Over a year ago, a story ID request was asked, about a lone man manning some sort of space station. I answered it, and even though my guess wasn't the actual story the querant was looking for, it helped them enough to figure it out themselves.
Which is great!

They accepted not their own self-answer, but my answer, since that helped them the most.
Which is fine, too.

I then added a note to my answer, pointing to the correct answer. I didn't want to see my incorrect although helpful answer up voted too much.


While this answer has been graciously accepted by the OP, it was not the actual story they were looking for. That was Halfway House by Robert Silverberg, as evidenced by their own answer.

This all happened on the same day.


Recently, the note pointing to the correct answer was removed from my answer. The editor pointed to several discussions on meta, most notably one about adding in such a header as I had done.

Still, I thought it only fair my incorrect but accepted answer should point to the correct one, so I added the note back, this time as a footer.

It was removed again.


Now I agree we shouldn't delete incorrect story ID answers, as they can help other users find similar stories and help prevent the same wrong answer being given over and over.
I also agree we shouldn't change an existing answer too much, whether accepted or not.
And I agree we should let the votes do their job on incorrect answers. However, I would like to help users cast informed votes. Therefore, I'd like to add the information about my answer's (in-)correctness to the answer somewhere. I have done this before occasionally on incorrect story ID answers of mine, to help point other users in the right direction.

The main difference with the previous discussion about adding such a header, is that this concerns my own answer. I'm not "stealing reputation" from anyone but myself.


Can I be allowed to add a note to my own incorrect story ID answer, accepted or not, to point out why it is incorrect?

Other solutions

One suggestion was to put it in a comment. I think that's a suboptimal solution, since comments should be ephemeral. There's no guarantee for it to remain.

Of course we could try to get the querant to accept the correct answer. This has been tried. But accepting answers is their privilege, and they feel my incorrect answer helped them the most.

Other Situations

Note that my question is strictly about answers to questions, where an incorrect answer serves as useful information for other users.

Also note that I'm only asking about doing this with one's own answer.

  • 2
    Why does the answer here not suffice as an answer to your question?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 13:22
  • 8
    @Edlothiad I've addressed that in my question.
    – SQB
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 13:43
  • 3
    No you haven't you've merely said you're not "stealing reputation" and that this is "your own answer". Why should they affect this: ...would be a form of vandalism. The correct procedure is to add a comment explaining why the answer is wrong. The answer will then be (gradually) outvoted by your correct answer. It might take years but them's is the downside of a vote-based system. You might also want to address a note to the poster (who seems to be a regular visitor) explaining why their answer is wrong... if it's your answer?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 14:19
  • 2
    It being your own answer changes nothing addressed in that answer, it's still vandalism.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 14:20
  • 1
    @SQB Yes, comments are in general supposed to be cleared, but in reality they don't
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 4:38
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    "They accepted not their own self-answer, but my answer, since that helped them the most. Which is fine, too." No, it's not really fine, actually. It misleads future readers, which is why you edited in the note to begin with. While accepting the "most helpful" answer is in general allowed, that policy is primarily intended for when there's multiple correct answers that present the info differently or when one answer is so close to correct that writing your own answer is of no value. It's very bad practice to accept a completely wrong answer.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 11:43
  • 4
    If someone spends hours painting a still life, and I come along and splash purple paint on the painting, it's vandalism. If I paint a still life, and decide that as the final part of the painting I will splash purple paint on it, it's not vandalism; it's just part of my creation.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


The user who asked the question should be encouraged to accept the correct answer

If the user who asked the question accepts the correct answer then no notice on your incorrect answer is necessary. A moderator has already encouraged the asker to accept the correct answer in this case. Other users have done so as well.

However, the asker may still choose to accept the incorrect answer for whatever reason. If that is the case then no one can stop him (not even a moderator), and the incorrect answer will be pinned to the top.

Assuming the asker chooses to accept the incorrect answer, we require a workaround:

You should be able to add a note pointing to the correct answer as a last resort

The previous discussion about adding such notes covers the situation in which someone else edits an answer to post a notice that it is wrong. None of the answers in that discussion address this situation, in which you are attempting to improve your own answer.

The top voted answer on the previous discussion says:

Adding a note to their answer saying "THIS IS WRONG, SEE MY ANSWER BELOW" would be a form of vandalism.

I agree with that statement, but it doesn't say that you can't edit your own answer. It clearly does not apply since you are not adding a note for users to look at your competing "answer below" -- it's your own answer you're editing.

The second highest voted answer also only applies to editing such a notice into someone else's post:

Inserting chunks of text into other people’s post because you don’t like their answer is an abuse of editing privileges, as well as being just plain rude.

The third answer says the same thing -- don't add a notice to someone else's answer. The same answer also says:

work with the answering party on correcting his/her errors

That's actually what you're doing, only you are also the answering party in this case.

It's also worth noting that the user who asked the question thinks it's vandalism to remove the notice you posted, as @Valorum did:

@Valorum any particular reason for vandalizing the answer?

This situation (in which some users are arguing that the "rules" prevent you from adding a notice to your answer) reminds me of the discussion on main meta as to whether or not individual sites can override general Stack Exchange policy. @Shog9's answer includes this guidance:

Among [Wikipedia's] myriad rules and policies, can be found this meta-policy:

If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

What a wonderfully subversive bit of guidance, eh? Kinda turns all the rest of the rules into sort of an idiot test, right?

Well, no. Rather than granting the reader carte blanche, it serves as a reminder that these rules exist for a purpose - and that it is wise to keep focused on this purpose rather than the rules themselves.

The purpose we need to focus on here is that we want to help both the OP of a story ID question as well as any future visitors identify the correct story in question. Graciously adding a notice to your own answer to highlight the correct answer serves that purpose. Broadly interpreting a rule established for a different situation (editing someone else's answer) does not.

Additionally, as @Rand pointed out the added notice can help ensure that story ID questions are not incorrectly closed as duplicates, since story IDs are considered duplicates based on the accepted answer, which in this case is not actually the right answer.

  • 4
    +1 I like how you point how the spirit of the law is more important than the letter, we should follow this guideline more often.
    – Ram
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 17:00
  • 1
    I think it’s very important to make clear that adding a note does not involve moving your answer down and providing the answer in your answer, invalidating the other users answer. It should purely be a redirection to redirect users to the correct answer. Without giving the answer away in their own (or maybe, but the redirection should be key!). Also it should be made clear if this applies to all answers or only story-id. And when it’s “oh I didn’t see you had the correct answer and I was just editing mine” and when it’s “xyz user has the correct answer”
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 17:33
  • 2
    Also, covers the situation in which someone else edits an answer who cares who edited the answer? It's still changing its meaning and thereby invalidating the previous votes.
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 21:23
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    Also, we want to help both the OP of a story ID question as well as any future visitors identify the correct story in question well, the OP was dumb for not accepting his own answer, it's still not explained why he did that.
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 21:26
  • 2
    Also @Null, you say at the beginning that the OP should have accepted his own answer, yet the rest of your post implies that there was nothing wrong with SQB's edit (which by the way was caused by the OP not accepting his own answer).
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 22:04
  • 3
    @Möoz The OP should have accepted his own answer. But since he did not I see nothing wrong with SQB's edit. I am not merely implying that SQB's edit was fine, I am saying exactly that.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 22:20
  • 2
    But SQB's edit wasn't fine. In fact, were it not for the wrong acceptance, his 'comment' (shouldn't that be a sign?) in his post would not have been necessary. In fact, are we going to start encouraging other users to post similar 'comments' on their 'wrong' posts?
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 22:27
  • 2
    @Möoz SQB added to his answer in order to reference information in another answer, which is not unlike what you do in some of your own answers (e.g. this answer).
    – Null Mod
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 22:50
  • 2
    @Null - You've not answered Mooz' question though. Are we now going to encourage users to publicly admit that they're wrong and signpost people to the right answer?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 23:30
  • 7
    @Valorum We should encourage users to post answers with as much complete, correct information as possible, and update their answers if new information comes to light. If a user decides that the best way to do that is to edit his own answer to reference another answer I'm not going to "heavily discourage" it, roll back his edit, call him a vandal, and suggest that he's just virtue signalling.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 2:43
  • 2
    @Null - It's not just referencing another answer though, is it? It's invalidating their answer.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 2:57
  • 1
    Re: comment 4. Adding the actual solution to your answer wholly invalidates the OPs answer. The upvotes would be going to SQB and not to the OP. This is an issue. Changing your answer to "steal" the answers from others is exactly the same as editing someone else's answer and saying "WRONG". Finally, it worries me that SQB has yet to suggest that the OP unaccept his answer and accept the truly correct one.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 7:18
  • 5
    Nice answer, covering almost everything. I'd just suggest also mentioning the story-ID-specific angle to this: because answer acceptance is a critical factor in our ID dupe-closure policy, having an incorrect answer accepted could actually lead to incorrect closures of questions, which is harder to reverse than a simple edit. Also, @Valorum, encouraging =/= allowing. Saying someone should be allowed to edit their answer in this way doesn't necessarily mean we should try to force everyone to do the same.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 11:23
  • 1
    @Möoz I found a few more example answers perhaps more relevant than that one of yours: final paragraph of this answer, middle paragraph of this answer, top section of this answer. None of these were rolled back or accused of vandalism. As Null has said, there's a clear moral issue with editing a "this is wrong" notice into someone else's answer, but doing so with your own answer is good manners, not bad.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 11:27
  • 1
    @Rand the first two aren't accepted, so not relevant, the last one is very similar, except there's no 'correct' answer from the OP to contend with. Besides, none of those are story-Id questions.
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 11:44

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