This question asked "What is this thing?"

My answer was "I think it's a foo."

Someone else answered "It's a bar". They are right.

I have seen What should I do if I decided my upvoted answer is wrong, but my case is slightly different - specifically there is already a (more highly voted) correct answer.

Editing my answer to improve it would just turn it into a clone of an existing answer. I could edit the answer to include a disclaimer that while initially plausible, my identification is wrong and leave it there. I am tending to the idea that just deleting it is probably right.

As an additional factor, this was a Hot Network Questions question, so it is quite likely that the upvotes are not from dedicated members of the community, but from passers-by with affiliation bonus.

  • 5
    IMHO, even just asking yourself this question is laudable. – Stephie Dec 4 at 17:30
up vote 4 down vote accepted

While deleting a wrong answer seems the logical solution, it may occasionally not be the best approach.

Note what the tool tip on the downvote arrow says:

This answer is not useful.

It does not say "This is wrong."

There are cases where a wrong answer actually adds valuable information to the site, for example when the foo and bar can be easily confused and the foo answer helps to differentiate between the two. Often we see a comment discussion below, that helps as well. This means the combination of the posts will be helpful for future readers that have either a foo or a bar or even something totally different.

So even an initially wrong post can qualify for upvotes, which means

This answer is useful.

For answers that are plain wrong and hence not useful, the community will make it clear for future readers by simply down voting. This is one of the fundamental principles of the site. In such a case removing the answer means the poster gets at least their reputation back.

For "good wrong answers", a short notice how/why you as the poster learned that your assumption was wrong is nice (but optional) gesture and emphasizes the "this is the crucial difference" aspect. Apart from that, we're happy to keep them.

  • I had already edited the disclaimer in while we had this discussion, so I'll leave it as is. – Martin Bonner Dec 5 at 16:05
  • 1
    @MartinBonner I know and I like your solution. This is Meta where we shape our policy, so I decided to write an answer stating my opinion. (Adding a few "why"s for good measure.) – Stephie Dec 5 at 16:06

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