I just edited (expanding significantly) William Pursell's answer at returning value from called function in shell script.

I now see the question is in "community wiki" status, and the answer above William's, the one that landed this in community wiki in the first place, has the royal green checkmark of approval and somehow also has 19 upvotes. But it doesn't even really address question, let alone provide an answer, and IMO it is barely cognizant.

I've yet to encounter a situation like this... so I did a little homework, and I can't find anything that explicitly dis-allows doing what I propose. I read An elegant solution for "answer-stealing" edits?, and while it seems to have the sentiment of what I'm after here, neither does it doesn't expressly say whether one has leave to replace the answer wholesale.

So basically, can I do a 1:1, copy-paste, swap of answers here, taking William's answer as I've edited it and putting into the accepted answer?

Would such a move be considered a good call, or very bad form? Maybe both?

  • I believe this would generally be considered a bad move. You might even earn a rollback. Apr 26, 2014 at 14:34
  • The question is not CW, only one answer. IMO, very bad form. I'm not even sure your actual edit is valid.
    – brasofilo
    Apr 26, 2014 at 14:40
  • @brasofilo Thanks for the clarification re: a CW question vs. only one answer, wasn't aware of that. But as for validity of my existing edit, I believe "the community" voted, and it was approved. Is there another sense you mean by which it would be invalid? Apr 26, 2014 at 14:47
  • 1
    I think the general sentiment is that, if you're gonna add that much info, post your own answer. Having an edit approved at Stack Overflow does not mean it is valid, unfortunately, the reviews are full of robo-approvers that simply click "approve" to get badges... Let's wait for other members' opinions.
    – brasofilo
    Apr 26, 2014 at 14:55
  • 1
    Yes, I'd definitely like to hear more opinions on that. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/224350/… is a previous question of mine; meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19477/… seems to indicate to me that "general sentiment" is split. Very confusing to a relatively new user like me. Apr 26, 2014 at 15:06
  • Exactly, I knew I was missing a word: it's "split" - tending to "post your own", methinks.
    – brasofilo
    Apr 26, 2014 at 16:04
  • Your edit was definitely inappropriate, there is no split opinion on that.
    – OGHaza
    Apr 26, 2014 at 16:20
  • The answer definitely addresses the question; it says "you can't do exactly what you're asking for, here are available alternatives". I've edited the prose to make that more clear.
    – jscs
    Apr 26, 2014 at 18:35
  • 3
    As the original author of the edited post, I am not particularly bothered by the edit but it does seem like it ought to be rolled back. This is not to indicate that there is anything wrong with the edit, in fact I think the additional text is quite good, but it is no longer my answer. The sentiment of the new text is certainly what I was thinking at some point, but expressing that is not something I took the time to do and it would be unfair for me to accept credit for it. Creating a new answer would more accurately attribute the text to Geoff. Apr 26, 2014 at 19:41
  • I do "get" this point, and will do the new answer thing from here on out. But its not about me getting credit — honestly, I couldn't care less. Since your answer had the "kernel" of what the issue was, this was my meaning by editing it, to keep it the authorship true to the originator from whom I am drawing. I don't think there's any disagreement here... perhaps just a little "too much" common courtesy. (And believe me, I'll take that!) Jun 1, 2014 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


Usually, if you're adding that much new content to an answer, you should probably just answer the question yourself. This allows you to accept the credit for what you wrote, plus it keeps everyone happy. Nobody is going to throw a fit if your answer is better than theirs (I hope). If it's not, then you didn't hurt anybody else's answer.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .