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I recently wondered about the nature of editing answers and when should one avoid doing so.

I believe that editing questions is something really positive that can help OP receive better attention to the post. However, it is my perception that this is done more frequently than editing answers on posts. It is also of my experience that (at least for me) it's harder to see/approve a good edit to an answer, as many of them are attempts to reply, superfluous, conflict with the author's intent, or even are worthy of an answer on it's own.

This may suggest that editing answers is a more delicate procedure (as each user has it's own style and tone), and that it may be less useful than opting to improve the question instead.

I would like to know what the Community thinks about the process of editing and improving answers. When should we do it? When should we try to avoid doing so and instead leave a comment or similar? What should we look when considering editing an answer and go over the author's style and phrasing?

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The rules are basically the same, clarify, keep the intent, incorporate relevant comments.

If the answer has comments that further explain it from the OP of the answer, or from users who suggest improvements that would benefit the answer, roll them in.

Then, flag the question for a moderator noting that relevant comments have been rolled into the answer, and to please delete the no longer relevant comments.

EDIT:

Care should be taken to edit answers for improvement, not for tone. A question should be edited for tone, as it will affect it's votes and potential answers, but answers are more stand alone. IF an answer is a bit edgy, it might just get voted down or even deleted, but if the tone of the question is bad, the question and all of it's answers may get deleted if the question's tone irritates enough people.

  • The part of "improvements by users" is the one I wonder. I believe that those changes should be incorporated to the answer if the answerer seems they are fit. Otherwise that could be conflicting with the author's intent... surely typos, grammar etc is ok, but if some user suggested something that I wouldn't have written that would not be too nice. What do you think about this? – DarkCygnus Jun 5 '18 at 20:16
  • @DarkCygnus if the comment doesn't change the intent, add it. Such as "Widgets are widely marketed in the US and in Canada" and someone points out that they are becoming popular in China too you'd change that to "Widgets are widely marketed in the US, Canada, and have recently grown popular in China as well" – Retired Codger Jun 5 '18 at 20:25
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    @DarkCygnus As said, it's about not changing meaning. As this main meta on the topic explains you're improving, not changing answers. Nature of Q vs A means that you will rarely if ever make content changes to answers as they don't end up receiving clarification as often as questions. – Lilienthal Jun 6 '18 at 7:46
  • "Care should be taken to edit answers for improvement, not for tone. A question should be edited for tone, as it will affect it's votes and potential answers, but answers are more stand alone." - too bad I already +1 this answer. – DarkCygnus Jun 8 '18 at 16:29
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IMHO

After putting some thought into it, I think we should only edit questions when there is a grammatical mistake, or when attempting to add clarification. For example, a title today I edited to say "higher cost of living" versus " higher life cost". IMO this made the title more understandable to the masses.

Other than that, we should leave a question alone and influence the OP to add details and clarification via the comments and voting.

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    I think you misspelled answers and wrote questions instead...? but yeah, I agree with this. We should focus our love and edits to questions instead, answers usually require less edits or improvements, and should be up to the author – DarkCygnus Jun 8 '18 at 16:44
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    No, it is not a typo. Unless it falls into the categories I mentioned, we should leave the editing of the questions to the OP. I guess you could say the same for answers too. – Mister Positive Jun 8 '18 at 16:49
  • I see, so you say we should edit Qs and As by the same standards and goals in mind. Naturally I guess that Qs are more prone to need such edits in first place... – DarkCygnus Jun 8 '18 at 16:51
  • I ,maintain that tone is important. More than once, I've removed ranty bits and the Qs have gone from negative and about to be closed to positive – Retired Codger Jun 8 '18 at 17:10
  • @Crossedtheriverstyx No one will argue removing blatant negative stuff. But in general the OP should do it, not us. Tone in most cases is subjective, especially text. – Mister Positive Jun 8 '18 at 17:12
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    @Neo I'm talking about fairly extreme cases, obviously. I think I've only stepped in two or three times to do that. All with positive results though – Retired Codger Jun 8 '18 at 17:35

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