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I often see an answer that I partially agree with but may see as flawed in some important way. I imagine it is not possible to draw bright lines in this but when do I provide my input by editing someone else's answer vs entering my own answer vs commenting on the existing answer? Ultimately the goal is to have good information posted in a way that users can readily access.

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At the foundation of any Stack Exchange site, users post questions, and members of the community propose answers. Others vote on those answers, so very quickly the best answers rise to the top. In an effort to keep the content relevant and constantly improving, users can then either improve the existing answers or submit better answers of their own.

Editing

If you spot a minor problem with a post (or you can simply make a point clearer), editing is your best bet. Editing is helpful when you simply want to make their answer better. Generally, editing someone's post is not supposed to change the meaning of what they wrote. It is still their post.

Comments

If you spot errors in the post you feel will change the meaning of what they wrote, comments are a better way to go. You are, in a sense, asking the user for clarification or prompting the author to change something that may be incorrect or misstated.

Post Better Answers

But if the post is more fundamentally flawed… or incomplete… or you simply feel you can provide a better, clearer, or more thorough answer; please, by all means, submit another answer to be voted on and vetted by the community.

These aren't hard and fast rules. If content is wrong, it needs to be corrected and improved; that's your first priority. But these guidelines should help strike a balance between providing correct content and working within the sensibilities of users who curate that content.

I hope this is helpful.

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  • Very helpful. I now see that I may have edited an answer a couple of weeks ago when I should have provided my own answer instead.
    – George White Mod
    Feb 6, 2013 at 23:33
  • @GeorgeWhite I think your contributions have been fantastic. I should note that in the early days/weeks/months of a new site, content moderation is often a bit more heavy-handed. These earliest questions will set the quality bar and the overall tone of the site for a very long time to come. I would say you've struck a good balance, and your contributions have helped this site immeasurably. Feb 7, 2013 at 14:23

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