Sometimes I want to edit one of my answers and then realize I don't have to.

But there's no way for me to go back to the question without clicking on "Save your edits".

So I end up closing the tab or hitting the back button, which is a bit annoying.

I think a "cancel" button should be added next to "Save your edits".


I really think that making the user have no choice but hitting the Back button is bad design. It makes you dependant to the browser. Look at web apps like Gmail or whatever, you can do everything only using controls provided by the app itself. And I like this. Of course you should be able to use the back button too.

Refer to the discussion below to have a clearer understanding of what I mean.


The name of this button/link could be whatever: "cancel", "back to answer", you name it...

  • 4
    The browser's "Back" button is insufficient? Dec 8 '09 at 14:07
  • 2
    It is more cleaner to have one... Dec 8 '09 at 14:10
  • 1
    More cleaner? I don't think so. Why add functionality that already exists?
    – Bob
    Dec 8 '09 at 14:14
  • 4
    Do you want to have a cancel button when posting a question, too? And an answer? And a comment?
    – Jon Skeet
    Dec 8 '09 at 14:54
  • 7
    * When posting a question: no, because it is not related to another page on the site. * When posting an answer and a comment: no, because forms are displayed within the page, they are not opened in a new page. * When I'm taken away from a page to edit something (think about a CMS or a blogging system, when you edit an article for example), I expect to see a button allowing me to go back to the question/article/whatever I'm editing. Dec 8 '09 at 15:13
  • 2
    "I expect to see a button allowing me to go back to the question/article/whatever I'm editing." I'm totally with you on that. It'd be awesome if this button were somehow universally applicable no matter what site/application I was on. And really cool if was labeled in a very obvious way. Hmm, "go back," "go back," maybe it should be called "BACK". Oh wait, there it is, upper left of my window. Great; covered!
    – John Rudy
    Dec 8 '09 at 17:52
  • 3
    Why is there a Cancel button while editing one's profile? Maybe it should be removed then! Dec 9 '09 at 8:41
  • The browsers back button is insufficient if an edit has been saved one or more times and you want to cancel that action. Oct 2 '14 at 21:36

Instead of a Cancel option, I kind of miss the "Return to answer" link that once existed. I used to open that link in a new window whenever I wanted to see the original while editing.

(Especially when editing a thing from another author, I want to assure not to change its meaning, so I like to have the original at hand. Nowadays, I just open the "edit" link in a new window instead, just in case I get myself confused while editing.)

See What happened to the “Return to answer” link? (and as an aside, Now that the “Return to question” link was removed, can we have a “original” question view while answering?). These links mention a workaround: in Firefox and Chrome, middle-click or control-click the "< Back" button to open a new window or tab with the previous page. In Safari on a Mac use Command-click.

I think there was a "Return to question" link as well?

  • 3
    Me too. I miss the "Back to answer" feature/link as well. Dec 8 '09 at 19:45
  • 2
    Yeah exactly. "Cancel" or "Back to answer", that's what I mean: something that could take you back to the answer or the question. Dec 9 '09 at 8:36
  • +1 I don't know why those links were removed. Dec 9 '09 at 11:56

Adding a "cancel" button means there's some percent chance people will accidentally click on it and lose their changes.

It's another item on the page that Makes You Think.

Compare with the back button, and I can't see any reason to make this change.

  • 3
    It "made me think" when I was about to hit the usual "cancel" button and didn't find it. Dec 8 '09 at 14:21
  • 4
    Losing changes could fairly easily be prevented with the existing "Are you sure?" dialog - or does that not happen on some browsers? However, cancel and back would be synonymous in this case, which seems reasonably pointless. Unlike, say, making it clear how to show the original question somewhere :)
    – Jon Skeet
    Dec 8 '09 at 14:25
  • I updated my question with more thoughts. Dec 8 '09 at 14:27
  • Problem is, @Jeff, that the back button is often grayed out. I for one like to middle-click a number of questions so I have them in different tabs. Neither of those tabs will have an active back button. So, I can only reload the whole page. Which then means I lose everything else I was in the process of doing on the page (for example, a sort-of finished but not committed comment) Feb 11 '11 at 16:56

Hit the back button, and confirm that you really want to leave the page without saving (assuming you've actually made some changes).

  • 1
    Wouldn't it be more user-friendly to have a cancel button? Dec 8 '09 at 14:17
  • 1
    @Guillaume: The back button pretty much is the web UI for "I didn't mean to do that." What I find more irritating is that you need to Ctrl-Click the back button to see the original question...
    – Jon Skeet
    Dec 8 '09 at 14:24
  • You're spared the confirmation if you're using Opera.
    – random
    Dec 8 '09 at 14:29
  • So lets assume I made changes then, to make the question non-trivial. Oct 2 '14 at 21:38

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