What should I do if a question has changed since I answered it? The other members vote my answer down because it actually doesn't answer the current question.

This kind of editing sometimes happens with chameleon questions where the OP keeps adding new questions, making my pre-existing answer now incomplete. But another pattern is when the OP asks an "XY problem" question, an answer points it out, and he changes the question to react to that. Those answers now not only aren't answers but can look very tangential to people who don't review the edit history.

  • 1
    @ShadowWizard, I don't think this is a duplicate, though it's highly related. The focus of the "chameleon questions" question is about extricating oneself from a needy user; the focus of this question is more on the damage being done by the edit (an answer that was appropriate at the time and offered in good faith is now being downvoted because the OP edited the question to invalidate it). There's a stronger mandate here to roll back (or edit) the question than there is over on the linked question. Nov 10, 2016 at 15:44
  • @MonicaCellio question is what's the reason for the edit. Many times users do it to get several questions answered in the price of one, when there is rate limiting for questions. If OP here doesn't mean those cases, then indeed it might not be exact duplicate. In such case, better edit and make it clear what kinds of edits are those. Nov 10, 2016 at 15:47
  • @MonicaCellio OK, reopened. XY problem edits are also discussed here, but maybe better have both in one place... let others decide now. Nov 10, 2016 at 16:01

2 Answers 2


As noted in this answer, rolling back the edit is usually a reasonable response. But if you're reluctant to do that or find yourself in an edit war with the OP, another thing you can do is to edit your answer to add something like "this answer addresses the question as of revision 4". That should fend off some of the "what are you talking about? that wasn't the question" reactions. I've done this with no ill effects.

Try to state it dispassionately; don't say something like "the OP keeps changing the question and I'm done trying to keep up". You should be trying to inform readers about the context of your answer, not reprimanding the OP.

I'm talking here about an answer that was already well-developed when the question was edited. If you post a stub in pursuit of FGITW and then the question changes a couple minutes later, you should either fix or delete your answer. The intent of this suggestion (and I think your question) is to avoid punishing people who answered in good faith.

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    I'd like to understand the objections that people have, so I know whether it's something I can address. (For example, FGITW rarely happens on the sites I'm active on, so I'm glad Patrick pointed it out so I could address it.) Nov 10, 2016 at 16:45
  • could you tell me how can I get the revision id and how should I link to that revision?
    – pt12lol
    Nov 10, 2016 at 17:43
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    @pt12lol you can click on the "edited x hours ago" at the end of the post to get to the revision history, then each revision will have a "link" that you can copy.
    – Cai
    Nov 10, 2016 at 18:34
  • I think SE needs to take note from various collaboration/reviewing tools and mark the revision the answer was posted on automatically, allowing for anyone to easily check the state of the question at the time the answer was posted (and adding a note if too much/big edits were made since it was posted).
    – Dan M.
    Nov 13, 2020 at 12:43

In general, that's not allowed - the OP of the question should not change his/her question in a way that invalidates existing answers. You can rollback the edit (if you have >2k reputation), or suggest an edit based on an earlier revision. Indicate in the edit summary that you rolled back because the scope of the question has changed and invalidated your answer.

  • Is there a flag for the question I could apply in this situation?
    – pt12lol
    Nov 10, 2016 at 15:10
  • @pt12lol see this answer, and the comments on it. Nov 10, 2016 at 15:34
  • I've edited a question that was closed to be too broad (as directed to do in the close description!) to make it acceptable for the site while addressing the crux of the question. A zero-vote answer was invalidated in this process. I assumed (and still do) that this is an "allowed" exception to your stated guideline. A rollback would make the question invalid again. Not really sure the best practice in this case.
    – M. Justin
    Jan 13, 2021 at 6:43

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