I've come across the following two scenarios recently;

  1. I accidentally added a half written answer, so I quickly deleted it, edited it then undeleted it. It was a pretty good answer, but then I started getting comments saying it was sarcy or wrong. (The OP was asking how to get started with a particular problem and my part done answer was basically the method body). I got a lot of upvotes for the answer, but ended up deleting it due to users complaining that I'd edited the question from the original posting.
  2. I added an answer, realised that I'd made a mistake and not read the question properly, so I updated the answer within 30 seconds. About 7/8 minutes later I got a downvote (after about 5 upvotes so it wasn't a bad answer) and people saying that the code was wrong and did not do what the OP asked for. When I told people to read the last paragraph of the question, which was what I had added within 30 seconds of the the initial posting, that led to commentors getting mardy that I'd edited the answer.

I think both of these scenarios could be avoided by either;

  1. A check when writing a comment that informs the commentor that the question has changed (like the 'another answer has been posted' notification when writing an answer)
  2. The answer automatically refreshing when you post a comment.

I don't think those who answer should have to keep posting Edit 1, Edit N, etc, within the first 5 minutes of the answers life.

Personally, what I do at the moment is post a comment, refresh and make sure it's still valid. If it's not valid, I delete it. If someone posts a valid comment on my question, I'll acknowledge it within my answer under an edit. It appears as though some users just open a large number of tabs (hence the 7/8 minute delay I previously mentioned) and go through each one adding their answers/comments. Which is fair enough, but like my two scenarios above it can backfire.

Or, am I the one in the wrong? If we add an answer, edit it and then someone later refers back to the original post, should we have to go back and edit the answer to show that we made the change, even within the 5 minute initial posting period?

  • Mh, can we get the links to those questions/answers? – Time Traveling Bobby Sep 3 '10 at 9:17
  • @Bobby - Not sure it's particularly relevant: The one I deleted, no because I can't remember which question it was. The second example is here: stackoverflow.com/questions/3630821/…. Not that you can see the timings correctly now as they're rounded to the nearest hour. Plus the user I had a spat with agreed to delete all the comments they made. There's still one comment left by a different user though. – djdd87 Sep 3 '10 at 9:29

Comments are really too ephemeral / lightweight to need this kind of heavyweight treatment, IMO.

If things are changing that rapidly, then perhaps just take a bit more time to ensure your answer is more or less correct before pressing the submit button?

  • I agree, however sometimes I've noticed users adding a question and then elaborating on it very quickly (i.e. to get their answer in first). I have myself added a comment on one of these answers and then when I refresh that elaboration is already there. If I didn't refresh the page, it'd of been left looking out of context. Perhaps, like you've said, the notification is a step too far, but what about the refresh of the question? Surely that's pretty lightweight? – djdd87 Sep 3 '10 at 10:40
  • Sometimes it's better to fix the behavior instead of the 'problem' – Ivo Flipse Sep 3 '10 at 10:42

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