I came across this answer in the low quality posts queue:

thanks everyone for trying but I remembered the show I was thinking of was called first wave

It had been previously edited by another user to add Wikipedia and IMDB links, as well as quotes from both to provide more context:

I remembered the show I was thinking of was called First Wave.

Former thief turned security specialist Kincaid Lawrence "Cade" Foster’s life was idyllic, with a beautiful wife, good job and a nice house. Unbeknownst to him, a race of extraterrestrials called the Gua have identified him as subject 117 in an experiment to test human resilience. As part of this experiment, his life is systematically ruined, including the murder of his wife, for which he is framed. He is the only one of the 117 subjects to solve the riddles of the experiment and escape arrest to live as a fugitive. The Gua are among humans in the form of hybridised genetic clones and plan to enslave humanity—the first of three “waves” intent on conquering and finally destroying the human race. Constantly pursued by the police, and a strange government agency called the Illuminati, Foster discovers previously unknown quatrains of Nostradamus, which tell of three waves that will destroy the planet unless the “twice-blessed man” can stop them. For this reason, Foster investigates strange occurrences that may have ties to the Nostradamus quatrains, hoping to find what he needs to stop the Gua.

The episode with the witches was Season 1 Episode 8, "Book of Shadows"

Cade and Eddie travel to Salem, Oregon, where high school student Diana Black stands accused of killing three high-ranking members of the community. Diana's defense is that she is a witch and the three victims were not human but demons. Cade and Eddie realize that Diana has somehow found a way to identify the Gua. Diana tells Cade that she learned everything from an old book called "The Book of Shadows". Cade finds the book in the police department's evidence room, but the pages that tell how to identify the "demons" are missing. Realizing that the Gua will do anything to keep their secret, Cade realizes that he must find a way to save Diana and recover the missing pages before the Gua can destroy them.

However, this edit was rolled back by a third user for "vandalism" because it added so much text to the original (very short) answer. See the revision history.

Are edits like this (substantial addition of text by another user) acceptable or is it "vandalism"?

  • Related discussion Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:35
  • 1
    @JasonBaker Thanks, good context. I think that edit was not acceptable because it changed the meaning of the answer. In this case, there was no change to the answer -- only a significant addition of text.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:37
  • Personally I'm on the fence. On the one hand, length of the edit notwithstanding, it's not really doing much more than adding context. On the other hand, although the edit may well have been correct, telling the OP what episode they remembered feels icky to me Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:45
  • @JasonBaker The episode part of the edit is somewhat questionable, but if it's the only one that matches the question description it might be okay.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:50
  • 2
    more related discussion
    – phantom42
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:10
  • 1
    Maybe you should distinguish between edits made by someone other than the OP (as in the example you cite) and edits made by the OP? In your question you make no such distinction but simply speak of "editing". Do you really think the two cases should be treated the same?
    – user14111
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:18
  • 1
    @user14111 By OP do you mean the person who asked the question or the person who originally wrote the answer? I am looking for a general answer, but if you think a distinction should be made for certain cases feel free to answer with that distinction.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:23
  • 1
    By OP I mean the owner of the post which is being edited, in your example an answer. Are you saying that, once I post an answer, I should not be allowed to add a substantial amount of text to it?
    – user14111
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:27
  • @user14111 No, of course not. The person whose post it is can edit however they want (as long as they don't post something abusive, etc.).
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:29
  • 2
    In that case, maybe you should edit the title of your question so that it says what you mean.
    – user14111
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 20:32
  • This was also done to one of my answers, which upset me a great deal. scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/13223/…
    – arp
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 17:01

4 Answers 4


The best course of action would have been a new community wiki answer, containing the extra information.

It's what I usually do when I consolidate a short answer given in a comment. This case looks little different, except that the answer was given as an actual answer.

Unless I had to do substantial research, I just do a quick bit of searching, quote a bit of Wikipedia, link to the imdb, isfdb, or what have you, and mark it cw.
Of course, if that embryonic answer was just the starting point of more research to arrive at an acceptable answer, I do not mark it cw, but claim it as my own.

  • 1
    Hmm, this is a clever middle-of-the-road solution. I'll have to think about it.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:29
  • I still think the edit was acceptable since it didn't change the answer, but since the community is divided on both the "acceptable" and "unacceptable" answers I think this is a good compromise. +1.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 4:33
  • I had not thought of the Community wiki answer. I have since moved the edit out to there.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 12:56
  • 1
    @Null this should be reviewed as that's not what Community Wiki answers are for. (Pinged you so you would see this as well as SQB). Community wiki is like a cheese knife: it is a specialized tool to be used sparingly. Community wiki is for that rare gem of a post that needs true community collaboration. If you truly feel hard done by someone else getting reputation for work you've done, answer it yourself, but explain that this came from the OP's original find.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 7:20
  • Also see Rand's answer here
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 7:22
  • @Edlothiad I think this answer is largely in agreement with the CW blog post and Rand's answer for this specific case: the editor does not want to take full credit for pasting Wikipedia and IMDB text when the OP did the hard work of naming the actual answer. This is often the case with story ID since the editor wouldn't know what text to paste without the OP's naming of the answer. In the more general case, though, I think it is fine to post a separate answer that is not CW and cite the original post.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 14:12
  • 1
    I don't understand the argument for using CW. If you feel the OP did all the work just edit the answer, and if you think you've done enough work that you deserve the rep answer it yourself, there is no "collaboration" it's one person's effort. Most people will go for the rep, the most humble of us won't. Community wiki is for real community collaboration. Where a bunch of users come together and keep adding, which in this case is either apply to all story-ids or none.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 14:21

I'm a frequent transgressor on this (as I was in this case). So often, we never see the answerer again, so it leaves a stub answer which, even if it is right, doesn't really tell us much. And it feels weird to add another answer

My viewpoint is, if it doesn't actually change the answer, adding a plot description and a link to another site is good. Adding additional text indicating how the work matches is a bit more iffy, but constructive. Removing natter is... I guess that one is more controversial, but I feel like it's a good thing, kind of like fixing the spelling and grammar.


Yes, it is acceptable (in some cases)

In the case at hand, the original content and meaning of the answer was not changed. The edit added (much) context, quotes, etc. These were unambiguously helpful to anyone coming across this question in the future. The answer, as it stood, was not very informative. The whole point of posting questions and answers that everyone can edit is that the community can add information to make the post better. That's exactly what happened here.

The only objection I can seem to find to this is that the OP gets undue credit/rep for work that someone else voluntarily put into making their answer better. Since the editor knew this would happen, it seems they are okay with it. Do we want to be so uptight about assigning internet points that we disallow people from improving answers for no credit?

Also, the other answer suggests this edit was in conflict with the what edits are for page. I don't see this. From that page,

Edits are expected to be substantial and to leave the post better than you found it. Common reasons for edits include:

  • To fix grammar and spelling mistakes
  • To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)
  • To include additional information only found in comments, so all of the information relevant to the post is contained in one place
  • To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages
  • To add related resources or hyperlinks

The edit at hand seems to meet the criteria of being substantial, leaving the post better than it was found, clarifying the meaning (without changing the meaning), adding related resources or hyperlinks.

What are we trying to discourage?

I also don't see what preventing a substantial edit that adds context to a weak answer would avoid. The person doing the editing gets nothing out of it. All they have done is maybe cause the OP to get some unearned rep. This seems a rather minor side effect to getting a much higher quality answer.

  • I only disagree that the original answer was "not helpful". It did have the answer in it, but it was a poor answer that was much improved by the edit.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:19
  • @Null That's true. It's just more helpful now. I'll edit to soften that statement.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:21

I would say that it was unacceptable. Although the edits themselves were filled with useful info (and technically met the edit criteria regarding "adding relevant links and resources") what happened here was that the OP's poor answer was essentially used as a vehicle to post a much better answer.

Although there's no reason to assume that the intention wasn't wholly honourable, the editor still deserves credit for his actions in writing what is, to all intents and purposes a brand new (and high quality) answer.

  • 2
    -1 (again). Any particular reason you deleted your first down voted answer and reposted almost the same thing as a new answer?
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:19
  • @Rori - Because it's not almost the same thing. Aside from the opening paragraph, the rest has been comprehensively rewritten.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:23
  • 1
    It makes the same point as your first answer. Also, there are only two paragraphs, so comprehensively rewriting everything but the first paragraph doesn't seem so substantial to me.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:28
  • @Rori - There was more before. It was originally three paragraphs and now only one remains unchanged./
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:30
  • Okay. It doesn't matter much since I think the original three down votes all down voted again. It looked the same to me, but I've been memory wiped so many times, I'm unreliable no such matters.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:31
  • @Rori - I think all three of the downvoters are in chat right now anyway.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 20:32
  • 1
    Re: credit -- the original (poor) answerer did the hard work finding the actual story. Why should the editor (who merely had to copy and paste some links and text) get more credit?
    – Null Mod
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:07
  • @Null - It's down to the community to decide which answer is the more useful. And who's to say that the larger answer will get more credit?
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 21:11
  • 4
    Define "hard work". If I know the story off the top of my head, that's not hard. Digging out quotes to match, publishing dates, images, and formatting it all is much harder.
    – phantom42
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 22:12

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