Worldbuilding is the only Stack I am aware of that discourages improving a question if it invalidates answers. I could be wrong about that, but what it does is suggest that answers are more important than questions.
Stack Exchange at first appears to support this behavior. From the Help Center's "I've thought better of my question; can I delete it?" page we read:
If your question has good answers, though, it's not fair to have those answers removed along with your question: other users put effort into helping you and even if you no longer want the answers, somebody else might. This is why the system prevents you from deleting answered questions most of the time.
But what's a good answer? An answer that's well thought out, documented, and presented but doesn't meet the OP's actual problem isn't a good answer. It's only a quality answer. The page continues with...
If your question is unnecessarily specific, edit to generalize it. Do you really need to name specific employers, vendors, or other details? Is your location actually important? Can you make the code more generic and rename some variables? Don't invalidate existing answers and don't make it so vague as to be unanswerable...
And that's probably where our belief comes from. That last sentence, taken out of context from a discussion that's so old it still reflects some of the earliest Stacks on Stack Exchange. Curiously, the paragraph isn't talking about making a question more specific, but more general. In a larger discussion, I could agree with that. But adding detail is a function of improving the quality of the question. It's so important, it's actually a reason to close the question.
So, I get the idea that an OP should try to avoid invalidating answers. But that's a far cry from the need to improve a question. From the Help Center's "Why can people edit my posts? How does editing work?" page we read...
If you see something that needs improvement, click edit!
Editing is important for keeping questions and answers clear, relevant, and up-to-date.
- To fix grammar and spelling mistakes
- To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)
- To include additional information only found in comments, so all of the information relevant to the post is contained in one place
- To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages
- To add related resources or hyperlinks.
And then there's the entire "What if I disagree with the closure of a question? How can I reopen it?" which says, in part...
You should first try to edit the question to improve it as much as possible.
The consequences of our current policy are:
It encourages people to ask a new question that's basically a duplicate of the previous question other than for the addition of details that happen to invalidate answers to the previous question. This is against the policy that users should edit their question rather than ask it again.
It's confusing when questions are closed and the only way they can be opened is to edit the question with enough information to overcome the closure reason — which will in nearly all cases invalidate answers.
We've been asking about this for a long time
The list of Meta questions about invalidating answers is long.
- Fitting a question to the scope: Counting Systems
- On editing questions and invalidating answers
- Proposal: ALL questions start "on hold" for 1 hour
- What should I do when I realize that I forgot to list a crucial criteria in my question, after answers have been given?
- Please Don't answer and/or upvote “bad” questions (yet)
- Asked a bad question, can't delete, can't close by myself. What is the correct thing to do?
- How to handle successive versions of the same question with more specific or different context?
- Is it considered good practice to edit your question after answers have been given?
- How to handle answers that no longer reflect the edited question
- How to handle answers that no longer reflect the edited question
- How to rewrite a controversial question when I didn't get the answers I was expecting?
- Seeking community advice/consensus on rolling back edits that invalidate answers
- What happens if a poster's assumptions invalidate their answer when clarifications are made later
- Can we make "on hold" less terrible?
- If a question is changed making an answer invalid, how should the community respond?
- Spinning off a question to preserve answers to removed sub-questions
Most of those questions are fighting the very problem this Stack's policy creates: The OP was helped to improve their question to solve the problem they actually needed solving, but because this Stack thinks answers are more important than questions, the OP is now stuck with not getting their question answered or having to fight the "duplicate question" problem created in an effort to not...
...not what?... Make the respondents feel bad?
Why are we protecting answers over questions?
The principal goal of Stack exchange is to be specifically useful. To answer specific questions with specific answers. Users who have so little self-discipline or so little experience with the site that they'd answer a question before it was fully developed put themselves into the position of having an irrelevant answer. But for some reason, this Stack doesn't appear to like the idea of anyone's answer becoming irrelevant.
It is my opinion that respondents are as responsible for waiting for a question to be ready as the querent is responsible for creating a question that's ready to be answered. It's deplorable that we believe a question should become locked in stone simply because an answer has been posited. From the Help Center's "How do I write a good answer?" we read...
Answer well-asked questions.
Not all questions can or should be answered here. Save yourself some frustration and avoid trying to answer questions which...
- ...are unclear or lacking specific details that can uniquely identify the problem.
- ...solicit opinions rather than facts.
- ...have already been asked and answered many times before.
- ...require too much guidance for you to answer in full, or request answers to multiple questions.
- ...are not about worldbuilding as defined in the help center.
Don't forget that you can edit the question you're answering to improve the clarity and focus - this can reduce the chances of the question being closed or deleted.
Conclusion and Policy Proposal
Caveat responsor. It is my conclusion that the Worldbuilding Stack should not encourage answers over questions. It should encourage edits to questions that improve the question for the OP's purposes and to improve the applicability of the question for others.
And if that invalidates answers. That's unfortunate, but a natural consequence of one or more of the following:
- Not having the self-discipline to avoid answering a question quickly.
- Having so little respect for the OP that a respondent wouldn't help the OP perfect their question.
- Caring more about farming reputation than participating in the community.