This question received a major edit after a couple of answers, the edit was done by the original asker in order to remove the, shall we say, "ethically dubious" elements of the question, presumably because of the backlash they were receiving for these aspects.

This edit substantially changes the question and in the process invalidated my answer. Had the edit been done by another user I'd have simply rolled the edit back, in this case however since the edit was done by the OP I'm unsure of how best to proceed. Should I remove my answer?

EDIT: Well, predictably I received two DVs in quick succession after the "new" version of the question had been live for a while. Presumably from people who read the edited question and my answer and decided I was clearly some kind of anti-assist-dog or anti-disabled-person jerk. Of which I am neither so I've removed my answer for now. Still interested in answers to this meta-question though since in more general terms than just the linked question it'd be good to know what the best practice is.

  • possibly related: Aggressive Edits
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 15:45
  • 1
    I can't see your answer, but the question, while significantly changed, is still the same at its core, so I'm wondering whether your answer was indeed an answer or whether it was more of a comment on the ethics of what OP wants to do. Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 16:45
  • @Dukeling The original question was "I'd like a dog but don't want to leave it at home for 40hrs a week, if I get one that's diabetes trained can I use this to get the dog into the office?". Yes in my answer I made some commentary on the ethics of how the OP was proposing to go about their goal "i.e. getting a dog and being allowed to have it with them in the office". I did however suggest a more appropriate course of action to meet this without behaving unethically - I wasn't simply trying to flame them.
    – motosubatsu Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 16:58
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    @Dukeling The revised question was "How can I go about getting an diabetes assist dog into the office" which is actually a different question and thus my answer was invalidated (and made me look like an jerk to boot) trimming the diabetes dog aspect from the original question and leaving the "I'd like a dog but would need to bring it into the office" would have been perfectly valid as a question and I would have edited my answer to match. The edit that happened though.. not so much.
    – motosubatsu Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 16:58
  • 1
    @motosubatsu Revision 1 is "if I had a dog, and it had the education of a diabetes warning dog, how should I approach my current or next employer about bringing it into work?". That might be missing the context of "I want a dog", but that doesn't seem too relevant. Both that and the current revision are about bringing an assist dog to work, neither case says it's necessary, any solution to bringing a non-assist dog to work would work for an assist dog as well, and any reply addressing anything other than bringing a dog to work (e.g. taking care of a dog) is off topic and thus not an answer. Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 17:36
  • @dukeling You really think an assist dog wouldn't be considered differently from a regular one in terms of how you would approach it with an employer and how the employer respond? They are totally different workplace questions and would have different answers as a result.
    – motosubatsu Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 20:00
  • In general, SE policy is that edits which invalidate answers should be rolled back by anyone with edit privileges. The reasoning is that changing the question to invalidate answers puts such answers at a significant disadvantage. The caveat to this is that if the answer makes inaccurate assumptions about the Q (usually because the Q is unclear, or otherwise off-topic, and shouldn't have been answered w/o clarification), then edits to clarify the question are acceptable. If the answerer is working with the OP for clarification, then they can, alternately, choose to also change the answer.
    – Makyen
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 6:56
  • That's why quoting the content of the Question on your answer helps your post to retain meaning even though the Question is edited, giving you chance to re-answer if you want/can
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 20:57
  • @DarkCygnus It also makes your post more conversational, reducing it's value as a reference post (I think Snow's answer is a good example of how to address a certain aspect of the question without needing to quote it). Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 8:54
  • This edit substantially changes the question and in the process invalidated my answer. IMO - Your answer was a violation of the be nice policy. If your answer violates the Be Nice Policy because of a portion of the question there is a very good chance you should have edited the question to remove that part before answering in the first place. Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:12

3 Answers 3


As a general principle, edit any controversial elements in the question yourself instead of responding to them in your answer. Leaving controversial statements in the question is rarely useful (unless, of course, we consider "promoting" questions to HNQ as useful). It is a ticking time bomb that should be diffused before taking any other action.

Answering a poor question (or a question with some poor content) always carries the risk that the answer will get invalidated when someone improves it. Rolling back an improvement just because someone responded to the poor content is also not OK. The goal of SE is not to make people feel good about their answers, it is to build a repository of good questions and answers.

  • 1
    Answering a poor question (or a question with some poor content) always carries the risk that the answer will get invalidated when someone improves it. --- This! Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:10

In other SEs I've posted questions that I eventually edited heavily even though they have received well voted answers. Answers that address aspects of the situation that you are not concerned with are a natural feedback loop for whether your phasing of the question gets to the heart of the matter.

This OP has made the question much more concise. Rather than allowing the phasing to leave them open to flaming they removed the parts of the question which provided non-productive feedback while leaving the parts which actually address the issue they came here for. This is a gold star edit.

If your answer doesn't address the current form of the question, your options definitely include quoting the original question as what you are answering, answering the updated question, and/or deleting your answer. If your original answer does not address the updated question and you have no interest in editing it to do so I'd suggest deleting your answer as you are answering a question that the OP is not interested in asking.


I agree with Snow's answer in that the OP has the right to change their question how they like, even if it invalidates some answers.

However, were I one of those answers, I would not delete it, particularly if the question was edited to remove unfavorable information. Instead, I would add a disclaimer explaining the original context, quoting lines if possible. I would also try to make sure that the current version of the question is also answered.

It's important to answer the question that is written, but it's also important to answer the question being asked. If an OP wants to remove information because they've been getting negative feedback, then I think it's even more important that my response stays. I can suffer what downvotes I get.

  • Out of fairness to voters, I wouldn't drastically edit an answer if it had already gained votes (one way or the other). That's just me though.
    – user44108
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 14:33
  • @snow That was my reasoning behind deletion rather than an edit.
    – motosubatsu Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 15:45

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