I had a recent case where an unclear question was asked and answered many times before it was then amended to be more narrow. In this case, the edit invalidated a number of good answers to a common world building problem. Since my answer no longer had anything to do with the OP's revised question and the OP had no interest at that time of pursuing the removed question further, I created a new question just to re-ask the aspect of the question that the OP removed so that the answers to this question that no longer existed could be preserved, and the irrelevant answers to the original could be deleted or ammended.

ORIGINAL: What sci-fi discovery creates the most new technology with minimal explanation?

FOLLOW-UP: How to introduce fictional technology without creating plot holes

Do ye think that allowing users to create questions that reask removed aspects of older questions should be marked as duplicate?


2 Answers 2


The right answer to the wrong question is not helpful

In cases where the question is just too broad, I agree with Elemtilas that preserving the original question is the best approach, but in cases where the original question is actually asking two unrelated things, or is so unclear that multiple unrelated things can be drawn from it, I personally think the question should be broken into its parts.

If left in its original state, you have a bad question that cannot be made into a good question without invalidating certain answers. If you leave it as a bad question, it will be closed quickly blocking both topics from discussion. If someone (OP or not) then tries posting 2 seperate questions that are both more clear questions on each topic, those too will be closed as duplicates further blocking discussion.

I think this is a good strategy for maintaining the quality of WB.SE questions. I believe it encourages people to clean up thier answers as questions are revised which is important to keeping answers relevant to the question being asked. It also improves the searchability of questions on WB.SE so that as people look for questions that have already been asked, they are more likely to find the answers they are looking for.

Allowing this should reduce actual duplicate questions and confusion.



I concur with your thesis that the right answer to the wrong question is unhelpful; but the better thesis here is don't change the question once it's gotten an answer!

Having been in this situation before, I understand why you felt it was a good idea at the time.

However, I believe this is the wrong strategy to address the particular problem. As I see it, the only situation you found yourself in was the nullification of your answer through query editing. In other words, the OP, or someone else, changes the fundamental nature of the query, which action now invalidates your answer.

The idea behind query editing is to improve the question, not change the question. Once a question has been answered, its fundamental nature can not be changed.

The only reasonable strategy that aligns with how SE works is to first address your concern in comments. You inform the OP that these certain edits need to be reverted or revised because they invalidate your response and here are the reasons why.

If this doesn't provide a satisfactory response, then you should feel free to edit the question! A quick revert with a factual explanation as to rationale is sometimes the refreshing splash of cold water a new or recalcitrant OP needs!

If the OP dereverts the query, thus reinvalidating your answer, please feel free to a) rerevert the question and b) flag for moderator intervention.

If new information threatens to substantially alter a question, it really falls to the OP to simply ask a new question.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree, this is usually the more reasonable solution in that it puts the duty on the OP not to make things harder on everyone else. In the case of the example though, the OP asked an unclear question that could be taken to mean two very different things. It could not be made more clear w/o invalidating some answers. If he had allowed that question to close for being unclear and asked 2 new questions (for both interpretations) those new questions would have in all likelihood both been flagged as duplicates leaving a bunch of dead-ends for people to be unable to further discuss either topic. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 13:42

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