I came upon a question, where the asker referenced the rules incorrectly (the question in general was also rather hard to follow). Later on someone edited the question and formatted the incorrect reference as a quote.

I tried to help out and edited the question, so that it included the correct quote now. I was then told that I was just confusing the asker further by meddling with the question.

I am of the opinion that leaving it incorrect will just make it harder to follow for anyone who might find the thread later on. We should help anyone with a similar question, so even though the OP could be surprised by the changes, this way other people will not be misdirected by incorrect quotations.

So, am I in the wrong here? Should we leave it up to answers to clarify the relevant rules?

Should we

  • leave an incorrect reference as it is
  • delete the reference
  • edit and correct it?
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Related: what to do when querent's just confused? (meta); the confusion referenced is part of what you edited in this case. IMO these are super-tricky situations, so thanks for bringing this one to meta. As the answers on the linked meta show, even some of our most-prolific members don't quite agree on how to handle such a question. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Mar 17, 2017 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


Leave incorrect references in the original question

On the stack, the goal to provide good answers which help solve real problems. Well, the misquote might be the cause of the problem in the first place.

If a real problem is being generated by a misunderstanding of the rules, then correcting that flaw with an edit fundamentally changes the scope of the question. Now instead of clarifying whatever it is that is really confusing the querent, their question is changed, and the answers won't accurately address their problems anymore.

Remember that "No, you've misunderstood the rules, this is how it really works..." is a perfectly acceptable answer, and one that will more accurately address the issues that the querent is facing. For that reason, We should leave misquoted text in the question.

Feel free to communicate your concerns through comments though

If you wish to determine whether the misquote was intentional, you can leave a comment on the flawed quote saying: "Hey, that's a misquote, was it intentional?" Or "Hey, that's incorrect, did you mean it like that?" If the querent truly just mistyped or misquoted a section, they will either confirm that to you, or edit the quote themselves. If they seem confused or respond something like "What do you mean?" or "what's the difference?" Then you know that they really meant their misquote, and you can make an answer which addresses their confusion in the "That isn't quite how it works" format.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 Couldn't have said it better myself. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 17, 2017 at 13:18


If it's an error whose correction doesn't materially change the question, correct it. For example, misspelling a rule or ability's name can safely be corrected.

If it's an error that is entwined with their problem, the mistake is part of their question and should be left intact. For example, mixing up two rules or abilities should not be corrected in the question, but in an answer.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Well, but if it wasn't formatted as a quote in the initial Q it's definitely an error to turn it into one... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 17, 2017 at 21:29
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Heh, my bad. I usually check that unformatted posts that look like direct quotes are actually direct quotes before doing all the formatting, but I was in a hurry that time and my bet proved wrong. Fixed now. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2017 at 23:33

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