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Suppose, there is a question (a math problem). It is answered by User A. The answer is, basically, that there is no solution. The answer is upvoted. Then (after, say, a year) comes User B and posts an explicit solution. This answer also gets upvoted but less, because it had less time and the question had lost the momentum. The answer by User A remains the most upvoted, even though it is wrong.

Then comes User C, and edits the answer by User A, replacing it by the solution by User B (only the final result), completely removing the content by User A. The answer after that gets even more upvotes.

Should we somehow respond or mitigate such phenomenon? Or it is OK?

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    $\begingroup$ Related on Meta SE (from 12 years ago): Using content from better answers to the same question to improve your own $\endgroup$ May 21, 2023 at 4:39
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    $\begingroup$ See also prior threads on plagiarism, e.g. here. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2023 at 5:37
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    $\begingroup$ I appreciate when people clearly de-mark the new content in an editted post while keeping the previous content, even if they move the new content to the top for more relevance to a reader $\endgroup$ May 21, 2023 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ I say, flag it for moderator attention, explaining exactly what happened, and let them deal with it. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2023 at 13:15

1 Answer 1

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As presented, please flag for moderator attention.

In general, it is not appropriate to edit questions or answers in such a way as to change the meaning or intention of such a post. If an answer is wrong, it is the duty of the author of that answer to fix the errors. It is not acceptable to "hijack" someone's post in order to change a wrong answer to a right answer (unless, of course, the error is some kind of "obvious" typographical error). This general philosophy is outlined in more detail in the post Guidelines for context edits and rewrites.

If you see a user dramatically changing the meaning of a post...

If you see edits which change the meaning or intent of a post, please feel free to roll back those edits, and/or flag the post for moderator intervention.

If you see an answer which is "obviously" wrong...

If you see an answer which you believe is wrong, you have the following options:

  1. Leave a comment noting that the answer is wrong and why. If the original author is still around, they may fix the problem. At the very least, new readers will see the comment, and may understand the error.

  2. Downvote. If an answer is highly upvoted, it may not seem like downvoting does much (and, given that most members of the community upvote far more than they downvote, it is unlikely that more downvotes will accumulate), but you are still sending a signal.

  3. If you have sufficient reputation on the site, consider voting to delete a wrong answer. If you lack the reputation to vote to delete, consider raising a "not an answer" flag. This will send the answer into a review queue, where it will be dealt with by other members of the community. It would be best to leave comments, too, explaining why the answer is wrong (many reviewers may not have the background to judge a wrong answer, but comments may be enough to help them understand the issue).

  4. Provide a link to the wrong answer in the CURED chatroom. This room exists to help deal with questions and answers which require extra scrutiny.

  5. Do not raise a custom flag for the moderators. Network policy is that moderators are not content experts, hence we generally do not adjudicate the correctness of answers unilaterally. There are exceptions (Asaf, for example, is an expert in the nitty-gritty of set theory; I am comfortable in real analysis and fractal geometry; etc), but, generally speaking, we won't use moderator powers to handle ostensibly incorrect answers.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, J.G., for finding (and fixing) an obvious typographical error. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    May 24, 2023 at 16:44

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