Here is the situation:

  • A user posted an answer that was correct five years ago.
  • The answer was accepted.
  • Recently, the rules changed. The answer is no longer correct.

Someone tried to edit the answer so that it would again be correct, but the edit was rolled back and the user was reprimanded for substantially changing the content of the post. A mod suggested downvoting and posting a new answer instead.

I don't think this is the best course of action. I find it unlikely that the correct answer will ever be accepted, because the question author has been absent for over seven months.

Should we make allow editors more flexibility if an accepted answer was made incorrect by a rules change, and both the question author and the answer author are inactive?

  • 2
    For people looking for a correct ruling (what that question is supposed to supply) they shouldn't see an incorrect answer accepted. The original answer could be have a simple strikethrough with an "Edit: rules change on MM/DD/YYYY says this now..." It'll retain the integrity of the original answer and let people see the update.
    – Andrew
    Aug 12, 2016 at 20:42
  • Also, I mean to strike through the incorrect portions of the answer. Not the entire answer.
    – Andrew
    Aug 12, 2016 at 20:45
  • @Andrew I don't agree or disagree with the strikethrough idea. I prefer to let the edit history do its job, but I also see the value of using strikethrough to give the reader a brief history lesson.
    – Rainbolt
    Aug 12, 2016 at 20:48
  • 2
    If the amount of incorrect information is very extensive, (imagine someone asking a question about how combat damage resolves pre-m10 rules), it would be obtrusive. It would probably be better to have a separate answer. But there's another problem with that. Relying on the community to upvote the correct answer means that the people visiting that question would have to know the correct one. People shouldn't visit this site, see conflicting answers, and then have to go elsewhere to figure out the right one
    – Andrew
    Aug 12, 2016 at 20:55
  • Personally I don't like using strikethroughs for something like this because it would be more than about a line of text and that starts getting hard to read. I am ok with things like [new reason] prior to {date} the rules worked like [old reason] in general (I don't know if that would be acceptable with this answer though.
    – diego
    Aug 13, 2016 at 1:56
  • Seems to be an debated question network wide - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/261817/…
    – Pat Ludwig Mod
    Aug 13, 2016 at 3:44

2 Answers 2


In general, when editing another user's post, it is not OK to substantially change the meaning of that post.

The network-wide policy regarding outdated answers is that you can edit an outdated answer to update it while leaving the original content substantially intact, but it is not OK to completely rewrite an answer that you don't own.

In this particular case, the new answer is very different from the original one and the proposed edit was essentially a complete rewrite. In a situation like that, posting a separate answer is the correct course of action.

  • Would it be acceptable to not remove anything from the currently accepted answer and just add between the first sentence and the rules quote something like "Rule 4 removed. Decks may now generate mana of any colour. Prior to 1/18/2016 it would still work but for a slightly different reason:" Or would that still be considered a substantial change?
    – diego
    Aug 13, 2016 at 1:59
  • 1
    I think that would be borderline allowable, but I would advise against it. That's essentially changing a post that says "The answer is X" to one that says "The answer is Y (but it used to be X)". It's changing the primary meaning of the answer, even if the original content is technically still there.
    – murgatroid99 Mod
    Aug 13, 2016 at 2:07
  • Does it really change the primary meaning of the answer? To me the primary meaning is "Yes", all that is changing is the rules that make that true. This is more changing it to be "The answer is X for reason A (it used to be for reason B)
    – diego
    Aug 13, 2016 at 2:15
  • I guess I can see that that's up for interpretation. The question is "Do I get usable mana?", so to me, the change from "Yes, and you only get colorless mana" to "Yes, and you only get colored mana, and the reason is different" seems substantial.
    – murgatroid99 Mod
    Aug 13, 2016 at 2:53

I think the more important question is what would we do if someone accepted an answer that was incorrect at the time it was posted? Would we go back and edit the answer into a correct one or would we post a commment, downvote and post the correct answer?

I am not sure if I see much difference between an answer that was incorrect at the time it was posted/accepted or if it was later made outdated and in need of updates.

In the end one thing that should be remembered is that over time you will have answers that where correct and now are no longer correct and trying to keep them all up to date would be crazy. In the end it is up to each person to check the dates on the questions and realize that things may have changed since then.

After all how many mechanics have been drastically changed or dropped from magic and other games since this site has launched.

  • 4
    I see two clear differences: 1) the author of a correct answer would probably be much more open to the idea of having it edited to remain correct after a rules change than the author of an incorrect answer, and 2) an answer that is incorrect at the time of posting won't get many upvotes, whereas an answer that becomes incorrect might get upvotes.
    – Rainbolt
    Aug 15, 2016 at 2:03
  • @Rainbolt The point is if you won't make major edits to one type of wrong answer why would you to another? In a case like this there is nothing wrong with making a comment about the changes and posting an answer with the new information. If we start editing some answers that change over time that means we need to start hunting down every answer that can change over time and change those as well which becomes a massive job
    – Joe W
    Aug 15, 2016 at 2:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .