Some context: I asked a question on SO with a hypothetical constraint that wasn't dictated by technical reasons. Basically, I had a task that was trivially solved by the use of 2 very simple regex, and I wanted to know if it was doable in one, even with poorer performance. I explicitly stated the obvious two-part solution wasn't of interest to me.

A few users questioned that need, among whom one posted a solution formatted this way:

  • First part is a variant on the two-part solution
  • Second part is the actual (and clever) answer to my concern

This is the post I want to accept as an answer. But, since the first part is pretty lengthy, I would like to reverse the order, to put the relevant (to me) part first. Without changing the content, as I believe he's entitled to (and should!) say he disproves this forced way of doing things.

The tricky thing is that the user believes his two-part solution is the correct way to do things, and I believe it is not in the spirit of what I asked. After discussion, we couldn't see eye to eye on that matter.

Should I edit the answer?


No, you should not edit someone's answer because you don't like the order.

If the user explicitly stated that he doesn't want it then there is no room for discussion if the post is of acceptable quality otherwise.

You don't have to accept an answer; decide for yourself if you still deem it good enough. Perhaps leave a comment under it to signify what option you took?

  • We didn't discuss the edit itself, we just don't agree about which part of his post is the real answer. The post is lengthy (~30/40 lines), and the link you quoted states the situation might be different if it's more than 5 line long: I'm afraid on a quick reading what I consider the real answer would be skipped. Do you still think it's irrelevant?
    – Robin
    Feb 18 '14 at 17:06
  • @Robin It's the author's decision to make. If you disagree with it you can voice that through comments, voting, or a competing answer, but not by editing the author's post in a way they disagree with.
    – Servy
    Feb 18 '14 at 17:09
  • @Robin: you're entering a more gray area at that point but in the end it is up to the poster himself. You can suggest him to change the order of the two answers but considering he explicitly states it's a dirty method I highly doubt he'll agree to that. There is nothing wrong with the post itself so there is no way you can "enforce" an edit. Feb 18 '14 at 17:10
  • That makes sense, respecting the author's will should probably be put above all. I guess I could always answer my own question with the "relevant" part of his answer and accept that... Even though I don't want to feel like stealing credit.
    – Robin
    Feb 18 '14 at 17:18

Answer the question yourself in the order you want. Cite other answer and state why you think your order is better. Upvote his answer as you found it useful.


Yes, you should edit someones answer (same question as Jeroen referenced) if it makes the answer more useful to other people searching for the answer to your question.

I think it should be fine as long as * You don't change the content of the answer (deleting the option you don't like (or crossing out or putting in a tiny font)) * You modify the text of the answer such that it still reads well with the new order

  • I would argue that the proposed edit harms the answer. As does the author. At the end of the day if there is disagreement over whether a change harms or improves the answer, the author's opinion "wins".
    – Servy
    Feb 18 '14 at 17:18
  • The problem here is that we disagree on which formatting is more useful to other people :/
    – Robin
    Feb 18 '14 at 17:19
  • @Servy As you say, if the author doesn't like it then s/he can revert it but if the OP edits it in a way the the author actually likes then it's better for everyone.
    – dav_i
    Feb 18 '14 at 17:20
  • @dav_i The OP here has already stated that the post author make it clear he wants the post ordered as it stands, so he knows that the author doesn't want the edit to be made.
    – Servy
    Feb 18 '14 at 17:24

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