There's a question asking for an in-universe reason why "Imperial Droids" don't appear in the Star Wars movies outside of Rogue One. The OP asked this because they didn't know what K-2SO's droid type was called outside of "Imperial Droid" and really just meant that specific type of droid (this was clarified by the OP in the comments). However, there are already five answers with 10-20 upvotes along the lines of "actually, there are droids used by the Empire" that nonetheless seem to have completely misunderstood the intent of the question.

I edited the title to clarify, and then another user changed it back, per Best policy when edit to question invalidates the answer, which makes sense to me. Is there anything that can be done to improve the quality of the question/answers, though? It seems like a reasonable question, which other viewers of Rogue One probably wondered about, but now it's apparently been hijacked by a spirit of "ha! I can't believe you don't remember probe droids!"

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    The problem here is that the OP cocked up the question, not that the people answering misunderstood :-) The OP now needs to reference the earlier question and ask a new (and more specific) one. – Valorum Jan 4 '17 at 19:37
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    @Valorum Question text: "Rogue One had multiple never-before-seen Imperial Droids, so what happened to them between Rogue One and Star Wars IV?" Answer, +19: "Remember when Chewbacca growled at the Imperial mouse droid on the Death Star?" – Milo P Jan 4 '17 at 19:43
  • "Episode IV starts exactly where Rogue One ends as far as I know, so why suddenly no Imperial Droids?" – Valorum Jan 4 '17 at 19:45
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    @Valorum I get why it's confusing, and it's reasonable to not understand that the OP thought "Imperial Droid" was the official name of that model (based on the movie line about being a "reprogrammed imperial droid"). Once you realize that, though, the answers are based on an obvious misunderstanding, especially given the OP's initial reply to your comment. – Milo P Jan 4 '17 at 19:49
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    Meh. Better to just ask a new and better question than to try to repair a broken one. – Valorum Jan 4 '17 at 19:51

In my opinion the answerers misunderstood the question and made a mistake. The original question stated (emphasis added):

Rogue One had multiple never-before-seen Imperial Droids, so what happened to them between Rogue One and Star Wars IV?...

Instead of taking the OP at his word that he was asking about the type of Imperial droids we had never seen before (the KX-series security droid, like K-2SO), most users assumed he'd forgotten about all the other Imperial droids in the original trilogy. Those users should have asked for clarification in the comments before answering. The question was a bit unclear at first, but the OP would had to have known K-2SO's name and/or series in order to make it clearer.

Generally, when a question is misunderstood but its answers are highly upvoted, I would say you'd need to ask a new, clearer question. However, a new question here would probably need to be closed as a duplicate of this misunderstood one, because some of the answers provide an explanation for why there were no KX-series droids (usually just as an aside, though, and with not much of an argument). We should add comments to the answerers requesting that they modify their answers to emphasize why there were no KX-series droids. I would also recommend downvoting those answers to encourage the users who wrote them to update them.

Your edit to the question is in a grey area. Yes, it invalidates existing answers, which is discouraged. But in this case it's the fault of the answerers rather than the asker. It wasn't a change to the question (which would definitely be wrong), it was a clarification. Unfortunately, it still leaves the Q&A in a weird state in that most of the answers don't appear to be answering the question.

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    A new question which specifically references the older (and directly asks about a particular model of droid) wouldn't be closed as a dupe. – Valorum Jan 4 '17 at 22:45
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    @Valorum Some of the answers did address the KX-series, so a new one would arguably be considered a duplicate. Referencing the older one doesn't always help -- I've seen users vote to close even when the OP includes a prominent link to the "duplicate" in the question body. – Null Jan 4 '17 at 23:09
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    @Null While you make a good case that the answers to this particular question did not really answer the intent of the question, I caution against following this line of thinking. I think it is up to the original author to say the intent and clarify (i.e. - rewrite) the question. In this particular case, 3 people modified the question each assuming they knew the intent of the author. They didn't modify spelling or grammar. Each modified the meaning of the question either narrowing or expanding the scope of allowed answers. – RichS Jan 5 '17 at 3:07
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    " I would also recommend downvoting those answers to encourage the users who wrote them to update them." - How often does a downvoter go back and see if somebody modified an answer to their liking? I never saw such a thing. Does this happen? – RichS Jan 5 '17 at 3:09
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    @RichS A comment requesting clarification was posted before the first answer, and the OP responded in the comments about an hour after that. The OP was clearly struggling to express his intent (both in the question body and comments) but he did not know the name of the droid series (which would have made the question clearer). All the edits to the question occurred after the OP clarified in the comments, and did not change the scope. – Null Jan 5 '17 at 4:30
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    @RichS Yes, downvoters sometimes go back and remove their downvotes after a post is edited. I commented on and downvoted four answers on this question, and one answerer updated his answer so I removed my downvote (he pinged me to let me know he'd updated his answer). – Null Jan 5 '17 at 4:32
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    A new question would have been the way to go, and it would not have been a duplicate: either a question has already been asked before, or it hasn't. The presence of answers cannot change this fact. The presence of answers to an old question that kinda-sorta mention, as an aside, facts that could be taken as an answer to the new question, if you cross your eyes and tilt your head just right, especially don't mean that the new question is a duplicate. – Martha Jan 5 '17 at 19:14
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    The only hint that the OP might be talking about a specific type of droid is the phrase, "never-before-seen," and frankly, this just reads more like a thrown in phrase to a poorly written question than it actually clarifies anything. If you want to talk about "taking the OP at his word," then you tell me what the question actually literally says: "so why suddenly no Imperial Droids?" The answers posted matched what the question appeared to be; it's not the fault of answerers that the question was so poorly worded. -1 – jpmc26 Jan 6 '17 at 10:29
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    @jpmc26 As I said, the question was a bit unclear at first because the OP could not give the name of the "never-before-seen" droids. In that sense the OP is partially at fault. But the answerers are mostly at fault because a comment requesting clarification was posted about 11 minutes before the first answer was posted. The answerers scrolled past that comment and posted their answers without waiting for clarification. – Null Jan 6 '17 at 15:27
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    I think if you look at the original question in the edit history it's pretty understandable why people would have answered the question they did. If a question is legitimately unclear, the process should be "close and comment requesting clarification," then "edit" then "reopen." Not, "comment, discuss, rollback some edits, wait for more, and then go comment on all answers making it a new question." – enderland Jan 6 '17 at 20:06
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    @enderland Indeed, the process should have been "close and comment requesting clarification", but no one followed that process. Instead, there was only a comment requesting clarification; no one bothered to flag/vote to close as "unclear what you're asking". The comment requesting clarification should have been an indication to the answerers that they should flag/vote to close and wait for clarification before answering. – Null Jan 6 '17 at 20:46
  • This conversation has been moved to chat. – Null Jan 6 '17 at 21:03

There’s not a whole lot to be done.

  • Editing the question to be more specific would invalidate the existing answers, so as you correctly say, it should not be done. If you can edit it without invalidating the existing answers, you should of course do so. It’s best to make sure the person who posted it is onboard with your additions.

  • The answers don’t drastically misunderstand the question, to the point of not even answering it, so flagging is not an option.

  • Some posters will delete their answers if it turns out they misunderstood the question, but that’s not likely to happen.

Personally, I’d leave a comment on the answers that somewhat misunderstood the question, encouraging the posters to add information that address the OP’s more specific points. That way, at least some of the answers will address the question that the OP intended, rather than what the posters inferred from the way the question was phrased. Keep in mind, though, that the posters still may not edit their answers, or may not have anything to add.

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    Sorry, but lots of votes don't always indicate usefulness. They indicate HNQ list and bikeshedding, in this specific case. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 4 '17 at 20:05
  • @DVK-in-Florida - Nonetheless, I edited it to remove that bit, since it could give the misleading impression that answers that are deletion-worthy should not be deleted even if obviously non-answers. – Adamant Jan 4 '17 at 22:28
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    @Adamant I agree that a person should not alter the question to drastically change the meaning of it, nor to invalidate existing answers. The best recourse (I think) is to ask the person to create a new question that is different enough that people won't call it a duplicate. – RichS Jan 5 '17 at 3:02

This is my general advice for problems of this sort; I'm not making a comment on this particular question or its answers.

You can do any combination of:

  • Edit the question in such a way that existing answers are not invalidated. In this specific case, I might add a note at the bottom along the lines of:

    Note: I'm especially interested in droids of K-2SO's model from Rogue One

  • Post a competing answer. This, of course, assumes that you have an answer to provide.

  • Downvote "wrong" answers. It seems unlikely that this will be effective in this specific case, given that the existing answers have been upvoted so heavily

  • Flag "wrong" answers as Low Quality. The intention is to delete answers that don't actually answer the question. This is also unlikely to be effective in this case

  • Comment on "wrong" answers to inform their posters that they are incorrect. Same goal as the above; also unlikely to be effective in this case

  • Post a bounty on the question. Assuming you have the Set Bounties privilege, you can offer some of your own reputation to incentivize "correct" answers (once the question becomes eligible for bounties); a combination of the "canonical answer required" bounty reason and judicious use of the custom bounty message box should serve for this, though it has the unfortunate complication that the bounty may be automatically awarded to a "wrong" answer that nonetheless receives upvotes

  • Post a more specific question separately, or encourage the original poster to do the same. This does come with the risk that your new question will be closed as a dupe of the old question; whether or not that's likely depends on the specific questions

  • Low Quality isn't an appropriate flag for "wrong" answers. There is no flag for wrong answers; that's what downvotes are for. – jpmc26 Jan 6 '17 at 10:32
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    @jpmc26 If we were talking about merely factually incorrect answers, then I would agree. But answers that fail to address the actual question at hand are, to my mind, flag-worthy; that's what I meant by "wrong", and is why I used quotation marks throughout – Jason Baker Jan 6 '17 at 14:06
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    I'm not opposed to using flags that way personally, but this is an SO staff decision based on the way moderators handle the flag. It's a decision that a decent portion of the community conflicts with. Here's a recent discussion. But bottom line: that isn't how we're supposed to use the flag, and until we can get SO staff on board with revising the policies, I don't really consider purposefully misusing it an option. – jpmc26 Jan 6 '17 at 14:52
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    The first thing (which is missing here) is voting to close questions which are unclear. If questions get clarified before answers, any problem associated with this situation disappears. – enderland Jan 6 '17 at 20:19
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    @jpmc26 - If flagging and deleting posts that merely comment on related topics (but still answer some question) is misuse, it’s misuse that’s been engaged in by users, moderators, and perhaps even CMs. – Adamant Jan 6 '17 at 22:57
  • @Adamant who said anything about deleting posts? – user47739 Jan 6 '17 at 22:59
  • @DoritoStyle - That’s rather the point of NAA flags: to bring posts that are worthy of deletion (for the specific reason of not being an answer, obviously) to the attention of the community. Sometimes they may be salvaged by editing, but rather rarely. – Adamant Jan 6 '17 at 23:00
  • @Adamant That's a fair point and a good reason why the official policy should be revisited by staff. It seems like most users consider the official policy to be nonsense, whether they adhere to it or not. – jpmc26 Jan 7 '17 at 13:19

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