Not to meta-effect anyone, but I was curious about the intended user experience and community standards of answers that "don't quite" make it to acceptance.

As a concrete example, here's this question I asked: How can you guarantee that an element shape function is 1 or 0?

The answerer led me to a topic which was definitely the sine qua non for understanding the solution, but I needed to sit down and write out laborious algebra to verify the answerer's claim. I want to include a small portion of that algebra in the accepted answer, but my attempted edit disappeared into the ether, apparently.

  • $\begingroup$ Please spell out UX. Not everyone understands what it means. $\endgroup$
    – JRN
    Jan 29, 2017 at 6:11
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    $\begingroup$ In the circumstance you describe, it would be better to post a separate Answer, crediting the author of the post you will be explicating. There is a value in adding content of this kind, where a terse but incisive Accepted Answer stands on its own but can be illuminated for Readers not familiar enough with the background to expeditiously verify the entailed claims at a glance. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Jan 29, 2017 at 6:25
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    $\begingroup$ Re: my attempted edit disappeared into the ether. You can find your suggested edit here: math.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/751910 And it is possible to see the history of all your suggestions in the activity tab on your profile page. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2017 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


If there really is only a "small portion" of algebra needed to clarify a claim, it might be done with Comments on the Answer, perhaps phrased as suggestions to the OP for inclusion in their post.

If the emendations go beyond what would easily be expressed in this fashion, then a separate Answer (crediting the author of the earlier post for the directions) laying out a more detailed verification would be better.

While editing another person's post to "raise it to an acceptable level" in the sense of acceptable by the site's standards is generally worthwhile, it seems that your sense of "acceptable level" is really not that but instead raising it to a level of detail where you would Accept it as the answer to your Question. This risks doing some injury to the original author's intentions, as you say you were led to a new topic that required you to do much ancillary verification of claims.

As far as which Answer to mark as Accepted, this is entirely your call as the one who posted the Question. Which answer did you find helpful, or most helpful? At a minimum I'd expect you to upvote the other (earlier) Answer in recognition that it did at least lead you to final verification.

  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, "acceptable" there was with respect to the asker. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2017 at 6:36

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