We recently had a question that appeared on HNQ and got an answer that was factually wrong but got 10+ upvotes. I downvoted and commented to explain that it was wrong; several other people downvoted. I and another user posted (what I believe to be) factually correct answers, which were upvoted and both collected more votes than the original wrong answer. (Yay! First time I've seen this really work on SE.)

However, since then, a user has edited the wrong answer and made it correct. Is this appropriate?

(I have an opinion about this, which I've put in an answer.)

  • *boggle* If you want to disagree with my opinion about what to do, downvote my answer. But I really can't see a justification for downvoting the question. – David Richerby Dec 28 '18 at 20:17
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    I don't think the question describes the situation. It phrases the situation as something with an obvious answer that I don't think applies. Therefore, your question, not your answer, is in my eyes flawed. – KMB Dec 28 '18 at 20:22
  • @KMB What part of the situation does my question omit or describe wrongly? I’m really not seeing it. I believe I got the chronology correct. I believe I have characterised the original answer and your edit correctly. What am I missing? – David Richerby Dec 28 '18 at 20:37
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    I'm not going to respond after this... I don't care enough to and this is starting to bother me. Chronologically I was making the edit when you submitted your answer. It wasn't until much later the edit was approved. Your answer implies I made the edit much later. Your answer and question imply i changed the intent of the answer (which would clearly be improper) while my intention was to clarify the authors wording (which is clearly appropriate). Ultimately, though, the mere existence of the question here on the meta seems to be making a mountain out of a mole hill. I'm done. – KMB Dec 28 '18 at 21:11
  • @KMB You didn't actually submite your edit until 21:28:50, approximately 20 minutes after I commented on the wrong answer and posted my own. You didn't "clarify the wording": you completely changed its meaning. The answer originally said that sugar moves from the syrup to the apples and your edit says that water moves from the apples to the syrup. That's a completely different thing. – David Richerby Dec 28 '18 at 21:45

If it conflicts with the original authors intent, such an edit should not be accepted. That being said, I wrote the edit thinking it accurately reflected what the author had intended but had difficultly communicating technically.

The word hydroscopically was used when the word he probably meant was hydrophilic. These words are very similar. He incorrectly said sugar migrated and equalized moisture content... I thought he mistakenly wrote sugar when he meant water.

The original answerer deserves praise for correctly identifying the cause of the phenomenon. David deserves some praise for correcting word choice and first pointing out that osmosis is the term to google. They both received it. Unless I misunderstood the original author's intent, there is no harm done.


Obviously, I'm all for correct answers.

However, in this case, it feels like the edit shouldn't have been made, as it "clearly conflicts with the original author's intent" and means that the votes and comments on that answer are now wrong. It also doesn't feel right that the original poster of that answer should be rewarded with reputation for what is now really somebody else's answer.

Having said that, I'd never object to somebody editing to correct their own answer, and I'm not sure I can give any real justification for feeling differently about the two situations.

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