On this question, I answered first thinking I had the ruling right. After the addition of the correct answer by another user, it's obvious I had it wrong. I'm wondering if the incorrect answer should even remain in the thread. This could apply widely to all answers that are wrong.

Deleting the wrong answer would clean up the thread and present the right answer as the only one. But the correct answer has now been accepted, so it's floated to the top anyway. If we're looking to increase our metrics, then leaving incorrect answers makes sense. But from a clarity standpoint, maybe it makes sense to delete them.

Is the etiquette here to self-delete the wrong answer, or should it be left up? How do others feel about this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

First of all: the general guideline is ignore site metrics when choosing your course of action. Just because the metric expects 2.5 answers per question does not mean we should add unnecessary extra answers to questions! These are just aggregate broad-brush metrics, and they are inherently limited.

As you point out, there are a couple of ways to view wrong answers. A wrong answer that looks right can be actively harmful if a reader took away the impression that it was correct. On the other hand, a wrong answer that is subtle or easy to arrive at has value in being present, since it marks the common error. There are also gradations; sometimes an answer is mostly right, or only right under common circumstances, etc.

From a site mechanic perspective, the intention seems to be to encourage deletion. If you leave a wrong answer up it will tend to be downvoted, accrue challenging comments, and so on, which you may not enjoy. There are also two badges (Disciplined and Peer Pressure) which explicitly reward you for deleting answers when you believe they aren't helpful.

However, in this case I think the answer is very subtle. It was clear that most people thought you were correct, until the other answer showed up with the official ruling. In this situation, I think you would do best to edit your answer to indicate that you are aware it is incorrect, but that it is nevertheless a common misconception (you can point out exactly why as well, if you like). That should protect you from further downvotes while preserving a useful piece of information for the future.

Ultimately though, it's up to you. As usual, this has been discussed before. Check out these links for some other views.

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Excellent response! The first paragraph alone is reason enough to warrant lots of votes :) –  Aarthi Mar 25 '13 at 21:41

First off, I would like to thank you for your commendable handling :)

I would disregard the metrics completely. In my opinion, the important thing is "to make the internet a better place". If the answer does not add anything valuable, just delete it.

If you feel the mistake you made in your answer could be made by others easily, you could change your answer to point out why that would have been a mistake. But I'm not sure if this is useful (it does not help that I have no clue about MtG).

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This is how I felt about it, but I'm going to wait a little while to see any other input. Thanks for the compliment, too. –  SocioMatt Mar 25 '13 at 13:33
    
Short, sweet, direct -- mafu, how did we get on without you? :) –  Aarthi Mar 25 '13 at 21:42

We learn more from our mistakes than our success, though learning from our successes is much easier.

If you believe that your wrong answer, possibly edited with additional explanation adds value to the question, leave it; if you feel it is merely a distraction that is likely to confuse, then delete it. As pointed out elsewhere, it is all about making te internet, and SE in particular, a better place.

While the decision is yours alone (assuming there is no reason for mods to step in), the opinions of others as expressed in up- and down-votes can be used to assist you in making a decision. Just remember that they may not always be informed votes.

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