be an improper answer, some will see that it's not working or a bad answer and fail to continue on to the second solution, etc. The original solution is there in the revision history if someone really needs to see it.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 16:09
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    If the answer is "incorrect", but as it stands accepted arguably means the OP got their answer and so it's right, to whatever extent. So leaving that in place is needed, unless it didn't help the OP and they just accepted for whatever reason (rep, etc). That would however need to be confirmed with the OP. And the original solution being in the edit history wont be seen as not many users view edit revisions, in the same logic you stated some users wont read through an answer far enough to see an additional edit/answer.
    – James
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 16:14
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    It's not that uncommon to see people accept answers that didn't actually solve their problem, either because they're pressured by others, they lacked the understanding to recognize a good answer, etc. Answers can also become wrong over time; an answer correct 3 years ago could be incorrect today. If you feel an answer is wrong you should fix it. There is no need to ask the OP for their permission. The point of removing the incorrect answer is to make it harder to find. It's still possible to find it in the revision history if needed, but most shouldn't need to.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 16:18
  • @Servy I agree, and in this case maybe the OP did accept the answer without it actually having resolved their issue. I just think we need to preserve a certain degree of potential for the answer to be correct if it helped the OP - certainly without the OP confirming either way. Unless it's obvious that the answer doesn't answer the question, then it would need changing. Even if, I guess, that the answer, while incorrect, jogged the OP's mind and lead them to a resolve.
    – James
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 16:24
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    If the answer, while wrong, helped lead a reader to the correct answer then why do you think it would be bad to simply edit the answer to whatever the reader was lead to? Why force all future readers to know that there was an incorrect solution that lead to the real one, especially if those future readers aren't smart enough to make the leap to the proper solution? Those interested in the historical state of the answer can look at the revision history, but the current state should simply reflect the highest quality answer possible.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 16:28
  • I think it should be edited to leave in the answer which helped the OP, and therefore in the same way potentially future visitors, and add a new more accurate answer which provides more stable info. I just don't think the original should be removed. How many people read edit history on answers hoping to potentially find additional info that might help them? As opposed to simply leaving it in the answer with the new info and thereby creating a more concise answer as a whole.
    – James
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 17:10
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    Why leave incorrect information that could lead to useful and correct information when you could just have that useful and correct information. The wrong answer may have helped a bit, but replacing it with the real answer will help much much more. Yes, most people won't see it in the revision history, that's the point. They shouldn't have to see it. There's no reason for them to read an incorrect solution when they could instead be reading a correct solution. Adding and incorrect solution simply because it lead someone else to an answer is more verbose, not concise.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 17:13
  • What I'm saying is in the answer have: A: Here's the answer and B: Here's something else that also might help you - that is how a lot of answers are presented and it works. Readers might get their answer from A (your argument) but others might get their answer from B, or a combination. Why remove B, a potential for use from others?
    – James
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 17:15

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