I'm wondering if it is ever a good idea to edit the question to better fit the answer.

Before you reply "Absolutely Not," here is the question I am talking about:

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The OP asked for software that will work on OSX. Shortly after asking, another user leaves a comment and asks if he can edit the question to ask for a cross-platform solution, as he is also interested in a solution, but is using Linux. The OP replied that he did not want to edit the question, but suggested that the user ask a new question.

After that exchange, an answer was posted with a cross-platform solution, and accepted.

I realize that it is certainly possible that a Mac-only answer will come later to this question, but if some time passes with no Mac-only answers, would it be a good idea to edit the question to ask for a cross-platform solution, to prevent "duplicate" questions in the future that need an identical answer? Or is it better to leave the question and answer as is, and allow people to post another question in the future looking for a Linux or Windows solution?

3 Answers 3


When a solution is cross platform and the asker ask for a specific OS solution, he's asking that must work in that OS, but doesn't care about any other OS. As long as it works in the asker OS we shouldn't care if it's cross-platform or not.

So, if the asker needs something that works in Mac OS X, and someone answers that it works in Mac OS X and Windows and Linux, the answerer is just giving plus value to his answer while meeting OP criteria. As long as the answers meets the OP criteria, no, you shouldn't edit a question just to fit some answer criteria, specially if it could invalidate previous answers.

  • 1
    Requiring cross-platform actually narrows answers down quite a bit, as after that any high-quality mac-only software is not accepted (or will be flagged as "does not answer the question").
    – Olli
    Feb 13, 2014 at 18:21

In general, the question is the question. The question is what the asker was about and should not be changed.

Once a question has answered, the asker loses a bit of control over the question. In particular, if a question has answered, it is too late to edit the question. If the asker realizes that he meant to ask something different, he should ask a new question.

Occasionally (but let me stress that this is a rare occurrence), a question settles with answers that interpret the question in a certain way, and it turns out that there are other possible interpretations. In such cases, it is best to edit the question to match the answers.

We have two goals in matching answers to questions:

  1. Produce answers that solve the asker's problem.
  2. Produce answers that help future visitors who find the question in a search.

Most of the time these two goals are aligned. When they diverge, the focus starts on #1, but shifts to #2 over time.

In this particular case, the answer and the question fit. The question is about OSX, and the answer applies to OSX. That the answer applies more broadly is not an issue.


I think the question should not be changed in such a way (unless the OP is fine with it).

Even when for months (or years …) no suitable software appears, maybe it will at some point, and then is the correct time to post an answer. I don’t think that questions on this site (should) have a "use-by date".

Otherwise: If the question would have been changed by others to ask for cross-platform solutions, this new software (released years after posting the question, but not being available cross-platform), which would be a perfect match for OP’s original requirements, couldn’t be added as an answer anymore.

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