I realize that you can vote down an answer, but often it seems that the question's creator marks the answer that best fits what they wanted to hear, or the first one that seems comprehensive or thought out. If the question is subjective, then no problem, but if the question has a factual, non subjective answer, is there a way to correct the bad information so that other users aren't mislead?

I've posted corrections as comments or answers, but how often do folks read questions once they've been answered?

1 Answer 1


Which questions have incorrect information? It's hard to answer this without specifics, but we can certainly look at these questions. There's no single best way to correct bad information in a question. Which you choose depends on the exact situation.

Questions are looked at again from time to time, but newer questions do get more eyeballs, dou to the way these sites are designed. (In the event you'd like to ask about the design of SE sites in general, you can do that at Meta.SO.)

There are a few things you could try:

  • When downvoting and leaving appropriate comments aren't helping, you could try raising the issue in chat. While our chatroom isn't the liveliest, I've gotten answers there to questions about how the community would prefer to handle stuff on the site. Also, you can post in the chatroom, including an @reply in the message with someone's username and they'll get a notification in their inbox about it.

  • You could start a thread here in meta, explaining your concerns. (Like you've done here.)

  • In many circumstances, the best way to correct incorrect information is to edit it yourself. You don't yet have the 1000 rep requited to edit others' posts, but you can submit edits for peer review. Respect the original author, and be certain to explain in the edit comments. If what you would have to correct would change the character of the answer, though, this may not be the best option.

  • You can leave a competing answer. You can get more people to look at your answer by publicizing the question (or your answer, if you want) on Twitter and Facebook. This will, of course, have the happy side-effect of bringing more people to the site.

  • Sometimes, is't not the answer that's entirely at fault. A question can be badly phrased, and this can encourage quick, incorrect answers. You can combat this by making questions into better questions early on in the process. You can comment on the questions, submit edits to the question, or even vote to close early, possibly with an eye towards re-opening the question later when it's been improved. (Close votes on beta sites currently require 500 rep or higher.)

  • In the event that information in an answer is wrong enough to harm somebody's safety, please do bring it to the attention of the mods by flagging it. Please use this judiciously, of course!

In summary, there's no best way to handle this, but there are several strategies open to you.

  • The first question I saw, which brought this up for me, is this one: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/3266/… The first answer is an opinion, and many people agree with it. But the supporting evidence used, i.e. MTB shoes are just as stiff as road shoes, is patently false. Since a new rider is forming their opinion of what gear to use,...
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:02
  • ... and in some ways whether they will find cycling fun, that bothers me a bit. In addition, I am limited in the number of times I can use a flag, as I understand it. I don't want to edit it, since that person will se it as essentially blackballing their opinion, even if I had the rep to do it. I would only do it in an extreme case, I think, like an immediate safety issue. How would you handle that?
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:08
  • @curtismchale's answer currently has no downvotes, and no comments on it indicating that anyone disagrees. So it's not clear that this is a point of controversy. Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:09
  • Always downvote answers you feel are false, ideally explaining why. Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:10
  • BTW, I guess what I'd really like is a way to request (or require) a citation for that kind of non subjective data, if it appears that information is faulty or inaccurate. A type of flag that would temporarily remove the display of the answer and notify the author of he request for evidence. If the author could produce a citation, then the moderators would be notified, and if the cite was acceptable to a moderator, then person flagging would be penalized rep. If the person flagging is upheld, there could be a rep bonus. What do you think?
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:14
  • However, you're clearly in the minority here. (I have no opinion, since I feel that clipless shoes are the work of the devil.) :) You may have to simply accept that other people disagree with you. Feel free to bring this up in chat, however. Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:15
  • Citations: That's a different issue. Skeptics.SE requires that questions and answers have citations in them, for different reasons. But this isn't Skeptics. Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:17
  • And mods aren't in the business of verifying information. Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:18
  • I didn't down vote his answer because in that case, I didn't feel that the inaccuracy was strongly enough phrased to warrant the storm of me too responses that usually would follow a disagreement about something many people have strong even if erroneous, opinions about. But it is the first one that got me thinking about it. I've looked at a lot of questions, and there was one I flagged as in accurate, as well, just can't find it now.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:18
  • "Mods aren't in the business of verifying information". Really? Didn't you just tell me to flag something to a moderator if it was safety related inaccuracy? And isn't the point of moderating a forum at least partly to produce a site with high quality posts? Which, at least in my opinion, means accurate posts?
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:22
  • I realize that there are opinion questions here which wouldn't benefit from citation. Just wondering if there is a way to prompt citation from NON-SUBJECTIVE answers, if there is something deemed inaccurate.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:24
  • Other than asking for citations in the question itself, no. That's not how SE works, sorry to say! Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:25
  • @zenbike let us continue this discussion in chat Commented Jun 21, 2011 at 18:25

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