I'm relatively new to MSE and I'd like to learn how to improve myself as a user.

I saw this answer which was good, useful, and clear but it had some wrong figures. Who wrote the answer got some numbers confused, nevertheless the core point was right and well explained. In fact, as I'm writing, that is the accepted answer (even though it's technically wrong).

As soon as I noticed it, I went on and edited those (minor, in my opinion) mistakes, but my suggestion was rejected with the following explanations (which I don't fully understand):

  • This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner.
  • This edit was intended to address the author of the post and makes no sense as an edit. It should have been written as a comment or an answer.

So here are my questions:

  • In what way do my edit deviate from the original intent of the post?
  • Was editing instead of posting another answer (even if essentially identical) the wrong choice?
  • If this happens again, what should I do? Edit, post another answer, comment on the original answer and let the owner deal with it, or something else?

PS: MathJax does not render well on suggestion history page, so here's an image for comparison (original answer on the left, edited one on the right)

Comparison between original and edited answer

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As one of the users that rejected the edit, I can confirm @Xander's idea below, that the edit was more of a substantive correction than a typo. My choice of reject reason was based on its focus on addressing the author, esp. by leaving a Comment. While I understood the point of your correction, the number of touches required in editing point to "propagation" of the error. Such a case is best managed by the author. I'm sorry for the lack of clarity. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Jul 6 '18 at 14:54

The consensus on MSE seems to be that edits should fix typographical or formatting errors, but should not change the underlying content of a question or answer. If you believe that a question or answer is in error, you should post a comment and ask that original writer to make the change. I have more sympathy for correcting mathematical errors in answers, and even more sympathy for correcting errors in very old answers, but in this case the original writer is pretty active on the site and probably would have responded to a comment.

  • $\begingroup$ If with passage of time it seems an author will not act on a substantive correction suggestion, it may be best to post a new Answer, likely crediting the earlier Answer for its approach but pointing out the shortcoming being addressed. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Jul 7 '18 at 13:13

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