So I answered a Stack Overflow question with a completely wrong answer.

It was quickly downvoted as it should have been.

The answer I gave though might have been a typical conclusion to the question.

Given that the answer is completely wrong, but very clearly downvoted and acknowledged as wrong, and why it was wrong in the comments, should the answer remain visible or should it be removed / deleted?

I did delete it and got the "Peer Pressure" badge, but since then, I am thinking maybe it should have stayed visible (at the sake of my own self esteem, and being humbled) as a clear example of what NOT to do.

  • 5
    I like your thinking. In an ideal world, I'd have left it up, and edited it to explain that the answer was wrong (and how), but that you're leaving it since it seemed to be a common trap for people to fall into. Of course, in the real world, I'd have probably been shamed into removing it. Still, I like the thinking.
    – beska
    Commented Sep 18, 2009 at 19:50

6 Answers 6


Answers that are obviously wrong should be deleted/fixed. They simply confuse the issue, even with downvotes on them, the people viewing your answer won't necessarily know why it is wrong, and so they might draw the wrong conclusions.

Answers that are subtly wrong should remain. You should add an "EDIT" to it so that you explain where and why it went wrong. That way anyone who has a similar inclination will be able to see why they were wrong. You could also add a short disclaimer at the beginning that says "See edit note" so that no one assumes the answer is correct.

In general, more information is always better, including correct answers, and explained incorrect answers. But when an answer is just plain wrong, then it doesn't belong there at all.


I would suggest you deleted that one, but then wrote a new answer which starts off:

You might have thought that... [incorrect stuff] but this is wrong because [...].

The reason for deleting the first one is that you don't want that correct answer to start off with negative votes. Those votes were against the incorrect form, not the correction.


The only reason I can think of leaving an unambiguously incorrect answer is if the incorrectness itself provides useful information.

For example, if you make a common mistake that a lot of programmers might make; it was clearly pointed out in comments; it was wholly voted down; and you added an addendum to your post that it was wrong and why you are leaving it... then, yes, that might be a good reason to leave it as a "lesson learned."

Personally speaking, I would be more likely to remove it.

  • 1
    I think in this case it was a good "lesson learned" but I did remove it too.
    – user136111
    Commented Sep 18, 2009 at 19:15

It's totally up to you.

  • You can delete it.

  • You can edit it to fix your mistake.

  • You can keep it but make a note to say that you realize now that it's wrong but you want to keep it for posterity.


As I see it, you have two options now:

  • Undelete the answer and make it community wiki so it dowsn't hurt you so much, or
  • Post a new answer stating the conclussion you reached in your original answer, and why it was wrong.

Ólafur also notes a third option:

  • Correct the answer (duh! I must be slow in my head today...)
  • 1
    You must be :P Commented Sep 18, 2009 at 17:56
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    not sure if i like the third option. that means a good answer is voted down, which means to a user unaware of the history it looks like a bad answer
    – Kip
    Commented Sep 18, 2009 at 18:37
  • 1
    I'm with you Kip.
    – perbert
    Commented Sep 18, 2009 at 18:39
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    If I come up with a new answer after having an obviously wrong answer, I delete the wrong one and add the new one as a new answer.
    – Powerlord
    Commented Sep 18, 2009 at 18:46

It's probably a case-by-case judgment call.

I've left a wrong answer public b/c the solution is an otherwise popular one, but the comments (and downvotes) that have been left explain why it is wrong.

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It would be better if others who are making this mistake find out why they shouldn't.

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