In this question, I initially messed up and put in an incorrect result. Blindingly fast, the answer was downvoted. I raced to correct the result, but by then there was already a correct result. So I deleted my answer.

This might seem like a triviality, and my hope is that it eventually is. Unfortunately, I have seen cases where the poster of the downvoted answer makes a correction to match a result that is upvoted. In some cases, that poster bitterly complains about the downvotes now that the result is corrected!

I am asking potential answerers to please recognize when you are effectively posting a "me too" answer, and delete it. In some cases, I understand that there may be an original methodology and perhaps the answer is worth keeping despite the downvotes - that is for the community to work out. But please, in simple cases like the one to which I linked here, please delete when you mess up and there is a correct result in its place.

  • 12
    $\begingroup$ So, what is your question? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 18 '13 at 12:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: Are other people seeing what I am seeing? And can the community think about what I have said a little? $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Jul 18 '13 at 13:19
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I still don't understand what the issue here is. Is it people posting "me too" answers? Not undoing downvotes for corrected answers? Posting answers instead of waiting for a wrong answer to be corrected? $\endgroup$ – Ayman Hourieh Jul 18 '13 at 14:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AymanHourieh: from what I see, it is part of the same thing, but mainly "me too" answers. I just don't see why people who post incorrect results cannot just delete their answers when someone else has posted a correct answer using the same method. In the end, it becomes a "me too" answer, which I tire of seeing. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Jul 18 '13 at 14:39
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I had a bizarre case in which someone whom I will not name posted an incorrect result, and after some prodding in which he failed to correct the result (and insisted everything was OK), I posted a correct result (on top of the already correct result I derived using a different method) and downvoted his. After I downvoted that answer, the poster then corrected his answer along the lines of my post, posted repeated comments demanding that the downvoter reverse, and when I told him it was me, he proceeded to downvote my answer in retaliation! He should have simply deleted. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Jul 18 '13 at 14:40
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Ron: Well, that certainly seems like bad behavior. Here's one thing that I've noticed on this site recently: a lot of people seem to think that downvotes are somehow "mean". About a week ago, a very experienced answerer (> 50K rep) posted an answer that was incorrect. People quickly left comments about the incorrectness, and almost as quickly the answerer left a comment acknowledging the problem and saying he would try to fix it. At this point I came along and downvoted his answer. He left a comment saying essentially that he was perplexed why anyone would downvote in that situation.... $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Jul 18 '13 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ ...But I think you should downvote an answer if and only if you see that it's incorrect (by which I don't just mean that there is at least one false statement; rather I mean that it doesn't actually work to answer the question, as written). That's what downvotes are for. You can shed any downvotes by deleting the answer, which you should probably do if it is actually incorrect (nothing stops you from trying again with a different answer). Even stranger: the comments also acknowledged that a different answer was correct, but for quite a while the only upvote on that was mine. $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Jul 18 '13 at 19:41
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I have a similarly succinct philosophy on upvotes: you should always upvote the first correct answer you see to a question. You should upvote other answers iff they bring anything additional to the table. (The biggest potential drawback to this is that you run out of upvotes. In fact that almost never happens to me: I don't go through that many questions in any one day. Even if you do run out early in the day, then that algorithm seems as good as any as to how you should distribute your upvotes.) $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Jul 18 '13 at 19:44
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ @Pete: I agree with him: I think that under the stated circumstances you really ought to have given him a day or so to fix the answer before downvoting it. (But then I don’t believe in downvoting on the main site anyway: I consider comments far more useful and informative. As a reader I pay almost no attention to vote totals: I read answers and comments.) $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Jul 18 '13 at 20:45
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @Brian: I don't see why an incorrect answer should remain on the site for a day or so. Incorrect answers can really confuse the nonexperts (e.g. the person who asked the question, most often), and they can waste other people's time. It takes 5 seconds to delete an answer, and then you can spend as much time as you want fixing it. $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Jul 19 '13 at 7:47
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ About ignoring the votes, both up and down: I think that's a luxury that you -- who (it appears to me) has expert level knowledge on most of the questions you read and respond to -- may take a little bit for granted. There's a lot of people using this site who can't easily tell which answers are going to be the most helpful, which are simply wrong, and so forth. It's largely (but not always) the same for me too on this site, but when I go on MathOverflow I find the guidance given by the votes very helpful in judging which answers to put in the effort to try to read and understand. $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Jul 19 '13 at 7:51
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @PeteL.Clark: thanks for all of your insights. I mainly agree with you: the downvote should be used to point out bad answers. It does not mean "bad people." I do get frustrated by unexplained downvotes on what I know are perfectly fine answers. The downvotes I get on poor answers are messages for me to remove the answer. I also am getting better at following your philosphy on upvoting the first good answer that I see. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Jul 19 '13 at 16:52
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott: you are an extremely generous person on this site. I do think, however, that poor answers should be downvoted if criticisms are not taken into account in, say, an hour. (This is a matter of style, I guess; many people, me included, log off for long periods of time.) Further, as I say here, if there is already a correct answer and your correction contributes nothing further, I think you should delete it. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Jul 19 '13 at 16:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I see no reason to necessarily delete mistakes even if correct answers exist. There exists a history to the subject and oftentimes the way mathematics and logic get presented makes it appear as if mistakes did not get made along the way in terms of its development. Also, it may well hold that some methods which make it easier to avoid making mistakes. That said, if answers with mistakes do get left up, I do believe that some indication preferably will get left to indicate something as a mistake. $\endgroup$ – Doug Spoonwood Jul 20 '13 at 15:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Myself, when I see an answer with a mistake, I leave a comment, and only downvote it if it's not fixed for a while (say, an hour). If it's fixed in response to my comment, I revert the downvote. If this is a minor mistake, I usually refrain from posting an answer myself, unless I use an entirely different method or with significantly different explanation, as I think this is just wrong to use the same reasoning as someone else and get score for it. On the other hand, if the answer is flat out wrong, I downvote it on the spot, and expect it to be deleted. $\endgroup$ – tomasz Jul 30 '13 at 13:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .