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Obviously one should not vandalize answers or make them worse, but what if an answer is incorrect and somewhat long or complicated?

A specific answer made some claims that are incorrect if we apply the usual definitions of the concepts used. I asked for clarifications in the comments, describing a classic Econ 101 situation and asking the writer of the answer to apply their definitions, which they did. IMO the resulting claim would be marked as incorrect in most Econ 101 exams.

Can I edit their incorrect claim into their answer (near to the top even) to make it more clear to passersby that the definitions are not used correctly? (I am the only downvoter, and there is also an upvoter.)

I am hesitant about this because I would be editing in an incorrect point to someone's answer, which feels weird, even though it is in line with the intent of their answer.

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    $\begingroup$ Ethically it sounds wrong, but I understand the desire. $\endgroup$
    – EconJohn Mod
    Oct 6, 2023 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @EconJohn Can you explain why you think it is ethically wrong? I don't think the edit would conflict with the author's intent. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Oct 6, 2023 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ I have no rationale. Just a bad feeling about it. I encourage others to weigh in on this point $\endgroup$
    – EconJohn Mod
    Oct 6, 2023 at 18:00

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I would probably just let the wrong (and also unclear answer) get voted as such or ignored and try to make a better answer that is clearer and also correct. If you do want to edit an incorrect answer, go ahead and just make a note in the edit notes on the nature of the correction. It can be reverted by the original person posting the answer.

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A useful approach in some cases is to make the edit but also add a comment on the lines of: "I've taken the liberty of editing your answer to clarify its meaning. Please feel free to reverse my edit if it does not reflect your intended meaning."

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You are allowed to do that under SE rules. In fact SE rules actually de jure encourage it. There are certain guidelines that should be followed thought (see below).

At the same time, despite this being de jure allowed, de facto many members of SE community do not like the idea (e.g. see this meta post).

However, note we still have the community standards for an answer. If an answer makes some non-common knowledge claims without a reference you can flag it, they get note on their post and if they dont fix the issue the answer gets deleted in 3 days.


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  • $\begingroup$ "de facto many members of SE community do not like the idea" Perhaps I did not express myself well enough. I do not intend to correct the answer, I intend to make it clearer, and since IMO it is incorrect, it will stay incorrect. The meta post you link to is about "righting" wrong answers. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Oct 7, 2023 at 7:36

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