The specific example is:

Can any harm come of eating watermelon seeds?

The answer by hobodave is quite thorough so I was wondering, would it be alright to rewrite the question to be more general, say "Can any harm come of eating fruit seeds?"

  • As the poster of the question in question (chuckle), I would say go for it. I was rather contemplating doing that myself - I think only laziness really stopped me. That and continuity. Aug 10, 2010 at 4:12

3 Answers 3


I don't think it's a bad idea. I was thinking that might be useful as I was answering. I could see someone asking specifically about apple seeds in the future, given the rather widespread pseudo-legend. I'd rather answer once thoroughly than a simple "yes" or "no" each time.

Generally as long as you don't change the question so that it renders answers completely irrelevant it's OK.

I don't aim for any particular level of omniscience in my answers, so I have no personal qualms with any edits you make. Feel free to tweak my answer as well if needed post-edit.

The general rule of thumb is it's OK to do what you think is beneficial until told or asked otherwise. So, if you edit the question and the OP doesn't like it, and reverts it, just leave it alone and don't edit his stuff again. It never hurts to leave a comment explaining what you're did and why. (I prefer this to the asking of permission in every case, less noisy comments.)

  • On a Q&A site, omniscience is definitely a plus. Answers that go above and beyond the call of duty are great answers.
    – Ocaasi
    Aug 9, 2010 at 20:01
  • Anyway, it was supposed to give due weight to your thorough answer, nothing else.
    – Ocaasi
    Aug 9, 2010 at 20:11
  • I would note as well that the OP stated in a comment - but not the question - that potential poisons/chemicals were his real concern. If nothing else, that should be added to the question. Aug 9, 2010 at 20:26
  • @Ocaasi: Thanks for the reassurance. Don't worry though, I didn't find your statement offensive in the least. :)
    – hobodave
    Aug 9, 2010 at 22:09
  • Well, people who don't like to misrepresent themselves or grandstand might take omniscient as a pretentious goal.
    – Ocaasi
    Aug 9, 2010 at 22:26

As long as you are certain (or at least strongly believe) that your edit:

  1. Makes the question clearer;
  2. Doesn't significantly change the scope or meaning;
  3. Doesn't invalidate any previously-valid answers; and
  4. Isn't going to start an edit war

...then go for it. With respect to #4, you don't need to ask permission every single time, but if you see that your edit has been rolled back, don't keep re-editing.

Point #3 is probably the most important one. 15 minutes ago, there was only hobodave's answer, so I would have said, let 'er rip. But now a new answer has been added that makes specific reference to watermelons, so changing watermelon to just "fruit" would invalidate that answer. So as of right now, I would not make this edit.

Anyway, don't worry that the question will be difficult to find because of its specificity. It's tagged [fruit], so it'll still show up in the Google results if somebody searches for that instead of "watermelon".

  • I agree that making edits in good faith is a good idea, but some people are going to take umbridge with you doing that and re-edit and in those cases its not worth trying to force the point, just accept that they have their own opinion and get on with your life. Its only the internet.
    – Sam Holder
    Aug 10, 2010 at 8:05
  • @Sam: I love that comic. :)
    – hobodave
    Aug 10, 2010 at 15:38
  • @Sam: I think that's more or less what I was saying; don't start an edit war, if somebody insists on reverting your edits then just leave it alone unless there's a serious problem (in which case flag a mod).
    – Aaronut
    Aug 10, 2010 at 23:42

Hmm... that would make it seem like Hobodave had just answered your question rather than go out of his way to answer more than that. So you have to ask him.

Also, his is the only answer, so you can definitely change it without making 'other' answers seem inadequate.

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