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The simple fact is that answers change. Especially in this SE where new content and plot lines are constantly adding knowledge.

So an answer to the Marvel Fantastic Four franchise (to pull a random example out of my ...) may be X today, however a new movie can completely rewrite that. Hence, "correct" answers are "living documents."

The dilemma is, since any given answer's owner's intent can become obsolete, would it not make sense to integrate new (or previously unknown) clarifying information into a "winning" answer?

Of course there is the simple option of posting a completely new answer, however that answer will never get the views like a new question would; will never match the original's vote count, or reputation count. It seems adding an answer to an old question detracts from the quality of the site by placing a negative bias against new information.

How is "The answer to this question has objectively changed" most fairly handled if we can't fundamentally change an owner's intent?

Thanks

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  • Related, not quite a dupe. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 25 '19 at 15:22
  • While I recognize the dilemma you're facing, the question itself is a living document of its zeitgeist, too, together with the very site. The myth of the all-encompassing ever valid blog post that, together with its single huge CW answer, is the sole representation of a topic to end all questions...is hardly ever tenable. You might have to turn to Wikipedia for that. – TARS Sep 25 '19 at 15:37
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Quoting from the general case section of my answer to a related meta:

Edits are generally used for fixing typos, adding in info from a link, fixing formatting etc. New information is sometimes added but it is generally not too much new information, maybe an extra quote or something to back up the answer. Adding a source for the OPs claims is also fine. Anything more than that and the editor has a few options.

  • Edit it in anyway - after all it's SEs goal to build knowledge and adding info is always better than not (if it is relevant).

  • Comment on the answer - let the answerer decide if they want the detail in their answer or not.

  • Post a new answer - whether community wiki or not (you decide, depends on how much work you put into it etc etc) adding the information somewhere in the relevant place should always be encouraged rather than not adding it.

  • Leave the information out - I'd always encourage to add information if it is relevant but maybe it's tangential or only confirms the OPs answer in another source so isn't entirely needed. I'd still suggest to leave it somewhere on the post but it may not be necessary.

In this case, however, you have new information that answers the question, it is a judgement call on what to do. From the above the first three options are what I'd recommend doing in the following order.

  • Post a new answer: 9 times out of 10 a new answer makes the most sense. For a quick example off of the top of my head see this question. It has been updated with new answers as time has gone on.

  • Edit the top answer. This is a bit of a case by case basis. If it's a lot of new information you're best off posting your own answer. If it's just a one liner you can always edit it in and see what happens. If it's a suggested edit it might get rejected and it might even get rolled back after that anyway. If it's rejected you can either post your own answer or:

  • Leave a comment. This is a good compromise if you want to have the information on the post and think it belongs in the top answer. It's also a good option to go for if you don't have the time to make an edit or a fully fledged answer.

It's worth noting though this is a case by case and user by user basis. What makes sense to one user in one case might not make sense in the next one. It's a judgement call and even then people might not agree. If in doubt though it's usually best to post your own answer: you did do the work for the answer after all so might as well get some rep rewards for it.

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