I asked a question on main about creating a planet from the asteroid belt. On being informed that the main asteroid belt contains nowhere near enough material, I expanded this to include the trojan asteroids and the Kuiper belt. I had miscalculated the mass of the Kuiper belt and was informed that the total mass was still only 10% of Earth's.

I can continue including more mass but the question is becoming not only different from its original form, but also more broad as it's now taking mass from a wide variety of solar system resources which all require different approaches.

Is it useful to leave my question as it is, with the existing answer that explains clearly why there is not enough mass? If I leave it as is, should I change the title to include reference to the asteroid belt?


3 Answers 3


In this case the question has been answered. It's not possible to do what the OP wanted to do using the asteroid belt. Leaving that answer helps anyone else who had the same idea who finds this post in the future - you now have a new question and should ask it as a new question.

Otherwise answers are always chasing a constantly moving goalpost and the good initial answer gets lost.

The focus of Stack Exchange is good answers - good questions are there only to facilitate the answers and there are several things in place to reinforce that. (For example downvoting questions is free, downvoting answers costs rep. Answers get more rep per upvote than questions, etc.).

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    $\begingroup$ I agree. If the answer to the original question is no we have a tendency to change it as we are looking for a way to make things work. But that should be done in a new question. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ In addition, it's not really fair to the people who answered a question to make a change that forces them to do more work (or risk being downvoted for no longer answering the question). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 0:37

I have favorited this question on Mi Yodeya Meta, because I like linking to it when it's relevant. I agree with Isaac Moses completely in this.

Once a question has an answer that is considered valuable by either the community (through upvotes) or the asker (through acceptance), no one, including the asker, ought to edit the question in a way that changes its meaning sufficiently to invalidate the existing answer. If people want to get answers to a different question, they should ask that question separately.

Otherwise, the edit invalidates valuable content and/or requires more work from answerers or the community to update the answers to keep up with the updated question.

In cases where a question is ambiguous, such that there are multiple possible interpretations of what it is asking for, it should be closed until it's edited to be sufficiently precise. The earlier this happens in the question's life-cycle, the better. If the asker notices that there are answers that either don't address the asker's intent or assume multiple interpretations of that intent, the asker should edit the question as soon as possible to be more precise and should comment to the answerers accordingly.

Taken from https://judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1231/5323


I believe that in cases like this the question take preference. If the question has to change in order to be a good question, then the answers need to change to adapt to that.

It is generally nice when doing this to leave a note at the end of your question explaining what you did so that the answers don't get down-voted to oblivion without having a chance to be modified. If you want to leave a comment on each answer to let the answer know the question has altered, you could also do that.

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    $\begingroup$ That's not really fair to the people who answered, though. If a person made a good-faith effort to answer a question, he's not obligated to then answer a different iteration of that question. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 0:38
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    $\begingroup$ "A good question" isn't necessarily one that is answered by "yes", though, and we shouldn't necessarily strive to have all questions answered in the affirmitive. The answer may very well be a (hopefully well-reasoned and well-researched) "no, that's not plausible" and if so, the appropriate thing for the asker to do is go back to the drawing board and then post an entirely new question. The original question should stand on its own merit. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 7:58
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree. That's not fair at all to the people who answered the question. -1 $\endgroup$
    – Shokhet
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 19:26

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