Is it legit for an answerer to roll back an edit made by the original author of a question?

Here's a link to the question that led to me asking about rollback etiquette.

Here's the timeline of edits.

Here's the timeline of events on that question.

  1. Author posts a question about feasibility of physically killing Vorlons who are part energy beings. The question additionally mentions a poisoning attempt made on a Vorlon.

  2. Somebody posts an answer that is only about poisoning the Vorlon.

  3. I pointed out to the author that part about poisoning is already answered elsewhere and suggest removing that part of the question to avoid it being flagged as a duplicate.

  4. Original author accepts my suggestion and removes the extra part.

  5. I post a comment to person that posted the answer letting them know it is now obsolete. The intent was to give the answerer a chance to update the answer so it won't be downvoted.

  6. Answerer rolls back an edit made by the original author so that the answer is again relevant to the question.

This does not seem okay to me. The author knows his or her intent, so the author's edits should be considered more important than somebody else's edits just to bring the question in line with their answer.

Related request: Can a mod freeze the comments on that question so nobody deletes or flags them?

  • Purely for the record, my answer wasn't only about the poisoning. If you care to read it a little more closely, you'll note that it addresses the possibility of being injured in a fight; "So, although the Vorlons have the capacity to turn themselves into beings of light (temporarily?), that doesn't make them functionally immortal against what Lorien describes as 'illness or injury', especially in fisticuffs against another being that is largely the same as themselves."
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 20:51
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    @Valorum I saw that part of your answer. My post here is not whether your answer is only about poisoning Vorlons versus them being injured in a fight. My post here is about whether it is legit in to roll back the edits made by an original author. Your intent, as mentioned in your own comment elsewhere was that you wanted to bring the author's question back to what you thought the author intended. If you're not the author, you can't know what he or she intended. The author showed intent by editing his or her own question.
    – user89104
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 20:56
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    The author only changed their question after you told them their question was illegitimate. Their intent was pretty clear
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 20:57
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    Why was this question downvoted? I am asking for clarification of rollback etiquette. That's all. Unless this very topic was already answered elsewhere, I see no reason for a downvote.
    – user89104
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 20:58
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    @LincolnMan Whilst I didn’t downvote your tone is quite accusatory so that could get people’s backs up so might be a reason why.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 20:59
  • I downvoted because your question contains a material inaccuracy that affects how the question might be read
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 21:00
  • I also didn't much like the fact that it was quite an accusatory tone. Presenting it as "the author's edits should be considered more important than somebody else's edits just to bring the question in line with their answer." seems like an attempt to guide people toward the answer you consider to be the correct one rather than a serious desire to guage the opinion of your fellow users.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 21:01
  • Possible dupe of Best policy when edit to question invalidates the answer
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 21:02
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    Your approach effectively punishes the user who answered in good faith (either forcing him to update his answer to conform to the updated question or risk downvotes) for a mistake made by the OP. Why is that okay?
    – Null Mod
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 21:46
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    @Null If there truly were two questions in the original post (and I'm not saying that was the case here) or if it really should be a duplicate then the answerer shouldn't have answered to begin with. Either vote to close as Too Broad/Duplicate or edit out one of the questions.
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 21:50
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    @Alex The answerer should vote to close as a duplicate if it is a duplicate and the answerer knows it is a duplicate. However, the answerer may not realize it's a duplicate, in which case it is not the answerer's fault if the question turns out to be a duplicate. There is no need to invalidate his answer merely to make the question no longer a duplicate. Questions are cheap; OP can post a new one that isn't a duplicate. Similarly, users should vote to close as too broad if they think it is too broad, but if they think the questions are closely related enough they are free to answer.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 21:54
  • @Null I agree. But the responses to this Meta post should establish whether that was the case here.
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 21:57
  • @Null There were two questions in the original post. That's what prompted the suggestion to edit out the question that was a duplicate of another post. With the current version, it looks like the whole question is a duplicate.
    – user89104
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 3:09
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    @LincolnMan The suggestion would have been perfectly fine if there hadn't already been an answer which would be invalidated by the proposed edit. The OP is responsible for asking a question that isn't a duplicate, isn't close-worthy, etc. It was good for you to link to the duplicate question either way.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 3:28

1 Answer 1


Yes this is perfectly acceptable behaviour...

...in fact it is actually the recommended path to take when this happens. The general rule of thumb is that edits should not invalidate any current answers.

In the case of a question actually containing multiple questions there are two courses of action:

  1. Make it one question, either edit it or comment to ask the OP to.
  2. Close/flag it as too broad.

There is also the case where the multiple questions are related enough that they fall under the same scope and so nothing further is warranted.

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