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I recently submitted this answer to a question which I now believe to be incorrect. What action should I take?

  • I can delete the answer, but while I no longer agree that the answer is correct, many people seem to agree with it (+7 upvotes).
  • I can add a new answer, which will mean leaving contradictory answers.
  • Or I can highjack and improve the existing correct although incomplete answer.

It's important to note that as of now, no answer has been accepted.

  • I'm still new to the site, but I thought you presented logical and sound reasons for something that doesn't seem to have a real answer yet. I'm wondering if we are allowed to add edits through line dividers to add on additional information later, as long as someone hasn't gotten to it first??? – Darth Locke Dec 25 '17 at 2:00
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It doesn't really matter too much if you personally believe the answer to be correct or agree with its contents. What matters is that many people upvoted it, and thus seem to agree with it.

It's one thing if an answer turns out to be genuinely factually incorrect, or based on a misunderstanding of the question, or any other factually incorrect assumptions. But if the question is inherently speculative and the answer provides proper reasoning and argumentations (and isn't just a random speculation, which is discouraged anyway) and you just don't agree with the outcome of these arguments, that's a different thing.

So the question is, does the answer still make sense or has it turned out to be factually incorrect? In the former case, you should rather leave it be. If you are embarrassed by having written it or otherwise don't want your name associated with it, you can request for it to be disassociated from your account. In the latter case you might very well make a case for deleting it, but I'd also question how it amassed all these upvotes then.

However, the option of editing it isn't entirely from the table either. It just depends how severe that edit is. If your ultimate conclusion is different now but the actual reasoning that led to it is still the same, then one could argue that the reasoning is actually the essence of the answer and you might be able to rework the conclusion. But in the same way, if your conclusion is your real answer and there's just some minor changes to the arguments you have to make, that might work, too.

Neither is just adding another answer to the question a bad thing if your new viewpoint differs significantly from your previous one. Noone stops you from leaving more than one answer to the question, especially if those answers are inherently different or even contradictory. In a topic like our's that's not always too clear-cut, there's really no problem with contradictory answers approaching the problem from different viewpoints, as long as they still make sense individually.

On the bottom line, it really depends on the nature of the question and the answer and what you actually mean with "incorrect". But in general, you should have a really good reason to delete a good answer on a good question and your personal agreement with an answer's conclusion isn't really all too important, be that your answer or anyone else's, as long as the answer still makes sense. In general on SE, it doesn't really matter all too much who wrote an answer.

  • Hmm, then why does SE offer a badge for deleting an answer with at least +3 called disciplined? It seems to me that that badge and it's name fit perfectly with the reason that OP might want to delete their answer. – JAD Jan 2 '18 at 17:27
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If you truly believe the answer to be incorrect then deletion would probably be the best option.

I agree that a second answer, unless it adds significantly more or differs from any other answer is probably not a good option.

Editing the answer to reflect your revised thinking seems like the worst option as it would "invalidate" the upvotes you have already received.


However, it seems to me that you make some well reasoned arguments so I don't see any real harm in leaving it.

If it starts attracting downvotes then I'd consider deleting it.

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