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Suppose I answer a question, correctly to the best of my knowledge, and it is voted up, maybe even accepted. 5 years later, learning new techniques, I may come across an old answer of mine which describes a process which I now believe to be incorrect (would the process for a partially incorrect answer be the same as for a completely incorrect one?).

I see a few options:

  • Delete the answer and write a new one (not applicable to an accepted answer), (if OP is still active, perhaps notify/ask them first in a comment?).

  • Completely rewrite the accepted answer with the correct/updated information. This seems to be frowned upon (possibly because the original votes, given for a certain information set, are now placed on a possibly very different set of information, without the knowledge or consent of the voters).

  • Write a 'new' answer as an edit to the old answer, leaving the old text with a disclaimer as a reference at the bottom of your post. (random example)

  • Leave the old answer (possibly edit in a disclaimer) and write a new one with the correct information.

There are some variables with each method listed here. is there a better one? What is considered best practice regarding this situation?

Related (mostly case-by-case occurrences, no authoritative guides):

  • If it received votes, you have to request it be deleted, and in my experience moderators don't delete answers unless the community votes to delete them. – Ramhound Jan 21 '17 at 0:52
  • @Ramhound that's true of accepted answers. I can delete all my others – Frank Jan 21 '17 at 0:53
  • My apologizes I was thinkInformation of questions. Still shouldn't remove answers, they belong to the community, and shouldn't be unilaterally deleted. If they were helpful when you submitted them they should be still helpful – Ramhound Jan 21 '17 at 1:09
  • @Ramhound That's the thing though. Sometimes you find that what you posted before was not helpful. – Frank Jan 25 '17 at 19:47
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Delete the answer and write a new one (not applicable to an accepted answer), (if OP is still active, perhaps notify/ask them first in a comment?).

You better do it quite quickly. I suppose you could do this but I suggest you post first, delete second since your assumption about your answer being wrong could be wrong and it would be weird to delete your answer for a while and magically reappear.

This though should be done if your answer is really wrong (i.e answering to a different issue) regardless of your score. It's better to have an accurate answer with a low score than a not-so-accurate-at-all answer with a high score.

Completely rewrite the accepted answer with the correct/updated information. This seems to be frowned upon (possibly because the original votes, given for a certain information set, are now placed on a possibly very different set of information, without the knowledge or consent of the voters).

I naturally assume this would be frowned upon. You are drastically changing your answer to a completely different one, one that could cause one to actually retract their vote and all. It is also quite harmful who have attributed or have bookmarked/saved your answer purely because of its original content in which they saw it in.

Write a 'new' answer as an edit to the old answer, leaving the old text with a disclaimer as a reference at the bottom of your post. (random example)

Ah... you should make it very clear that your new section is your answer no the below section. Use --- to separate the two sections and have labels like Original: and New: for example for better differentiation. Your example though makes it clear that such answer should be deleted rather than just pure downvoting to cancel the rep... we lose rep too!

Leave the old answer (possibly edit in a disclaimer) and write a new one with the correct information.

The old answer would be rendered useless and should be deleted than just sitting there since your new answer should technically replace it.


So... what's the point? You should delete your old answer if the majority of your answer is wrong and replace it with a new one. If only some of the post is incorrect and the rest is correct (let's say 30/70, wrong/right respectively), simply edit your answer to replace the incorrect information with the correct information. If your answer is accepted, you should probably ping the OP for the status update.

Now it it's community wiki, it depends. If your answer is like this one, you could try slowly adding new information.

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