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I got a question in my review queue, saw a bad answer, and downvoted it with a comment politely explaining why. The answerer politely told me that his answer was more appropriate before the question was edited.

What's the right thing to do?

A) When looking at things in my review queue, should I just focus on helping produce good answers and never downvote existing answers? No matter how bad? I am new to review queues.

B) Should I remove my downvote? Should I encourage deletion of the answer? Regardless of the history, the answer is now poor.

A typical case is where a question is too general. The community provides comments that help OP improve the question, while others answer the general question with general answers. After the question improves and receives better answers, the early answers look really bad. They look evasive, even flippant.

What's the right approach? Again, I am new to reviewing; I just began getting these prompts to do it.

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The answerer politely tells me that his answer was more appropriate before the question was edited.

That's usually a sign of 1) an inappropriate edit to the question or 2) the question was really poor to begin with and should not have been answered in that form. It's easy to miss that a question was edited after the answer was posted (I'm a reasonably experienced reviewer and I rarely look at those timestamps.)

Case 1) should generally be handled by rolling back the edit, and removing the downvote (and the comment).

Your typical case looks more like 2) and no further action is needed. Perhaps leave another comment with a link to the Help Center article How do I write a good answer? ; especially this part:

Answer well-asked questions

Not all questions can or should be answered here. Save yourself some frustration and avoid trying to answer questions which...

  • ...are unclear or lacking specific details that can uniquely identify the problem.

Pro tip: when you use [answer] in a comment, it will automatically expand to a link to it.


When looking at things in my Review queue should I just focus on helping produce good answers and never downvote existing answers? No matter how bad?

No, please keep on downvoting/commenting whenever that is appropriate. That is just as important as upvoting.

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Why would you change your vote because the author has an excuse for why their answer doesn't address the question well? Posts should be judged solely on their content.

Until the answer is edited to match the question, it still deserves the downvote. Once the answer has been edited, the system will let you change your vote. If a question is too vague to be answered well, it should be closed until it is improved, not answered. It's generally bad form to edit the question in such a way that existing answers are invalidated, but in cases where the question was off-topic before the edits, it can happen. If no-one informs the authors that their answers don't answer the question very well because of the edit, how will they know to fix them?

You should downvote poor answers when you see them. If you think they can be salvaged, politely explain how in a comment. If you don't downvote poor answers, there is no incentive to improve them, and people might get confused about what constitutes an acceptable answer on a site. That doesn't help produce good answers. That probably produces more low quality/low effort answers.

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