I know combinatorics is a part where even if you know the concept, the answer to a question may be wrong because you missed some cases or any other reason that deviates the answer either by a factor of a number or a difference of some number. Often I found after answering a question to combinatorics, people who have posted an answer alongwith me miss something and often improve their answer based on mine or argue to technical wars.

Is changing a wrong answer based on other's answer to correct right thing to do?

They often end up being getting as the accepted answer, even though they did less effort than mine. Note that I am not saying that my answer is always corrects, but anyways...

Don't take my words as if I'm expressing my supremacy, there's tons of people intelligent than me here.


Suppose I make an answer to what is ways of arranging black and blue balls so that total balls are 4 ?

I post: $4!/4!+4!/3!+4!/2!+4!/3!+4!/4!$

Someone else posts: $4!/4!+4!/3$ or $4!$ or something partially right. Then after sometime they correct their wrong answers [they may /may-not see my answer.] Is thisOK? Mightbe theirs' now gets accepted answer.

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    $\begingroup$ This sort of thing happens when folks trip over their feet running to post an answer. The solution is to stop doing that. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Aug 7, 2014 at 4:53
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    $\begingroup$ Changing a wrong answer is pretty much always a good thing to do --- are you suggesting otherwise? Of course a person who corrects an incorrect error should give credit where credit is due. If credit is not given, the edit history is always there, so anyone can reconstruct the timeline. As for getting the accepted answer with less effort, them's the breaks. $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2014 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ what is meaning of "them's the breaks", English is not my first language $\endgroup$
    – RE60K
    Aug 7, 2014 at 5:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Aditya Urban dictionary. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Aug 7, 2014 at 5:48
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I thought that it is generally agreed that edit should not make substantial changes to the contents. (With CW-posts being and exception.) Related posts (although they discuss editing questions): meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4486/radical-editing and meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1880/… $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2014 at 7:40
  • $\begingroup$ This also seems related to the question: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1795/… $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2014 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ for example this is the page where I have posted the answer earliest and others are copying/maybe not ,but posting correct answer again and again. $\endgroup$
    – RE60K
    Aug 7, 2014 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ also this $\endgroup$
    – RE60K
    Aug 7, 2014 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin, OP is asking about people making substantial changes to their own answers. If I post an answer to some question, and then I realize my answer's wrong, isn't it better for me to correct it than to leave it there? $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2014 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ If you think someone is plagiarizing your answers (and that has been known to happen here), flag the answer & tell the moderators. They may be able to do something; readers of meta can't do much of anything for you. And bear in mind that sometimes there is one standard way to approach a problem, and that people sometimes post answers as soon as they see the question, without bothering to see what other answers might have already been posted. $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2014 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Sorry, it seems that I misunderstood the post (and your comment). I thought that you are talking about editing (and correcting) an answer posted by another user. $\endgroup$ Aug 7, 2014 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ it again happened and someone this time had the same answer so downvoted mine and voted to close my answer here $\endgroup$
    – RE60K
    Aug 7, 2014 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Aditya There is no such thing as voting to close an answer. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Aug 7, 2014 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ sorry i meant voted to delete my answer $\endgroup$
    – RE60K
    Aug 9, 2014 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ Honestly, I think there's nothing in your update that wasn't covered in my first comment of 7 August. $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2014 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


There are two possible sub-issues here:

  1. You write an answer and see that someone else's answer is wrong. In this case, don't edit the other person's answer--leave a comment pointing out the mistake. If the mistaken answerer does not respond, just leave the post as-is and downvote. That's the built-in process for handling wrong answers. (Note: This does not hold for obvious typos, like "The answer is $3\cdot 5 = 14$." In that case, just be nice correct the typo, leaving a comment saying "I corrected that.")

  2. You write an answer and see that your answer is wrong, because of someone else's response. I see no issue with editing one's own answer substantially in response to what someone else posted. The exception, of course, is plagiarism--if someone is simply copying your answer with minor wording tweaks, flag. (And leave a comment asking "what's up?"--remember Hanlon's razor).


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