Researching my answer to this question: Can the arcane/druidic focus staff double as quarterstaff? has lead me to re-evaluate my answer to this question: Can an Elven Wizard use a bow for an arcane focus?

Basically, my view in has gone from, "No, it's not possible per RAW, but you could house-rule it if you wanted to" to, "It's not technically called out as a possibility, but there's precedent, so go for it."

I went ahead and made the edit, since that seemed like the right thing to do; but was it? Would it have been more appropriate to create a new answer?--and, if so, should I have left the current answer, or deleted it?


3 Answers 3


No, I would say that you should not edit your answer,

This is a new answer, it is substantially different.

It has its own different pros and cons.

It thus should not benefit from the up/down votes the previous answer had.

If you feel your old answer was substantially wrong, and without merit, and causing harm, then you might choose to delete your old answer.

If not, then your old answer, and your new answer can war it out in the vote count to get to the top. Thus allowing the community to show which is most true.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 - you may not agree with your previous answer but other people do - and more importantly, the votes they already cast do. Add your new answer, but leave your old one alone - unless it's a very narrow answer that you've discovered is is technically wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 20:54

I would generally consider the following to tell me whether I should edit or post a new answer:

Am I totally changing the meaning and message of the answer, such that this new version has nothing in common with the old one?

If so, I'll delete the answer and make a new one. Otherwise, I'll edit.

The driving factor is the votes. Should the votes on the old version still apply to the new one? Are those peoples' votes still applying to roughly the same thing they might vote for? Editing an answer from "Yes" to "No" is probably something you shouldn't do.

People can reverse their votes on your answer post-edit, but the question is whether they'll ever find out and do so. The best rule of thumb might be to consider, honestly, how you'd feel if you were the voter and the answer was someone else's. Would you be fine with your vote still applying after that major change, or not?

Trivial examples of when I'll edit:

  • Yes, because A B C. → Yes, because X Y Z.
  • Probably, because X. → Yes definitely, because X Y.
  • Horrible explanation of certain key ideas → Same key ideas, total rewrite of the explanation.

Trivial examples of when I'll delete my answer and post a new one:

  • No, you can't do that. → Whoops, yes, you can totally do that.
  • Do {thing that I realise is a bad idea} → Do {completely different thing}

I'm inclined to think your answer is in the "delete and post a new one" category, because it's a major message change and very close to a "no you can't" → "sure, you can" change.

Bear in mind you also have the option of keeping both answers. Consider: Is a Dragonwrought Kobold a True Dragon? - You might want to do this to allow voters to decide, or so as to not destroy still-reasonable hard work, etc. In this case, probably call out in your second answer why you're posting a second answer that contradicts your first, as KRyan did there.


Improve your answer and pay specific attention to explaining why your precious view was wrong.

We don't like massive edits introduced by other people, but if you're correcting your own errors, we prefer correct over incorrect any day. Just make sure you create a coherent answer which answers the question. Do not strike out or signal an edit in text (that is why we can view history), but you can certainly discuss previous iterations of your answer if they fell into subtle traps which may elucidate your point..


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