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I answered a question recently. After conversations with OP, I found that I misunderstood OP and my answer was wrong. I deleted my post and replaced the content with [Need to be edited.] while I was correcting the answer in the same post.

I understand that the deleted post can be seen by relatively high-rep users. That's why I think there is no point to post another one. However, someone thinks that one should keep all the history, no matter it is wrong or not.

I am criticized strongly and harshly in a way that makes me feel as if I was doing something very harmful to this cite.

Here is the question:

What should one do appropriately if one finds that he has posted a wrong answer?

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    $\begingroup$ Generally you should flag (and ignore) very rude comments like that. Update: apparently someone did, since the whole comment thread has disappeared (the comment called such actions "pathetic..."). What you did has been done by many users in the past, and I have never heard it denigrated so strongly. Seems like someone was having a bad day. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 11 '17 at 2:49
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    $\begingroup$ "I deleted my post and replaced the content with [Need to be edited.] while I was correcting the answer in the same post." The part I emphasized is mostly useless, and mildly annoying as it will bump the post. Thus it rather should be avoided. It's not a major thing though. Other than I think your course of action was fine. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 11 '17 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, here's what I do: I delete the answer and try to fix it. If I can fix it, I undelete it, great. If it's not fixable, oh well. You shouldn't worry about high rep users seeing the deleted answer - most likely they'll spot the mistake immediately and understand what you're doing. $\endgroup$ – Ivo Terek Jul 12 '17 at 20:27
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If you post an incorrect answer, you should probably either correct it (perhaps after leaving a comment indicating that it is incorrect and that you are correcting it) or delete it (and you may correct your deleted answer as well, of course). You may choose to leave it if you want, but I would then suggest that you very clearly and prominently edit in a disclaimer at the top of the post saying that it is incorrect.

When I write a misguided answer, I delete it (or correct it). When I see an incorrect answer (that doesn't indicate that it's incorrect and serve some purpose in remaining), I downvote it and comment why it's wrong. [I encourage others to do the same].

I will note that I have seen a few complicated questions receive partial answers that are known to be incomplete or incorrect in some aspect. The answerers explain this in their partial answers, with the hope that some other user might see these answers and be inspired in how to fix them or make them complete. I think of this as the exception rather than the norm, but this has been very helpful at times. This is merely something to take into consideration.

See also this answer to a related question.


Something should also be said about the unbecoming comments you received. In essentially every interaction, all users should be nice and treat others with respect. If you receive or see comments that are rude or inappropriate, the correct course of action is to flag them for moderator attention.

Sometimes users get hot under the collar and make nonconstructive or rude posts. These get flagged, handled, sure. It is useful to remember that the goal of this site is not to accumulate vast hoards of imaginary internet points. The purpose is to provide a healthy, friendly community Q&A where users and visitors can find clear, excellent answers to questions they encounter at any level of mathematics.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 esp, for the final two sentences. It is essential for highly competitive users who play the SE rep game to keep that in mind lest they misjudge the actions of many users who are here merely to share mathematical knowledge - not to compete. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 11 '17 at 3:13
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    $\begingroup$ It may be worthwhile to highlight the second point of the Be Nice policy: Be welcoming, be patient, and assume good intentions (emphasis added). $\endgroup$ – user642796 Jul 11 '17 at 5:00
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    $\begingroup$ I think that part of the "be nice" policy is that if you see a wrong answer, and you think that the OP is responsive enough to figure this out, then leaving a comment about the mistakes before downvoting should be enough. The reason being that many times people don't bother to return and undo their votes once a correction has been made, or maybe the fault is on you who did not understand the question or the answer, thus making the vote too hastingly... $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 11 '17 at 5:23
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    $\begingroup$ i actually emailed stackexchange about this but got no reply. Too often users nit pick your question without providing any help. People come here because they have problems in understanding questions, not to be steamrolled by arrogance. Sure there are posting rules, but the ultimate goal here is for the community to be constructive, not destructive. $\endgroup$ – strider Jul 12 '17 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila It is also much easier to undo such votes if you leave a comment below the answer, which gives you a chance of being pinged by the answerer when the answer is updated. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Jul 14 '17 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Simply It would be better if that were automated, e.g. if downvoters were notified when an edit is made. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 17 '17 at 17:35
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Just edit it putting the cause of error in brackets... as well into the edit summary. Not only the error but your corrective action is there for all to see, so it is ok.

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