7

Consider an answer that's only partially satisfactory, but neglects some essential factor. Comments ensue, which resolve the neglected factor, so that the answer and comments, when taken as a whole, provide a satisfactory answer.

For programming questions, the correct thing is usually to amend the answer's code using the data from the comments.

For political questions however, correcting the answer might contradict to the opinion of the answer's author.

Should Answers & Comments taken as a whole be considered a correct answer?

If not, should political answers be amended with comment data if the answer's author doesn't wish to do so?

  • This seems to extend the question I just asked here and I will be interested in the response. – user_42 Apr 27 '18 at 18:22
  • I did this once on English Language Stack Exchange and got SE raped for it. – K Dog May 31 '18 at 21:13
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No

No. Answers should be accepted if, in the OP's opinion, it is the best answer to their question. Comments are not a part of an answer. They are transitory elements that might eventually be deleted if they are no longer useful. If you accept an answer based on its comments, then what will you do once those comments are no longer available?

Comments are intended to provide useful feedback regarding an answer. If the comment itself contains useful information, it should be edited in to the question.

What about the author's intent?

To quote the question:

For political questions however, correcting the answer might contradict to the opinion of the answer's author. ... should political answers be amended with comment data if the answer's author doesn't wish to do so?

Answers should never be political. Answers should be factual in nature, and backed-up by references to original sources (such as laws, public statements, etc.) and inferences from experts. The exception to this is when the answer is backed-up by personal experience, in which case you have to evaluate the usefulness of that experience. In both cases, the answer is based on facts and expertise - they are not partisan political statements.

To say it another way: We provide answers about politics, not political answers.

However, if you encounter this situation you have a few options:

  1. Comment on the question. Ask the answerer if you understand their answer correctly. "Your answer says X, but your source says Y. Did you really mean X, or was that an error?" Be nice. People make honest mistakes.
  2. Correct the answer on your own. You can edit another person's answer. Answers are not personal property, they are something the community can and will pass judgment on. However, I would consider it good form to mention why you altered the content.
  3. Downvote. Material errors are reason to downvote, because those errors prevent an answer from being useful.
  4. Downvote. Answers based on personal political opinion are not useful, and should be downvoted.
  • Re "transitory elements": that's the first I've heard of an expiration date for comments, after which they vanish -- if true, such a fact would deserve to be made more widely known. – agc Apr 28 '18 at 4:58
  • Mostly this answer agrees with my own opinion from a series of comments with a user who seemed inclined to prioritize authorial will above fact. So I'd like to mark it as correct, but there remains some doubt as to whether this answer reflects either the officially stated or the actual policy here. Perhaps a supportive URL would help. – agc Apr 28 '18 at 5:19
  • @agc there is no expiration date for comments, but comments can be (and have been) deleted (or "cleaned up") when they are not needed anymore, or unrelated to the topic, or should be posted as answers instead. This is explained in the "comment everywhere" privilege – Andrew T. Apr 28 '18 at 10:01
2

There is no inherent problem with editing a person's answer to improve it. This is especially the case if your edit is to incorporate a comment by the answerer him/her self.

Just make sure that you don't fundamentally change it. If that's the case then you should post a new answer instead. (by the way is how things work on Stack overflow too.)

  • Please elaborate on what a "fundamental change" is. Suppose there's a Yes/No question that an answer supports with a certain data source. But the data source is misquoted or misinterpreted, so the answer is "No" when the data only supports "Yes". It's not obvious to me if a third party correcting the error would be performing a fundamental change. That is, should we suppose answerers all wish to give correct answers, or must we suppose they only intend to affirm their prejudices? – agc Apr 27 '18 at 19:40
  • 1
    @agc unless the OP has confirmed that they misquoted/misinterpreted but hasn't fixed it, editing unrelated to the feedback without OP's acknowledgement could be considered as "changing the post intent" (one of the rejection reason for suggested edit). So, if the OP stated "no" and they don't response to the feedback that it should be "yes", then don't edit it. Post a new answer instead. – Andrew T. Apr 30 '18 at 10:55
  • @AndrewT., On reposting with fix: For programming questions, especially short ones, that's a good method. For long political answers reposted with one data change, that would seem to border on plagiarism, and probably get downvoted or closed for that reason, in which case the more correct answer would be made less visible than the less correct answer. – agc Apr 30 '18 at 12:38

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