I edited an answer to add clarity, only to find that the author has chosen to rollback to the original version of the answer. Can the community shed some light on this choice?

I thought the improvements I made such as mentioning periodic review of access, least privilege security principle, and SOD were key points for the OP, whose question relies around trust. My edits basically suggested that with proper detective controls (review) and preventative controls (SOD), trust can become less of a factor.

I appreciate any and all feedback from the SE community!

  • 2
    Also, keep in mind that any time the OP rolls back an edit you made to their post, the reason is almost always because they disagree with the changes you have made and that is completely within their right.
    – David K
    Sep 1 '16 at 12:49

I rolled it back - The changes that were made changed the intent of what I was trying to say in many cases. For example I was talking about account logins and it was changed to refer to file access. I intentionally went with slightly less technical terms since this wasn't a purely technical, IT environment.

In short, these changes might have been a better fit for its own answer in my opinion. I don't think my answers are beautiful and unique snowflakes, and I'm fine with edits that add to my answer, but these felt like extensive changes that changed the meaning and tone of my answer.


When it comes to editing answers you generally have to be much more conservative with your changes. Only copyediting is really allowed there. Even changes that incorporate comments, whether posted by the answerer or others, will change the nature of the answer. Unless it's a community wiki, the author of an answer has final say in its content.

Questions can be edited much more freely. Comprehensive edits are typically to clarify/highlight the core question, cut out meaningless fluff or incorporate comments by the OP. Question submitters rarely do that kind of edit work themselves and very rarely make comprehensive edits instead of tacking on updates. In contrast with answers, in practice there is no assumption of ownership when it comes to questions. Coupled with the fact that the language level is typically vastly higher in answers than in question, the end result is that answers are rarely edited which means that the collaborative aspect of question editing is largely absent from answers.

There are only a few commonly accepted edits to answers:

  • copyediting: typos, grammar, general language cleanup
  • clarifying concepts or abbreviations: with short definitions in brackets or, more typically, links to definitions/Wikipedia
  • adding references: less common on this site but we still occasionally get things like "I've read an article before that said X" or "this was discussed on another question"
  • disclaimers for outdated advice (these edits are usually highly contested, but sometimes necessary, less so on this site)

This basically matches the description of the editing privilege. Note that while the same standards theoretically apply to questions as well, in practice you have much more freedom to drastically edit questions, provided that those edits are beneficial and don't change the core of the question (unless the latter is approved by the OP or the question as-is is unsuitable).

  • 1
    I think editing in the author's own words from comments is usually fine; do you know of cases where it was contested? New users, in particular, tend to respond to a question in a comment with another comment instead of by editing the post. We can try to get them to edit it themselves, but sometimes it seems expedient to just do it. Sep 1 '16 at 16:01
  • @MonicaCellio Not off the top of my head, but rejected edits or roll-backs also generally aren't very visible, particularly on answers. Some comments can be folded into the answer but some require restructuring it or otherwise doing more than a simple paste. I very often end up defending my answer in the comments but I'd almost never accept an edit that copies part of those comments into my answer. (I think I've rejected/improved one such edit before but it was a while back.)
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Sep 1 '16 at 16:27
  • I would add to this improving an answer by adding references, or additional information a that bolsters the existing answer. Sep 2 '16 at 19:20
  • @Chad It's not as likely to happen on this site as more technical ones as truly new information would tend to change the intent of the answer but it's a good point.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Sep 3 '16 at 16:20

They can roll back just because they feel like it, or their mouse has an issue clicking randomly on the screen. No reason needs be given as far as I know.

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