In the past few hours I have been having a very bad experience on this website...

A puzzle was posted. I spent an hour and a half figuring out a solution and writing it down. I posted the answer. 15 hours later, I get a notification saying the post has been edited. just 5-6 words were changed but this entirely changed the question. The work that I put in was rewarded by multiple downvotes and some rude/irritating comments saying "but this is not what the question said." Someone else who put an answer before me which I proved to be incorrect was now getting all the upvotes, when they were literally incorrect. (I don't mean any disrespect for him/her, he/she is a very respectable person.) I asked the questioneer to revert to the previous edit but alas, he has refused. Intrestingly enough, he said that he didn't want to revert because it would hurt the other answer... (love the irony). Everything here can be verified through the history and comments on this post.

But I don't just want to vent--

I want to make sure this never happens to anyone else

So here's my proposed solution:

When someone makes an edit to a question:

  • The top 3 answerers (with positive answer scores) must approve the edit before it is posted.
  • These 3 people will recieve an email and a message in SE inbox
  • They can only reject said edit on the premise that the edit made their answer wrong.
  • If someone doesn't approve/reject in 15 hours, then it is assumed that they approve, but they can reject it at a later time.
  • This rejection can be challenged, which would cause moderator intervention.
  • Any other answerer can vote to reject, but this would not cause immediate change... it would just call a moderator.
  • None of this applies to edits of tags

I have personally seen this happening to two people before me... I now regret not speaking up then... I'm sure anyone who's been around SE for a while has seen this as well. Sorry for the rant earlier but what happened was really frustrating. That's why I think it is an urgent problem that we should fix. I'd really appreciate community input on this. Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ While I of course agree the edits were bad and shouldn't have been made (instead another question should've been posted, see this), I doubt your proposed solution is realistic for a number of reasons. 1) Technical: If you want to implement this properly (without userscripts to cheat some of the steps), you'd have to go to the big boys at SE, which probably don't have time for this. I doubt mods here are allowed to modify the behavior of the site to this extent. [...] $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2020 at 8:04
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    $\begingroup$ [...] 2) General: Constant review of edits of a question by the answerers will undoubtebly lead to a. inbox spam b. overhead. When OP fixes a typo, 3 people must approve it. After some time nobody will bother to do this anymore. Also, the top 3 answerers might not be active. --- Without putting to much thought into it, I believe the only thing we can do is encourage behavior that doesn't f*** an answerer over (possible downvote the Q if it does), apply disclaimers to the answer (like you did) and maybe also the question (which can be forcibly edited in by another user) $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2020 at 8:04
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    $\begingroup$ Also, this would only really help Puzzling - on most of the other sites (maybe not PPCG?) the "questions" are real problems that people encounter, and if making their problem clearer invalidates some answers then that is OK. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Aug 29, 2020 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ @LukasRotter Yeah I get that some of those ideas might be a bit unrealistic but I feel like there something in between what it is right now and my idea that should balance the ability to edit and limiting this problem. $\endgroup$
    – Ankit
    Aug 29, 2020 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ @bobble Yes, this is really only intended for Puzzling.SE $\endgroup$
    – Ankit
    Aug 29, 2020 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Ankit Perhaps the feature request can be to make the system automatically add a disclaimer to answers that were given before the latest edit on the question. $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2020 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ @riskymysteries that sounds especially prone to false positives. I usually just edit into my answer something along the lines of "this question was edited after I posted this answer" to make it clear to others what happened. See my answer to a question that was edited after posting for an example. $\endgroup$
    – user46002
    Sep 5, 2020 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Hugh When I said disclaimer, I meant what you said. My point is for the system to add a small "this question was edited after this answer was posted" notice that the poster of the answer can choose to remove, or leave it on. $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2020 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @riskymysteries - an automated system would be prone to false positives. The "asker" might choose to add an image, hint, post-solve notes, etcetera -- point is, the disclaimer should not be added "by default." Rather, the answerer should have to opt to prepend it to their answer... by adding it in themselves! $\endgroup$
    – user46002
    Sep 5, 2020 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Hugh "Rather, the answerer should have to opt to prepend it to their answer... by adding it in themselves!" Just like in this post's case, the downvotes came before they had a change to apply the disclaimer. "An automated system would be prone to false positives." False positives? I don't see any room for false positives in my suggestion. What I described was a small notice that doesn't necessarily tell to users that the edit made the answer wrong. But if the edit did make the answer wrong, the users will know to check the edit history before casting a downvote. $\endgroup$ Sep 6, 2020 at 2:09
  • $\begingroup$ Anyway, I'm not saying I'm supporting the idea, nor am I rejecting it. I'm merely suggesting what I think is a more effective feature than the feature requested in this post. $\endgroup$ Sep 6, 2020 at 2:09
  • $\begingroup$ @riskymysteries - suppose the asker corrects a grammar mistake, adds a hint, or makes some kind of minor change. Is that really worthy of an (automatic) "this answer was posted before an edit to the question" banner? Hence, "false positives." $\endgroup$
    – user46002
    Sep 7, 2020 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ (continued) - this isn’t to say that the problem presented by Ankit isn’t an important or relevant one. If I were in charge, I would fix this problem by putting a bigger emphasis on the “last edited at” field under each question/answer - perhaps the timestamp would appear in bold if the question was edited in the last 12 hours. That would not be prone to false positives as described above, but also isn’t super intrusive. On a different note, this discussion should be continued in chat. $\endgroup$
    – user46002
    Sep 7, 2020 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Hugh Thank you for sharing your point of view. $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2020 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ Get over it. Reputation on SE is worth nothing. As for your proposed solution, all emails from SE go straight to my spam folder, so I would never see them anyway. (Currently I have nearly 2500 unread inbox messages.) $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Sep 7, 2020 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


Mods have no ability to implement site changes such as what you've proposed. And it is highly unlikely SE would consider making changes to core functionality for just one site. Keep in mind, too, that SE allows people to edit both questions and answers on purpose; constraining that ability doesn't fit how the site works.
In short, your proposal is almost certainly dead on arrival.

Having said this, I understand your frustration at spending time and effort to answer a question, and then to have your answer invalidated by a subsequent edit to the question. In this answer to the question What should I do if I've made a mistake in my question? I note:

The setter needs to bear the burden for their puzzle's flaws!
See in particular Can something be done about the modification of questions and its accepted answer, which notes that

Questions should not usually be radically altered after posting, other than to correct outright errors.

[...] Own the mistake means if you change the puzzle, you don't just leave it to your answerers to update their answers or risk downvotes. Indeed, that answer rightly goes on to state that if a substantive change is made to a question, the edit should also include an explicit notice that the question has changed, thus providing an explanation as to why "answers fail to match the question through no fault of their authors."

While we are not able to put in systemic changes to prevent askers from making answer-invalidating changes to their questions, we can and have made some rather direct statements about how and when such changes should and should not be made. At the very least, such changes should not go unremarked by the asker.

This specific case is probably one where the asker should have left the original question (and answers to it) alone, and asked as a new question the clarified question they intended to ask. GentlePurpleRain♦, in response to a similar question, said "[...] I would suggest that if a question needs radical alteration, it should be posted as a separate question. If the first is so bad as to be unsalvageable, it should be closed/deleted by the OP. If the original question still works, it can be answered separately from the new version."
See also Re-asking a question when an unintended answer is given and its accepted answer, where our community shows its support for asking a new, corrected question.


Mi Yodeya has a policy that if there's an upvoted or accepted answer then "no one, including the asker, ought to edit the question in a way that changes its meaning sufficiently to invalidate the existing answer". (The "upvoted" is taken, though I don't think this is written anywhere on Meta, to mean "having a net positive score".) This policy is enforced by reverting any such question edit.

I don't know the Puzzling site rules and mores and don't know whether such a policy would be a good fit here, but mention it as food for thought.


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