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I posted this answer which I now think could be improved. It has received votes (3 up, 1 down).

Question: Is it appropriate to edit an answer (in a way which goes beyond minor additions or correction of minor errors) which has already been upvoted? Or would this be considered:

  1. disrespectful to those who have upvoted it (who might not agree that the edited version is an improvement); or
  2. potentially misleading to others reading an answer who might regard its votes as an indicator of its quality; or
  3. inappropriate for any other reason?
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It's always good to edit your own answer to improve it, as long as you don't do something like reversing its meaning.

And when it comes to editing someone else's answer, if you can improve it without changing its meaning, it's always good to do that too.

Once a post has been edited, all locks are released from the votes on that post; and the question rises to the top of list of the active questions for other people to see. So they can change their votes.

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In some special circumstances, it may be appropriate to add another, completely separate answer (and leave the other one there, unchanged). I think this might be more common among programming exchanges where there might be more than one way to do things, but I think it's worth pointing out.

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Your concerns are legitimate, but ultimately, what matters is content. So go on and edit at will.

There are some devices that one can use to accommodate to a degree such concerns:

Using a section labelled "ADDENDUM" to add something at the end of the post, if the new material is not a revision of the current version, but an extension.

If references are to be added, one could enclose them in an "UPDATE - END of UPDATE" demarcation. Eg. "The Law of Demand has been empirically verified (UPDATE: see ref 1, ref 2, END of UPDATE).

If major reworking is what happens, then a note at the beginning would not be out of place:

E.g., "Update XX/XX/2015. This post has been extensively reworked to address some issues raised in the comments". (or "because I realized there is better way to structure the argument").

And other things to that effect.

In my opinion it is good practice to use such devices, not only because it tries to maintain rapport with the past of the posted answer, but also because it shows to future readers that people here care about the feedback they receive and about their posts and go back and improve them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Such labelling is discouraged across most of the network. The revision history already provides this information. It's important to write answers that flow well; but devices such as "ADDENDUM" and "UPDATE - END of UPDATE" get in the way of flow. $\endgroup$
    – 410 gone
    Jan 11 '15 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ @EnergyNumbers This reminds me of the preoccupation of Economics to totally ignore history in the interpretation of current phenomena. The post you link to, for me represents shallow thinking (ignoring "the burden of history" will not make it go away), and as for the revision history, it is a treasure -but as an archive and not as a brief. I respect the SE-consensus on the matter, but I disagree nevertheless. $\endgroup$ Jan 11 '15 at 17:42

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