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Related to the recent question about edited questions obsolescing answers. In that case, there was a clarification added to the question that nullified my answer; it was deleted (and I probably should have done so myself). That’s fine.

But I have seen cases where an edit to the question doesn’t seem “fair” – the querent didn’t merely forget to include a detail that changes whether given answers are appropriate, they changed their mind, apparently, about what it was they wanted to ask. In one case that comes to mind, there was a switch from one system tag to another, for example, after there were a lot of (very good) answers to the question based on the original system, that no longer applied at all.

To my mind, that edit, and similar such edits, shouldn’t be made. If I found myself in such a situation, I’d just ask the new question; there’s nothing wrong, to my mind, with having a question that I didn’t end up needing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the edit, if it is made, should be reverted by someone else – I’m not sure I’d go that far.

So I ask what the community thinks. Is there ever a point where an edit to a question is invalid, and should be reverted and the asker told to ask it as a separate question?

Alternatively, is there any decent way we can “port” existing well-written answers to a new question that asks, well, what they were originally asking? I mean in a somewhat automated sense, not hoping each answerer sees what happened and ports the question himself (and risking the mess that occurs when multiple answerers do this and don’t notice each other doing it, so we have a separate question for each answer)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good question, and well phrased. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Sep 4 '13 at 17:46
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Yes! This is the flip-side of that other question: when the question is invalidly changed and makes the answers obsolete. This is bad practice too. Consequently, policy aims to walk the line between the two possible badnesses.

Generally, it's possible to spot (as you have) the cases where the change to the question isn't merely clarifying or removing ambiguity and vagueness, but is actually switching it out for a completely different question. As a rule, we revert those changes and encourage the poster to post a new question. This is totally cool; though unsurprisingly it's not uncommon to deal with resistance from low-rep users who just don't grok the site, when their question is the one being held to a high standard of consistency.

So yeah, never fear that someone can pull the rug on answers by doing a bait-and-switch like that, even if they mean it innocently. There's always room for more questions, so there's no reason to economise by letting people change their question mid-process.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 It helps to remind people it's not like they have an allocated question budget or anything. (Strictly speaking there's a limit of 50 questions per 30 days, but that is an insane number of questions, and it takes being very enthusiastic to reach that number - and typically the people who ask enough questions to hit that limit are asking a lot of very small, badly researched questions.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 5 '13 at 11:19

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