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Here's a shocker, the answer involved concerns avocados.

This Q&A has obviously been very rewarding: Browning Avocados - What Helps?

The answers to that question other than my own caused me to want to do further experimentation. I particularly wanted to explore ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and propanethiol S-oxide gas from diced onions. I did those experiments with the same kind of photographic record keeping as the experiments in the original answer.

I couldn't be more pleased with the results of the second bout of experimentation, because what I tried, worked.

So now I have a real answer to the question, "What Helps?" What has been in that slot has been so highly upvoted because it was a good experiment with rather shocking results, not because it really answered the question. That answer says quite well what doesn't work. (Being on the "Hot List" for quite a while didn't hurt)

So my inclination is to replace the older, highly upvoted answer with the new (IMO better) answer, and move the old answer to a new question, "Do lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar or Fruit Fresh help keep avocado green?"

Early in the new answer, I will link to the old one and point out that all edits are transparent.

Now, to do it that way is not going to give me a lot of rep. Most regulars here have already upvoted that slot. So the only way they can upvote the new answer is to actually go to the old one and upvote it. That's not going to happen in droves. But I really don't care, I care far more that I'm treating the results in the best possible way for them to be found by future users.

My biggest concern is that some users won't necessarily think that through, and will see something cheesy in replacing such a highly upvoted answer with an entirely different answer.

So I bring this here for your input. Is there a better way? If so, I'd love to hear it. If the community is supportive of my handling it this way, I have the benefit of having someplace to send people who might think I'm trying to pull something cheesy.

If you want to see of a draft of the new answer, you can find it (with a few edits) in chat, here: http://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/19422570#19422570

3

Bottom line, I think you are trying to turn "acid doesn't work" into "X Y and Z work, acid doesn't", and that's a strict improvement, so you should just edit - I would if it were my answer.

There are two groups of people to serve here: future readers and past voters. It's clearly best for the future readers if the best information is in the right place, so on behalf of them we should choose editing. For past voters, yes, hypothetically they might want to retract a vote. But honestly, given that they voted for the old answer, they'd surely vote for the new answer too. If a minority would seriously change their mind, then they should be checking all the posts they've ever voted on all the time, because people are editing those too. We shouldn't cater to them over our future readers, who are really the entire reason we're writing all these posts.

I would be sure to still convey all the information that the old answer conveyed. That doesn't mean much of the text has to survive; it could be heavily summarized. But that takes care of people who previously voted: the information they valued is still present. One thing to keep in mind: the overall tl;dr at the top should cover the material from both old and new answers, to make sure you haven't lost anything even for the impatient readers.

I think Aaronut's points are all in general valid, but on the other hand this is a specific case with known details, so I don't think we really have to worry so much about potentially offending previous voters. Sure, it's possible, but quite honestly, if people liked your first answer they're going to like the new one. And even if a few people for some reason don't, making their votes less accurate is a small price to pay for presenting information to future readers in a clean way.

  • This isn't about offending people, it's about making subverting the voting system, posting an answer that people find useful and using the captive audience provided by a high score to post something different that they may or may not find useful. Even if WE think it's a material improvement, we're not supposed to be the arbiters of that, the community is. People aren't supposed to do that, and the guidelines say to reject suggested edits that do it (even if they turn a wrong answer into a right one). – Aaronut Jan 10 '15 at 17:00
  • @Aaronut Turning "X (here's why)" into "X and also Y and Z (here's why)" is not subverting the voting system. (And suggested edits are very different; you reject suggestions like this because you don't know whether the original author agrees with the new intent. That's not the case here.) – Cascabel Jan 10 '15 at 17:03
  • That's not what was proposed in the question. – Aaronut Jan 10 '15 at 17:04
  • @Aaronut The question exaggerates a little bit ("totally revised"). New answer: cooking.stackexchange.com/a/53406/1672 and old answer: cooking.stackexchange.com/a/46495/1672. I think that if Jolene in her original answer had simply said "hey I figured out that acid doesn't work, I'll update this when I figure out what other things do work" everyone would've been quite happy to know it was going to get even better. – Cascabel Jan 10 '15 at 17:06
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We usually recommend not doing this, and simply posting a new answer. Updating the existing answer is fine if it's a minor edit (maybe adding a few lines).

Remember, people upvoted the answer, not you. That means that what you originally posted is what they found to be useful. Changing it to something entirely different is not really in the spirit of how our edit system is supposed to work. It is essentially a bait-and-switch, however well-intentioned it may be.

Some exceptions have been made in the past for answers that turned out to be completely wrong, even to the point of being dangerous, but those are few and far between.

Of course it's your answer, you can edit it however you want. IMO it's just not totally fair to the people who upvoted; and some users would be justified in undoing their upvotes (which is always allowed after a post is edited).

  • Well, at least if I accept the new answer, maybe it won't get completely lost. – Jolenealaska Jan 8 '15 at 15:41
  • And it won't cause anyone's hackles to rise. – Jolenealaska Jan 8 '15 at 15:56
  • I agree that this is an unusual thing to do, but it is also a difficult situation. The old answer is not wrong, but it is still somehow obsolete in light of the new one. And then, the usual policy seems to be geared towards unfairly gained reputation - but won't users complain that giving a new answer to this popular question seems like trying to milk the topic for even more votes? It's complicated, I really don't know which way would have the least unwanted side effects. – rumtscho Jan 8 '15 at 16:30
  • @Jolenealaska: Accepting your own answer won't have any effect on its ranking. Only the votes count. IMO that's a good thing; if it's a better answer then it will get voted higher. – Aaronut Jan 9 '15 at 6:10
  • @Aaronut I know it doesn't pin it, but I'm hoping it will at least help it to be seen. There is a pretty big wall of text attached to that question. I sincerely doubt the new answer will ever ever outrank the old, that was just a perfect storm of Holy Crap! – Jolenealaska Jan 9 '15 at 6:30
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    @Aaronut I don't really buy that late better answers will get voted higher, especially when the first answer had the advantage of the question being on the network wide hot list. There are just not going to be enough eyeballs. – Cascabel Jan 10 '15 at 16:10
  • @Jefromi: Using ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem in ASP.NET in a high traffic scenario. The answers from '09 were the ones originally submitted, and one of them was accepted; I contributed mine over a year later. We may not get that kind of traffic here, but it's all relative. – Aaronut Jan 10 '15 at 16:53
  • @Aaronut I can't see how long it took you to overtake, but if it took say six months on SO, then it might take six years here. "It's all relative." I know that this answer took over a year to overcome nine upvotes. – Cascabel Jan 10 '15 at 16:59
  • @Jefromi: That's ridiculous. The scores are relative, not the time. The question hasn't even been viewed that many times relative to our most popular questions, and if you don't think it's going to get enough search engine traffic to correct the votes, then that also implies it's not a significant enough problem for you to be worrying over. – Aaronut Jan 10 '15 at 17:03
  • @Aaronut The time scales as well. Jolene's question had artificially high views (I did see it on the network hot list) and her answer got votes very rapidly. Now it's back to the background level of traffic, where it will get votes at our site's usual rate, so it'll take forever. (The example of mine I pointed to is one that actually ranks for some obvious google queries, like "why is meat red", so if anything her new answer might go more slowly than that.) – Cascabel Jan 10 '15 at 17:10
  • @Jefromi this is nothing but speculation and the history of every SE backs up the opposite conclusion. The new answer already has 10 votes, which puts it above 3 other answers. A handful more votes and it'll be in 3rd place, and probably in a few weeks it'll be in 2nd place. I really don't see the problem. – Aaronut Jan 10 '15 at 17:16
  • @Aaronut The problem is that the new answer is the one with full information (an answer to "what helps?"), and it's nowhere near the top, even if it gets to second. If Jolene had known all the information when she first posted, it'd be well-organized, important information at the top, etc. But since she posted it later, it's stuck being misorganized. (And it initially got a lot of votes because everyone in chat knows about it. I don't think it's realistic to assume that rate will continue.) – Cascabel Jan 10 '15 at 17:20
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Jolenealaska, would it be an option to edit the original question to better fit the answer? For example, 'Does lime juice, lemon juice, or vinegar keep avocado from browning?'.

This would maintain the integrity of the original question and answer. Then you could form a new question to relate more to your latest experiment.

You could even refer to the previous experiment/Q-A by staring your answer with something like 'In the first experiment I tried lime juice, lemon juice,.....'.

Just an idea as I am not as familiar with all of the intricacies or how something may be perceived. Perhaps @rumtscho, @Jefromi, and @Aaronut could give some feedback on this idea.

  • I think not really, first and foremost because other people already provided answers about things besides acid, and it's definitely unfair to them to make their answers not apply (way more so than the hypothetical worries about voters people have brought up). It would perhaps be an option to ask separately "does acid work?" and post the original answer there, while editing the answer on the existing question, but that has downsides too and no one seems to like it much. – Cascabel Jan 9 '15 at 21:26
  • @Jefromi Very, very good points. I was so focused on Jolenealaska's information that I wasn't giving proper thought to other things. Sorry. – Cindy Jan 10 '15 at 7:56

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